Did God not know the Exact Number?

Good question on Quranology Discussion today:
37:147 – And We sent him to [his people of] a hundred thousand or more.
Doesn’t God know know their exact number or what?

Excellent question! I would personally question the translation of miataun alf (so-called 100,000). I dont know abot mi’ah but alf for example is close to the word ‘ta’alluf’ which means to stick together.

Meaning vs Metaphor

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.

Rajeem & Kareem

The other day during a conversation with Farouk, I mentioned how “rajeem” is exactly in the same format as “raheem”, “kareem”, “saqeem”, “samee'” and many other words. The traditional understanding roughly translates or presents the word rajeem as to mean “the accursed, the banished” which would mean that kareem must be “the one we are compassionate with” and samee’ would be “the one heard” which is utter blasphemy.

In conclusion, rajeem must be “the one who banishes” instead of being the object.

A detailed description coming up, i’A. 🙂

Answering the Submitter’s claims re 9/128-129

Been having some discussions with the Submitters about the so-called ‘false verses’. I must say, the reasons they give are sorely disappointing. One reason in particular is the thematic incongruence of 9/128-129. In other words, 9/128-129 doesn’t fit the ‘flow’ of the chapter. Lets see a few verses before 9/128-129:

9/123: O ye who believe! fight the unbelievers who gird you about, and let them find firmness in you: and know that God is with those who fear Him.
124: Whenever there cometh down a sura, some of them say: “Which of you has had His faith increased by it?” Yea, those who believe,- their faith is increased and they do rejoice
125: But those in whose hearts is a disease,- it will add doubt to their doubt, and they will die in a state of Unbelief.
126: See they not that they are tried every year once or twice? Yet they turn not in repentance, and they take no heed.
127: Whenever there cometh down a Sura, they look at each other, (saying), “Doth anyone see you?” Then they turn aside: God hath turned their hearts (from the light); for they are a people that understand not.

So this is talking about fighting those who oppose peace and justice. The coming of the sura shows the coming of a cogent message which has different reactions from the believers and the hypocrites. Now lets see 9/128-129:

128: Now hath come unto you an messenger from amongst yourselves: it grieves him that ye should perish: ardently anxious is he over you: to the Believers is he most kind and merciful.
129: But if they turn away, Say: “God sufficeth me: there is no god but He: On Him is my trust,- He the Lord of the Throne (of Glory) Supreme

Why is this problematic? It’s talking about the messenger’s role in the experience of revelation. The messenger helps to comfort the believers during those trying times.

Still not satisfied? Well lets have a look at 8/1. Why 8/1 when we were talking about chapter 9? Because they are the same chapter! There’s no basmalah in between them! 8/1 says:

They ask you about the bounties Say, “The  bounties is for Allah and the Messenger.” So fear Allah and amend that which is between you and obey Allah and His Messenger, if you should be believers

So this is the opening of the subject! Allah and His messenger are both mentioned in 9/128-129. 8/1 opens the subject and 9/128-129.

So much for thematic incongruity….

One God – One Source are Muslims Deviating according to Allah?

Good question on Yahoo answers. My answer is as follows:

I think we need to separate between the dimension of IDEOLOGY and PRACTICE. Traditional Muslims have taken another source against the will of Allah as per the Quran. Have they DEVIATED? We can’t say that on the practical level although we believe so on the ideological level.

Traditional Muslims do good things as Roxie quoted 17/22-38. God will not let their efforts go to waste, inshaa Allah.

Criteria for being a muslim

Rizwan Ahmad of islamic-research.orgis fond of asking thought provoking questions and last night he asked:

Is there a criteria for being a Muslim, if so, what is it?
I particularly like Charles Lohman’s reply:
Criteria #1 is God!
Criteria #2 is Between you and God!
Criteria #3 – Repeat 1 through 2 in a circular way

I have never seen a more Quranic response than this. Indeed there really ISN’T any criteria except your personal experience with Allah. This is confirmed by Q 19/95:And all of them are coming to Him on the Day of Resurrection alone

How can we practise the Quran if we spend our lives trying to understand it?

Quranists, more than any other Muslim group in my opinion, have no ending in sight when it comes to constantly studying and revising their views on Quranic interpretation. It’s not that anything is wrong with us. It’s just that other Muslims don’t really think there’s anything more to the Quran than the interpretations which already exist. This is not to insult them but it’s not in their sphere of concerns. Try going into a Sunni or Shia bookshop and ask for a book which analyses the rendition of the story of Musa from chapter to chapter. You will draw a blank because the subject simply isn’t important enough.

But that leaves us with the question of the title:  How can we practise the Quran if we spend our lives trying to understand it?

To me, it works like this: We can practise the Quran immediately by simply reading some short chapters like al-fatiha, al-asr and al-ikhlas. Basically it tells us to believe in God, be good and what life is basically about. Practice according to your knowledge.

However, as you go on through life, you will experience more signs of God. The Quran is the clarification of these signs. We read the Quran, read our lives, then read the Quran, then practise and on and on.

The Quran’s depth in unfathomable. There are an unlimited number of angles which we can explore in the course of lives. Living must of course continue but the Quran acts as like God’s council to us. It keeps us on the straight path.

This is a very organic process and very individual. No two people read the same way so it’s good to share notes. The Quran is the perfect map for the travel of life.