The beginning of revelations, Muhammad while mediating in a cave on the Mecca hill side, received from Allah through Gabriel, are quoted in following two verses:
Read! In the name of your Lord who created:
He created man from a clinging drop.
Read! Your Lord is the Most Generous
Who taught by the pen,
Taught man what he did not know (96: 1-5)
You, wrapped in your cloak,
Arise and give warning!
Proclaim the greatness of your Lord;
Keep away from all defilement;
Do not be overwhelmed and weaken;
But be steadfast in your Lord’s cause (74:107)
Practically, from the beginning of revelation, it is deduced that Quran is a book rooted in history, responding to the Prophet’s thoughts and actions, reacting to happenings in his life, contextually in a particular culture addressing a specific community. Moreover, Quran’s teachings are with eternal, spiritual and circumstantial standpoint thus, should be interpreted in the backdrop of today’s global society of multiculturalism and with civil rights. It requires a systemic approach to understanding the Quran with reference to the events of the day and the milieu in which it was revealed and thus, to grasp the intention behind the verses and then implementing those in our own context and culture. This may lead to huge departure from traditional theology and jurisprudence.
The companions of the Prophet (Shahaba) had clearly seen the Quran in contextual perspective, thus Caliph, Omar suspended punishments for thefts mentioned in Quran during a famine, obviously understanding the circumstantial need.