Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Al Furqan Prevails As It Must

By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam 9 May 2022 This is a rejoinder to Mr. Sumit Paul’s article, “Let's Scrutinise Certain 'Facts' In the Al-Furqan” Mr Sumit Paul says, “When I was a student of comparative religions and theology, I'd often laugh with my erudite professors seeing the anomalies, inconsistencies, aberrations and discrepancies in the scriptures of all man-made faiths, not just Islam.” I wonder why should anyone pursue the study of religions unless they have a passion for learning how religion has contributed to civilizing us and putting us on the path of discovering the secrets of the world. I now know, thanks to Mr Sumit Paul that the passion for mocking religion cold be the motivation for some. Is the profession of mocking religions so very rewarding that the Universities are teaching it and students enrol for it? He further says, “When Truth is so meandering and full of empty verbiage, it can be anything but Truth. Truth is and should be axiomatic. In other words, it must be self-evident and self-explanatory.” Oh really? If that were so, all of us would be polymath. Rocket science wouldn’t be called Rocket Science. Einstein’s general theory of relativity would be understood by a child. Every student of the sciences and mathematics would score a 100% on every test on the subject. He concludes with, “Now the point is: In spite of all these absurd inaccuracies, the Islamic apologists will continue to call their Quran, the INFALLIBLE book of Allah and even a mere suggestion to scrutinise these verses and 'facts' may result in the severance of your head from your torso.” Mr Sumit himself doesn’t believe in what he said above, otherwise, he wouldn’t have said it. As for the absurd inaccuracies that he speaks about, they are a result of his reading of a poor translation of the Quran, his own inadequacies, and his self-confessed bias for mocking. Historical Reasons for the Bias against Religion in Western Education Those of us brought up on western education are heavily influenced by its worldview formed based on Europe’s history. Therefore, the word medieval, which also connotes primitive and cruel, is unthinkingly used by us for the history of the rest of the world also. The medieval age is also the Dark Age for Europe, but not for the rest of the world. Western education has a very strong anti-religion slant which rubs off on all who acquire it. There are very good historical reasons why western education has this stance. During the medieval ages, also known as Europe’s dark age, the Church took a very hostile stand against science and the scientists, declared them heretics, made them publicly renounce science and if they defied, burnt them at the stakes preceded by indescribable torture. Such obscurantists are common to all religions to this day. For a very long time, education meant religious education primarily, but the seminaries were also centres of secular research and teaching subjects such as philosophy, medicine, mathematics and astronomy. The secular and the religious parted ways when the view of the world held by religion began to be questioned by those who pursued the sciences. The Church wielded enormous power because of peoples’ religious faith. Scientific discoveries which went against the Church’s view of the world were a big challenge to its authority and the Church fought back with persecution. The Reading of the Scriptures – Challenges The Bible and every scripture are primarily about religion or the moral way of living. These are not books of science or history, although they contain verses that describe the world, its origins, procreation, some natural phenomena etc. necessary for making a point. If the scriptures are from God, then these must not contain anything that contradicts facts determined by science. Also, a book inspired by God must be clear as to its literal meaning. However, every book of scripture is heavily interpreted. Why is this so? Because, when the literal meaning differs from the view held by the reader, he has a strong tendency to interpret what he reads, to make it yield the meaning he expects. Every translation involves such interpretation and differs from the original to the extent, that the translator’s knowledge of the world is defective or different from the text of the scriptures. The language of Jesus was Aramaic but the Bible people read is in English which is a translation from the Greek Bible. It is therefore translated and interpreted at least twice over. The problem is actually far more serious. The Bible comprises four Gospels selected from about 20 Gospels. These are not Gospels therefore but the Gospel according to their author who is not Jesus. The interpretation of the Gospel of Jesus has therefore taken place at several levels and stages. The human mind interprets and while interpreting, changes the meaning to suit its own worldview, and adds details that it finds missing or drops that which does not appear to make sense. The Quran is available as revealed, in the language of revelation, and also in hundreds of translations. It is also heavily interpreted for the same reasons discussed before, but luckily, recourse to the original text in Arabic is available. Should Science And Religion Be At Loggerheads? For a long time, the universities of secular education and religious seminaries competed to attract students and increase their influence. Initially, there were not many takers for secular education although it had not taken an openly anti-religious stand and a very strong belief in God was common among the scientists such as Isaac Newton and many others. In fact, the study of science was “inspired by the conviction that the universe is the product of a rational mind who designed it to be understood and who designed the human mind to understand it” or as Johannes Kepler said, “God created us after his own image so that we could share in his own thoughts”. The competition for influence between the seminaries and the secular universities continued. When Darwin came up with the theory of evolution as an alternate model of reality, which explains life without the Creator as the Intelligent Designer, evolving from humble single-cell microorganisms as a result of a process of natural selection, the challenge to religion became a very direct one. The fight now was framed as “either you believe in evolution or creation, or “either you believe in religion or science” and science appeared to be winning. Nothing succeeds like success as they say. Science became the new religion and equally dogmatic and intolerant of dissent. Scientifically speaking, the idea of intelligent design was never defeated and is valid to this day, and is overwhelmingly the more probable one, but has been discarded by those who swear by science. Today, it would require an extremely brave man to say in academic circles, that the theory of an Intelligent Design is overwhelmingly the more probable one. “As far as they are concerned, take your life in your hands to challenge the theory of evolution intellectually,” Gelernter (author of Giving up Darwin) said. “They will destroy you if you challenge it.” Such extreme allegiance to evolutionary biology fosters a deficit of free speech within academic communities. “What I’ve seen, in their behaviour intellectually and at colleges across the West, is nothing approaching free speech on this topic,” Gelernter said. “It’s a bitter rejection… It effectively shuts down meaningful scientific intellectual discussion.” Such behaviour reminds us of the extent to which Darwinism is no longer just a scientific theory but the basis of a worldview, and an emergency replacement religion for the many troubled atheists who need one. For the atheists, it is their religion for which they will fight, persecute, ridicule, mock and do all those things that bigots do. The common man does not think for himself and is brainwashed by his religion and that religion could be science. There are very few enlightened souls who believe in only the religion of God by whatever name, that the same God has inspired every religion including science, and that there is no need to be antagonistic to any of them. Religions including science complement each other and lead us to the truth. Now for the many misunderstandings that Mr Sumit Paul has of the Quran. The Story of Creation of the Universe in the Quran The Quran gives us the following amazing information that was confirmed by science much later: 1. That everything was brought together or joined together before being rent asunder 2. That the universe is expanding (as it should be if it was all joined together in the beginning) 3. That all living things are made of water predominantly For a very long time, astrophysicists and cosmologists had assumed a static universe with no beginning and no end, both in time and space. Then certain observations such as the accidental detection of cosmic microwaves and the measurement of their wavelengths led to the conclusion that the universe was expanding. If it was expanding, then working backwards in space and time, it became reasonable to assume that it was all swished together the size of less than a proton before the big bang. Time and space begin with the big bang. This is supported by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Now compare this with what the Quran said 1400 years ago. (21:30) Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation), before we clove them asunder? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe? (51:47) AND IT IS We who have built the universe with [Our creative] power; and, verily, it is We who are steadily expanding it Another Version of Creation In The Quran The creation of the Universe which includes the earth takes only two days (41:9 and 12). Making the earth fit for sustaining life takes another four days (41:10) or a total of six days. Verse 41:11 again speaks about bringing together everything before cleaving them asunder. The big bang theory confirms what the Quran said 1400 years ago. (41:9) Say: Is it that ye deny Him Who created the earth in two Days? And do ye join equals with Him? He is the Lord of (all) the Worlds. (10) He set on the (earth), mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measure therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in four Days, in accordance with (the needs of) those who seek (Sustenance). (11) Moreover He comprehended in His design the sky, and it had been (as) smoke: He said to it and to the earth: "Come ye together, willingly or unwillingly." They said: "We do come (together), in willing obedience." (12) So He completed them as seven firmaments in two Days, and He assigned to each heaven its duty and command. And We adorned the lower heaven with lights, and (provided it) with guard. Such is the Decree of (Him) the Exalted in Might, Full of Knowledge. The day here is not our 24 hour day but a cosmic day which the Quran describes in one context as our thousand years and in another context as our 50 thousand years. In different contexts, a cosmic day is defined differently. The concept of relativity of time is there bang in your face. In the context of the creation of the Universe, the cosmic day is not defined. This could be because the number is very large for which there was no name in the vocabulary of the 7th century Arabs. For men of understanding, it is sufficient to know that a day here is a cosmic day and not our 24-hour day. The Sky in the Quran The sky in the Quran refers to everything out there in space and not just what we see as the blue skies and is correctly described as “like smoke”. The rain therefore falls from the skies as a result of the clouds raised and moved around by the winds. (24:43) Seest thou not that Allah makes the clouds move gently, then joins them together, then makes them into a heap? - then wilt thou see rain issue forth from their midst (46:24) Then, when they saw the (Penalty in the shape of) a cloud traversing the sky, coming to meet their valleys, they said, "This cloud will give us rain!" "Nay, it is the (Calamity) ye were asking to be hastened!- A wind wherein is a Grievous Penalty! (20:53) "He Who has, made for you the earth like a carpet spread out; has enabled you to go about therein by roads (and channels); and has sent down water from the sky." With it have We produced diverse pairs of plants each separate from the others. There is no verse in the Quran that says the earth is flat. However, there may be feeble minds who think that to say that the earth is spread out, is to say that it is flat! Don’t blame the Quran for it. Verses Regarding Relations With Christians The verses of the Quran need to be understood in their context. Verse 5:51 is from the war phase when the Christians of Medina behaved in a hostile and untrustworthy manner and it is under such circumstances that the Quran prohibits befriending them. The verse is transactional, meaning, limited to those Christians of those times of that place alone. Verse 5:5 permits marriage alliances with the Jews and the Christians and makes permissible their food and is what is generally applicable. There is no contradiction between verses 5:5 and 5:51. Does the Quran say that the sperm comes from between the ribs and the backbone? Many of the verses of the Quran cannot be understood correctly, except with the help of discoveries made by Science in the 19th century. Until such discoveries were made, these verses were mistranslated and misunderstood. Science corroborates what the Quran tells us. Science and the Quran are never at loggerheads. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Also Read: According To Quran 5:51, Can Muslims Not Accept Non-Muslims As Friends? ------------------------------------------------------------------------ There are many verses in the Quran the truth of which is not self-evident but have been proved correct by scientific discovery. Now consider the following mistranslated verses: (86:5) Now let man but think from what he is created! (6) He is created from a drop emitted- (7) Proceeding from between the backbone (Sulb) and the ribs (Taraib): The incorrect interpretation by the translators and commentators of verses 86:6,7 is proof that the verse is not authored by man. At no point in the history of mankind did man think that conception takes place from a fluid that emanates from “between the ribs and the backbone” of a man. The role of testicles in conception was well known and so also the practice of castration to prevent procreation was well established. Clearly, therefore, any verse authored by man would have been worded differently and none of the commentators and translators understood their own version of the translated verse. It is easy to see how they went wrong. If the verse had contained only the word `Sulb’, 100% of the commentators/translators would have translated it as “from the loins of man”. For example, no translator/commentator has gone wrong in the case of verse 4:23 “ ….wives of your sons proceeding from your Aslabikum (which is translated as loins by all) …..”. In this verse, the reference is only to the sons of the man irrespective of their mother and therefore there is no place for the word “Taraib”. Also, consider: (76:2) Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled seed (nuṭ'fatin amshājin), in order to try him: So We gave him (the gifts), of Hearing and Sight. Verily, it is We who have created man out of a drop of sperm intermingled (with the female ovum) –Asad The literal translation of Nuṭ'fatin Amshājin is mingled seed The correct understanding of mingled seed is the mingling of sperm and ovum The earlier translators only wondered what mingled seed meant but did not possess knowledge of the biological process to translate correctly The word “Taraib” in 86:7 is what confused the earlier commentators/translators lacking knowledge of the biological process. We also know from William Lane’s lexicon, that “Taraib” most definitely refers to female anatomy but the commentators had no knowledge of the role of the ovum in conception and therefore took the word “Taraib” also to refer to the male anatomy. Now consider the various meanings of Sulb from William Lane’s lexicon: Sulb: said of a thing (and of a man), It (and he) was or became hard, firm rigid, stiff, tough, strong, robust, sturdy or hardy. The backbone is the bone extending from the base of the neck to the rump bone. And any portion of the back containing vertebrae and particularly the lumbar portion; the loins. Example of phrase of the Arabs: These are the sons of their loins; because the sperma of the man is held to proceed from the Sulb of the man as is said in the Ksh & c in (86:7). Taraib: The plural noun Taraib, rendered by Asad as "pelvic arch", has also the meaning of "ribs" or "arch of bones"; according to most of the authorities who have specialized in the etymology of rare Quranic expressions this term relates specifically to female anatomy (Taj al-'Arus). The commentators and translators not having knowledge of the role of the ovum in conception, and taking both “Sulb” and “Taraib” to refer to male anatomy made the obvious incorrect conclusion that if the liquid came from between “Sulb” and “Taraib” it could not be between loins and ribs but between the backbone and the ribs and as usual when bewildered, may have added under their breath "Allah knows best"! Now consider the correct translation in accordance with the most obvious and common usage of the words “Sulb” and “Taraib” in Arabic which is correctly rendered by Asad. 86:5 LET MAN, then, observe out of what he has been created: (6) he has been created out of a seminal fluid issuing from between the loins [of man] and the pelvic arch [of woman]. The literal translation of the verse: Man is created from a fluid ejected. Coming forth from between (Bayni) the loins (Sulb) and the pelvic arch (Taraib) The Arabic word bayni is suggestive that the loins and the pelvic arch do not belong to the same person and the ejected fluid is therefore from the loins of the man and the pelvic arch of the woman. While we know that semen is ejected from the loins of a man, is the egg ejected from the pelvic arch? Yes, it is. • The egg is transported to the entrance of the fallopian tube. Once inside the walls of the fallopian tube, muscle contractions push the egg gently towards the uterus. • The egg will either meet sperm on its journey through the fallopian tube and fertilisation will happen, or it will arrive in the uterus unfertilised and be absorbed back into the body. The wrong translation is itself proof that the verse is not authored by man! If it was authored by man, it would have omitted the word “Taraib” and like in 4:23, used only “Sulb” which then would have been translated by all as “issuing from the loins of man” Can we ignore Science and understand the Quran correctly? The Quran contains amazingly accurate knowledge about the world described using the limited vocabulary of the 7th century. Science helps us understand many of the verses of the Quran better. --------------------------------------------------------------- Also Read: Qur'an 5:51 - A Humanistic Interpretation --------------------------------------------------------------- It contains notions of instinct as genetic memory, and conception because of the mingling of the fluids containing the seed from both the man and the woman as against the 7th-century notion that the seed came only from the father etc. Scientists discovered the dynamics of human fertilization only in the nineteenth century which is why the translators and commentators struggled to translate verses 86:6, 7 correctly. Notions of instinct as genetic memory also emerged only in the 19th century but are explicitly contained in verse 7:172. Translators and commentators have similarly struggled with the translation of 7:172 and concocted the myth of Alam-e-Arwah. There are many more astonishing verses in the Quran that have been confirmed by science only in the last couple of centuries. This should, however, be enough to show how poorly the author has understood the subject on which he makes so bold to write. ----- A frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com, Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He has spent years studying Quran in-depth and made seminal contributions to its interpretation. URL: https://newageislam.com/islam-pluralism/furqan-quran-religion-western-education/d/126961 New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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