Books and Documents

Islamic Ideology (11 Jun 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)


  • If it is so clear to you, why was it not clear to so many other ulama? And why can't we respect Buddhism on its own terms rather than seek its flimsy corroboration in our Book?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 6/19/2019 1:01:51 PM

  • That the correct meaning is very clear is what I have already shown and also explained the reservation for openly endorsing Buddhism.

    The Quran does not say that the Mutashabihat verses are clear to all but only the Muhkamat verses. These are Mutashabihat verses which when not clear, should not be speculated upon but when the correct meaning is arrived at, we know that it is the correct meaning.  Most of the Mutashabihat verse are also clear but a few have remained unclear for centuries. For example verse 24:35, 7:172 and a few more. These are like puzzles which become clear only after the puzzle is solved. It remains a puzzle until we acquire  the exact knowledge required to know what the metaphors used mean. For example, a person who does not know that Buddha received his enlightenment under a Fig tree will not be able to figure out the metaphor of The Fig in the verse.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/19/2019 2:56:41 AM

  • Naseer sb. says, "The lack of a better explanation is proof of its correctness."
    Is Quran a Book that needs explanation or is it a Book that is clear?

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 6/18/2019 1:02:30 PM

  • When you have nothing to say either way and cannot offer any better explanation, why do you say anything at all? 
    The lack of a better explanation is proof of its correctness.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/18/2019 3:59:09 AM

  • Naseer sb.,
    You lie again when you say I have no problem with Buddha's prophethood. All I said was, "I have not said a word about Buddha's prophethood. Why do you lie so much? "
    "A Book that is clear" would itself clarify what it meant by "The Fig",  "The Olive",  "The Mount of Sinai"  and "The City of Sanctuary". Any meanings offered by self-appointed scholars are just guesses and not worth a dime.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin Faruki - 6/17/2019 12:55:25 PM

  • So you don't have a problem with Buddha's prophethood?  Good.
    You also appear to uphold the principle that the Quran is "a Book that is clear"
    So, do you agree that "The Fig" signifies Buddha, "The Olive" signifies Jesus, "The Mount of Sinai" signifies  Moses and "The City of Sanctuary" signifies Muhammad?
    Or do you have a better explanation?
    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/17/2019 3:20:08 AM

  • Naseer sb. says, "most people will have a problem accepting Buddha as a prophet of Allah. GM sb is  one among the many who have such a problem."
    I have not said a word about Buddha's prophethood. Why do you lie so much? All I said was that you were overreaching when you saw endorsement of Buddha in Quranic verses and claimed, "There are certain things that the Quran merely hints at and is meant only for those who can understand and digest and not for everyone." You were in effect claiming that some passages, contrary to the principle of "a Book that is clear", can be understood only by Naseer sb. and by people wfo have an insight as sharp as Naseer sb.'s!
    The question of whether Buddha was a prophet or not cannot be tied down to what the Quran says or does not say, and certainly not on Naseer sb.'s exclusive understanding of what some verses mean.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin Faruki - 6/15/2019 12:46:33 PM

  • SA,   Surah 31 Luqman is about Luqman. If you go by what he preached, you would think that he was a prophet. But was he a prophet? The Quran does not say so nor is his name mentioned with the names of the rest of the prophets.

     (31:12) we bestowed (in the past) Wisdom on Luqman: "Show (thy) gratitude to Allah." Any who is (so) grateful does so to the profit of his own soul: but if any is ungrateful, verily Allah is free of all wants, Worthy of all praise.

    (13) Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: "O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing."

    (14) And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal.

    (15) "But if they strive to make thee join in worship with Me things of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to me (in love): in the end the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth (and meaning) of all that ye did."

    (16) "O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them).

    (17) "O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.

    (18) "And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster.

    (19) "And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass."

     We do not even know who Luqman was, where he lived and when, and what became of his son. What purpose does the story of Luqman in the Quran serve? It is to say that there are many men of Allah, bestowed with wisdom from Allah, and who preach what the prophets preached, but they are not necessarily prophets. We are not given the freedom to identify prophets based on what they say and their apparent wisdom and righteousness.

     Then there is the story of Zul Qarnain in the Quran. Is this story even a real one or the kind of story found in the Arabian Nights? The style adopted by the Quran while narrating this story is that of narrating a fable and not a true story. This is the only part in the Quran where the style changes dramatically and becomes metaphorical which has misled many who take it literally. Why is this story even there in the Quran? It was as an answer to the questions Jews asked the Prophet to test whether he was really receiving revelations from Allah. There are FOUR stories in Surah Kahf which are not found in the Jewish scriptures but only in their oral traditions. The story of the people of the Cave is a true one based on the style of narration and the second one too could be true,while the third is certainly true as it involves Moses, but the fourth about Zul Qarnain may only be a fable popular among the Jews.

     Yusuf Ali writes a long note trying to figure out who Zul Qarnain was and conjectures that he may have been Alexander the great when there is little resemblance in their stories.  While one was a mighty conqueror, the other was a mighty traveller. And while Zul Qarnain may have been a prophet, Alexander cannot even be considered a man of God. What purpose does this story in the Quran then serve? It says very subtly that religion is for the city people and not for the simple tribal folks who live in the forests. These people may be left alone to lead their lives of innocence even if they go about naked. This point is of course missed by every commentator of the Quran who go on a wild goose change trying to figure out who Zul Qarnain may have been when he is probably only a mythical figure in a fable told.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/15/2019 6:09:14 AM

  • A man with even a modicum of wisdom will not debate so much with such little knowledge. He would readily understand and accept, that irrespective of what the Fig signifies, the adjuration is emphasizing that every messenger of Allah has brought the same message explaining what it takes to succeed  in this life and the Hereafter. While Surah 95 is swearing by all the messengers of Allah through time, Surah 103 is swearing by Time itself as witness. Is that so difficult to understand?

    The article acknowledges that most people will have a problem accepting Buddha as a prophet of Allah. GM sb is  one among the many who have such a problem. What is the big deal about being one among the many doubters?

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/15/2019 6:02:40 AM

  • There are four stories in Surah Kahf and not three as mentioned in my previous comment.

    1. The story of the people of the cave
    2. The story of the two gardens and their owners
    3. The story of Al Khidr and Moses
    4. The story of Zul Qarnain

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/15/2019 5:47:35 AM

  • Thank you Naseer. The translation of Yusuf Ali is wonderful. I read it many years ago. Even if he considers that Budha could be a prophet , it should be taken seriously.

     Is there any reliable work on identifying prophets not mentioned in the Quran ?

     Is there any app or site from where one can search ayats containing some words, context or topic?
    For example if I key in the word zakat , all ayats referring to it would show up , preferably with translation.

    By S. A. - 6/15/2019 12:18:58 AM

  • The meaning of the metaphors is in your mind. If the meaning is so obvious, why did no one else see it? As they say, ""The wish is father to the thought".

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 6/12/2019 1:03:00 PM

  • SA thanks for your comment. I just checked up Yusuf Ali's commentary on the Surah. He does mention the possibility of The Fig referring to Buddhism based on what some others have suggested  but with grave reservations.  The scholars do not seem to have any hesitation in mixing up the metaphors! The complete notes of Yusuf Ali on the verses are reproduced below:
     By the Fig and the Olive,

    The substantive proposition is in verse 4-8, and it is clinched by an appeal to four sacred symbols. viz., the Fig, the Olive, Mount Sinai, and the sacred City of Makkah . About the precise interpretation of the first two symbols, and especially of the symbol of the Fig, there is much difference of opinion. If we take the Fig literally to refer to the fruit or the tree, it can stand as a symbol of man's destiny in many ways. Under cultivation it can be one of the finest, most delicious, and most wholesome fruits in existence: in its wild state, it is nothing but tiny seeds, and is insipid, and often full of worms and maggots. So man at his best has a noble destiny: at his worst, he is "the lowest of the low". Christ is said to have cursed a fig tree for having only leaves, and not producing fruit (Matt. 21:18-29), enforcing the same lesson. There is also a parable of the fig tree in Matt. 24:32-35. See also the parable of the good and evil figs in Jeremiah, 24:1-10. But see n. 6198 below.

     It is possible that the Olive here refers to the Mount of Olives, just outside the walls of the City of Jerusalem, for this is the scene in the Gospel story (Matt. 24:3-4) of Christ's description of the Judgement to come.

    2. And the Mount of Sinai,

     This was the Mountain on which the Law was given to Moses. The Law was given, and the glory of Allah was made visible. But did Israel faithfully obey the Law thereafter?

    3. And this City of security,-

     "This City of security" is undoubtedly Makkah. Even in Pagan times its sacred character was respected, and no fighting was allowed in its territory. But the same City, with all its sacred associations, persecuted the greatest of the Prophets and gave itself up for a time to idolatry and sin, thus presenting the contrast of the best and the worst.

     Having discussed the four symbols in detail, let us consider them together. It is clear that they refer to Allah's Light or Revelation, which offers man the highest destiny if he will follow the Way. Makkah stands for Islam, Sinai for Israel , and the Mount of Olives for Christ's original and pure Message. It has been suggested that the Fig stands for the Ficus Indica, the Bo-tree, under which Gautama Buddha obtained Nirvana. I hesitate to adopt the suggestion, but if accepted it would cover pristine Buddhism and the ancient Vedic religions from which it was an offshoot. In this way all the great religions of the world would be indicated. But even if we refer the Fig and the Olive to the symbolism in their fruit, and not to any particular religion, the contrast of Best and Worst in man's destiny remains, and that is the main thing.

    This raises a doctrinal question of considerable importance: how does Islam view the ancient vedic religions and Buddhism, or for that matter, any other religion?

    As Muslims we are not in a position to affirm whether Budha was a prophet or not. Although the Qur'an states that Allah sent Prophets to every people (35:24), it does not mention the names of all of them. In fact it mentions by name relatively few of the Prophets of the Semitic tradition, or only such as with whom its first audience, the Arabs were generally familiar. As to its present form, we find the doctrines of Buddhism clearly at variance with monotheism and cardinal Principles of the True Religion as explained in the Qur'an. This may have been the result of distortion or loss by the followers of its original teachings.

    As a general rule, we cannot describe anyone as a Prophet or Messenger of Allah unless explicitly mentioned in the Qur'an, or Hadith. The Message as brought by Prophet Muhammad preserves in itself all that was essential in the earlier revelations or scriptures: it abrogates all the previous messages sent through earlier Prophets.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/12/2019 2:22:36 AM

  • GM sb specializes in contradicting me which is most welcome provided it is constructive. Can he or anyone else give a better explanation of the adjuration?

     (95:1) By the Fig and the Olive,

    (2) And the Mount of Sinai,

    (3) And this City of security,-

     The metaphors of the City Of Security and the Mount of Sinai are clear and beyond dispute.

    So what could the metaphor "The Fig and the Olive mean"?

    Look at the sheer balance in the metaphors. Two of the Metaphors "The Fig Tree" and "The Mount of Olives" have a fruit in them and are combined. 

    Christianity and Judaism are discussed in detail in the Quran and therefore mentioning these religions explicitly cannot be mistaken as a full endorsement of these religions in their present form.  Buddhism is not discussed in the Quran at all and therefore a direct reference to it could be inferred as full endorsement of Buddhism in its present state which has been avoided in my view.

    These verses use metaphors and are therefore among the Mutashabihat verses. These are not "Muhkamat"  verses to be taken literally. The Muhkamat verses are for all to understand. The Mutashabihat are for those endued with understanding and if some people fail to understand, it does not matter. 

     When using metaphors, how well Allah combines two explicit metaphors with two implicit ones to communicate a certain reservation about one of them, because the subject matter of what it refers to has not been discussed in the Quran. Combining with it the metaphor of Olive, makes it easy to understand the metaphor of The Fig. While partially hiding the meaning of the metaphor of "The Fig and the Olive", Allah also provides a very clear clue to their meaning in the way He uses them with two other explicit metaphors the meaning of which is very clear. The brevity and the precision with which the Quran communicates what it wants to communicate, is another clear proof of the Quran being a Book full of Wisdom.

     While understanding the meaning of the metaphor of the “The Fig and the Olive” has eluded the scholars, but once the correct meaning has been explained, its meaning no longer remains in doubt. The correctness of a truth statement is always self-evident, verifiable and easily proved wrong if it is wrong. Try proving it wrong or try coming up with a better explanation.

     However, most Muslims will continue to disbelieve in the correct meaning because they are conditioned to reject even Christianity and Judaism which are explicitly endorsed in the Quran and therefore they taking the Fig to refer to Buddha or Buddhism is very difficult indeed. The Muslims and their scholars will never be able to come up with a better explanation nor prove what I have said wrong and therefore the meaning of “The Fig and the Olive” will remain a mystery to them and the scholars will continue to engage themselves in trying to discover more magical powers in the two fruits while wondering all the time why on earth Allah had to swear by such ordinary fruits and not by something more exquisite such as saffron or pistachio or almond or hazel nut! It is in such an environment of confusion and lack of clarity that the mumbo jumbo of mysticism thrives.

     I have explained the meaning without any disclaimers because logically speaking, there can be no other meaning, and as I have repeatedly said, logically derived meanings are as good as if the same was stated explicitly in the Book.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 6/12/2019 12:24:39 AM

  • Naseer a very difficult topic extremely well written. Must congratulate you on your presentation.
    But still I am not convinced about the Budha reference.
    Has anyone else given such a reference ?

    As you have tried to connect a tree with Budha , have you come across any other such verse.
    Yes the Quran says that it has sent many prophets in every land speaking their tongues.
    It is a tough topic to research and find who they could be.

    By S. A. - 6/11/2019 11:41:06 PM

  • Naseer sb. takes whatever meaning suits him from a given verse. For example, he says, " The subtlety could be because Buddhism has changed over the years into worship of Buddha and the Quran therefore refrains from explicitly endorsing it in its present state. "

    He then adds, "There are certain things that the Quran merely hints at and is meant only for those who can understand and digest and not for everyone." In other words some passages, contrary to the principle of "a Book that is clear", can be understood only by Naseer sb. and by people wfo have an insight as sharp as Naseer sb.'s.

    He further says, "Most Muslim scholars have waxed eloquent on the virtues of the Fig and Olive as a fruit and it does not bother them to mix the metaphors. Imam Razi is among them." 

    Is there any scholar who got the same meaning that Naseer sb. does? He does not name any!

    Making connections when no one else has seen those connections seems to be Naseer sb.'s speciality.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 6/11/2019 11:48:49 AM