My Opinion of Yusuf Ali’s Translation.

Had a discussion on Quranist Reverts and Converts Support Group where I gave an opinion about Yusuf Ali’s translation, for whatever it’s worth:

I’m not a big fan, I’m afraid. To me, Yusuf Ali’s language embodies a sort of a post-Christian spirituality which isn’t bad in itself but not congruent with what I percieve to be the religious philosophy of the Quran. I will show you a…n example:

If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to allah., never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter He will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). (3/85)

There is no ‘all spiritual good’ there and Yusuf Ali knew this hence why he put the phrase in brackets. The thing is, what made him think that it was the implication anyway? The Quran doesn’t operate in the realm of the spiritual only. In fact, it makes no distinction between the spiritual and material at all.


Reply to A Big Pain in the Rear

Sometimes you don’t know whether a guy is kidding or what. We had a guy in Quranology Discussions FB who actually told us to take down our sites, delete our groups because it ‘ran contrary to Islam’. Amazing. Well, one of our main guys, Ifti, decided to reply to this Big Pain. Here’s his fantastic reply:

I  have identified a person who is trying to play “GOD” for a long time and here I am here to reply to him and all associated with him. Please read this note very carefully and use your own logic and brain. I am sure you would be able to definitely understand, as all of this is in english.

First things first.

What is Quranology?

A group where we TRY to understand the Quran by collecting various opinions, ideas, point of views, studies etc. The group is open for whose who are tolerant, polite, peaceful and have logic. You always have to keep in mind that you have to agree to disagree and should not curse other people as some try to. And also should never try to play God.

You do not have to agree with the person’s views all what is required is to be polite and peaceful which definitely lacks in Mr. Mahtab Hossain.

Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and argue with them in the best way possible. Your Lord surely knows best who has gone astray from His way, and He knows best who are the rightly guided (Quran 16:125)

We in our group may have various opinions about what is what and what could be. We however, do not stop anyone from offering 5 times salaat. There are people who offer 5 times, 3 times, 20 times etc. I would ask Mahtab Hossain now, would he stop the person praying 30 times salaat and will he say that he/she is not a muslim? who gave him the right to decide? is he God? of course he is just a human being who is trying very hard to prove something out here. In our group if you pray 5 times or 50 times it does not really matter. Yes we do pray but we do not have the liability to tell a human how and when we pray coz our prayer are not to show off to people they are for God. Isnt Allah the one to decide who is Muslim who is not? 

Mahtab said in his note:-

“They do not give any Importance to our Prophet Muhammad (SAS). They just think that he was like any other Muslims like us. But they never realize that he was never like us nor was he a Super Man.”

Can he prove what he is saying? We never said that we do not give any importance to Prophet Muhammad. We acknowledge that the Quran is revealed to Prophet Muhammad and also we remember the verse quoted below:-

The Messenger believeth in what hath been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believeth in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. “We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His messengers.” And they say: “We hear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness, our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys.” (Quran 2:285)

I know you are intelligent people and after this verse I do not have to emphasise on anything else.

We do not preach anything as I have explained earlier the motive of the group is to collect various opinions and analyze them without any hatered to people. So even if you are a christian or hindu or anything and if you have something valuable to share you are most welcome to understand and to share.

Furthermore, Mr. Mahtab has connected us with some shia regime which I do not know what it is but he has to definitely prove it. Or else he is a liar and he must accept that.

Mr. Mahtab is also trying to disturb the peace by calling war on us innocent people for just trying to understand the Quran. He wants to kill us which is a death threat and is definitely calling attention.

He Quotes few verses which you should check yourselves and it does not say anything about praying 5 times. Again its upon us individual to answer Allah not to Mahtab.

Please read this verse carefully:-

And Allah most certainly knows those who believe, and as certainly those who are Hypocrites (Quran 29:11)

Mr. Mahtab did not hesitate a single bit in calling us Munafiqs or asking us if we are Muslims or not well the Quran is clearly saying its only Allah who knows it and it did not mention “Mahtab” its written Allah there. Now I ask you people whoever he is corrupting agaisnt us. Will you be agreeing with what he is saying when he is clearly taking the authority what Allah and only Allah has? Are you really going to support him for this? well its upon you what you choose and we are all answerable to Allah definitely.

There is nothing like a true muslim (Muslimo Sadiqun) or something like that in the holy Quran if you really read the Quran you will never find the word true Muslim. I dont know how many of you would like to go with him on something which is illogical. If Muslim means submitter to God there cannot be a true or false. Go figure.

Dear people please note that it is God who will decide who is on the right path and who is not . Not some retired guy who does not have anything to do except threatening people and  including our names in his false accusations. 

And say: “Truth has  arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is bound to perish.”

Thank you

– Iftikhar Uddin

Al-Kitab and the Tri-Religious Myth

There was a deleted wiki article detailing the view that al-kitab was the same for all the prophet. Although I no longer believe ‘al-kitab’ refers to the same thing throughout the Quran, I do believe all Quranic personalities recieved the same teachings (as per 16/89 and 41/43).

Rizwan Sherazi made a very insightful statement in this thread about the deleted article. He said: Without exploding the Tri-Religous myth, and understanding the time old existence of Al Kitab (46:4) The truest meanings of Quran stay hidden and largely unaccesable

All I can say is HELL YES! I am currently doing a study of ahl al-kitab in my own blog and I have found that liberating this phrase from the Tri-Religious Myth has yielded its universal meaning. The Quran is actually now very universal for me. This is also true for concepts like ‘hadoo’, nasara and ‘yahood’ which sadly have been limited as Jews and Christians. Lets hope someone writes a tract to explode this myth soon. We need the Quran to speak for us, not just the Semitic religions.


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.

Suhuf al-oola

Rizwan Sherazi gave a riveting lecture on the ahlul kitab today in which he mentioned that ‘suhuf al-oola’ refered to the earlier part of the Quran (the early pages). It was a very interesting thought because if it were about pages of the ancients, it would be suhuf al-awwaleen. However, looking at 87/18-19, suhuf al-oola is then followed by the statement ‘suhufan ibraheema wa musa’. Since this is the case, could it be talking about the fragments of information from the time of Ibrahim or Musa? Or perhaps the stories of Ibrahim and Musa? I’m still uncertain…..

The Promise of the Ibada Study

Whenever I see in the Concordance of the Quran an entry more than a page long, I get scared off. Hence my extreme feet-dragging about concepts like rabb, ilm and ayah…and of course ibadah. However, a few days ago I looked at OpenBurhan for a verse with the word ‘a3budoo’ and realised that the study of ibadah yields some very interesting results. Check this out:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُلُوا مِنْ طَيِّبَاتِ مَا رَزَقْنَاكُمْ وَاشْكُرُوا لِلَّهِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ إِيَّاهُ تَعْبُدُونَ

O you who believe, eat from the good things we provided for you, and be thankful to GOD, if you do worship Him alone (2/172)
iyyahu ta3bduoon (if you worship him alone) shows that a level of tawheed which is strange for a command about consumption! Ibada is definitely something more than I previously thought…

Sulaiman and the Queen Part I

I was reading the story of Sulaiman and the Queen in chapter 27 the other day and found myself questioning the traditional interpretation (I know, shock horror, right?). Here are some of my thoughts.

27/16 And inherited Sulaiman David and he said, “Oh you people, we have been taught speech of the bird [al-tayri] and we have been given from every thing/matter [utina min kulli shay]. Indeed, this is surely the bounty [al fadlu] evident.

Sulaiman is addressing the people. Note how the pronoun ‘we’ is used to refer to the skills that have been bestowed by God. A literal understanding of ‘mantiqa al-tayri’, (speech of the bird) would imply the people of Sulaiman could communicate with birds and was not just an ability granted to the Prophet alone.

Although there is nothing to suggest it wasn’t a literal skill, there are also possible symbolic meanings layered within the verse. There is a suggestion that Sulaiman and his people were able to communicate with beings that were free and had ability of flight, possibly in a metaphorical sense. The ability to communicate and thus come to common terms with people/beings that are otherwise free without conquering or subjugating them is a gift and a blessing.

Also, I noted that the verse says Sulaiman and his people were ‘utina min kulli shay’, ‘given from every thing/matter’. This is interesting when analysing 27/23.

27/18 Until when they came upon the valley/lowly [wadi] of the ant [al namli]. Said an ant, “Oh you of ant! Enter your dwellings, not will break you apart Sulaiman and his hosts whilst they do not perceive.”

Although these could literally be ants, I’m not entirely convinced they are. The call is for the ‘namlatun’ to hide in their dwellings in the hope Sulaiman and his hosts do not see them, hence ‘they will not crush you whilst they don’t see you’. It seems that Sulaiman’s army was greatly feared.

Is there a contrast being made here between the bird, i.e. something that flies in the sky freely, and the ant, something that crawls on the floor, vulnerable? Sulaiman is portrayed as interacting with both i.e. he had knowledge of how to speak with those who are free and in flight and understood those who crawl and were at his mercy.

Sulaiman is given word of the Queen:

27/23 “Indeed I found a woman ruling them and she has been given from every thing/matter [utiyat min kulli shay] and for her a dominion [‘arsh] great.

Notice the Queen was also ‘utiyat min kulli shay’, just like Sulaiman back in 27/16. Does that mean she was also given the speech of the bird and skills ascribed to Sulaiman? If yes, then can Sulaiman’s skills really be considered a miracle if the Queen was given the same? She is also described as having a great ‘arsh’, usually translated as ‘throne’. Would the throne not imply a great dominion? The traditional interpretation of a grand, big chair doesn’t sit well with me (no pun intended).

Sulaiman then sends a message to the Queen.

27/31 “That not exalt yourselves against me but come to me as muslims.”

What I find interesting is that she does not fear Sulaiman when discussing with her chiefs. It supports the idea that she was also ‘utiyat min kulli shay’ and was perhaps on par with the Prophet in terms of worldly means. She does not comply with the demand of the Prophet and in fact sends messengers with a counter-offer. Sulaiman refuses.

27/38 He said, “Oh you chiefs! Which of you will come to me with her dominion [‘arsh] before that they come to me as muslims?

Now we’re probably all familiar with what the traditional interpretation is: that Sulaiman was asking someone to bring the Queen’s chair to him. This is not how I read it.

I believe Sulaiman was asking who amongst his people could deliver her dominion to him i.e. her chiefs, administrators and those who ensure her rule, before he conquers them. He wants someone to turn her officials.

27/39 Said a strong one of the jin, “I will come to you with it before you rise from your place. And indeed I am for it surely strong and trustworthy.”

The means of force is being offered here. Does Sulaiman accept this method? Remember, he has been given ability from every matter/thing, so he has much at his disposal. Instead, we see Sulaiman adopting a different approach in the next verse: use of The Book.

27/40 Said one who had knowledge from the Book, “I will bring it with you before that returns to you your glance.” So when he saw it settled before him, he said, “This is from the favour of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful. And whoever is grateful – his gratitude is only for himself. And whoever is ungrateful – then indeed, my Lord is Free of need and Noble.”

Thus the one with knowledge of The Book is appointed the task. He succeeds. The dominion of the Queen is settled before Sulaiman.

The words of Sulaiman come across as strange if all that was placed before him was a fancy chair. I believe what was presented to him was the chiefs/administrators of the Queen’s dominion. The favour from his Lord was that he now had within his grasp a whole new kingdom/domain without fighting. The Book was sufficient in converting those who held the keys to the Queen’s power. Sulaiman is reminding himself to be grateful and show restraint.

27/41 He said, “Deny [nakkiru] for her her dominion [arsh], we will see whether she will be guided or will be of those who are not guided.

Although I’ve translated it as ‘deny’, I was speaking to Farouk earlier who suggested that ‘nakkiru’ means disguise. I’m not decided yet either way, but the verse is suggesting that her ‘arsh’ be presented in a way that she would not have access to them.

7/42 So when she came it was said, “Is thus your dominion [‘arshuki]?” She said “It is as if it is.” “And we were given the knowledge [al-‘ilm] before her and we have been muslims.”

She is not stupid. She knows something is up. I believe the response, “and we were given the knowledge [al-‘ilm] before her and we have been muslims,” is coming from her dominion [arsh] that had converted to muslims. They are telling her that they received the knowledge via the one who was sent by Sulaiman and had abandoned her rule. They became muslims behind her back.

27/43 And averted her what she did worship alongside Allah. Indeed she was from a people disbelieving/ungrateful [kaafirina].

Her ungratefulness had cost her not her fancy chair, but her kingdom.

27/44 It was said to her, “Enter the [al-sarha]” Then when she saw it/him she thought it/him excessive [lujjatan] and uncovered from her shanks [saqayha]. He said “Indeed it is [sarhun] smoothed/softened [mumarradun] from glass/crystal [qawarira]. She said, “My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, and I submit in place with Sulaiman to Allah the Lord of the Worlds.

I’ve left a few words untranslated here as I haven’t quite finished my studies on them. Understanding this verse requires a new look at the word ‘sarha’ which is usually translated as ‘palace’ or ‘lofty tower’.  I’ll post my studies in part II, inshAllah.