Meaning vs Metaphor
June 8, 2011 1 Comment
As Quranists, many of us were often accused of taking the Quran to an excessive, over-metaphorical level. You would think this accusation came from anti-Quranic (and NOT Sunni, Shitte of other) parties, yet instead it came from fellow Quranists who first refused the name at the time Farouk was launching the website and forum (www.quranists.net)!
I can hardly say I’m religious in the terms of organized religion. My belief in God is still natural rather than based on a sacred text, which is safe for now. I figured that before reading the Quran again, I had to establish a mechanism, a way, a more appropriate language than the currently dealt-with Arabic, and a new (yes! brand new) mentality… and probably more age since I doubt my brain is developed enough for all this.
Many things in organized religion never appealed to me. The constant call for rituals that I did not understand (although I don’t deny the beauty of rituals), the unnecessary-seeming Quranic details (for example, why it was so important to say that Abraham offered his Angelic guests roasted beef, or why Moses was traveling with a Whale, he lost for some reason etc), and the constant call for fundamentalism – all these seemed of no value whatsoever.
So, many Quranists began to question these details. They were NOT questioning Allah SWT, and NOT questioning the validity of the Quran, but they were questioning the Quranist-Traditional (which Farouk might like to call QFists) understanding of Quranic verse.
Based on many Quranists challenging the current “silly” (oh, yes it is silly!) understanding of many well-known Quranic verses, other fellow Quranists accused them of exaggerating in extracting a metaphorical, symbolic, “wider” meaning, and by that “drifting away” from God, trying to “make our life easier by eliminating rituals”.
What is worse that all this is that these Quranists deny the title and study approach “Quranist”, prefer to be called on Muslims AND call any those who have tried to think harder, dig deeper and find another way “Quranists”, and by that refusing us, dividing the ummah on a mini-scale on the internet. I have absolutely no issue with people calling themselves “Muslims”. That is simply beautiful and up to them, but to entirely separate themselves from those who seek a wider Quranic meaning (which doesn’t include all Quranists) in the name of God? Why, any 17-year-old can spot the intolerance there!
In response, many Quranists stood up to say, “Yes, we do take the Quran metaphorically and we believe many verses were meant to be understood metaphorically!”
Here is where I highly disagree. There is no “metaphorical” meaning, but the words are deeper and have more angles than we assume. We’re not trying to find a metaphorical meaning in the Quran, but we’re trying to find the actual meaning!
Once you reach the point of realizing Salaat cannot be a ritual, you start wondering what ablution is for. Then you follow a trace, and you discover that “ablution” has much greater angles. Later on, you discover that the “whale/hoot” means something “unstable” and that this instability would visit The People of the Sabbath on the Day of “Sabbath” – the Day of “Rest” when they are under-equipped and unprepared for trouble.
I doubt the Quran is a life schedule, but it’s a grand philosophy by which Allah teaches those who seek guidance the means to patience, balance, “prayer” and life.
Traditional Islam created a whole new language called “al-mustalahat ash-sharia”, where (ironically) every Arabic word connected or found in the Quran has a “sharia” meaning and an “actual” meaning. For example, “safira” is a word Islamists use to describe an “exposed” hijabless woman, but they don’t tell you how it’s from the same root as the word “safar” which is found in the Quran, roughly translated as “traveling”. Now, everything has a twisted sharia meaning to fit into a religion that aims to drown you in sunnah details of eating with your right hand and entering the bathroom with your left foot.
I highly disrespect those who say Quranists joggle with root words (as if it’s a sin to brush up on our Arabic!). They would tell me the Quran is easy to understand which to them means that words have a limited range of meanings as long as the majority of translators agree to deliver to us, (good enough for any mediocre thinking style), EVEN if these words were based on hadith, historical sources and other things they themselves consider to be “dogmas”. Due to this faulty understanding of the Quran, they themselves end up relying on outside sources to complete their religion, such as using a calendar to know when Ramadaan is, although we made that calendar with our own hands.
God’s word is clear. Sure, but do your eyes know clarity? Are you not looking through the eyes of traditional, intolerant, “ban-thinking” people?
– Take the word “nisa'” for example, which, root-wise, has nothing to do with women! Can you find anyone who ever translated “nisa'” as anything beside “women”?
– Take the word “rajeem” (a word used in the Quran to describe the Devil) that everyone flipped from “the oft-banishing” to “the banished one”.
– Take how “fatayat” and “banat” are both translated as “daughters”, or how both “zawj” and “imra’a” are both translated as “wife”.
– Take how Satan is The Devil although the two concepts are different and featured separately in the story of Adam.
– Take how “jald” could mean many other things beside flogging and whipping.
– Take how Sujjud (prostrating) does not fit as “physical prostration” in many verses and means “submission” at the same time. Do you see how many people are afraid to give up the meaning stuck in their head (that sujjud is about kneeling and lowering your forehead to the ground) although it doesn’t always fit?
Understanding God’s word cannot and will not happen overnight. It’s a life-long journey of giving and taking.