Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
23 January 2017
Most Holy Scriptures are believed by their
followers to be the verbatim utterances of the Supreme Being- the God;
annunciating ‘Truth’ by dictating it to His messengers. For Muslims, that being
Allah, and the scripture Quran is the Kalaamullah-
Logos, the word of God, and generally contended as being holy. However some
verses of the Book itself, as understood from translations and comments, does
not support this contention. Couple of the verses are given here as examples:
(including woman!) is not worthy that God should speak with them except by
inspiration or from behind a screen or through a Messenger…”
It is argued therefore, that since all the
Messengers were ‘Bashar’- human person, a well-established fact in the Book;
hence even the Messengers of God as human beings were not given the honour of
spoken to directly by Him.
Referring to itself, the Book the Quran
declares that it is the word of Messenger, as ‘inspired’ by the Creator, to
propagate the message:
69:40-“For sure it
is the word of an honoured Apostle”. And so, mankind in turn received the
message through the Apostles.
The Arabic language of the time as used by
the Messenger Muhammad is the language that the desert dwellers used so that
the message imparted by him could be understood by them clearly:
13:4- “And We sent
no messenger but with the language of his people, so that he might explain to
them clearly. …” That seems to be a
logical statement in this regard.
Since the message is reputed to be for
mankind as a whole and mankind speaks many different languages, it is logical
that the messengers should be from amongst the audience too and speak the
language of the people to whom the message is given.
It is therefore argued that, since the
message is the same, propagated to humanity as a whole, then, if Quran’s Arabic
was God’s language, it would have been the universal language and used by all
previous Messengers. Clearly, that was never the case.
One aspect of the language of Quran that is
intriguing is that the Creator though did not speak directly to His creation
the messengers, yet strangely would take ‘oath’ after oath on His created
objects in the universe to emphasise His statement. Objects such as the sun,
the moon, the stars, the morning, the morning star, the night, the day, the
skies the earth, the fig, the olive, the mountain of Tur, the city of peace and
other functionalities of the universe like rain and its life giving benefits.
It is said that even today it is the custom
of the desert Arabs, during normal conversation to utter oaths on any object
that is considered important at the time, to put emphasis on the statement
being made. On reflection this is not as strange as it may seem since many
other people converse in the same style that appear idiosyncratic: wallaah, qasam-say, by god, I swear on
my mother’s head and so on.
Messenger Muhammad has used God’s created
object in his language to swear upon to emphasise that he was from amongst them
and spoke their folksy language. The spoken words therefore of the Book are
those of a ‘Bashar’, an Arab human
messenger and not those of God.
The infatuation with Arabic language being
God’s, has led Muslims to believe that everything of Arabs and Arabia is
therefore holy and godly. No different to the belief that if one is God’s son
then he must also be god! Hence the clamour to go to Hajj in Arabia as the
culmination of one’s religious achievement!
The essence of the proposition made here
· The medium of communication, Arabic has
no significance and is not holy.
· The Book itself is not holy and
therefore not an object of reverence.
· The associated personality, the
messenger is honoured but not holy and not reverential and worshipful.
This then sets the tone for “laa” - there
is nothing what so ever else in the Logos of laa Ilaaha. This is the
message of the Book and eliminates all icons and cults, that is, idols for
reverence which then become the object of worship. The worship, a human act
that is exclusively reserved and dedicated in service for the Universal
Creator; whatever is ones concept of the creator, he, she or it. The ‘He’ with
which that being is referred to in the Book, in common parlance indicates the
masculine, the Powerful as in all languages.
The Book seems to solve this conundrum by
saying that human imagination and vision cannot comprehend His form, the nature
and Kalam, it is infinite 31-27 etc. So, mankind is free to choose whatever
form for him but not to “associate” any other ‘he, she or it’ sharing His
The above dot points are the seminal
ingredients which when negated generate the basis for tangibles, visible and
conceived objects placed in the niches and on altars for mankind to worship. To
quote an Urdu poet –Meher who expressed his dismay in a lengthy poem: The
Lament of Quran, at what Muslims have done to a mere Book the Quran, and
expressed it beginning with the first couplet:
طاقوں میں سجایا جاتا ہوں، آنکھوں سے لگایا جاتا ہوں
تعویز بنایا جاتا ہوں، دھو دھو کے پلایا جاتا ہوں
As decorations I’m placed in the niches,
kissed and caressed with eyes,
Written as protective charms, I’m dissolved
and made to swallow (as cure)!
Such sentiments have been expressed by many
more poets and thinkers who are dismayed and even shocked at how many objects
Muslims hold as reverential and worthy of worship, negating the principle of
laa - but then hypocritically condemning
others for having idols!
Reverence and worship is not limited to
bowing, prostrating and rubbing one’s forehead on prayer rug or humming chants,
ringing bells and blowing horns, but the effect it has on one’s mental attitude
to those things. The submission to the revered tangibles, visible and
conceived, because it is believed they possess some sort of “power”, divine,
military or material over the worshiper; is what “associating” or “shirk” in the
Apostle’s language means.
In daily life when one comes across or
close to a high ranking official, dignitary, national international leader or
rich business tycoon; there is generated an awe and sense of expectation that
this closeness with the ‘lesser god’ will result in some benefits. And if that
dignitary happens to be a revered religious personality, the heaven is the
This ignorance of worshiper results in the
loss of human dignity that the laa- of the scripture came to eliminate. Nothing
else in human life matters and so has no place on its intellectual altar except
the one infinite force, he, she, it or god, that created the complex entity,
the universe whether with a Big Bang or just a whimper.
Inherent in this laa is the benefit that
humanity is equal and worthy of dignity under one master, whatever his form.
Those in positions of wielding any power on earth, if they were to grasp this
simple theology, philosophy, wisdom or knowledge, would see the permanent
benefit accruing to them as they would not need to wear the protective armor
and hire armed body guards, engage soothsayers and tie amulets against bullets!
Ms. Bhutto of Pakistan had visibly dozens of these tied on both arms and yet
was killed by a single bullet, supposedly riding in an armour-plated car!
A Japanese friend passed this pearl of
wisdom as an example of humility of the true leader:
Tao Te Ching- The text of the Taoist
How did the great rivers and seas get their
kingship over the hundred Lesser streams?
Through the merit of being lower than they:
That was how they got their Kingship!
Therefore the sage, in order to be above
Must speak as if he were lower than they.
In order to guide them he must put himself
Then when he is above, the people will have
When he is ahead, they will feel no hurt.
Humility, in the language of a similar
Apostle, it seems is the hallmark of the learned and knowledgeable people
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There is a difference between “inspired by
God” and “the verbatim word of God”. For instance, Bible was written by about
forty ordinary people inspired by God over a period of 2000 years without
knowing each other while maintaining the same theme and the moral code. If the
Bible is the verbatim word of God, then, there cannot be a single error; for
God, as we know, cannot make an error. If the Bible is claimed to be the
verbatim word of God and if there is an error, then the whole Bible can be a
Mr Sharma- I only said what the Book says. If “What
happens to the mutually conflicting ideas in these religions?” then WE must ask
the religionist. You have drawn your own conclusions it seems.
I say that 'Yes', it is so because the Book says that ALL apostles were given the SAME message. What happened to the message given in different languages over time is a guess work.
The Quran does not elevate the Arabic language to a higher status nor
does it bestow divinity on Muhammad (pbuh). The Quran is only the last of the
revealed scriptures and the earlier ones were in the languages of the people to
whom the messengers were sent. Language is simply a medium for
communication and it has never been a barrier to understand. The works of
scientists, philosophers, poets and litterateurs are freely translated and
understood. We do not ignore any great work simply because it was not
originally written in our language.
The Prophet is revered but not worshiped and this is established
through several verses of the Quran. There is not an iota of doubt that the
Messengers of Allah are to be revered and not worshiped. Neither does the Quran
elevate the Arabs because Muhammad was sent to them. As a matter of fact, the Quran
(9:97) The Arabs of the desert are the
worst in kufr and hypocrisy, and most unlikely to know the limits of what Allah
has sent down to His Messenger: But Allah is All-knowing, All-Wise.
“Not likely to know the limits of what Allah has sent down to His
messenger” applies till this day to many Muslims and they struggle with the simplest
of concepts although they read the Quran. It would appear therefore, that the
Arabs were chosen to receive the last revelations not because they are the best
of the people but because they are the worst! There are several other verses
that warn the Arabs that if they don’t behave, they will be replaced by other
people and the leadership of the Muslims has indeed slipped out of the hands of the Arabs
and today, they form just 15% of the Muslims. The Arabic language or the fact
that the Messenger was from among the Arabs has never been a barrier to either
the spread of Islam or to non-Arabs leading the Muslims.
The adjurations in the Quran are not oaths as commonly understood but a
literary device to put across a point with the help of what is familiar. These commonly
point to natural phenomena with a distinct characteristic of either faithfulness,
beauty, certainty, predictability or purity. These are the “Signs of God” with
which what is being said is paired with to give it the right emphasis. Why does
it surprise anyone if God draws attention to His signs? At times, these are
directly relevant. Take for example, Surah 95:
(1) By the Fig and the Olive,
(2) And the Mount of Sinai,
(3) And this City of security,-
(4) We have indeed created man in the best of moulds,
(5) Then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low,-
(6) Except such as believe and do righteous deeds: For they shall have a
(7) Then what can, after this, contradict thee, as to the judgment (to
(8) Is not Allah the wisest of judges?
The first three verses refer to the place associated with Messengers of God.
The Fig refers to the Fig tree under which Buddha received his enlightenment,
the Olive to the Mount of Olive associated with Jesus, the Mount of Sinai
associated with Moses and the City of Security or Mecca associated with
Muhammad. The rest of the verse is what is common to all. The Surah is also an
endorsement of the different paths. Can there still be any doubt about the
universality of the message of the Quran?
@ Ashok Sharma: "God ...must learn all languages".
God, whatever our concept, did indeed know ALL languages for
He, She or It sent Messengers in every nation and ‘inspired’ them in their own languages
to pass on the message. That is what is said in the Book!