Author Topic: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?  (Read 2687 times)

Student of Allah

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Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« on: February 26, 2016, 10:47:35 AM »
Shalom Aleikhem,

This issue has always been a difficult one for me. In fact, it transcends the Qur'an and can be seen in the study of other ancient scriptures too. Let me state my case:

I believed that the closer to the real meaning of the Qur'an that we can get, the better we will be able to understand and thereby follow the ACTUAL message. That put me in the position where I had to rely on classical Arabic dictionaries, sites like PRL, etc. to try and interpret the Qur'an. Obviously, it wasn't an easy thing to do. To begin with, a lot of the words had MANY different meanings. On top of that, I had to go find similar topics being addressed in the Qur'an to get a sense of the scope of available meanings which I can justify in my translation. After being a member of a community like this one for years, I've realized that not even this method is close to "objective". The two biggest problem I faced were:

- If I was trying to understand the most accurate meaning of , say a verse/word, I was going back to the study of the context along with other similar issues which were described throughout the Qur'an.  The trouble is, those contexts and excerpts were themselves reliant on me translating them/interpreting them using dictionaries/other parts of the Qur'an. This made me feel like there was no way to claim accuracy of the interpretation.

- As though to prove my point, I discovered that the discrepancy in the translations/interpretations of the Qur'an among the people who followed similar methods as I did was huge! I mean, if you have been on this forum for a while, you'd understand what I'm talking about. The diversity of mutually exclusive interpretations of the text which came out of virtually the same methodology of studying the book is striking!

On top of that, please consider that a statement can be literal or metaphorical. That just adds to the problem of ascertaining the most accurate interpretation. This brings me to my main question. Can we do an objective study of the Qur'an to yield accurate interpretation of the text? At the absence of the author, it seems impossible of a task to do. As I've discussed above, it seems like even the most objective rules don't result in the same result when it comes to 2 different people doing the study.

If we now say that the book was not meant to be objective and can only be interpreted on a subjective level, we enter a whole new domain with it's own big problems. For example, I could conclude that the Qur'an teaches us to beat wives without anyone having the right to challenge my interpretation. After all, that is what subjectivity is all about.


Do you think that I've missed out on any method which guarantees that the study will remain objective? I'd like to know if that's the case. This problem always comes back to mess with me irrespective of which scripture I attempt at reading.


Peace
--------------- Student of Allah

mmkhan

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2016, 11:26:39 AM »
Shalom Aleikhem,

How are you? Hope you are doing fine.

If I understand you message correctly then my answer is as follows:

The book called alQuraan claims that it is from Allah, our Creator.
And you are absolutely free to study it objectively. And I say that everybody should do the same.

And there is only one single way left to interpret it correctly i.e., we need to believe in our Creator and the teacher of alQuraan who is alRahmaan and seek His guidance to interpret alQuraan correctly.

There is no other way that you can interpret it otherwise, because how will you confirm the meaning. There is no dictionary of alQuraan sent along with it to confirm it's meaning. That means no word of alQuraan has a fixed meaning. It changes as your level upgrades. Your syllabus changes from the same book as you grow or moved to a higher class. This is how it goes. Otherwise a single book cannot guide the whole humanity where you will find people of all levels.

I learnt it from my own experiences. If you like you can take a try yourself.


May Allah increase our knowledge and guide us on His path :pr
mmKhan
 
6:162    قل إن صلاتي ونسكي ومحياي ومماتي لله رب العلمين
6:162    Say: My contact prayer, and my rites, and my life, and my death, are all to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
 
3:51

huruf

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2016, 12:43:34 PM »
Check with reality as you know it and as you live it.

Some times, following the translations and interpretation of some passaes of the Qur'an I have the impression that the translator or intepreter is a martian he is so far from the reality real people live. There is a lot of shychology and human knowledge in the Qur'an, may things that you recognize and faithful pictures of real people and actual facts.

Salaam

Wakas

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2016, 03:56:53 PM »
No (regardless of what information/text you are interpreting), but you can minimise bias by following a robust and ideally falsifiable methodology, e.g.
http://www.quran434.com/study-method.html
All information in my posts is correct to the best of my knowledge only and thus should not be taken as a fact. One should seek knowledge and verify: 17:36, 20:114, 35:28, 49:6, 58:11. My articles

www.studyQuran.org

good logic

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2016, 02:25:16 AM »
Peace Student Of Allah.

Many times I started from scratch.
I realise now that the study of Qoran is for each individual to sort out. It has nothing to do with "who said what" about Qoran"!
It does not matter about any translation or even opinions of "Arabic experts".

If one wants to study Qoran, they need to start from any translation in any language, however they need to do it from cover to cover.

Of course ,if they decide there is nonsense in it, they should be honest to themselves and either ignore it completely and give  up or keep studying and carry on until the study is completed at least from the first surah to the last one.

Then ,one of two things will happen:
1-  One starts to connect with this "unusual book"  and keeps going. This will be a slow process.
2- One is "convinced" it is not for them and either disregards it or embarks on convincing others " it is man made full of nonsense.

GOD bless you.
Peace.
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salgan

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2016, 05:03:29 AM »
Peace Student of Allah

Most of us have to rely on translations and dictionaries ,end of the day somebody elses oppinion.
I allways ask my self when reading is this a peacfull action would this lead to peace if it does not I choose to leave that understanding until I find one that is in line with being Peacfull.

Example wife beating spanking litghtly hit what ever that means or one shoud seperat or put distance between one another I choose the most logical ,Peacfull .

Peace sis
Take care
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fye

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2016, 08:06:31 AM »
salaam, followers of prophet abraham the true in faith,

i've been seeing "true meaning" of the quran alot lately and i'm glad people are reading my favorite book but the question is what do you want for an answer?

true meaning? do you want one word? do you want one sentence? nobody wants a paragraph because who quotes a paragraph?

maybe your asking for the unreasonable?

the true meaning of the quran is.... "meaning true", this is a two second epiphony yet  explains everything.

remember that movie kung fu panda when the dragon scroll was blank? and there was no secret recipe?

the true meaning of the quran or anything is a simple process.

1. you start with logic, "get your wings and fly" logic: is there anyway i can actually fly?

2. with that logic you can eliminate impossiblities with simple reason an go on to the second step "the dream of being" (actually doing it)

3. how does it feel to fly? what are the results of flight? what will it cost to fly? how much time and energy will be put into this?

4. after reasoning is it worth it? this is the objective part of quran understanding or any understanding is it worth it and should i do it again? can i do it again (i.e. jumping off a bridge or blowing yourself up)? this is the objective part the quran uses you as an example alot? "remember when you were going to...." "you prayed for death til ye saw it face to face"
so in fact the quran is a book about you. look at the places you are meantioned in the book, what you are advised? look at how you are introduced, what situation you are being meantioned in and the context. don't be a coconut god is trying to talk to you. does the bible or torah meantion you directly?

5. i just wanted to put a number 5, i'm the messenger of ALLAH, obey the messenger and obey ALLAH.
Praise be to ALLAH
my friend and only friend

Student of Allah

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2016, 08:26:08 AM »
Shalom Aleikhem everyone,

Thank you all very much for sharing your thoughts. This issue has always been of major significance to me. In a way, it still is.

Just as Wakas pointed out, my very own method relied on trying to minimize as much bias as possible. I believe that the reason we all have argued so much over the possible interpretations and implications of the reading is precisely because we all wanted to get at the true meaning of what we were reading.

While I do agree that actually putting some effort into understanding the various uses of the words/ contextual uses/ themes throughout the text helps a lot, I still don't see how it can help eliminate bias to a healthy degree. Please understand that I am not starting from the presupposition that the Qur'an has been authored by a deity and is unaltered. This means that while reading this book, I will consider the possibility of statements being there which may be factually wrong or immoral or inconsistent thematically. This means that a believer's scope of interpretation will suffer from even more bias than mine.

As long as the author doesn't show up, as long as words will have multiple meanings, as long as metaphors may be present among absolute statements, I really don't think we can ever objectively study this book. I'd understand if as a believer you wonder why an atheist like me even cares about that. I care because it has always been and always will be my goal to seek the truth. If there are scriptures that really do contain the truth, I'd really love to know them. Unfortunately, this dilemma that I've presented tells me that dealing with scriptures to falsify anything is like playing a game of football where we don't even know if there is a goal post, let alone where it is. We can do all the fancy moves imaginable to man but the fact will remain that nobody will know if they've even scored. The presence of other scriptures makes the matter far more complicated. It makes it such that we don't even know if we are playing in the correct field to begin with.


Peace
----------------- Student of Allah

Jafar

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2016, 10:34:57 AM »
Bias cannot be 100% totally eliminated.
On understanding anything...
It's a well known fact..

The more perspective and approaches one uses to view something..
The richer the understanding will be..

I'm not limiting this to merely understanding "books" any books on any format..

Quote
Unfortunately, this dilemma that I've presented tells me that dealing with scriptures to falsify anything is like playing a game of football where we don't even know if there is a goal post, let alone where it is. We can do all the fancy moves imaginable to man but the fact will remain that nobody will know if they've even scored. The presence of other scriptures makes the matter far more complicated. It makes it such that we don't even know if we are playing in the correct field to begin with.

The methodology of validating or falsifying something using merely "a holy book" is a fallacy from the start..
The presence of other sources / scriptures / books / ebooks / paper / slides is actually a blessing..

The similitude to football game is inappropriate in this context..
Having said that even if we gonna use the football game as a metaphor.. then it will be..

Validating "the truthful way to score a goal" cannot be done by merely observation to only one player or one team as a "holy" / "must not be questioned" reference...  There are million ways to score a goal..
And the presence of million of players and thousands of team each with their own unique way to "score a goal" is actually a blessing and makes the game of football alive and always interesting...

And putting a time dimension into the context.. new player and new team always appear introducing a new style of play and bringing in a fresh outlook on how to play the game. Thus there isn't such thing as the "last revelation" on how to play proper football...

Yet the ground rules definitely need to be established, no punching other player, no killing other player, no riot and looting  when your favorite team lost the game, no suicide bombing on the football game. Those things are not "creativity" on how to play football, those things are insanity within the game of football.






mmkhan

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Re: Is an objective study of the Qur'an possible?
« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2016, 10:43:00 AM »
Shalom Aleikhem everyone,

Thank you all very much for sharing your thoughts. This issue has always been of major significance to me. In a way, it still is.

Just as Wakas pointed out, my very own method relied on trying to minimize as much bias as possible. I believe that the reason we all have argued so much over the possible interpretations and implications of the reading is precisely because we all wanted to get at the true meaning of what we were reading.

Shalom Aleikhem,

True! I agree. But as per my personal understanding we were walking the incorrect path.

Quote
While I do agree that actually putting some effort into understanding the various uses of the words/ contextual uses/ themes throughout the text helps a lot, I still don't see how it can help eliminate bias to a healthy degree. Please understand that I am not starting from the presupposition that the Qur'an has been authored by a deity and is unaltered. This means that while reading this book, I will consider the possibility of statements being there which may be factually wrong or immoral or inconsistent thematically. This means that a believer's scope of interpretation will suffer from even more bias than mine.

As long as the author doesn't show up, as long as words will have multiple meanings, as long as metaphors may be present among absolute statements, I really don't think we can ever objectively study this book. I'd understand if as a believer you wonder why an atheist like me even cares about that. I care because it has always been and always will be my goal to seek the truth. If there are scriptures that really do contain the truth, I'd really love to know them. Unfortunately, this dilemma that I've presented tells me that dealing with scriptures to falsify anything is like playing a game of football where we don't even know if there is a goal post, let alone where it is. We can do all the fancy moves imaginable to man but the fact will remain that nobody will know if they've even scored. The presence of other scriptures makes the matter far more complicated. It makes it such that we don't even know if we are playing in the correct field to begin with.


Peace
----------------- Student of Allah

I disagree with the blue highlighted part above.

I strongly believe that there is not "fixed" interpretation of any word or sentence in alQuraan. Please understand if the book claims that it guides to humanity. It includes every human being, be it a layman or a highly educated one. How will be a fixed interpretation guides on all humans on different levels? That means there is no "fixed" interpretation.

If you want guidance, seek it with alRahaam [55:1-2] and if anyone else need a guidance then they should do the same.
He is the one who guides in a way that will be easy for you to understand which you cannot deny. That interpretation will be just for you, not for others. This is how it works.

Hope you understand what I am trying to say, inshaAllah.


Peace,
mmKhan
6:162    قل إن صلاتي ونسكي ومحياي ومماتي لله رب العلمين
6:162    Say: My contact prayer, and my rites, and my life, and my death, are all to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
 
3:51