The Quran is a divine Book of Guidance. It provides complete guidance as to human deeds, human intellect, and human curiosity. The Quran contains ‘everything wet and dry’ (Al-anam-59); ‘everything the smallest and the biggest one’ (Yunus-61); ‘every moving thing’s resting place and its final destination’ (Hud-6); and ‘everything invisible in the earth and the sky’ (Al-naml-75); clarification of everything (al-nahl-89); and (description of) everything (al-anam-38). The combined message of all these verses is that all types of knowledge/ information are enshrined in the Quran.
Knowledge may be defined as understanding of qualities and acts of Allah; it includes all natural laws- physical as well as social laws. It is commonly believed that natural laws are only physical laws e.g. mechanical, chemical, and biological laws. These laws are termed as natural laws because human intervention is not involved in developing these laws. As against natural laws, social laws (socio-politico, economic and psychological laws) are described as man-made laws. But actually, in view of Quran, these social laws are also natural laws. Quran has given certain social laws. Allah has devised such social laws for mankind which have been given only an option to adopt or not adopt such social laws; all the rest is with Allah. If mankind adopts such social laws as enshrined in Quran, Allah generates positive consequences; otherwise negative consequences are unleashed. The man-made social laws are in fact negative consequences of not adopting Quranic/ natural social laws; these negative implications provide foundations to man-made laws. In other words, all social laws are as much natural laws as physical laws are because these social laws are either recommended by Allah or are (because of not adopting Allah’s recommendations) negative consequences generated under Allah’s social laws. It means mankind can avoid Allah’s recommendations as to social laws by their choice but they can’t escape the rule of social laws enforced by Allah. The Quran has complete knowledge of all natural laws - physical as well as social laws; Quran has complete knowledge of implications of all these natural laws.
Quran also has all types of information/ ‘khabar’. Knowledge is about actions of Allah (e.g. all natural laws-physical and social laws); ‘Khabr’ is about actions of creatures/mankind. ‘Khabar’ is information about an incident.
No person can have access to or command over all types of knowledge contained in the Quran. Our Nabi (saw) states “Quran’s ‘ajaib’-treasures- would never be exhausted”. On the one hand, Quranic knowledge is unlimited; on the other hand, human capacity/potential to learn/know is also unlimited because Allah has created mankind on the best model- ‘ahsan taqveem’. It is just like as if a vehicle with unlimited petrol is plied on a unlimited lengthy road; neither would petrol be exhausted, nor would road come to an end.
No one can have access to all information contained in the Quran. “But if they turn away, then say, "I have announced to [all of] you equally. And I know not whether near or far is that which you are promised” (al-anbia-109). It means every khabar/information is to be exposed on a certain point of time; so no one can know about all the information contained in the Quran.
It is our common observation that people usually have faith in what they think is intellectually true. It means many out of people not having faith in Quran, in fact don’t believe intellectually in truthfulness of Quran. We can’t conclude that Quranic knowledge is not comprehensive and sound enough to make such people (disbelieving intellectually in truthfulness of Quran) believe in its truthfulness intellectually. Actually such people’s disbelief in the Quran is due to one main reason; as Quran says, “Nay, they reject that of which they have no comprehensive knowledge, and of which ‘taveel’ (analogical/observational proof) has not yet been revealed to them (yunus-39). It means such people’s disbelief in the Quran is because such people don’t have comprehensive knowledge of Quran due to the fact that analogical/observational proof of such Quranic knowledge has not been yet revealed to them.
Technology also may be called ‘taveel’; technology is also observational proof which testifies knowledge. Sura yunus-39 also implies that, like ‘khabar’, ‘taveel’ is also exposed at a certain point of time. We may infer that each technology is manifested at a particular time. Those people who deny that Quran is embodiment of all types of knowledge put forward logic that if it had been so, all technological advancements would have taken place in the age when Quran was revealed. This logic is proved wrong in the light of yunus-39 which states that taveel/technology comes on the surface at certain point of time.
It is important to note that according to yunus-39 the ‘taveel’ has not come only to the people disbelieving intellectually the truthfulness of Quran; other persons may be having access to such ‘taveel’. In other words, we may say that all people pondering over Quran do not have equal level of understanding of Quran; Quran says “over every possessor of knowledge is one [more] knowing” (Yousuf-76). If any person’s understanding of Quran leads him disbelieving in the truthfulness of Quran, he should be assured that there is someone having superior understanding of Quran, who can make such disbeliever believe in the truthfulness of Quran.
According to one ‘rawayat’ “Allah has revealed Quran with five levels”. While substantiating this ‘rawayat’ on the basis of Quran, we may infer that these levels of understanding of Quranic knowledge are vertical and can be accessed only one after the other. Access to each of these levels is associated with a certain level of spiritual elevation.
The first level of understanding of Quranic knowledge is ‘kitaab-e-mastoora’. Quran has been called by this name many times: “And [by] a Book inscribed (mastoor)” (al-toor-2); “And there is no city but that We will destroy it before the Day of Resurrection or punish it with a severe punishment. That has ever been in the Book inscribed -mastoora” (Isra-58). This is in the Book inscribed (al-ahzaab-6). At this level, one can have access to the grammatical meanings of Quran’s written words. This is the level of Quranic knowledge pertaining to facts and events apparently described in the Quran. This is the level of Quranic knowledge associated with common Muslims/ ‘muttaqeen’. “This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah” (al-baqra-2).
The second level of access to Quranic knowledge is ‘kitab-e-mubeen’. At this level of Quranic knowledge, access is granted to facts and events described by inference, not apparently described, in the Quran. At this level, Quranic knowledge pertaining to natural laws (physical and social) relating to this world is accessed to. Quran says: “everything unseen in the sky and earth has been described in “kitab-e-mubeen” (al-naml-75). Every ‘khabar’ relating to this world has also been mentioned in the ‘kitab-e-mubeen’. “And no moist or dry [thing] (in the darkness of earth) but that it is[written] in a ‘kitab-e-mubeen’ (al-anam-59). “And there is no creature on earth but that upon Allah is its provision, and He knows its place of dwelling and place of storage. All is in a “kitab-e-mubeen” (hud-6). This is the level of Quranic knowledge/ information relating to both changeable and unchanged destiny of every person/ mankind; but the person having access to this level can’t differenciate between changeable and unchanged destiny. This level of Quranic knowledge/ information is associated with ‘mumineen’.
Both levels of Quranic knowledge/information described above can be accessed by non-Muslims as well; in Quran, non-Muslims have not been excluded from having access to these both levels. But they have been excluded explicitly from having access to the third level of Quranic knowledge/ information.
The third level of Quranic knowledge is called ‘kitab-e-maknoon’. This level is different from the second level in some aspects. For instance, this is the level of Quranic knowledge, which non-Muslims cannot have access to. “Indeed, it is a noble Qur'an. In a ‘kitab-e-maknoon’. None touch it except the purified” (al-waqiah-77-79). It means non-Muslims cannot be first recipient of Quranic knowledge of ‘kitab-e-maknoon’. However they can receive this knowledge from its Muslim recipients.
Another difference as compared to second level is that the third level pertains to unchanged destiny of persons/mankind. “Allah eliminates what He wills or confirms, and with Him is the ‘ummul kitab’ (al-ra,ad-39). Out of two types of destiny-changeable and unchanged- Allah eliminates the changeable one (depending upon His Will and actions of the concerned people) and the unchanged destiny may be accessed to at the third level of Quranic knowledge/information. This level of Quranic understanding is associated with ‘mutahharin’/purified.
The fourth level is ‘kitab-ul-hakim’. Quranic verses have been described as “ the signs of the Wise Book (kitab-ul-hakim)” [al-luqman-2). This level provides rationale of all natural laws working in this world; and rationale of all events happening in this world. This level pertains to knowledge as to why natural laws and events are like as they are. This level of Quranic knowledge is associated with ‘muhsaneen’.
The fifth level is ‘ummul kitab’. Quran has been called by this name in al-imran-7 which states: “It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise/ ‘muhkamat’ - they are the foundation of the Book/ummul kitab”. Sura zu khraf-2-4 states: “By the ‘kitab-e-mubeen’. Indeed, We have made it an Arabic Qur'an that you might understand. And indeed it is, in ‘ummul kitab’ with Us, exalted and full of wisdom”. This level of Quranic knowledge provides the Basic Principles from which natural laws and events originate. Al-imran-7 also states that these Basic Principles are found in the verses which are ‘muhkamat’/precise. There are two kinds of verses in the Quran; firstly those which are ‘mutashabihat’-these are not so precise/easy to understand; secondly those which are ‘muhkamat’- these are precise/easy to understand in nature. The Basic Principles which are origin of natural laws and events happening in this world are to be discovered out of Quranic verses which are precise in nature. This fifth level of Quranic knowledge is associated with ‘mutwaqqalin’.
‘Lohe Mahfooz’ is just a compilation of all these five levels of Quranic knowledge/ information.