2:31. And He taught Adam the names of all things, then He displayed them to those given control and said: "Inform Me the names of these things if you were truthful."
There are two types of names, common names and proper names. An example of a common name is "human" which is the common name of the leading race inhabiting this planet. Examples of proper names are first and last names that people go by such as John Smith.
Common names attempt to describe the nature of things. In Arabic, the common name is usually based on a predominant property that the object being described possesses. Hence, the common name "ta'ir" (a flying creature) comes from the root "TYR" (to fly).
Proper names, on the other hand, are given based on other factors and they do not necessarily reflect the nature of what is being named. Hence, no matter what some people think of him, George "Bush" is not a garden plant.
In the quran both common names and proper names are used. While in English proper names are differentiated from common names using capital letters, in Arabic there is no such mechanism. The Arabic word that denotes "proper name" is "ism" (plural "asma'a").
It seems that the ability to give things proper names has gotten humankind into trouble. An example of proper names that have gotten people into trouble is given in chapter 53:
53:19. Have you considered Allaat and Al-'Uzzah?
53:20. And Manaat, the third one?
The names Allaat, Al-'Uzzah, and Manaat are all proper names as clear from 53:23:
53:23. These are but names ("asma'a") that you named, you and your forefathers. The God never authorized such. They follow conjecture and what the selves fantasize, while the guidance has come to them from their Lord.
Those are proper names that people have given to those given control/("mala'ika") as clear from verses 53:27-28, a few verses down from the above verses:
53:27. Those who don't have faith in the ending have named those given control/("mala'ika") feminine names.
53:28. They had no knowledge about this; they only conjectured. Conjecture is no substitute for the truth.
Verse 53:23 indicates that although we are required to have faith in them as per verses 2:285 and 4:136, naming those given control ("mala'ika") a proper name not authorized by The God is following conjecture and personal fantasies instead of the guidance that has come from our Lord.
Once people gave them proper names not authorized by The God, they believed in a figment of their own fantasy and not the real those given control ("mala'ika") that we should all have faith in. Fantasies reflect a human being desire for things to be easy for him or her both in this world and in the hereafter. Hence, the people who fantasized proper names not authorized by The God naturally went on to fantasize an intercessional role for those given control ("mala'ika") in the hereafter.
53:24. Or shall the human being have what he desires?
53:25. To The God belongs the ending and the beginning.
53:26. And there are many of those given control in the heavens, whose intercession does not add anything, except after The God gives permission for whom He wills and is pleased with him.
By including the hereafter in their fantasy, the hereafter that they believed in became another figment of their own fantasy and not the real hereafter that we should all have faith in. Hence, verse 53:27 links giving those given control proper names and not having faith in the (real) hereafter.
Verses 53:19-30 provide among other things a psychoanalysis of the people who do not have faith in the hereafter. I can only humbly and inelegantly (compared to the verses of the book) summarize it as follows:
- The guidance has come to such people from their Lord.
- They desire an easy low life and an easy hereafter.
- What they desire is different from the truth in the guidance.
- They follow conjecture and personal fantasies instead of that guidance.
- They fantasize and give concepts proper names not authorized by The God through the guidance.
- What they believe in becomes the unreal fantasy that they imagined and not the reality. Hence, in reality they don't have faith.
- Finally, people inevitably end up serving the unrealities that they fantasized instead of The God as clear from verses such as 12:40.
12:40. "What you serve besides The God is nothing but names that you have named you and your fathers, The God did not send down any authority for such. The judgment is for none but The God. He ordered that none be served but He. That is the true obligation, but most of humankind do not know."
One of the lessons that we should learn from the example given in verses 53:19-30 is that we shouldn't give concepts proper names not authorized by The God. So now let's link what we learned to other concepts that people have given a proper name to without authority from The God and see if we get the same result.
Since we are basing our analysis on its verses, then it is appropriate to start by asking oneself whether the proper name "Quran" is authorized by The God or not. In other words, should the word that people use to describe it be "quran/reading" or "Quran"?
First, let's see if the word "quran" is used as a proper name or a common description. One of the ways to do this is to check if there is any occurrence of the word quran in the common form. As we start our analysis, we readily see that the common description "a quran" is used many times throughout the quran. For example the following verses make it clear that "quran" simply means "reading" and is not a proper name:
15:1. A.L.R., these are the signs of the book, and a clear reading/quran.
17:106. And a reading/quran that We have separated, so that you may explain it for the people over time; and We have brought it down gradually.
36:69. We did not teach him poetry, nor does he need it. This is a reminder and a profound reading/quran.
72:1. Say: "It has been inspired to me that a group of Jinn were listening." They said: "We have heard a magnificent reading/quran!"
85:21. No, it is a glorious reading/quran.
10:15. And when Our clear revelations are recited to them, those who do not wish to meet Us said: "Bring a reading/quran other than this, or change it!" Say: "It is not for me to change it from my own accord, I merely follow what is inspired to me. I fear if I disobey my Lord the retribution of a great day!"
In verse 10:15, please note that the messenger didn't object to the rejecters using the common description and only objected to making any changes to the reading/quran on his own.
Similarly, there are many verses that use the common description to denote that what The God sent down is an Arabic reading:
12:2. We have sent it down an Arabic reading/quran, perhaps you will be logical.
20:113. And it was such that We sent it down as an Arabic reading/quran, and We cited in it many warnings, perhaps they will become forethoughtful or it will cause for them a remembrance.
39:28. A reading/quran in Arabic, without any crookedness, that they may be forethoughtful.
41:1-3. H. M. A revelation from the Almighty, Most Merciful. A book whose signs are detailed, a reading/quran in Arabic for people who know.
41:44. And had We made it a non-Arabic reading/quran, they would have said: "If only its verses were made detailed!" Non-Arabic or Arabic, say: "For those who believe, it is a guide and healing. As for those who disbelieve, there is a deafness in their ears, and they are blind to it. These will be called from a place far away"
42:7. And thus We have inspired to you an Arabic reading/quran, so that you may warn the capital town and all around it, and to warn about the day of summoning that is inevitable. A group will be in the garden, and a group in hell.
43:3. We have made it into an Arabic reading/quran, perhaps you may understand.
There are some verses that use the word "quran" to describe other readings, which is yet another indication that it must be a common description as opposed to a proper name:
13:31. And if a reading/quran were to be used to move mountains, or to cut away the land, or the dead were spoken to with it. No, to The God is all matters. Did not those who believe know that had The God willed He would have guided all the people? As for those who reject, they continue to be stricken with disaster or it comes near to their houses, until The God’s promise comes true. The God does not break His appointment.
17:88. Say: "If all the humans and the "jinn" were to gather to bring a reading/quran like this, they could not come with its like, even if they were helping one another."
In the above verses, the word "quran" is used to describe hypothetical readings other than the ultimate reading/quran we know. Hence, we see that "quran" is used as a common description and not a proper name.
There are also many instances where the reading/quran is pointed to by saying "this" ("hatha" in Arabic). The use of "this" to specify the reading/quran further confirms that reading/quran is not a proper name but is a common description. For example:
10:37. This reading/quran could not have been produced without The God, but it is to authenticate what is already present, and detailing of the book in which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds.
12:3. We relate to you the best stories through what We have inspired to you in this reading/quran; and before it you were of those who were unaware.
17:9. This reading/quran guides to that which is more upright, and it gives glad tidings to the believers who do good work that they will have a bountiful reward.
17:89. And We have cited to mankind in this reading/quran of every example, but most of mankind refuse anything except rejection.
56:77. This is an honorable reading/quran.
17:41. And We have cited in this reading/quran so they may remember, but it only increases their aversion.
See also verses such as 6:19, 18:54, 25:30, 27:76, 30:58, 34:31, 39:27, 41:26, 43:31, 59:21.
There are other verses that talk about "the quran" ("al-quran") (see 2:185, 4:82, 5:101, 7:204, 9:111, 10:61, 15:87, 15:91, 16:98, 17:45-46, 17:60, 17:78, 17:82, 21:2, 21:114, 25:32, 27:1, 27:6, 27:92, 28:85, 36:2, 38:1, 46:29, 47:24, 50:1, 50:45, 54:17, 54:22, 54:32, 54:40, 55:2, 73:4, 73:20, 76:23, 84:21). For example:
17:45-46. And when you read the reading/quran, We place between you and those who do not believe in the hereafter an invisible barrier. And we place shields over their hearts, so they should not understand it, and a deafness in their ears. And if you mention your Lord in the reading/quran alone, they run away giving their backs in aversion.
In this case, if we didn't have all the verses that talk about "a reading/quran" in the common sense, it would have been a little more difficult to assess whether "the reading/al-quran" is in the common or the proper form. However, given the fact that the reading/quran from The God doesn't have any inconsistencies we can safely say that those instances where the reading/al-quran is mentioned, it is also in the common meaning.
For example, when somebody tells you to meet him at the restaurant while you are standing in front of a restaurant, then "the restaurant" is this restaurant that you are standing in front of and it is not the proper name of the establishment. Similarly, when verses speak about the reading/quran while you are reading a reading/quran, then this reading/quran is the one you are reading and not a proper name.
In fact given that it is established to the reader as we saw above in many verses that the reading/quran is "this reading/quran" that he/she is currently reading, then saying "the reading/quran" is a device for implying that what the reader is reading is the "ultimate" reading/quran.
The next logical query is to try to determine whether "al-kitab"/the book is a proper name, "the Book" or a common description, "the book".
Is it the "book" or the "Book"?
Similar to our analysis of the word "reading/quran" we find many verses where the book/"kitab" is mentioned as a common description to denote the book from The God:
2:89. And when a book ("kitab") came to them from The God, authenticating what is with them; while before that they were mocking those who rejected; so when what they knew came to them, they rejected it, so The God’s curse be upon the rejecters.
6:92. And this is a book ("kitab") We have sent down, blessed, authenticating what is present with him, and that you warn the capital of the towns and those around it. And those who have faith in the hereafter have faith in it, and they are protective over their "salat".
7:2. A book ("kitab") which has been sent down to you, so let there not be any burden in your chest from it, so that you may warn with it; and a reminder to the faithful.
7:52. And We have come to them with a book ("kitab") that We have detailed with knowledge; a guide and a mercy to those who have faith.
11:1. A.L.R., a book ("kitab") whose verses were made decisive, then detailed from One who is The Wise, The Expert.
14:1. A.L.R. A book ("kitab") which We have sent down to you so that you may take the people out of the darkness and into the light by their Lord’s leave to the path of The Proud, The Praiseworthy.
21:10. We have sent down to you a book ("kitab") in which is your remembrance. Do you not comprehend?
39:23. The God has sent down the best narration; a book ("kitab") that is similar in two ways. The skins of those who reverence their Lord shiver from it, then their skins and their hearts soften up to the remembrance of The God. Such is The God's guidance; He guides with it whoever He wills. And for whomever The God misguides, then none can guide him.
46:30. They said: ‘O our people, we have heard a book ("kitab") that was sent down after Moussa, authenticating what is present with him. It guides to the truth; and to a straight path.
Moreover, according to the reading, The God has many books (plural) so once again we see that "the book" is a common description and not a proper name:
2:285. The messenger had faith in what was sent down to him from his Lord. And the believers, all who believe in The God, and those He gave control to, and His books ("kutubihi"), and His messengers; we do not differentiate between any of His messengers; and they said: "We hear and obey, your forgiveness O Lord, and to you is our destiny."
4:136. O you who have faith, believe in The God and His messenger, and the book that was sent down to His messenger, and the book that was sent before. And whosoever rejects The God, and those He gave control to, and His books ("kutubihi"), and His messengers, and the last day, he has strayed a far straying.
In fact, even human books written by the very hands of people are described as "the book" in the quran:
2:79. So woe to those who write the book ("al-kitab") with their hands then say: "This is from The God", that they can seek a cheap price! Woe to them for what their hands have written and woe to them for what they gained.
All this confirms that what makes the book special is not that it is "the Book" but that it is "the book from The God".
So now that we know that both "the book" and "the reading" are not proper names but common descriptions, the next logical question is: What is the relationship between "the book" and "the reading"?
Once we have given up the proper names not authorized by The God, suddenly the answer is obvious. The relationship is simply that "the reading" is the reading of "the book" and the purpose of the reading of the book is to LEARN. This is confirmed by verses such as 96:1-5:
96:1-5. Read in the name of your Lord who has created. He created man from a clot. Read, and your Lord is the Generous One. The One who taught by the pen. He taught man what he did not know.
That "the reading" is reading from the written book is so obvious that even preschool children know this fact. It is a fact so clear that, under normal circumstances, it would be hardly worth mentioning in an article. Yet by giving such concepts as the reading and the book proper names not authorized by The God, it is painfully observable that most people have defied common sense and have been prevented from even understanding this simple and obvious fact.
Blinded from this simple fact by the unauthorized proper names that they invented for the reading and the book, some sects went on to fantasize some illogical beliefs. For instance, some sectarians irrationally propose that the reading/quran is "eternal and uncreated". The first difficulty with this doctrine is a fact that those sectarians can't change or circumvent. This fact is demonstrated by verses such as the following:
2:54. And Moussa said to his people: "O my people, you have wronged your souls by taking the calf, so repent to your Maker, and kill yourselves. That is better for you with your Maker, so He would forgive you. He is the Forgiving, the Merciful."
In verse 2:54, it is Moussa who is being quoted as part of the quran. So if the reading is eternal and uncreated then sectarians are implying that Moussa's speech is also eternal and uncreated since what he said is quoted as part of a verse of the reading. Before sectarians start to think that Moussa was special, after all he was a messenger, they should read the verse that immediately follows the above verse, namely 2:55:
2:55. And you said: "O Moussa, we will not believe you until we see The God openly!" So the lightning took you while you were still watching."
So now, the rejecters from the descendents of Israel are also being quoted in a verse that is part of the quran. So now according to the sectarians' doctrine, their speech is eternal and uncreated too. How about the speech in this verse, which is also a part of the quran:
7:16. He (the devil) said: "For that which You have caused me to be misled, I will skulk for them on Your straight path."
I hope that everybody can see the silliness of the sectarians' beliefs. Despite those glaring logical errors and the fact that the reading clearly indicates that we have free choice, many sectarians defy their God-given common sense and continue to have such irrational beliefs.
It is inevitable that such sects end up serving the names that they invented instead of The God alone. For instance, some hang verses of the reading/quran on their walls to ward off evil and recite certain chapters to cure the sick despite fully knowing that The God is the only Protector. They have also turned the reading of the book into a ceremonial affair and have restricted the understanding of what is being read to the exclusive domain of self-styled experts from the clergy. The reading/quran is exactly that and hence it should be read and understood by everybody to the best of their abilities.
Unfortunately, even well intentioned people have made major blunders. For example, some proposed that the reading and the book denote two separate groups of verses. What ensued is a guessing game of which verses belong to which group. As in verse 53:21, once unauthorized proper names were given to a concept, people started to divide things haphazardly. Thus, it was proposed that we might only be required to uphold the so-called "Book" but not the so-called "Quran".
I often used to mistakenly call the reading/quran as the "Quran". The important thing is to repent and correct once the truth becomes apparent. I am hoping that this article would contribute to my correcting.
"Al-masjid al-haram" and "al-masjid al-aqsa"
The Arabic expressions "al-masjid al-haram" and "al-masjid al-aqsa" have been traditionally interpreted and translated as proper names. However, such interpretations pose significant problems for sectarians.
For example, the site of "Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa" was used as a rubbish dump for nearly 600 years until Umar bin Al-Khattab allegedly built a timber structure on the site. Archeologists propose that the Umayyad Khalifah, Abd al Malik ibn Marwan in 691AD began the construction of the "Dome of the Rock" and Al-Walid (ruled 705-715AD) built what we know today as "Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa". Since the revelation of the reading predates both events, this creates certain difficulties for sectarians trying to justify the current "Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa" as a "holy" stone structure. Recently, some sectarians have tried to overcome the above difficulties by interpreting the word "masjid" in the common sense (i.e., a place of physical prostration) instead of its current invented post defacto proper name. However, in their haste to justify their holy stone structure, they forgot that if they interpret half the expression (i.e. "al-masjid") in the common sense, they would also have to interpret the second half of the expression (i.e. "al-aqsa") in the common sense. As a common description, "al-aqsa" (as opposed to "Al-Aqsa") means "utmost", which is not a fitting description for that location by any measure.
The word "masjid" comes from the root "SJD" and there are many verses of the book where its derivatives such as "sujud" are used. Once again and unfortunately for sectarians, the way the term "sujud" is used in those verses only adds to their problems. How is it that the way sectarians do their "sujud" cannot be found in the detailed book? To resolve this dilemma, some sectarians have argued that, when mentioned in the reading, "sujud" is used as a proper name to denote something that the addressees (who they say are the Mekkans) already knew. Hence, some sectarians conclude that we are supposed to take from those who later became the so-called "Companions/Sahaba" (another proper name invented by sectarians) the method of the so-called "Sujud".
The following verse illustrates some of the significant logical problems faced by sectarians:
17:107. Say: "Have faith in it or not, those who have been given the knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, they fall to the chins 'sujadan'."
Proper nouns are not used as idioms. Hence, if sectarians maintain the assumption that the addressees knew what the alleged proper noun "Sujud" was, then they have to give up the idiomatic understanding of 17:107 and it has to be interpreted literally. If "sujud" is interpreted as literally "physical prostration", then according to verse 17:107 the chin and not the forehead should touch the ground. This is not how sectarians do it.
If, on the other hand, the sectarians try to interpret 17:107 idiomatically, then they have to give up the proper noun argument and it follows that one cannot assume that the addressees already knew what "sujud" was. In this case, "sujud" is interpreted non-physically and this is not how sectarians do it either. One thing is for sure, the way the sectarians do their "sujud" is wrong either way.
To understand what "sujud" is, let's look at some of the other verses where it is mentioned. For example, similar to 17:107, verse 32:15 talks about "falling sujudan":
32:15. The only people who have faith in Our revelations are those who when they are reminded by them, they "fall sujadan", and they glorify and praise their Lord, and they are not arrogant.
Those who have faith and are reminded of The God's revelations are also mentioned in verse 25:73:
25:73. And those who when they are reminded of their Lord’s verses, they do not fall on them deaf and blind.
When we link 32:15 and 25:73 together, we can clearly understand that "not falling deaf and blind" is equivalent to "falling 'sujadan'".
Now contrast the reaction of "not falling deaf and blind/falling 'sujadan'" of those who have faith with the reaction of those who do not have faith:
31:7. And when Our signs are recited to him, he turns away arrogantly as if he did not hear them, as if there is a deafness in his ears. So announce to him a painful retribution.
18:57. And who is more wicked than one who is reminded of his Lord's revelations but he turned away from them, and he forgot what his hands had done. We have made veils upon their hearts from understanding it, and a deafness in their ears. And if you invite them to the guidance, they will never then be guided.
Allegorical deafness (not hearing) seems to be a common trait of those who do not fall "sujadan".
The example of the descendants of Israel illustrates that "sujud" is non-physical and clarifies what it really means:
2:58-59. And We said: "Enter this town, and eat from it as plentifully as you wish; and enter the door 'sujadan', and say: "Our load is removed", We will then forgive your mistakes, and We will increase for the good doers." But the wicked altered what was said to them for a different saying, thus We sent down upon the wicked a punishment from the heaven for what they had transgressed.
7:161-162. And they were told: "Reside in this town and eat from it as you please, and say: "Our load is removed", and enter the gate 'sujadan', We will forgive for you your wrong doings, and We will increase for the good doers." Those who were wicked amongst them altered what was said to them with something different; so We sent to them a plague from the sky because they were wicked.
Notice how the descendents of Israel did the opposite of "sujud" by altering what was said to them instead of hearing it and actually doing it (i.e., obeying it).
Another example of people who alter what is being said is given again in verse 4:46:
4:46. From amongst the Jews there are those who take the words out of context, and they say: "We hear and disobey, and listen but not let any listen, and look after us", in a twisting of their tongues and as a mockery of the obligation! And had they said: "We hear and obey, and listen, and watch over us," it would have been better for them and more upright; but The God Has cursed them for their rejection, they do not have faith except very little.
We can see from linking 4:46 with 2:58-59 and 7:161-162 that "sujud" is equivalent to "hearing and obeying".
Verses 4:101-103 describe ending the /("salat") with the "sujud". Verses 5:6-7 also describe the "salat" and its components and end with "hearing and obeying". Once again, we see that "hearing and obeying" seems to be the equivalent to "sujud".
Youssef's dream and its realization confirm that "sujud" is non-physical and indicate that it means "hearing and obeying". The sun, moon and planets cannot do physical prostration or even show humbleness. However, they could in Youssef's dream hear him and obey him, perhaps by altering their course according to his command. When he raised his parents on the throne, they and his siblings fell "sujadan". How can his parents be "raised" on the throne and at the same time "fall" in physical prostration? Again, the meaning is confirmed to be "hearing and obeying" Youssef and not physically falling to the ground in prostration. Verse 12:100 can now be better understood:
12:100. And he raised his parents on the throne, and they became in a state of hearing and obeying him. And he said: "My father, this is the interpretation of my vision from before. My Lord has made it true, and He Has been good to me that he took me out of prison and brought you out of the wilderness after the devil had placed a rift between me and my brothers. My Lord is kind to whom He wills. He is the Knowledgeable, the Wise."
So now that we have understood "sujud" based on the reading as "hearing and obeying", everything falls into place. The word "al-masjid" can simply be interpreted as "the institution/implementation of hearing and obeying".
By giving up the human invented proper name "Al-Masjid Al-Haram" and going back to the common "al-masjid al-haram", the meaning suddenly becomes obvious. The word "al-masjid" means "the institution/implementation of hearing and obeying" and "al-haram" means "the forbidden". Putting the two together, we get: "the institution/implementation of hearing and obeying the forbidden". In other words, it is a system instituted for implementing hearing the forbidden and actually obeying what is being heard and reflecting it in our actions.
In fact, it is common in the Arabic language to use "masjid" to mean an institution of obedience and not a physical place. Hence, we hear about "al-masjid Al-Azhar" issuing a "fatwa". Of course no one thinks that the physical building of Al-Azhar is capable of issuing a "fatwa" or any edict that is to be obeyed. As we can see, despite all the corruptions of sectarians, the word "masjid" is used still used today to denote an institution of obedience and a not a physical building.
Here is another verse that confirms that "masjid" is not the physical building:
18:21. And as such, We made them to be found so that they would know that The God’s promise is true and that there is no doubt regarding the hour. They argued amongst themselves regarding their matter, so they said: "Construct a building upon them, their Lord is fully aware of them." Those who prevailed in their matter said: "We will take an institution of hearing and obeying over them."
Note that in 18:21, those who argued said: "build a physical building on them". On the other hand, those who prevailed said that they will take a "masjid" in contrast to the physical building.
Verses such as 7:31 would not make any sense if they were talking about a physical building.
7:31. O descendants of "adam", take your beautiful things at every institution of hearing and obeying, and eat and drink and do not waste; He does not like the wasters.
Do you stop at EVERY Mosque and take some beautiful things? If not and "masjid" means the physical building of a Mosque, then you are disobeying The God according to 7:31. Verse 7:31 can be understood in light of 7:32.
7:32. Say: “Who has forbidden the beautiful things that The God has brought forth for His servants and the good provisions?” Say: “It is for those who had faith in this worldly life, exclusive for them on the day of resurrection”. It is such that We explain the revelations for those who know.
Verse 7:32 asks a rhetorical question about those who make the beautiful things that The God made forbidden. Of course, we should not obey them and instead we obey The God and our institutions of obedience should promote and allow to prosper the many beautiful things that The God created (take beautiful things at every "masjid").
Now, let us hear some of the verses that tell us about the forbidden:
6:151-153. Say: "Come I will recite what your Lord forbade on you:
(1) that do not make anything partner with Him,
(2) and with the parents kindness,
(3) and do not kill your (unborn) children from hardship We provide for you and them,
(4) and do not approach the atrocious deeds, what is visible from it, and what is concealed,
(5) and do not kill the self that The God forbade, except with the truth,
that He directed/commanded you with it, maybe you reason.
(6) And do not approach the orphan's property except with what is best, until he reaches his maturity,
(7) and fulfill the measure and the scale with the equitable,
We do not burden a self except its capacity,
(8) and if you speak, so be just, and even if it was a near person,
(9) and fulfill The God's covenant;
that He advised you with, perhaps you remember.
And that is My straight path, so follow it, and do not follow the paths, so they split you from His path. This He advised you with it, perhaps you be forethoughtful.
Verses such as 7:33 provides some additional insights:
7:33. Say: “My Lord has forbidden all atrocious deeds, what is obvious from them and what is concealed, and sin, and aggression without cause, and that you set-up partners with The God that which He has never authorized, and that you say about The God what you do not know.”
Other verses such as 5:3 list the forbidden foods.
Now that we understand that "sujud" means "hearing and obeying", are we going to hear and obey what The God forbade in the above verses of the reading or are we going to reject like the people described in verse 84:21:
84:21. And when the reading is read to them, they do not hear and obey.
The expression "al-masjid al-aqsa" can similarly be interpreted as "the utmost hearing and obeying". Hence, verse 17:1 can be interpreted as follows:
17:1. Most exalted is the One who transferred His servant, from the institution of hearing and obeying of the forbidden to that of utmost hearing and obeying that we have blessed around, in order to show him from our signs. It is He who is the Hearer, the Seer.
The state of utmost/ultimate hearing and obeying is described in verse 7:206 in different terms:
7:206. Those who are at your Lord, they are never too proud to serve Him, and they exalt Him, and they hear and obey Him.
Verses 53:1-18 and 81:15-23 talk about the signs in 17:1. According to those verses, the state of "utmost hearing and obeying" is a state that is outside our narrow perception. To get closer to that state we must first go through hearing and obeying the forbidden ("al-masjid al-haram") and we must never be too proud to serve our Lord and exalt Him. Only then we can hope be close to our Lord in a state of utmost hearing and obeying at the garden:
53:15. At it is the shelter's garden/paradise.
On the other hand, whoever was blind to The God's signs in this low-life is even more blind in the ending (for example, see 17:72).
How about "ruku"?
38:24. "...he fell "raki'an"..."
One cannot fall into bowing, however, one can fall to his knees. Therefore, if one interprets "ruku" in 38:24 as physical then it is falling to the knees and not bowing as sectarians do it. If on the other hand, one interprets the verse idiomatically and "ruku" as non-physical (i.e, humbleness) then this is not how sectarians do it either because they do it physically. Hence, no matter how verse 38:24 is interpreted, how sectarians do their "ruku" is wrong.
Upon closer examination of other verses in the reading, it can be clearly seen that "ruku" means humbleness. This understanding is confirmed by verses 77:46-48, which talk about the criminals not doing "ruku":
77:46-48. Eat and enjoy a little, you are criminals. Woe to the rejecters. And if it was said to them "irka'u"(be humble), "la yarka'un" (they do not become humble).
Similarly, verses 37:34-35 talk about the criminals:
37:34-35. We do like this to the criminals. If it was said to them there is no god except The God, "yastakbirun" (they become arrogant).
Linking those verses together, we can see that "becoming arrogant" is equivalent to "la yarka'un". Hence, I believe that "ruku" signifies humbleness.
Like "ruku" which is often mentioned with "sujud", not being arrogant "la yastakbirun" is also mentioned with "sujud" in verse 32:15. Moreover, the descendants of Israel and Maryam were ordered to "yarka'u" in verses 2:43 and 3:43 with others. Who are those others? They are every other creature in the heavens and the earth as we can see from 16:49, 7:206, and 21:19. Those verses talk about other creatures "not being arrogant" (i.e., humbleness).
The institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden includes a communication medium ("bayt") where people can safely and in tranquility hear what is forbidden so that they can obey it. That communication vehicle may be a physical place where people gather safely to hear what is forbidden and (hopefully) obeying it. However, the main objective is not the physical place in itself. The physical place is only a means for hearing (i.e. communicating) what is forbidden to people.
The "masjid" and the "bayt" are not the same thing. As a result of giving the concepts of "al-masjid al-haram" and "al-bayt" proper names not authorized by The God, those concepts have been used interchangeably by sectarians and if you ask them, they will not know the difference between those two distinct concepts. The "bayt" (house) is the way that people hear what is forbidden. The house of the forbidden can be considered the communication vehicle of the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden. As such, it can be anywhere where people gather to safely hear and obey what is forbidden, and is not restricted to a certain physical location:
22:26. And when We assigned to Ibrahim the house's place that do not partner with me a thing, and cleanse My house for the passers by, and the remaining, and the humbly hearing and obeying.
In verse 22:26, please note that the house's place is any place where the first command in verse 6:151 (not setting up partners with The God) is heard and obeyed and not a specific physical place. As such, even a virtual web site where no partners are set up with The God and where people come to safely hear and obey what is forbidden could be considered as "al-bayt al-haram". According to verse 27:91-92, it can even be a whole town where people can safely communicate and obey the forbidden.
The first such communication site was in a location called "Bakka":
3:96. The first house placed for the people is the one in Bakka, blessed and a guidance for the worlds.
A house can be "a guidance" only when one of its main functions is to communicate guidance. So once again we see that it is not the physical aspects of the house that are important. Moreover, from the reading, there is no indication that the first house is the only house. In fact, by pointing attention to "Bakka" as merely the location of the first house, the verse indicates that there are other subsequent houses where people came to hear what is forbidden and then (hopefully) obeying it.
The example given in verse 29:41 provides insight into the meaning of "bayt", but only for those who have knowledge:
29:41. The example of those who take protectors other than The God is that of the female spider that took for herself a house and truly the flimsiest of houses is the spider's house, if they knew.
The material that makes the spider web is actually relatively strong, so in what way is the spider's house weak?
In order to understand verse 29:41, we must first understand the purpose of a house ("bayt") whose plural, as clear from verse 29:41, is "biyut" (houses):
16:80. It is The God who made your houses tranquility for you; and made for you, out of the skins of animals houses, which you carry lightly when you travel and when you stop; and out of their wool, their furs, and their hair, comfort and convenience for a limited time.
The main purpose of the houses is that they are tranquility for us. Now, let's see how good the spider's house is at performing that main function.
The spider uses its house not for tranquility and rest but instead uses it for hunting. Spiders are night hunters (in the darkness). Interestingly, like our houses, the nighttime is described as tranquility ("sakan") for us in verses such as 6:96 and 10:67. After a night of hunting, the spider's web easily becomes worn out. If the web is torn or damaged the spider eats it.
Like our houses, our mates are also described as tranquility ("sakan") for us:
7:189. It is He Who created you from a single self, and made from her its mate, in order for him to be in tranquility at her. When he merged into her, she carried a light burden and so went by with it. So when she grew heavy, they both prayed to The God, their Lord: "If You give us goodness, we vow we shall be from the grateful."
30:21. And among His signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may be in tranquility at them, and He made affection and mercy between you. Indeed, in this are signs for people who ponder.
Interestingly, the spider's mating habits are far from tranquil. For example, the female desert spider often eats her mate as a result of erroneous communication (For example, see: http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/14675 ).
So "al-bayt" is a place of tranquility and a vehicle for safely communicating guidance. Hence, the expression "al-bayt al-haram" in verses 5:2 and 5:97 can be interpreted as "a place of tranquility for safely communicating the forbidden". It is a place where people come to safely hear about the forbidden and take the house's challenge ("hajj al-bayt") without fear of persecution.
2:125. And We made the house an assembly for the people and a safety and take from the persistence of Ibrahim a connecting lesson and We made a covenant to Ibrahim and Ismail that cleanse my house for the passers by, and the remaining, and the humbly hearing and obeying.
This explains why "al-bayt" (the house) is for all people while the "al-masjid al-haram" (the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden) only prospers with people who do not set up partners with The God.
22:27. And declare the debate/challenge among people. They will come on foot and on every kind of lean transportation. They will come through every unobstructed passage.
Verses 22:26-27 make it clear that it should be declared for all people, including those who serve partners with The God, to come to the "bayt" and safely debate and challenge preconceived notions so that our understanding of the forbidden and how to obey it improves. On the other hand, verses such as 9:17-18 and 9:28 make it clear that the institutions of hearing and obeying The God only prosper with people who do not set up partners with The God.
9:17. It was not for those who set up partners to prosper the institutions of hearing and obeying The God while witnessing against themselves with rejection. Their deeds are wasted and they will abide in the fire forever.
9:18. Instead those who prosper the institutions of hearing and obeying The God are those who have faith in The God and the ending day and persist in the "salat" and provide the purification and did not fear except The God, so perhaps those will be from the guided ones.
According to verse 9:19, those who set up partners with The God were previously involved in the institution/implementation of hearing and obeying the forbidden. However, verse 9:28 makes it clear that those who set up partners with The God should not participate anymore in the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden:
9:28. O you who had faith, those who set up partners are pollution so they do not approach the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden after this year of theirs. And if you fear neediness, The God will enrich you from His favor if He willed, indeed The God is knowledgeable, wise.
The rejecters who set up partners with The God turn away others from hearing and obeying the forbidden. For example, they want others to be like them and violate the first commandment of verse 6:151 by setting up partners with The God.
8:34. And why should The God not punish them when they are turning others away from the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden, and they were never its protectors. Its protectors are the forethoughtful; but most of them do not know.
As we saw earlier, the house of the forbidden (al-bayt al-haram) purpose is for people to assemble in safety and tranquility to hear and obey the forbidden. Whether it is a physical place or a non-physical place such as a web site, it must be built on the same foundations that Ibrahim and Ismael built it on. What are those foundations?
In verse 2:127, the foundations ("alqawaAAid") are what stops a building from falling:
2:127. And Ibrahim raised the foundations from the house with Ismael: "Our Lord accept this from us, You are the Hearer, the Knowledgeable".
In verse 16:26, the same exact word "alqawaAAid" occurs when we are told about "falling buildings":
16:26. Those before them have schemed, but The God came to their buildings from the foundations, thus the roof fell on top of them, and the retribution came to them from where they did not know.
Verse 16:26 provides a link between verse 2:127 that we saw earlier and verses 9:109-110. Verse 9:109 tells us that the foundations ("alqawaAAid") of our buildings should be our forethought of The God and His acceptance:
9:109-110. Is one who founds his building on forethought of The God and His acceptance better, or one who founds his building on the edge of a cliff which is about to crumble, so that it crumbled with him into the fire of Hell? The God does not guide the wicked people. Such a building that they built continues to cause doubt in their hearts, except that their hearts are severed. The God is Knowledgeable, Wise.
Now that we have a preliminary understanding of "bayt", "masjid", and "al-masjid al-haram" that is not based on proper names not authorized by The God, let's try to link this understanding to other concepts related to the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden.
2:115. And to The God belongs the east and the west, so wherever you turn, there is The God's direction. The God is encompassing, knowledgeable.
As clear from verse 2:115, The God is omnipresent and all physical directions belong to The God. The verse mentions the "east and the west" to denote physical directions. Turning towards a specific physical direction doesn't accomplish anything as clear from verse 2:177:
2:177. Piety is not to turn your directions towards the east and the west, but piety is one who has faith in The God and the last day, and those given control, and the book, and the prophets, and he gives wealth out of love to the near relatives, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and those who ask, and in the cause of freedom, and persists in the "salat", and provides the purification; and those who keep their covenants when they make a covenant, and those who are patient in good and bad circumstances and when in despair. These are the ones who have been truthful, and those are the forethoughtful.
As clear from verse 2:177, turning to a physical direction is irrelevant as far piety is concerned. Like verses 2:115 and 2:177, verse 2:142 also refers to the "east and the west" and hence the "qibla"/aim/target mentioned in it is a physical one:
2:142. The foolish from the people will say: "what turned them away from their (physical) target that they were on?" Say: "To The God is the east and the west, He guides whom He wills to a straight path."
In verse 2:142, the foolish people such as those who, for example, don't really have faith in The God's omnipresence and insist on turning to a physical direction to pray to The God wonder about what made those who have faith turn away from the physical "qibla"/target that they were on.
2:143. Like this we made you a balanced nation, so that you will be witnesses over the people and the messenger will be on you a witness. And we didn't make the (physical) target that you were on except to make it known who follows the messenger from who rolls on his heels and it (i.e., the physical target) was big except for those who The God guided and The God would not waste your faith, indeed The God is compassionate and merciful to people.
Like verse 6:112 where The God "made" enemies of each prophet fabricate lies so as to make it known who follows such lies, the word "ja'al" in verse 2:143 can be interpreted in the same way. Before this verse was revealed, the messenger, like the people around him may have had a physical target ("qibla") and The God allowed this to go on initially in order to make it known when the target is changed later on to the true one as to who would follow the messenger and who the physical target is too big of a deal to give up. In fact, that physical direction is such a big deal for them that they fabricated preposterous sayings such as the following and attributed them to the prophet:
Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 388:
Narrated Ali bin Abdullah from Sufyan from Alzuhri from Ata bin Yazid from Abu Aiyub Al-Ansari: The Prophet is reported to have said, "While defecating, neither face nor turn your back to the Qibla but face either east or west."
Of course the prophet would have never uttered such nonsense.
As clear from verse 2:144, the messenger was not satisfied with a physical target, hence his direction is said to be rolling aimlessly in the sky, in other words, without a physical direction.
2:144. We could see the rolling of your direction in the sky so we will turn you to a target that shall please you. So turn your direction towards the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden and wherever/however you were so turn your directions towards it. And those who were given the book indeed know that it is the truth from their Lord and The God is not unaware of what they do.
Verse 2:144 makes it clear that our target in whatever situation one is in should be to implement the hearing and obeying of the forbidden. As clear from the last part of verse 2:144, the only requirement for knowing the true "qibla"/target is to be given the book from our Lord. There is no requirement to have a compass or to consult a geographical map to know the true "qibla"/target from our Lord. Hence, verse 2:145 now makes perfect sense:
2:145. And indeed if you gave every sign to those who were given the book, they will not follow your target and you are not going to follow their target and they will not follow each other's target, and if you follow their fantasies after what came to you from the knowledge, you would then be from the unjust.
Those who were given the book were following other non-physical targets. For example, the Nazarenes claimed that Jesus will intercede for them and the target for most of them is to accept Jesus as a savior so that he accepts them in paradise!
But even those from the people of the book who adopted a physical target, such as those who were given the reading but abandoned it, they do not follow each other's target. It is an indisputable fact that due to the curvature of the earth, once the physical 35 feet wide, 40 feet long by 50 feet high (it is not even a cube) stone structure in Mekkah is under the horizon, then it is extremely hard to be facing it. To be physically facing it, one would have to plot a straight line between his/her face and that stone structure which would pass through the earth (i.e. one would be looking down through the earth). Hence, most sectarians are in fact facing outer space. Given the fact that any slight difference in an angle becomes a huge gap when projected over large distances, each of those sectarians is probably physically facing entirely different random regions in outer space.
In verse 2:150, like the prophet, we are unquestionably commanded to turn our direction towards "al-masjid al-haram" wherever we are (i.e. permanently) and not just during any ritual. This truth shines through even from the Yusufali Sunni biased translation of the same verse below:
2:150. so from whencesoever thou startest forth, turn thy face in the direction of the sacred Mosque; and wheresoever ye are, turn your face thither: That there be no ground of dispute against you among the people. Except those of them that a bent on wickedness; so fear them not, but fear Me; and that I may complete my favours on you, and ye May (consent to) be guided.
As we can see, The God made it logically impossible for anyone to claim based on the great reading that "wageh" is a physical face and "qibla" is specifically related to "salat" or that "qibla" is a physical direction.
Despite the evidence from the reading that they know very well and common sense, sectarians will insist on fantasizing that they are facing their beloved stone structure during their so-called "Salat" and make a big deal out of that physical target. However, they cannot change the truth in the reading.
2:146-147. Those who we gave the book to, they know it as they know their own children and indeed a group of them conceal the truth while they know. The truth is from your Lord so do not be from those who have doubt.
Interestingly, verse 2:145 has a lot in common with verse 2:120:
2:145. And indeed if you gave every sign to those who were given the book, they will not follow your target and you are not going to follow their target and they will not follow each other's target, and if you follow their fantasies after what came to you from the knowledge, you would then be from the unjust.
2:120. And the Jews and the Nazarenes they will not be satisfied with you until you follow their creed. Say: "The God's guidance is the guidance" and if you follow their fantasies after what came to you from the knowledge, you will have no protector or ally from The God.
If we alternate "creed" and "target", then we would get the same results. In the context of the verses, they seem almost synonymous. Both verses end with the exact same warning against following the fantasies of those who were given the book after receiving the knowledge. So this leads us to the next question: What is the relationship between target ("qibla"), creed ("milat"), and obligation ("deen")?
When we read about "deen"/obligation, we find that it is often referred to using almost the same terminology used to refer to the "qibla"/target:
10:105. And that persist your direction to the "deen"/obligation monotheistic and do not be from those who set up partners.
30:30. So persist your direction to the "deen"/obligation monotheistic, The God's natural system that He originated people on, there is no substitute to The God's creation but most people do not know.
30:43. So persist your direction to the worthy "deen"/obligation before a day made inevitable by The God comes. On that day they will be splintered.
Like "qibla"/target, we are asked to persist our direction towards the "deen"/obligation. Moreover, like verse 2:143 that we saw earlier in the context of the target, the obligation is described as making "Al-Muslimin"/the balanced nation witnesses over the people:
2:143. Like this we made you a balanced nation, so that you will be witnesses over the people and the messenger will be on you a witness. And we didn't make the (physical) target that you were on except to make it known who follows the messenger from who rolls on his heels and it (i.e., the physical target) is big except for those who The God guided and The God would not waste your faith, indeed The God is compassionate and merciful to people.
22:78. And strive in the cause of The God its truly deserving striving. He is the One who has chosen you, and He didn't make difficulty for you in the obligation, it is the creed of your father Ibrahim. He is the One who named you Al-Muslimin from before and in this, so that the messenger will be on you a witness and you will be witnesses over the people. So persist in the "salat" and provide the purification and hold tight to The God, He is your Protector, the best Protector, and the best Victor.
As we see from 22:78 the obligation ("deen") is equivalent to the creed of Ibrahim. Moreover, as we saw earlier from verses 2:120 and 2:145, the creed seems to be equivalent to the target ("qibla"). So this means that "obligation", "creed of Ibrahim /monotheism", and "target/qibla" are all equivalent concepts.
As we saw earlier, the target is to institute/implement the hearing and obeying of the forbidden. So if "deen" = "qibla" and "qibla" = "al-masjid al-haram" then this implies that our obligation is to implement the hearing and obeying of the forbidden. This is confirmed by verses such as 2:150 and 5:3.
2:150. And from wherever/however you set out so turn your direction towards the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden and wherever/however you were so turn your directions towards it so that people do not have a challenge against you, except the unjust amongst them, so do not fear them and fear Me and to accomplish my favor upon you perhaps you may be guided.
Verse 5:3 starts with listing the forbidden foods and ends with almost the same statements as verse 2:150. Moreover, it states that with this list of forbidden foods, the obligation is now complete. Hence, once again we see the strong relationship between "deen" and "hearing and obeying the forbidden".
5:3. ...This day those who rejected have despaired of your obligation so do not fear them and fear Me. This day I have completed for you your obligation and accomplished my favor upon you and I am satisfied with the submission/compliance/obedience as an obligation so whoever is forced in a lack of food without deliberate sin so The God is Forgiver, Merciful.
Notice how both verses tell us not to fear the rejecters and the unjust and fear The God instead. Also, in both verses, once the truth becomes apparent to us with respect to the meaning of "deen" and "al-masjid al-haram", then The God's favor would be complete upon us. Verse 5:3 describes the fulfillment of the promise The God made in 2:150 to accomplish His favor over those who turned their direction towards the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden.
Now that we have preliminarily established that the obligation is the institution/implementation of hearing and obeying the forbidden, let's test this understanding to see if it makes sense in all the verses where the expression "al-masjid al-haram" is mentioned. Some of the verses that on the surface may pose a problem for this understanding are verses such as 2:191. How can "al-masjid al-haram" be the "deen" and not a physical place if those verses say that those who have faith were fought in it?
2:190-191. And fight in the path of The God those who fight you and do not aggress, The God doesn't love the aggressors. And kill them wherever/however you catch them and evict them from however they evicted you and the persecution is more severe than the killing and do not fight them at the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden until they fight you in it. If they fight you, then kill them. This is the penalty of the rejecters.
The answer can be found in verse 60:9.
60:9. The God only forbids you from taking as protectors those who fought you in the obligation/"deen" and evicted you from your homes and they openly tried to evict you and whoever takes them as protectors, those are the unjust.
Putting 60:9 and 2:190-191 together we see that we can only fight in the "deen" those who fought us in it.
Verse 2:217 confirms that fighting in the "deen" and fighting in "the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden" are equivalent.
2:217. They ask you about fighting in the month of the forbidden, say: "Fighting in it is a big (offense) and repelling from the path of The God and rejecting Him and the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden and evicting its community from it is bigger at The God and the persecution is more severe than the killing. And they will continue to fight you until they revert you from your obligation and whoever amongst you reverts from his obligation and dies while a rejecter, his deeds are wasted in the low life and in the ending and those are the companions of the fire, wherein they abide eternally.
We can see from verse 2:217 that reverting those who have faith from their obligation is equivalent to evicting the community of the institution of hearing and obeying The God.
How about verse 48:27 that talks about "entering" "al-masjid al-haram"?
48:27. Truly, The God has fulfilled the vision for his messenger with the truth. You will surely enter the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden if The God willed safely, your hair cut short and relaxed not fearing, so He knew what you didn't know, so He made other than that a near breakthrough.
Remember those who were fighting to try to evict the community of the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden (i.e. revert them from their obligation), verse 48:27 talks about the victory over them. This is confirmed by verses 110:1-2:
110:1-2. When The God's victory and the breakthrough come. And you saw the people enter The God's obligation in throngs.
Putting 48:27 and 110:1-2 together, we can see that after the victory of the messenger and those with him over those who tried to revert them from their "deen"/obligation, they will enter of the institute of hearing and obeying the forbidden safely and then many people will follow and enter The God's obligation.
The word "islam" is synonymous with words such as compliance and obedience. According to verse 3:19, our obligation to The God is obedience/compliance/"islam":
3:19. Indeed, the obligation to the God is the obedience ("islam") and those who were given the book didn't differ in it except after the knowledge came to them out of excesses between them. And whoever rejects The God’s signs, then The God is swift in judgment.
Verse 3:83, talks about "islam":
3:83. Is other than The God's obligation they seek and whom in the heavens and the earth obeyed Him ("aslma") voluntarily and compellingly, and to Him they are being returned?
Almost the same exact words are repeated for "sujud" in verse 13:15:
13:15. And whom in the heavens and the earth hear and obey The God voluntarily and compellingly, and their shadows in going and returning.
Linking verses 3:83 and 13:15 together, we see that "islam"/compliance/obedience of The God is equivalent to "sujud"/hearing and obeying of The God. Moreover, verse 6:153 makes it clear that the forbidden commands are the straight path ("al-sirat al-mostaqim").
Hence, in summary, "deen" = "qibla" = "al-masjid al-haram" = "milat Ibrahim" = "islam li Allah" = "sujud li Allah" = "itiba'a al-sirat mostaqim". In other words, "obligation" = "target" = "the implementation of hearing and obeying the forbidden" = "the creed of Ibrahim" = "obedience of The God" = "hearing and obeying The God" = "following the straight path". This is our only obligation:
3:85. And whoever seeks other than the obedience an obligation, it will not be accepted from him and he is in the ending from the losers.
We fulfill our obligation to The God by hearing and obeying Him. We do that by persisting the direction of our lives towards the target of implementing hearing and obeying what He forbade on us. That direction is also the straight path.
How can one effectively fulfill his or her obligation and institute the hearing and obeying of the forbidden?
Learning connection/"salat" and purification/betterment/"zakat"
Let us start with an example. When somebody drives a car, his or her obligation is to hear and obey the traffic rules that were set to prevent accidents. In order to do that effectively, two things must happen. The person must learn the traffic rules and must also give up any bad driving habits that he had before learning those traffic rules. Only then, that person would have a chance of effectively hearing and obeying traffic rules.
As we saw earlier, "sujud" means hearing and obeying and those who do not fall "sujadan" are described as not hearing. Since the average rejecter's ear drums transmit the sound waves just like anybody else, in this context "not hearing" is not actually hearing with the ears but is used to signify "not understanding". The rejecters are blocked from "hearing" (i.e. understanding) the signs of The God in the reading. For example, when sectarians hear "obey The God and obey the messenger" in verses such as 4:59, they hear instead "obey The God and the book of Bukhari". They cannot obey even on the day of the account when they are given a physical leg because they don't understand that "sujud" is non-physical (see 68:42). Hearing corresponds to understanding properly so that one can obey correctly. "Sujud" is not blind hearing and obeying.
According to verse 4:102, the "salat" ends with "sujud". In other words, it ends with understanding and obeying. Hence, the "salat" is what helps one understand properly all the concepts related to our obligation so that one can fulfill the obligation.
We are required to persist in the "salat" and to bring forth the "zakat".
2:110. And persist in the "salat" and bring the "zakat". And what you bring forth of good for your souls you will find it with The God. The God is watching what you do.
2:277. Those who have faith and do good work, and persisted in the "salat", and brought the "zakat"; they will have their rewards with their Lord and there is no fear over them nor will they grieve.
The word "salat" is usually accompanied by the verb "aqimu". "Aqimu" comes from the Arabic root "qwm". Verses such as 5:37, 9:68, 11:39, 39:40, 42:45, and 9:21 use the adjective "moqim" to mean persistent. Similarly, the verbs "aqim"/"aqimu" means "persist". Verse 3:75 uses the word "qa'iman" to mean "persisting". Verses such as 10:71 use the word "maqami" to mean "my persistence". Verses such as 33:13 use the word "maqam" to mean persistence.
Let's first start with "zakat". The word "zakat" can be interpreted to mean purification or betterment. One type of "zakat" is purification by giving to charity (for example see 9:103). Another type of purification is made clear by the first few verses of chapter 80. They recount an incident where the prophet didn't hear and obey The God and didn't persist in the "salat" and bring the "zakat" as commanded in verse 2:110 above:
80:3. How do you know, he may be purified ("yazaka")?
In the context of chapter 80, "yazaka" means purified from false beliefs. Had the messenger persisted in the "salat" and brought the "zakat", the blind man could have been purified from his false beliefs.
Apart from the incident in chapter 80, how did the messenger hear and obey The God's command?
Here is how the messenger regularly heard and obeyed The God's commands:
3:164. The God Has bestowed favor upon those who have faith by sending them a messenger from amongst themselves reciting His signs on them and purifying them and teaching them the book and the wisdom, and they were before in manifest darkness.
62:2. He is the One who sent to the gentiles a messenger from among themselves, to recite on them His signs, and to purify them, and teach them the book and wisdom. Before this, they had gone far astray.
2:151. As We have sent a messenger to you from amongst yourselves to recite Our signs on you, and purify you, and teach you the book and the wisdom, and teach you what you did not know.
It is immediately obvious in the above verses that similar to "salat" which is usually followed by purification, the messenger reciting the revelations on his people is also followed by purifying them. Is "salat" equivalent to "reciting The God's revelations"?
As we all know, the wisdom is an attribute of the book (see 3:58, 10:1, 31:2) and its reading (see 36:2) and it is The God who grants it (see 2:269). In verses 3:164, 62:2, and 2:151, the messenger's people having knowledge of the book and the wisdom is the result of reciting The God's revelations on them and purifying them.
What stimulates learners to want to seek knowledge? Research on learning behavior suggests that it is some kind of disconnection. It is a disconnection between the new information we are hearing and our own prior knowledge. Hence, to improve our knowledge, we must hear new better information and get rid of false old knowledge.
So can "al-salat" simply be "the learning connection", in other words can it simply be a knowledge transfer and improvement process? That meaning is in line with verses 3:164, 62:2, and 2:151 that talk about the recitation of The God's revelations and the resulting learning of the book and the wisdom.
1. The purpose of "salat":
One of the things that we learned earlier is that purpose is the defining aspect of all the concepts we examined such as "bayt", "masjid", etc. The greater purpose of "al-salat"/the learning connection is remembrance of The God:
20:14. It is Me, The God, there is no god except Me, so serve Me and persist in the learning connection ("al-salat") to remember Me.
By focusing on the purpose, which is the remembrance of The God, perhaps we can better see what "salat" is. Verse 65:10 talks about The God sending those who have faith a "reminder":
65:10. The God has prepared for them a severe retribution. Therefore, you shall reverence The God, O you who possess intelligence and have faith, The God has sent down to you a reminder.
The immediately following verse tells us what this reminder is and its effect on those who have faith:
65:11. A messenger who recites on you The God's clarifying signs, to lead those who have faith and work righteousness out of the darknesses into the light. Anyone who has faith in The God and leads a righteous life, He will admit him into gardens with flowing streams; they abide therein forever. The God will generously reward him.
The effect of the reminder, which is the recitation of The God's revelations, is to lead those who have faith out of the darknesses into the light. Another verse that instructs those who have faith to remember The God is 33:41:
33:41-42. O you who have faith, you shall remember The God frequently. And glorify Him morning and evening.
Interestingly, the immediately following verse tells us that the effect of the "salat" of The God and those He gave control on those who have faith is the same exact effect of messenger who recites on those who have faith The God's revelations. Namely, leading those who have faith out of the darknesses into the light:
33:43. He is the One who connects the learning ("yusali") on you, He and those He gave control, to lead you out of the darknesses into the light. And He is ever Merciful towards those who have faith.
So once again, we see the strong relationship between "salat" and the messenger's recitation of The God's revelations on people (i.e., the learning connection between the messenger and his people). The learning connection has an "enlightenment" effect. The book is also described as "the light":
64:8. So have faith/trust in The God and His messenger and the light that We sent down, and The God is informed with what you do.
By connecting verses 65:11 and 33:43 together, now verse 33:56 can be better understood:
33:56. The God and those He gave control connect the learning ("yusalun") on the prophet. O you who have faith, connect the learning ("salu") on him and obey a complete obedience.
The learning connection is two-way. It is between the teacher and the learner and vice-versa. This is confirmed by verse 9:103:
9:103. Take from their money a charity to cleanse them and purify them with it, and connect the learning on them. Your learning connection is a tranquility for them, and The God is Hearer, Knowledgeable.
One exception to the pattern we saw earlier in verses 3:164, 62:2, and 2:151 is verse 29:45 where recitation is followed by "salat".
29:45. Recite what is inspired to you from the book, and persist in the learning connection ("salat"); for the learning connection ("salat") prohibits atrocious deeds and disguised obscenity and the remembrance of The God is greater. The God knows everything you do.
However, this particular verse talks about the messenger reciting the book but not necessarily on his people. Hence, there is no "on them" in the verse and reciting the book is followed by a command to persist in the learning connection. The verse also emphasizes that the remembrance of The God is the greater purpose of the learning connection.
If one focuses first on the purpose of "al-salat' (the learning connection), then it becomes clear. The purpose is "greater" (see 29:45). If one focuses on the "lesser" things first such as the timings, etc. before the greater purpose (remembrance of The God), then it becomes impossible to even understand what "salat" is. We remember The God through the reminder. The recitation of The God's signs is a reminder as per 65:10-11.
Verse 27:92 makes it clear that what the messenger is reciting is the reading:
27:92. "And that I recite the reading, so he who is guided is guided for himself," and for he who is misguided, say: "I am but one of the warners".
Remember the purpose of the "salat" is to remember The God. The messenger was remembering his Lord in the reading:
17:46. And We put on their hearts covers that they understand it, and in their ears a heavy weight, and when you remembered your Lord in the reading alone, they turned away on their backs in aversion.
So what was the messenger doing in verse 17:46? The answer is that he was persisting in the learning connection ("salat"). Those who do not have faith did not hear and obey ("sujud") as a result of the "salat". Instead, they turned away on their backs in aversion.
In summary, "thikr"/reminder = recitation of the reading = the learning connection/"salat".
More confirmation that studying of The God's signs ("ayat") whether in the book or in the heavens and the earth is "salat" is in verses/signs 3:190-191 and verse/sign 4:103.
4:103. When you complete the learning connection, then remember The God while standing, and sitting, and on your sides. Then, when you are secure, persist in the learning connection. Certainly, the learning connection is a timed book on those who have faith.
3:190-191. Indeed in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the difference between night and day, are signs for those with understanding. Those who remember The God while standing, and sitting, and on their sides, and they ponder in the creation of the heavens and the earth: “Our Lord you did not create this without purpose, be You glorified, spare us the retribution of the fire!”
We once again see that the main idea/theme in "salat" is one of "learning connection"/studying of The God's signs.
In chapter 17, notice that like "salat" that results in "sujud"/obedience, reciting the book on those who have knowledge also results in "sujud"/obedience:
17:107. Say: “Believe in it or do not believe in it. Those who have been given the knowledge before it, when it is recited to them, they fall to their chins submitting”
By reading the book without preconceived opinions we can see that verse 19:58 clearly describes what "salat" is in contrast to the "lost salat" in 19:59:
19:58. Those are the ones whom God Has blessed from amongst the prophets from the progeny of Adam, those We carried with Noah, and from the progeny of Ibrahim and Israel, and from whom We have guided and chosen. When the revelations of the Almighty are recited to them, they fall down hearing and obeying and in tears.
In contrast to reciting The God's revelation and the resulting obedience, the generations that came after them did not learn The God's revelations and instead they lost the "salat":
19:59. Then generations came after them who lost the "salat"/learning connection, and followed desires. They will find their consequences.
We can also now see that chapter 96 clearly describes "salat" from start (learning through reading in 96:1-5) to finish (sujud/obeying in 96:19).
The God teaches us through the great reading/quran what we didn't know:
In the name of The God, The Almighty, The Merciful
96:1. Read in the name of your Lord who has created.
96:2. He created the human from a clot.
96:3. Read, and your Lord is the Generous One.
96:4. The One who taught by the pen.
96:5. He taught the human what he did not know.
On the other hand, those who transgress prevent The God's servants from "salat":
96:6. On the contrary, the human is bound to transgress.
96:7. If he sees it he has no need.
96:8. To your Lord is the return.
96:9. Have you seen the one who deters
96:10. a servant when he is connecting the learning/"sala"?
96:11. Have you seen if he was being guided
96:12. Or he ordered righteousness?
96:13. Have you seen if he lied and turned away?
96:14. Did he not know that The God can see?
Of course, we should not obey those with the lying and errant forehead and instead we should do the real "sujud" to The God:
96:15. Alas, if he does not cease, We will drag him by the forehead.
96:16. A lying and errant forehead.
96:17. So let him call on his supporter.
96:18. We will call on the guardians.
96:19. No, do not obey him, and hear and obey and come near.
According to chapter 96, the purpose of reading of what is written by the pen is to learn what we did not know before. Verses 96:6-10 that talk about the one who prevents "salat" are in contrast to verses 96:1-5, that very clearly tell us what it is that those with the lying forehead prevent.
Notice that the real "sujud" (obeying The God) is put in contrast of obeying those with the lying and errant forehead. What is their forehead doing that is a lie and in error?
Verse 6:91 confirms that the book that The God sent down teaches people what they didn't know as we saw previously in 96:5:
6:91. And they did not give The God His true worth, for they said: “The God Has never sent down anything to any human being”, say: “Who then has sent down the book which Moussa had come with, a light and a guidance for the people. You treat it just as loose paper, you show some of them and conceal much.” And you were taught what neither you nor your fathers knew.” Say: “The God Has” then leave them playing in their meddling.
Interestingly, verse 6:92 puts "salat" in contrast to concealing the book and taking it as fun and games as opposed to learning from it:
6:92. And this is a scripture which We have sent down, blessed, authenticating what is present with him, and that you warn the cradle of civilization and those around it. And those who believe in the ending believe in it, and they are protective over their "salat"/learning connection.
A learning connection requires at least two participants to be connected. For example, it is a connection between the teacher and the learner and vice-versa (e.g., 9:103, 3:164, 62:2). It is also a connection between the learner and the author of the material one is learning from (e.g., 33:43 and 28:51):
2. How do we persist in the learning connection ("al-salat")?
Once again, to find the answer, let's focus on the greater purpose of the learning connection, namely remembering The God.
We must persist in the learning connection because its purpose is to remember The God. Those that forget The God are described in verses such as 9:67 and 59:19:
9:67. The hypocrite men and women, they are to each other. They order evil and deter from good, and they close their hands. They forgot The God, so The God forgot them; the hypocrites are the wicked.
59:19. Do not be like those who forgot The God, so He made them forget themselves. These are the wicked.
Note how the hypocrites in 9:67 order with atrocious deeds, which is the same exact thing that the learning connection / (recitation of the reading) prohibits, as per verse 29:45.
Ideally, we should recite the reading at all times, especially at night according to verses 73:1-4. However as per verse 73:20, The God knows that at times some of us will be sick and some have to leave their homes to work and earn a living and we would not be able to recite the reading all night or all the time. Hence, like the messenger, we are told that at minimum we should read what we can out of the reading, persist in the learning connection, bring forth the purification from falsehood, and spend from our wealth in the way of The God:
73:20. Your Lord knows that you persist less than two thirds of the night, and half of it, and one third of it, as well as a group of those who are with you. And The God measures the night and the day. He knows that you will not be able to keep track, so He pardons you. So read what you can from the reading. He knows that there will be sick among you, and others that venture out in the land seeking from The God’s bounty, and others who are fighting in the cause of The God, so read what you can of it. And persist in the learning connection and bring the purification and loan The God a good loan. And whatever you put forth for yourselves, you will find it with The God better and a greater reward. And seek The God's forgiveness, for The God is Forgiving, Merciful.
Verse 73:4-6, talks about the beginning of the night being an effective time for the recitation of the reading:
73:4-6. Or more and arrange the reading and effective arrangement. We will release on you a heavy saying. Indeed, the beginning of the night is more effective and more persistent in saying.
Similarly, verse 11:114 talks about the beginning of the night, i.e., the edge of the day followed by the near part of the night as being the recommended time for the learning connection ("salat"):
11:114. And persist in the learning connection the two edges of the day and the near part of the night. Indeed, the good deeds make the bad ones go away. That is my reminder to those who remember.
In verse 11:114, The God is telling the messenger to persist in the learning connection at two times: (1) at the first part of the day (the first edge of the day), and (2) at the last part of the day (the second edge of the day) and the first part of the night. Similarly, in verse 17:78, The God is telling the messenger to persist in two things: (1) the learning connection ("salat") from sunset until darkness, and (2) reading at daybreak.
17:78. Persist in the learning connection at the rubbing of the sun until the obscure part of the night and reading at daybreak. Indeed reading at daybreak is witnessed.
Connecting 17:78 and 11:114 together, we can deduce that:
(1) The learning connection at the first part of the day = the reading at daybreak
Connecting 17:78, 11:114, and 73:4-6, we can deduce that:
(2) The learning connection at the last part of the day and the first part of the night = the learning connection from sunset until darkness = the arrangement of the reading at the beginning of the night
Connecting points (1) and (2) with verse 73:20, we can deduce that at minimum, one should persist in the learning connection/recite what he or she can of the reading (this can be one verse, one chapter, or many chapters) at least at the two times specified in 17:78, 11:114, and 73:4-6 (i.e., at the beginning and end of the day).
It is natural that people wash up when they first wake up to start the day and when they return home from work at the end of the day. Hence, the washing at the start of the learning connection mentioned in verse 5:6 would also coincide with those two times.
How about "al-salat al-wusta" in verse 2:238?
As per verses 5:89, 68:28, 100:5 and 2:143 where the word "wasat" is used to mean "balanced/best", "al-salat al-wusta" simply means the balanced/best learning connection and is not an additional minimum time for reading the book.
3. Where do we persist in the learning connection?
As we saw earlier, "masajid Allah", the institutions of hearing and obeying The God are institutions and not physical places. On the other hand, the "bayt" component of the institutions of hearing and obeying The God can be a physical place or any other type of vehicle for safe communication.
2:187. It has been made lawful for you during the night of fasting to approach your women sexually. They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them. The God knows that you used to betray your selves so He Has accepted your repentance, and forgiven you; now you may approach them and seek what The God Has written for you. And you may eat and drink until the white thread is distinct from the black thread of daybreak; then you shall complete the fast until night; and do not approach them while you are devoted in the institutions of hearing and obeying. These are The God’s boundaries, so do not transgress them. It is thus that The God makes His revelations clear to the people that they may be righteous.
Verse 2:187 makes it clear that "masajid" are not congregational sites/temples/etc. Clearly no sane person would have sexual relations with his or her spouse in any public place, let alone congregational sites, so this verse would be meaningless if one interprets "masajid" as congregational sites. The verse simply says that we shouldn't have sexual relations with our spouses while we are concentrating on activities related to the implementation of the hearing and obeying of The God such as while we are reciting the reading in our houses.
The learning connection is done at any time (at minimum the two times discussed above and no maximum) and at any house ("bayt"), which as we saw earlier is any safe physical place or safe communication vehicle. Hence verses such as 8:35 and 24:36-37 talk about the learning connection in relation to houses.
24:36-37. In houses The God has allowed to be raised and for His name to be raised in them. He is glorified therein in the going and the returning, by men who are not distracted by trade or sale from the remembrance of The God and the persistence in the learning connection and bringing the purification. They fear a day when the hearts and sights will be turning.
The two times at the end and the start of the day are only the minimum remembrance times so that we don't forget. The learning connection can be made anywhere and anytime we hear the verses of the reading. There is no requirement to go to a specific place to persist in the learning connection. Times of gathering are simply a good opportunity to remind many people at the same time. Therefore, the learning connection/recitation of the reading can be called for at any time when people are gathered. When the learning connection/the recitation of the reading is called for at any gathering, we should leave what we are doing and go and listen attentively (as per verses 7:204, 62:9-10, and 46:29) and then resume our activities only after the learning connections/recitation of the reading is completed:
62:9-10. O you who have faith, when the learning connection is called to at a time of gathering, you shall hasten to the remembrance of The God, and cease all business. This is better for you, if you only knew. Once the learning connection is completed, you may spread through the land to seek The God's bounties, and continue to remember The God frequently, that you may succeed.
46:29. And We sent to you a small number of "jinn", in order to let them listen to the reading. So when they arrived there, they said: "Pay attention" Then, when it was completed, they returned to their people, to warn them.
7:204. And if the reading is read, then listen to it and pay attention perhaps you may receive mercy.
One type of time of gathering ("yawm al-jumu3at") is a funeral. Like any time of gathering, a funeral, is a good opportunity to call for "salat" to remind many living people by reciting the reading (the reminder) and drawing on its lessons. Now verse 9:84 makes perfect sense:
9:84. And never connect the learning on anyone of them who died and do not persist on his grave. They rejected The God and His messenger and they died and/while they are transgressors.
Although we know that once a person dies, there is nothing we can do that can help him or her, sectarians use verse 9:84 to justify making useless prayers on the dead. Now, we can understand "tusali" in 9:84 and in light of all its other occurrences in the reading as reciting the reading and connecting its lessons to how the dead person lived their lives. For example, if the person died in the cause of The God, we could recite the verses that talk about fighting in the cause of The God and those who die in the cause of The God in order to comfort the family and strengthen the resolve of those who have faith. This is not obligatory nor it is forbidden. Those who had faith lived their lives according to the quran and we would naturally find many verses in the quran that provide appropriate lessons for the living people at their funerals. As for the rejecting hypocrites, they didn't live their lives according to the quran and hence we cannot do the learning connection on them.
The learning connection can be done privately at our homes or publicly at any public gathering and there is no requirement to go to a so-called "Mosque" or a temple. Verse 24:58 clarifies that the learning connection is normally done at home.
24:58. O you who have faith, let those whom are possessed by your oath and the children who have not attained puberty request permission from you at three times. Before the daybreak learning connection, and when you are changing your clothes from appearing (going out), and after the nightfall learning connection. These are three private times for you. At other times, it is not wrong for you or them to mingle with one another. The God thus clarifies the revelations for you. And The God is Knowledgeable, Wise.
In verse 24:58, "thahirat" means "appearing" as per verses such as 31:20. In other words, in the case of people, it means going out. This understanding implies that the two learning connections are done at home. Hence, the usual order of our daily activities is:
- Wake up
- The first learning connection
- Change our clothes to go out (1st private time period)
- Go out
- Return home
- Change our clothes from going out (2nd private time period)
- The second learning connection
- After (#9) and until (#3) (3rd private time period)
We are to persist in the learning connection at our home with our families:
20:132. And order your family with the learning connection, and be patient on it. We do not ask you for provision, for We provide for you. And the good end is for the righteous.
19:55. And he used to order his family with the learning connection and the purification, and his Lord was pleased with him.
66:6. O you who have faith, protect yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is people and stones...
Verses 3:37 and 3:39 confirm that we are not required to leave our homes and go to a specific place to persist in the learning connection. Zakaria took custody of Maryam and hence she lived in his home. Those verses describe Maryam (see 3:37) and Zakaria (see 3:39) persisting in the learning connection in a private area of their home:
3:39. Those given control called to him while he was persisting in the learning connection in the sanctuary: "The God gives you good tidings of Yahya, authenticated with the word from The God, and a master, and steadfast, and a prophet from the righteous."
The same word "sanctuary" ("mihrab") is used in 19:11 where Zakaria is going out to indicate to his people that they should glorify The God. If the "mihrab" where he persisted in the learning connection was a public temple or congregational site then he wouldn't need to go out and people would come in instead:
19:11. So he went out to his people from the sanctuary, and he indicated to them that they should glorify Him morning and evening.
This explains why Dawud was startled when the two feuding men entered his home's private area:
38:21. Have you received news of the feuding men who climbed into the sanctuary?
38:22. When they entered upon him, he was startled. They said: "Have no fear. We are feuding with one another, so judge between us with truth, and do not wrong us, and guide us in the right path."
The fact that they had to climb in to get to Dawud indicates that the private area is part of Dawud's home where he wouldn't normally expect people to just walk in and it is not part of a public site such as a temple.
As we saw earlier, the biggest purpose of the learning connection is to remind us of The God. In order to be reminded, we must persist in the learning connection at least twice, at the beginning and end of our day. It is like a schedule of appointments that we keep in order not to forget. Hence verse 4:103 talks about the learning connection being a timed book. In other words, it is the timed reading of the book:
4:103. When you complete the learning connection, then remember The God while standing, and sitting, and on your sides. Then, when you are secure, persist in the learning connection. Certainly, the learning connection is a timed book on those who have faith.
The verse before 4:103 talks about the learning connection/the recitation of the reading while those who have faith venture out in the land (i.e., this is in contrast to the normal learning connection at home that we saw earlier) and there is danger from the rejecters:
4:101. And when you venture out in the land, then there is no sin that you shorten from the from the learning connection, if you fear that the rejecters will test you. The rejecters are to you a clear enemy.
4:102. And if you are with them and you persist in the learning connection for them, then let a group from amongst them persist with you and let them take their weapons; and when they have heard and obeyed then let them stand guard behind you; and let a group who has not yet made the learning connection come and connect with you, and let them be wary and take their weapons with them. The rejecters hope that you would neglect your weapons and belongings so they can come upon you in one blow. There is no sin upon you if there is harm to you from rain, or if you are ill, that you put down your weapons, but be wary. The God Has prepared for the rejecters a humiliating retribution.
The caution given in verses 4:101-102 is necessary because of the reaction of those who have rejected:
22:72. And if Our clear revelations are recited to them, you see hatred in the faces of those who have rejected. They are nearly close to attacking those who are reciting to them Our revelations! Say: “Shall I inform you of what is worse than this? The Fire that The God has promised to those who have rejected. What a miserable destiny!”
This is the learning connection talked about in verses 9:5, 9:6, and 9:11. It is with those who have set up partners. Notice in particular the similarity in the result of the learning connection in 9:5 with the result of the "hearing of The God's words" in 9:6. So once more, we see the strong correlation between the learning connection and the hearing of The God's words (the recitation of the reading).
9:5. So when the months of the forbidden pass, then you may fight those who have set-up partners wherever you find them, and take them, and surround them, and stand against them at every point. If they repent, and persist in the learning connection, and bring forth the purification, then you shall leave them alone. The God is forgiving, Merciful.
9:6. And if any of those who have set-up partners seeks your protection, then you may protect him so that he may hear the words of The God, then let him reach his refuge. This is because they are a people who do not know.
In summary, the learning connection/recitation of the reading can be done at home at least twice, at the beginning and end of the day. It is also to be done at any time (whenever it is called for) in public houses (whether physical or virtual) where people can learn safely. Especially at times when people are outside their homes for any purpose or gathering such as for trade and commerce, this is an opportunity for persisting in the learning connection at public congregational sites.
The house's debate ("hajj al-bayt")
For knowledge to advance, a balance between opportunity and challenge is needed. One should have the opportunity to apply the new knowledge and reflect. The opportunity for new learning connections must be kept open in order to deepen what learners understand and encourage them to be persistent life-long learners. In addition, there must be a constructive challenge/debate on existing knowledge so that the learners' understanding can be continuously improved.
As we saw earlier, the debate (al-hajj") is a venue where all people are invited. In verses 22:27-29, Ibrahim is told to declare the debate/challenge to all people:
22:27. And declare the debate/challenge among people. They will come on foot and on every kind of lean transportation. They will come through every unobstructed passage.
The purpose of the debate/challenge is given in the next verses:
22:28-29. So that they may witness benefits for themselves and remember The God’s name in a few days over what He Has provided for them of the animal livestock. So eat from it and feed the needy and the poor. Then they would complete their duties and fulfill their vows, and would pass by the ancient house.
The purpose of going to the house ("al-bayt") is to gain benefits and to remember the God's name over livestock, eat from it, feed the poor and needy, and fulfill our duties and vows. In this case, since Ibrahim was the one addressed, the verse talks about the ancient house in verse 3:96. This is the first house that was implemented by him and Ismail (see 2:127). Verse 22:30-31 emphasizes the most important purpose of the debate, which is the hearing and obeying of the forbidden:
22:30. Thus, and whosoever honors what The God forbade, it is better for him with His Lord. And the livestock is made lawful for you except what is recited upon you. So avoid the evil of idols and avoid saying false statements.
22:31. Monotheists to The God, not setting up anything with Him. And whosoever sets-up partners with The God, then it is as if he has fallen from the sky and the flying creatures snatch him or the wind takes him to a place far off.
22:32. Thus, and whoever honors what The God makes us aware with, then it is from the forethought of the hearts.
Verse 22:33 talks about the animal livestock mentioned in verse 22:28:
22:33. In them are benefits to an appointed time, then their delivery is to the ancient house.
At this point verses 22:34 makes it clear that the practice of taking animal livestock to the ancient house to eat from them and use them to feed the poor and needy was a practice for the nation of Ibrahim:
22:34. And for every nation We have made a practice so that they may mention The God’s name over what He has provided for them of the animal livestock. Your god is One god, so to Him comply and give good tidings to those who obey.
The verse (22:34) makes it clear that even though the purpose of the debate ("hajj") hasn't changed, the particular practices may differ, especially the ones related to the animal livestock and the ancient house. Verse 2:134 makes it clear that we are not asked about what the nation of Ibrahim did:
2:134. That is a past nation for it what it earned and for you what you earned and you are not asked about what they did.
Starting from verse 22:35, the subject shifts from the debate ("hajj") to the general characteristics of those who have faith:
22:35. Those who, when God is mentioned, their hearts tremble, and they are patient to what befalls them, and they persist in the learning connections, and from what We provide them they spend.
Verse 22:36 is a continuation of verse 22:35 and is still talking in the general sense and is not related to the debate ("hajj"):
22:36. And the animals We have made for you are from what The God makes people aware with, in them is good for you. So mention The God’s name upon them in succession, so once their meats are due, then eat from them and feed the poor and the needy. It was thus that We have made them in service to you, that you may be thankful.
The word "sh'ar" means aware. The expression "sha'a'ir" are what makes somebody aware. Hence, "sha'a'ir Allah" in verses 22:36 means "what The God makes people aware with" and are not rites/rituals, etc. Perhaps the animals are from what The God makes us aware with ("sha'a'ir") because their servitude to us makes us aware that we are the leaders of the earth (see The trust). Verse 22:37 confirms the fact that the animals are in our service:
22:37. Neither their meat nor their blood reaches The God, but what reaches Him is the righteousness from you. It was thus that He made them in service to you, so that you may glorify The God for what He has guided you to, and give news to the good doers.
Once again, we can see that 22:37, like 22:35-36 before it, is not related to the debate ("hajj").
It is interesting to note that apart from verses 22:28-29 and 22:33 that talk about the nation of Ibrahim, the word "ana'am" is never used in the reading in relation to the debate. The word used is "hadiy" and not "an'am". Why the shift in the word used?
The word "hadiy" has the connotation of guidance/gift. For example, "hadiyat" in verses 27:35-36 is used to indicate a gift and in this case the gift was wealth.
Although a gift can be livestock, it is not necessarily the best or most appropriate gift in all cases. The people passing by the house and persisting in it need things other than livestock and food to accomplish the purpose of the "bayt". Hence, wealth or even volunteering time to help out can be a more effective and beneficial gift.
Although verse 5:95 is not related to "hajj" but to the hunting restrictions, another word that has been traditionally interpreted as "livestock" is the word "na'am" in the verse:
5:95. O you who have faith, do not kill any game while you are restricted; and whosoever of you kills it deliberately, then the recompense is to expiate with the same from the favors/benefits ("na'am"), to be judged by one with justice of you, a gift/guidance which shall reach the base; or its cancellation shall be the feeding of needy ones, or its equivalent in fasting, that is to taste the results of his deed; The God forgives what has past. And whosoever returns, then The God will seek vengeance from him. The God is Proud, capable of vengeance.
The word used for livestock throughout the reading is "an'am" not "na'am". Thus the interpretation of "na'am" as livestock is inconsistent with how the word is used in the whole reading and seems to be forced on the verse.
Please look at various available translations and note that the word "hadiy" in verse 5:95 is usually interpreted as offerings/gifts and not livestock. Yet a couple verses down in 5:97, most translators suddenly interpret the same exact word as livestock. This is again a sure sign that the meaning of "hadiy" as "livestock" is being forced on the verse and is not the correct meaning.
5:97. The God has made the base the restriction house persistent for people and the restriction month and the gift/guidance and the means of control so that you know that The God knows what is in the heavens and what is in the earth and that The God is knowledgeable with everything.
The word "qala'id" is used in verses 5:2 and 5:97 and has been traditionally interpreted as "garlands for the livestock". Another closely related word, "maqalid" is used in verses 39:63 and 42:12 to mean "absolute control". Another word from the root "qld" is the word "taqalid' in Arabic, which are traditions that control our behavior. As we saw earlier, "sha'r" signifies "aware" and the expression "sha'a'ir" is "what makes somebody aware". Extending the same logic to "qld" and the expression "qala'id", we can conclude that it signifies "what makes somebody control". In other words, "qala'id" are means of control.
So now let's map verses 5:95 against verse 5:97 and clearly hear what those means of control ("qala'id") are:
First, verse 5:95 talks about the forbidden (the killing of game while we are forbidden). Similarly verse 5:97 talks first about the forbidden (the house of the forbidden and the month of the forbidden).
Second, verse 5:95 talks about the gifts (favors as gifts which shall reach the base). Similarly, verse 5:97 talks next about the gifts.
Third, verse 5:95 talks about the feeding of needy ones and fasting. Correspondingly, verse 5:97 talks about the means of control.
Could the feeding of the needy and the fasting be the means of control talked about in 5:97? It is a fact that fasting is a means to control our worldly desire for food and drink. Similarly, giving to the needy and feeding them is a means to control our greed and selfishness. The logical structure of the verses strongly supports this understanding.
From the reading, we can understand that the month of fasting is also the first month of the forbidden (see calendar). Hence, the means of control ("qala'id") mentioned in verse 5:2 now make perfect sense with the rest of the verse:
5:2. O you who have faith, do not violate what The God makes you aware with, nor the restriction month, nor the gifts/guidance, nor the means of control (feeding the needy and fasting), nor those in safety of the restriction house seeking the bounty and approval of their Lord. And when you are permitted, then you may hunt. And do not let the enmity of another people who block you from the institution of hearing and obeying the restriction make you commit a crime by aggressing. And cooperate on righteousness and forethought of The God, and do not cooperate in crime and aggression, and be forethoughtful of The God. Indeed, The God's punishment is severe.
Another series of verses that talk about the debate are verses 2:196 and 2:197-200. The introduction to verse 2:196 actually starts in verse 2:189. Verses 2:190-194 talk about fighting in self-defense. Specifically, verse 2:194 talks about fighting in retaliation for aggression during the month of the forbidden. Verse 2:195 tells the addressees to spend in the way of The God and not to deliberately hurt/kill themselves through any actions in battle or otherwise. Verse 2:196 is a continuation of the verses before it and they help place it in the proper context:
2:196. And complete the debate and the prosperity for The God. If you are held back, then what is easy of the gift/guidance, and do not shave your heads until the gift/guidance reaches its destination. Whoever of you is ill or has an affliction on his head, then you may redeem by fasting or giving a charity or a method. When you are secure, then whoever continues the visit until the debate, then he shall provide what he can of the gift/guidance. As for he who cannot find anything, then he must fast for three days during the debate and seven when he returns; this will make a complete ten; this is for those whose family did not participate in the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden. And be aware of The God, and know that The God is severe in retribution.
So now the first question is, according to verse 2:196, are we required to not cut our hair for the debate?
If we look at the context from the verses prior to 2:196, we see that the context is fighting and war. The proposition "when you are secure" is the inflection point in the middle of the verse where the debate process is back to normal. Hence, everything before this point such as haircutting or not haircutting is related to the condition of war. With this understanding, now verses 48:25-27 become clearer:
48:25. They are the ones who rejected and prevented you from the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden, and your gift/guidance remained from reaching its destination. Had it not been for faithful men and women whom you did not know, and you may have hurt them, and on whose account you would have committed a sin unknowingly - so The God will admit into His mercy whomever He wills - if they were apart, We would have punished those of them who rejected with a painful retribution.
Verse 48:25 makes it clear that as a result of the aggression of the rejecters, the gift/guidance has been prevented from reaching its destination. This is the same exact situation described in the beginning of verse 2:196 earlier. Hence, those who have faith may not at this stage cut their hair. Let's continue reading the developments leading up to verse 48:27:
48:26. When those who rejected had put in their hearts the temper of the days of ignorance, then The God sent down tranquility upon His messenger and those who have faith, and directed them to uphold the word of righteousness, and they were well entitled to it and worthy of it. And The God is fully aware of all things.
Verse 48:26 described a bloodless logical battle (a debate) where reason and good words overcame flared tempers.
48:27. Truly, The God has fulfilled the vision for his messenger with the truth. You will surely enter the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden if The God willed safely, your hair cut short and relaxed not fearing, so He knew what you didn't know, so He made other than that a near breakthrough.
Now that the conflict is resolved with the word of righteousness and the gift/guidance mentioned in verse 48:25 and 2:196 is able to reach its destination, those who have faith have heard and obeyed verse 2:196 and cut their hair in verse 48:27. As we can see, the cutting or not cutting of the hair was related to a specific situation where there was a military conflict and the gift/guidance was prevented from reaching its destination and it is not a normal part of the debate.
After the inflection point in verse 2:196, the second part of verse 2:196 and verses 2:197-200 talk about the debate in general under normal secure circumstances.
2:197. The debate is during the known months. If anyone declares the debate in them, then there shall be no sexual approach, nor vileness, nor argument in the debate. And any good that you do, The God is aware of it; and bring provisions for yourselves, though the best provision is forethought; and be forethoughtful of Me O those of understanding.
2:198. There is no sin upon you to seek goodness from your Lord. So when you finish from meeting/getting acquainted, then remember The God at what makes you aware of the forbidden, and remember Him for He has guided you and you were before that straying.
2:199. Then you shall disperse from where the people dispersed, and seek The God’s forgiveness; The God is surely Forgiving, Most Merciful.
2:200. When you have completed your methods, then remember The God as you remember your fathers or even greater...
The word "'arafat" in verse 2:198 is not the proper name of a place. It is a common name signifying "meeting/getting acquainted".
49:13. O people, We have created you male and female and We have made you branches and tribes to meet/get acquainted ("li ta'arafu"). Indeed your most honored at The God is the most forethoughtful, indeed The God is Knowledgeable, Expert.
22:27. And declare the debate among people. They will come on foot and on every kind of lean transportation. They will come through every unobstructed passage.
When verses 49:13, 22:27 and 2:198 are understood without the cover of tradition and the invented proper name, the meaning becomes clear. Notice also that like verse 49:13, verse 2:197 emphasizes the benefit of being forethoughtful of The God.
In this study, we saw that our target is the implementation of hearing and obeying the forbidden, which is equivalent to following the straight path, and this is our only obligation. Since only The God decrees the obligation (see 42:21) and what is forbidden (for example see 6:144), this is also equivalent to obedience/"islam" to The God and hearing and obeying The God. The learning connection helps us understand The God's revelations and signs properly so that we can obey effectively. The purification helps this understanding by purifying us from the cover of erroneous preconceived notions and inherited false traditions. The debate helps in continuously improving our understanding by allowing other people to freely challenge preconceived notions and expose any fallacious arguments and allowing us to promote the remembrance of The God through the reminder.
This system can be mirrored by any nation for effective government. In the case of a nation that takes the reading as a constitution , its government institution would be built on the principles in the reading. Such government can be considered an institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden. The legislative assembly house where people safely gather to debate can be considered the house of the forbidden. The passers by ("ta'ifin") would be the people visiting to participate in the debate and the remaining ("'akifin") would be the elected representatives and government volunteers who maintain the institution of hearing and obeying the forbidden.
It is clear from the beginning of the book that the primary activity that those who have faith/trust do is "salat" (for example see 2:3). Once we understand "salat" as a learning connection or a knowledge improvement process then it becomes clear that faith is not blind faith but is one based on knowledge and understanding.
It is also notable that the word "ayat" in the reading refers to the verses of the book and also the signs in the heavens in the earth. The example of Ibrahim will help us understand. What was Ibrahim naturally doing in verses 6:75-79? He was doing "salat". Coincidently (or not) the times when he got nearer to the truth match the times of "salat al fajr" (the time of the fading of the moon and other nightly luminous objects such as planets in 6:76-77) and "salat al isha" (the time of the fading of the sun in 6:78). Hence, a nation that persists in the learning connection would also be scientifically advanced and would be able to harness the signs in the heavens and the earth for the benefit of people.
Studying the "ayats" of The God whether in the quran or in the heavens and the earth is a natural instinct that we are all born with. Hence, when The God ordered the prophets and they in turn ordered their families to do "salat" no one had to ask what "salat" is. Even as a baby, Issa knew how to do "salat" as clear from 19:31. The flying creatures and all creatures (including us) naturally know their "salat" as clear from 24:41.
The first thing that people who are going to hell will say is "we were not from 'al-musaleen'"/those who connect the learning (see 74:43). Those who do not have faith/trust are described in many places in the great reading as ignorant and not understanding (for example see 10:100). Here is how the human was first described upon accepting the trust:
33:72. We presented the trust on the heavens and the earth, and the mountains, so they refused that they bear it, and they were cautious from it, and the human bore it, for he truly was unjust, ignorant.
The learning connection is what helps us overcome ignorance and fulfill the trust.
Finally, what are the "safa" and "marwah" in verse 2:158?
2:158. The "safa" and "marwah" are amongst what The God makes us aware with. So whoever debates the house or prospers, there is no blame on him should he pass by them. And whoever does good voluntarily, then The God is Appreciative, Knowledgeable.
Since they are amongst what The God makes us aware with, they could possibly have something to do with livestock.
A plural word closely related to "safa", which is "sawaf", can be found in 22:36:
22:36. And the animals used for offering We have made for you from "sha3air Allah", in them is good for you. So mention The God’s name upon them "sawaf"/lined up for slaughter, so once their meats are done, then eat from them and give food to the poor and the needy. It was thus that We have made them in service to you, that you may be thankful.
Please note that 22:36 is talking in the context of "hajj", the same exact context of 2:158. Moreover, 22:36 describes the animals as "sha3air Allah" exactly like "safa" and "marwah" are described as "sha3air Allah" in 2:158.
The classical Arabic dictionary meaning of "safa" means "the camel and the sheep that give a lot of milk" and "the palm tree that carries a lot of dates". Also, a related word "safif" means "meat".
As for "marwah" it has a meaning of the white fragile stone where a cooking fire is started. It also means "the stone on which an animal is slaughtered".
So by consistently understanding 22:36 and 2:158 using classical Arabic dictionaries and applying the appropriate context of "sha3air Allah" and "hajj", here is a translation of 2:158:
2:158. The camel and the sheep that give a lot of milk and the stone on which they are cooked/slaughtered are from what The God makes us aware with so whomever visits the house or maintains there is no blame on him if he passes by/partakes in them and whoever does good voluntarily, then The God is Appreciative, Knowledgeable.
So we see that 2:158 and 22:36 are talking about the same concepts of animal slaughter during the gathering of "hajj" to eat from it and feed the needy and poor.
As always, there are still many remaining issues. For example, is the word "hadiy" better interpreted as gift or as guidance in the context of the debate? At this stage, it can go either way.
This is one of the remaining questions that may be answered as we, and hopefully our children, continue to persist in the learning connection.
2:2. This is the book no doubt in it, a guidance for the forethoughtful.
This article reflects my personal interpretation of the verses of the reading as of November 29, 2004. I will try to improve my understanding of the great reading and the universe, except if The God wills and perhaps my Lord guides me to what is nearer in rationality. Please verify all information within for yourself as commanded in 17:36, and remember that simply "none" is the forethoughtful answer to 45:6. If The God willed, the outcome of this article will be beneficial.
By Ayman (email@example.com)