Letters to the Editor
Q: I wanted to ask you about predestination (Qadr). If that is true what is the meaning of somebody committing a sin or doing a good thing. This question has confused me a lot. Please reply in earnest.
If there is no meaning in committing sins or doing good things, then, Allah’s command to do good and avoid sins, is rendered meaningless. This demonstrates that, whatever the understanding of Qadr at the higher levels, it isn’t true at the individual’s level too.
For some details, please see this issue’s editorial.
Q: I also wanted to ask you about the western intellectuals and their concepts on religion, morality etc. Take, for example, Chomsky. I am baffled how a man of such intellectual superiority can have so irrational beliefs about meaning of life and morality. Can you comment, in general, about them?
If you happen to meet Chomsky, he will agree with you that man – though qualified as a scientist, lawyer, or whatever else –is capable of outright denying the obvious, absolutely irrational when he chooses to be, and abandoning plain logic to follow its fuzzy version, to his own harm. If Chomsky’s opinion is asked, he will know who is in the mind of the inquirer.
Chomsky’s colleagues and admirers say sometimes he abandons the ideas and opinions currently shared by them all.
You may instead, read: Jeffrey St. Clair, Paul Street, Norman G. Finkelstein, Paul Craig Roberts, Chris Hedges, George Galloway, Michael Parenti, Finian Cunningham, Alexander Cockburn, Michel Chossudovsky etc. They hold views that are more balanced, are largely rational, and unbiased except for their inclination to the Left, which keeps them aligned to Russia and to countries that are faithful to their masses, although, ironically for them, some of them are no less capitalistic, than any European country. Nonetheless, you may not let slip off your mind the fact, that once a man denies Allah, he has to lose his true rationality to some extent.
Discussing the concepts regarding religion, morality, etc. of the Western intellectuals, would require a few rolls of paper. Yet, one would not be much away from the line of truth to say that they are, by and large, at present in a state of confusion (some in disillusionment) about what they should believe in, and what of the thoughts and opinions inherited from the past demands to be shed away. Their bastion, the Western civilization, has failed them.
Ideas concerning human rights, equality, freedom to choose and express, women’s rights, democracy, etc. have begun to decay and crack up. What they stood for, and spent their energies on, are being taken to their extremes, bordering with irrationalism, with nobody being able to say where lies the middle path. They peer into the future and find it dim and gloomy.
Q: I also wanted your advice about the verse concerning the origin of semen, as a non-Muslim friend of mine said it grossly violates scientific findings. (86:5-7)
Your non-Muslim friend, poor chap, needs some psychological treatment. One can respect someone who is honest and is sincere about the most consequential element of his life: God and the guidance that comes from Him. Your friend would have read many other sacred literatures – including his parental – before he decided to grant the Qur’an too a chance.
He had 6,300 verses of the Qur’an before him, the like of which he will not find in any literature, sacred or secular. This would have been his first feeling. But, from his question, it is obvious that he was reading line by line, not from a critical point of view, but rather, simply to find something which he could quote as a gross error. In other words, he had already decided not to believe in a Book, the like of which he hasn’t seen, and will not see, before he started to read.
What was the point? It was to wave something before the likes of you, to confuse you, rob you of your self-confidence, and demonstrate that his religion is better than yours, and that, this fact renders you a second-class citizen. Thus, he is mentally imbalanced, and should be seeing a psychologist.
His doubt then, is not a doubt, but an objection, a charge and an attack. The above lines are meant to demonstrate to him that we know his mind – if you will take the courage to show him these lines.
The words in the original are sulb and taraa’ib. Sulb has been largely understood to mean the male’s back. But, there are other meanings attached to the word. For instance: hard, firm, rigid, stiff; rough, strong robust, sturdy, or hardy. It can also mean the loins, or the acclivities of hills.
As for taraa’ib, there are wide speculations, such as, the bones of the chest including the collar bones, the lower ribs, the area between the two shoulders just above the breast, the area between the breasts and just above them, or where the necklace-end rests, etc. It can also refer to the two hands, legs and the two eyes of a woman.
A possible interpretation has been that the liquid gushes forth from between the sulb and taraa’ib of the male and sulb and taraa’ib of the female.
So, now your friend may look into the meanings of these two words and choose. What will he?
Since he doesn’t know Arabic, and his interests are different from searching for truths of life, he fell upon the easiest. And the easiest was, perhaps, not the textual meaning, but only an interpretation. So, his objection, the charge, and the attack on the God of Islam, is on the interpretation.
Whoever understood that the verses (86: 5-7): “Let man consider, what he is created from. He has been created from a gushing liquid that issues from between the sulb and the taraa’ib,” is speaking of the “origin” of the seminal liquid, is off the mark. The verses are “not” speaking of the “origin” but rather the “passage” through which the gushing liquid passes. Those who think that the allusion is to the “seminal liquid” are also off the track. The verses are “not” speaking of the “seminal liquid.” They are speaking of “a gushing liquid.” It could be seminal liquid, it could be any other liquid. The meaning of sulb and the taraa’ib would determine the nature of the gushing liquid.
Again, whoever thought that the verses are speaking of a single chemical element in liquid form, is assuming more than what he should. The allusion could be to a combination of elements, proteins and enzymes, originating from several sources – which passes through the sulb and the taraa’ib. But since the sulb and the taraa’ib could not be definitely identified, an unequivocal meaning is hazardous. The verses remain enigmatic.
Do we, then, await further research involving Jahilyychaste Arabic poetry to provide a better explanation? We may. But the chances are dim. With advance of time, Jahilyychaste Arabic poetry is occupying deep recesses of cold-storage. Should we expect further developments of science to provide an explanation? No. Not necessarily.
Piety does not advance with the advancement in science. The explosion of data has left the scientists baffled. To reconcile the emerging contradictions in scientific data, but which result in homogeneity, is driving them to helplessness. So, we can leave alone this little problem, and accept the message: Be humble. You have passed through passages not so lofty. He who thus humbled you, has the power to raise you alive after death, on a Day when you will be as powerless as when you were gushing through that passage.
Now, if your non-Muslim friend asks: “So what’s the meaning?” The answer should be: “The Qur’an is from God. God is one. Those who believe and press on with righteous deeds will enter Paradise that has been prepared for them, and those who refuse to give in, while they have no reason to do so after they have read the Qur’an, He has prepared for such of them a Fiery abode, where they will abide forever.”
Q: I was wondering whether you would be interested in publishing an article about how the hadith of the slave girl giving birth to her master can be positively re-interpreted. A year ago I sent this to a (non-Muslim) journal, but they did not publish it (the article is about 2,500 words long and so is too short for most journals). As they have rejected it, I was wondering whether you would be interested in it. With a lot happening with ISIS in the past year it might be not so relevant, but its methodology is very fresh, re-invigorating, and honourable towards Islam even though I am not a Muslim.
“The Slave-girl will Give Birth to her Master”
Abstract: The so-called ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS/ISIL) uses the narration/‘hadith’ mentioning that “the slave-girl will give birth to her master” to justify its renewal of sexual slavery. This hadith is talking about signs before the End of the World and so it is to be interpreted by the same ‘Temple theology’ technique that has been used in the biblical book of Revelation which is also about the End of the World: ‘Temple theology’ refers to the fact that many obscure texts symbolically describe the rituals and politics of the Temple in Jerusalem. It is shown that the whole hadith is talking about events that happened before the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem in 70CE. (The Temple symbolised the world and so the End of the World refers to this incident.) In particular, the slave-girl is shown to refer to the Virgin Mary giving birth to Christ. As such, the ‘Islamic State’ has no Islamic basis to use sexual slavery.
If you are interested, please do let me know of what would be a publication timeline if it were accepted, and I can forward the whole article to you.
By and large, the Ummah has, in general, rejected the ideologies of the ISIS, let alone lending ear to its interpretations of ahadith concerning the End of Times. Its opinions about slavery, and justification for trying to revive it, have met with rejection of greater emphasis. They and their ideas are of profound interest to the West alone.
A line of thought about them has it that the faction was assisted – if not actually created –in its stage of infancy, by the Western Powers, in order to justify its wars against Islam and Muslims, and to imprint the message on their masses, that Islam is a religion of terrorists. Now the name is used as proxy to pick up any talented young man anywhere in the world, on allegation that he either belongs to ISIS, or is actively sympathetic to it, or is potentially of its kind, and so deserves lockup for a decade: accidentally destroying his whole family. In some parts of the world, the tactic is being used to impress on the Muslims that ‘you are under our feet.’ (Muslims will be there after their feet are rendered to dust or ashes).
It is also being speculated that the faction, or its shadow, is being kept alive by the Western and some Eastern powers, for use as proxy in future, otherwise, it is dead.
In view of these, we – the great majority of the Ummah– feel compelled not to sanction any importance to ISIS, with whom goes criticism aimed at them. Its criticism is, in fact, that of a shadow. The Western world is pretty well aware of this. But subterfuges of the Western World do not impress the Muslim world any more.
Therefore, a faction, generated by forces inimical to Islam, that lasted a couple of years, does not, in our view, be connected to the appearance of signs of the End of the World, nor does it sound reasonable to connect the hadith in question to events that happened before the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem 1600 years ago.
Q: The following is an abstract of my another article entitled: “Islamic Child Brides and Solomon’s Temple.”
“The concept of child brides in Islam is based on the marriage of Muhammad to Aisha when she was only nine years old. However, ‘temple symbolism’ is used to re-interpret the hadiths as referring to temple rituals performed by the high priests in Solomon’s temple. For example, in the hadith Solomon sleeps with seventy wives in one night, like Muhammad sleeping with his many wives also in one night. Yet Solomon’s seventy ‘wives’ are the seventy lamps in the main temple area, which would relate the hadiths about Muhammad and his wives to temple symbolism also. In particular, hadiths about Aisha being nine when the marriage was consummated are also only about the rituals of Solomon’s temple. The fact that the hadiths can be embraced, as opposed to being discarded, without implying any real consummation with Aisha could help traditional Islamic communities to re-assess their view of child brides. In the appendix, Aisha’s jealousy of Maria the Copt (and Khadija) are likewise explained as temple symbolism.”
Would you be interested in publishing it?
Dr. Richard Worthington,
United Kingdom; On Email
You say, “The concept of… is based on…” Well, the statement coming from someone who knows the basics of Islam creates an obnoxious feeling. It is in the knowledge of London street boys that nothing in Islam is based on what Muhammad (saws) did or thought. Islam is based on the Qur’an, a revelation of God.
Secondly, the age of `A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) at the time of her marriage has been controversial among Muslim scholars, right from the start. How come you have decided to fix it as 9 years?
Finally, the allusion by “Temple Symbolism” is to such verses of the Bible as for instance (25: 8-9) which says, “Let them make me a sanctuary: that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall you make it.”There are many others of this nature, involving the Solomon Temple.
But Islam has chased out symbolism from religious thought. You may probe through any genre of Islamic literature: Tafseer, Hadith, seerah, poetry of early days of Islam, and even Sufi literature of the early times. Even a shadow of symbolism has not been left but excommunicated. Symbolism is generally employed when toxic texts are to be demonstrated as containing honey, and when the obnoxious contents in religious literature becomes impossible to defend.
Early on in the 20th century, a few non-Muslim and half-Muslim writers have employed symbolism to present some vague ideas about religion in general, that is, all religions, to show how Islam can also be understood following the same weird symbols and ideas. But the Ummah, unused to nutty ideas, has ignored them altogether, refusing to say even a word of thanks.
We believe therefore, that in all appearance, your discussionswill be assumed as an effort to rekindle discussions regarding the Prophet marrying a child, he having multiple wives, and his wives suffering disunity between themselves, which should make it so hard for anyone to embrace him as a true Prophet.
If our suspicion is true, then, instead of raising these issues under the cover of symbolism, one may directly raise the allegations, and let the Muslim scholars offer explanations, or, let them stop boasting about the Prophet as a model.
Nonetheless, our premonition could be wrongly placed. That can be removed by introduction of logic in place of the symbolic. Symbolism’s working principle, as we know, is to keep logic out, which is necessaryto connect the unconnected and turn the toxic to honey.
We hope you understand our fears, but accept the analysis as justified.