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Topics - MaverickMonotheist

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Islamic Calendar & Ramadhan. / Traditional Ramadan?
« on: July 04, 2013, 12:09:11 PM »
Anyone here doing a traditional ramadan fast?  I am (for the most part), and it is going to be pretty lonely since I do not go to masjid for all of the festivities.

-MM

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Salaam everyone,

I want to propose a possible argument for maintaining the traditional lunar year by rethinking how the sun is used regarding the calendar.

The problem with a luni-solar calendar is the need for an intercalary month or some sort of adjustment to fix the dissonance of the lunar year with the solar year.  A solution to this is a lunar year and a solar year that operate independently of each other by segregating the uses of each.

Let's assume for a moment that the lunar calendar was the one in operation at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an.  It states that certain months are "well known."  If we assume that the current lunar calendar is the one endorsed by the Qur'an, then we run into the pragmatic problems that have been discussed at length.

Instead, let's consider what the sun is used for in the Qur'an: marking the times for prayer.  In the Jewish tradition, the dawn prayer began when someone could distinguish the white thread from the blue one on his tzitzit.  Playing on this tradition, but correcting it, the Qur'an talks about dawn beginning when the white thread of the sky can be distinguished from the black of the horizon by the light of the sun.  The evening prayer also calls the observer to the setting of the sun.  In the solar year, the place of the sun in reference to a fixed point (i.e. a person always facing the same direction at that time) moves throughout the solar year.  In other words, if a person is truly facing a fixed qibla, the place where the sun rises and sets on the horizon moves and the peak of the sun at its height fluctuates based on the time of year.  Ancient astronomers observed this motion of the sun, and you can sometimes find a drawing of an analemma calendar on globes.

So if the solar year is separate and monitored as part of the morning and evening times for prayer, and the lunar calendar is used for the marking of months for the holy months and the month for fasting, then you have a system that makes use of both.  Marking where the sun rubs the horizon could be used for planting and harvest and there would be no need to try to correct the 11 day difference between the two calendars and the traditional lunar calendar could be left intact.

Just an idea.  Salaam.

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Salaam everyone,

The following is an excerpt from an email I sent to my Islamic tutor several weeks ago.  I had previously brought up 38:21-25 and the "orthodox" belief that prophets are sinless, which is what I was referring to:

As far as the issues related to David and sin, I raised the issue to see what information was available because of the grammatical anomaly of a plural pronoun being used instead of a dual one for the two litigants.  I don't know if you read the post or not, but this would put (presumably) a third person at the scene, which would be Nathan since the passage parallels the story from the Jewish scripture.  And yes, I hear a lot that the Torah is not the unadulterated word of God.  Neither are the hadiths.  And just as there is a science to confirming a hadith, there is a science to manuscript evidence.  Given the evidence that we have, there is miniscule doubt that the Torah we have today is the same as what was extant at the time of the revelation of the Qur'an.  I'm not talking from any other perspective than from evidence. 

Any tampering with the Torah can be one of two ways: either tampering of interpretation, or tampering with the actual manuscript.  I've already mentioned the manuscript evidence, and there are verses where what Jesus was given in the gospel confirms what was in his hands of the Torah, and the prophet was given revelation that confirmed what was in his hands.  In other words, what the prophet was given confirms what was available at the time of both the Torah and Gospel, and we have very, very strong manuscript evidence to believe that the manuscripts we have today are the same as what was available at the time of the final revelation.  So we have to make sure we aren't making sweeping judgments about the validity of the evidence without careful examination.  This is one of the problems I see with modern Islamic scholarship.  The level of scrutiny and attention to detail when it comes to hadiths and sources, even though it is not revelation, but then to look at prior revelation and say, "Nah bro, it's corrupt.  Not even going to consider it."  To me, this lacks consistency.

The case of Ashura in the hadiths is similar.  We have two hadiths with possible contradiction, and an outside source of arguable levels of credibility related to it.  Since the hadiths make reference to Jewish tradition and praxis, I think not only does the isnaad have weight, but the coherence to the best possible understanding of Jewish sources on the subject.  What makes this difficult is the possible reference to Jews in Medina celebrating Jewish fasts and feasts according to a purely lunar calendar (impossible by the Torah), and the very nature of what the hadith says about how Jews celebrated the day being contradictory to the nature of how Jews viewed feasts and fasts.  Fasts were never celebratory.  The day that the Jews celebrate the parting of the Yam Suph is the seventh of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and it is called, as the hadith and the Talmud confirm a "Yom Tov", a "good day."  There is no fasting on this day.  So part of the narrative shows some knowledge of Jewish practice, but the rest is pretty difficult to accept.  Just like the commentary about Jews worshipping Ezra, as opposed to the Qur'an simply stating that they called him a "son of God."  The phrase is nuanced and has unfortunately not been interpreted within the context it was used, but this commentary can't be correct because any worship of a man would cause those Jews to cease to be Jews by violating the sh'ma (Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the lord is one.).

And no, I'm not saying interpret anything simply by the Torah.  What I'm saying is weigh the evidence.  If someone says that a particular group of people did something, and all historical and documentary sources point to them NOT doing it, then reason says that there is a level of scrutiny that should be applied before accepting what that person says.

In general, I see two particular views that I have to choose between.  Going back to David and the litigants.  the "letter" of what was written says he sinned and was scolded by a prophet and had to repent.  The "letter" of the Qur'an, based on the grammatical use of the plural, and the fact that David asked for forgiveness in the narrative, confirms the written word of the Torah.  There's no need for the Qur'an to restate the details of the event because it had already been said.

But this is where things get interesting.  The oral tradition of Judaism says that David did not sin, but committed a violation of good social manners.  To the average person, this would be nothing, but because of his station as king, he needed to repent.  The Talmud says that David did not sin and goes to a rather lengthy explanation as to why he did not.  But not surprisingly it references Jewish halacha that would not have been practiced until after the beginnings of the oral tradition in Judaism - some time after the event in question happened and would have been recorded.  This oral tradition in Judaism is cohesive with the oral tradition of Islam, and the rather lengthy commentary on this verse is pretty similar in it's reasoning in defending David's sinlessness as the Talmudic commentary.

So there are the written texts of the Torah and the Qur'an, which are essentially in agreement and are pretty iconoclastic in their view of even the best humans on earth, and then there are oral traditions between Judaism and Islam that deviate from the written tradition in defense of this man being sinless because of the potential problems created in defending established jurisprudence for both Judaism and Islam.

And so we have an instance of "same old, same old."  In Judaism, the deepest division between Jews is between those that accept the rabbinical tradition and those that do not (Qaraite Jews).  Notice the similarity of the name Qaraite to the first word of Surat 'Alaq: "Iq'ra."  The root in Hebrew and Arabic is the same and means the same thing.  But the division between the Qaraites and all other Jews is so strong that that they are not eligible to make the migration to Israel and they are forbidden to marry between the two groups.  And in Islam, there is no greater division, even between Sunni and Shi'a, than that of traditional Islam and Quranists.  Same old, same old. 

I'll be honest, I don't trust how the hadiths are handled in terms of reliability based on how they compare with outside evidence.  I do not reject all hadiths, I'm sure some of them are valid.  But Islamic scholarship seems to be a big quagmire of contradiction, uncertainty, and appeals to authority.  If I hear one more person quote Ibn Taymiyya, who spent more time going well beyond the Qur'an in his efforts to out-takfir everyone else, I'm going to scream.  Islamic scholarship produces both a Tariq Ramadan and an Anwar Al-Awlaki.  Quranists are considered guilty of personally interpreting according to their whims, but don't we do pretty much the same thing?  We pick a scholar that we like or that we find likeable or more reasonable to our tastes, and we follow him.  Aren't we following our own personal choice there, too?  If a scholar is a scholar is a scholar, then there is no reason to find Ramadan's call to stop enforcing the penalty of capital crimes any more moral of a choice than a classical scholar like Ibn Taymiyya's call for any person to heed the call to kill a kaffir.  Do you see what I'm saying?  At some point, scholarship is not enough, and there are a host of moral, procedural, and ethical questions we just have to resolve on our own as best we can.  If I want to justify doing something stupid, I can find a scholar or classical jurist to justify it.  And I'm getting tired of all of all of the parroting of hadiths and scholars about things that really don't mean crap.  Jeans?  Music?  Pants above the ankles?  Circumcision?  Which days are best to fast in order to get mad hasanat and have sins forgiven for the next year?  Bro, none of these things are explicit in the Qur'an, none of these things address the huge issues facing Islam and humanity in general, and yet the few Muslims that I know in person and online talk about this crap all the time.  Just like there is yet another beard post on [internet forum], saying it is wajib.  I'm not growing a beard, and I'm tired of people bringing it up.  We've got much bigger problems than the number of people who shave.

I'll be honest, I came real close to just saying, "Screw it, I'm done." a few weeks ago.  I got tired of comments from family about being a Muslim (my and my wife's parents), and then talking with Muslims and feeling like they are talking an entirely different language in terms of what is important."

Thoughts?

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Free-Minds.Org / ProgressiveMuslims.Org / An Open Letter of Sorts
« on: April 23, 2012, 07:23:53 AM »

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Free-Minds.Org / ProgressiveMuslims.Org / An Open Letter of Sorts
« on: April 23, 2012, 07:23:10 AM »

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General Issues / Questions / Freemasons?
« on: April 05, 2012, 12:11:03 PM »
Peace all,

Question: I've noticed in a few different threads a general distaste for freemasons, even to the extent of calling them devil worshippers.  Now, where I live, I understand why some fundamentalist churches say this.  Mainly because churches have to compete with lodges for members.  But why do some of the members here not like them?  I've never met a mason who wasn't a good, God-fearing man.

So, I'm sure this is going to make me incredibly popular.  I tend to integrate Judeo-Christian scripture with the Qur'an, and now I'm mentioning freemasonry.  Pazuzu, maybe it was me who hacked your webcam...   :rotfl:

-Joel

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Questions/Comments on the Quran / 38:24-25
« on: April 03, 2012, 09:40:37 AM »
38:24    He said: "He has wronged you by asking to combine your lamb with his lambs. And many who mix their properties take advantage of one another, except those who believe and do good works, and these are very few." And David guessed that We had tested him, so he sought forgiveness from his Lord, and fell down kneeling, and repented.

38:25    So We forgave him in this matter. And for him with Us is a near position, and a beautiful abode.

Any indication who the person is referred to by the pronouns here?  Is it David or one of the brothers?

-Joel


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Hadith Discussions / For The Scholars Here
« on: March 08, 2012, 09:52:09 AM »
Peace all,

I have kind of a technical question about the Qur'an and hadith.  I've been saking some questions on another forum, and someone told me that the reason why Sunni scholars do not consider Quran-alone Muslims to be true Muslims comes down to the denial of all hadith.  The reason is that the hadith classified as mutawaatir are reliable because of the numbers of reliable chains of transmission AND the sources are supposedly the same sources as some of the verses of the Qur'an when it was compiled.  In their opinion, to deny these hadith is to deny the athenticity of dozens of verses from the Qur'an.  My question in response was:

"So, without these sources, would we have these verses in the Qur'an? Are there known manuscripts from about the same time or prior that contained these verses independent of these hadith? In other words, are these sources for the mutawaatir hadith the confirmed primary sources for those verses in the Qur'an?"

I have not heard anything in response.  Does anyone here know info about the oldest manuscripts and their relationship to the sources of the "most reliable" hadith?  Any info would be helpful.

Peace,
Joel

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Islamic Calendar & Ramadhan. / 9:81 and the Restricted Months
« on: February 16, 2012, 09:03:19 PM »
"Those who have remained are happy with their position of lagging behind the messenger of God, and they disliked striving with their money and lives in the cause of God; and they say: "Do not mobilize in the heat." Say: "The fire of Hell is much hotter," if they could only understand (9:81, Free Minds Translation)."

Peace all,

Wouldn't this verse support the idea that the restricted months do not fall during the hottest part of the year?  Is the context of these verses the muslims preparing to go to war?  If there were some who did not want to fight, why wouldn't they simply say, "We will not fight during the restricted months."  Saying they will not mobilize for war because of the heat makes them sound like a bunch of cowardly and lazy slobs.  I would think that if they were able to use the excuse of the restricted months, they would do so, right?

Thanks for any help.

Peace,
Joel

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