There is a new method of studying history that is very popular in the West. It is called “the hobby-version of history.” What you do is take something you are interested in, be it swords, disease-bearing parasites or time-pieces, and then start seeing the whole of human history in terms of that particular thing. McNeill, a historian from Chicago, U.S.A. did it ten years ago with a history of civilization written entirely in terms of disease. Now a Harvard Scholar, David S. Landes, has done the same thing with clocks. His book is aptly entitled Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World.
Muslim scholars have, in recent time, applied the same method to their study of the Quran. Some are especially interested in politics; they see the whole of the Quran as a sort of political treatise, telling people how a political system, which corresponds to the will of God, can be established on earth. Some see law and jurisprudence as the all-important factor in human life; to them every verse of the Quran bears legal implications.
History is the study of humankind’s life on earth. If one looks at history objectively, taking into account all the factors concerned, one will find that it has much to say on how to be successful in this world. The Quran is about a person’s eternal life. It shows him how to act on earth for success in the next life.
One cannot learn from history if it is only seen in the light of one particular theme, because many other factors which have contributed to the development of human civilization will then simply be passed over. Likewise the true message of the Quran cannot be understood if it is viewed from the subjective angle of one’s own special interest. The fact is that the Quran is essentially a book of divine guidance, showing us the way to eternal salvation.