Showing posts with label Summary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Summary. Show all posts

Monday, November 5, 2018

Qur'an al Kerim is a truthfinders' supreme linguistic challenge; Greek Philosophy Of Nature is a philosophical theory

The idea of a realistic and systematic plan and purpose for creation was familiar to the ancient Greeks; much of their philosophical effort to find logical explanation behind the regular forces of nature are inspired by the need to understand a universal cause behind it all. They found that much of their effort stranded on its unreachable quality. In their days, the modern tools for scientific research lacked. Yet, it didn't stop the Greeks from developing a mathematical language and methodology, and systematic philosophy, some of which are still in use today. They made educated guesses based on philosophical thinking, but, also based on their everyday life and social and religious environment. That led to theories that sometimes make us smile, today, and sometimes compel us to deep respect for their forwardness.

Earlier, we saw, Anaximander assume the Earth was a flat barrel floating in space, with people living on its top. Anaximander must have seen enough wine barrels in his days to make his thought plausibel and natural, but we know now, that it isn't true. It also led to efforts to gain correct knowledge of nature. But, today, we still use Thales' theorems of triangles and diameters. Another example, Demokritos' Atomism, can be seen as an early precursor to chemistry.

Diogenes of Apollonia, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, were among those who had formed theories about matter, particles, and the elements (water, air, earth, and fire were seen as the most prominent ones), but also here, disagreement was an issue.

Not to forget, Pythagoras and other mathematicians.

We won't find mathematical methodology in Qur'an al Kerim. Qur'an al Kerim has a different, more verbal approach to mathemetical phenomenons. Qur'anic verses below show the importance of knowledge in general and how knowledge may lead to thinking and eventually to faith; they are incentives to gather knowledge, even to personal growth in science and arts, rather than scientific treatises. Verses 55:17 and 70:40 can be seen as references to goniometry, but they lack the terminology and abbreviations. Yet, the thought behind them, is mathematically correct. Indeed we can conclude, the Earth has two permanent rotations: one around its own axis, and other as a larger circle in space. Also can we conclude, that East and West are infinite -- which very well may refer to the Earth being a ball. Qur'an is very consistent about this topic, too -- contrarily to Greek philosophers of nature, who disagreed. This, and the fact, that not very much of the oldest Greek philosophy of nature has been preserved in texts, makes it unlikely, that Qur'an al Kerim is just a blind copy of Greek philosophy.

The Greeks had noticed, that some things are naturally and logically impossible and Qur’an appears to support this idea. Optimization of proportion, goals, time plan, is essential in creation. Not without reason, Qur’an says: ‘but most of them do not know’; ‘no want of proportion in creation, seest thou any flaw?’; 'Not without authority shall ye be able to pass'; 'We created [...] them but for just ends, and for a term appointed'. The idea of duality in creation is mentioned in Qur’an in several verses, sometimes referring to gender; sometimes, like in verse 36:36, also to other opposing or complementing forces. Humans may certainly go search for knowledge, but there's no guarantee they will receive it.

As I've said earlier, many efforts have been made to prove, that Qur'an al Kerim is a book of scientific correctness. I'm familiar with Maurice Bucaille's book 'The Bible The Koran and Science'; I'll give an example that, in my opinion, shows, how careful we should be, looking at Qur'an al Kerim as such. Dr Bucaille says, in his comment to Qur'anic verse 16:66, page 130 and 131 at a pdf by, and I think he's right, that many translators are inclined to give too specific translations of Arabic homonyms, such as the words batn and baini. Batn means both 'belly' and 'center'; baini means 'in the middle of', and 'within'. Some translators said: 'We give you to drink of that is within their bellies, from betwixt the refuse and the blood'; Bucaille said 'We give you to drink of what is inside their bodies, coming from a conjunction between the contents of the intestine and the blood' This is no doubt utterly true -- but, would it have been understood by Rasulullah and the sahabah? Not likely. And, they might have dismissed it -- if I may assume like that.

Good translators know their place. Modesty, honesty and precision, is their role; anything else, is interpretation. And not translation. They must stick to the most original, indisputable, and obvious solution, without filling in what they 'think' is 'meant' with a word. If the Arabic homonym has no same homonym in another language, then why not stick to a brief, ambiguous description, that leaves the homonym intact? In other words, a description that is multi-interpretable. If they don't know the true meaning, then why do they fill in their own, too specific assumption, no matter how well-educated and honest it may be? It is, as it is. Don't make more of it, than that is actually said. In this case, I, personally, would give this translation:

'We give you to drink from what is inside their bodies, from what's among their bowels and their blood' (16:66)

'Among' is a word that may catch precisely this ambiguous, both abstract and very literal, situational meaning, that we also may find in the word 'baini'.

Another, much simpler example: Qur'anic verse 13:4 mentions the palmtree. Some translations talk about palmtrees, sec; others about date-palmtrees. Dear translators, why are coconut palms not included in your words? Are you sure, here? We can spot many differences between translations, alas, that shouldn't be there.

Main issue, perhaps, is not even translation; it's honest, clean, undecorated, and uncoloured interpretation. That really is enough to appreciate the scientific correctness, or at least non-incorrectness, of the content. I mention translation, because, like Greek philosophy, most people must appreciate Qur'an al Kerim, in its full meanings, from a translation.

Personally, I say, that Qur'an al Kerim touches the meaning of life here: That it's meant to be experienced, foremost. Life as a classroom, test field, and finally launch market, is part of this experience. It triggers those who find happiness in gaining knowledge. And nearly all of us enjoy gaining knowledge; it is part of human nature to inquire. And, it's made one of humanity's assignments during lifetime.

Some Qur'anic verses:
16:8; 16:66; 22:5; 30:30; 32:5-9; 36:36; 44:38; 46:3; 55:17; 55:33; 67:3; 70:40

'And (He has created) horses, mules and donkeys for you to ride and as an adornment; and He has created things of which ye have no knowledge.' (16:8)

'And lo! in the cattle there is a lesson for you. We give you to drink of that which is in their bellies, from betwixt the refuse and the blood, pure milk palatable to the drinkers.' (16:66)

'O mankind! if ye are in doubt concerning the Resurrection, then lo! We have created you from dust, then from a drop of seed, then from a clot, then from a little lump of flesh shapely and shapeless, that We may make (it) clear for you. And We cause what We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed time, and afterward We bring you forth as infants, then (give you growth) that ye attain your full strength. And among you there is he who dieth (young), and among you there is he who is brought back to the most abject time of life, so that, after knowledge, he knoweth naught. And thou (Muhammad) seest the earth barren, but when We send down water thereon, it doth thrill and swell and put forth every lovely kind (of growth).' (22:5)

'So set thou thy face truly to the religion being upright, the nature in which Allah has made mankind: no change in the work by Allah: that is the true Religion. But most among mankind know not.' (30:30)

'He directeth the ordinance from the heaven unto the earth; then it ascendeth unto Him in a Day, whereof the measure is a thousand years of that ye reckon. (5) Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, (6) Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; (7) Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; (8) Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye! (9)' (32:5-9)

'Glory to Allah, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as their own kind and things of which they have no knowledge.' (36:36)

'We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them merely in sport. We created them not except for just ends, but most of them do not know.' (44:38)

'We created not the heavens and the earth and all between them but for just ends, and for a term appointed. But those who reject Faith turn away from that whereof they are warned.' (46:3)

'Lord of the two Easts, and Lord of the two Wests!' (55:17)

'O ye assembly of Jinns and men! If it be ye can pass beyond the zones of the heavens and the earth, pass ye! Not without authority shall ye be able to pass!' (55:33)

'He Who created the seven heavens one above another, no want of proportion wilt thou see in the Creation of the Most Gracious. So turn thy vision again: seest thou any flaw?' (67:3)

'But nay! I swear by the Lord of the rising-places and the setting-places of the planets' or 'Yet no, I swear by The Lord of the Easts and the Wests' (70:40)

Quran Explorer

Thursday, March 24, 2016

We Think We're a Big Deal, But, To Allah SWT, We Are Only Small

Can you see how perfect she looks from afar: Our joint home?

I tried a sketch of Earth seen from space, and this is what Earth could look like.

Look, how perfect she is. The colors of seas, deserts, woods, and the air around her. The Moon may be visible, too.

I want you to think about it. For good reasons, it all was mentioned in the Koran al Kerim:

'There are some who declare: 'We believe in Allah and the Last Day', yet they are no true believers. They seek to deceive Allah and those who believe in Him: But they deceive none save themselves, though they may not perceive it. There is a sickness in their hearts which Allah has increased: They shall be sternly punished for their hypocrisy. When it is said to them: 'Do not commit evil in the land', they reply: 'We do nothing but good'. But it is they who are the evil-doers, though they may not perceive it.' (2:8-12)

'Believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans -- whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right -- shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear or to regret.' (2:62 & 5:69)

'O ye assembly of Jinns and men! If it be ye can pass beyond the zones of the heavens and the earth, pass ye! Not without authority shall ye be able to pass!' (55:33)

'Allah does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on your religion nor driven you from your homes. Allah loves the equitable. ...' (60:7)

'He created seven heavens, one above the other. His work is faultless. Turn up your eyes: Can you detect a single flaw?' (67:3)

These words are written for you too -- you, who reads them now. No matter if you're a public official, a politician, or an average citizen like me. No matter if you call yourself a Muslim or anything else. Make no mistake about it. It's not allowed to randomly blow up other people, nor to excuse those who do so. And, whenever you try and do such, you can't change the universe anyway. From another planet, you are hardly visible; you're not even a crumb in space. So don't wast your energy on causing death and destruction.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

All In, Reliable Proof Of Islamic History Exists

A large heritage of early Islam does exist, both in writing and in personal property of key figures and founding fathers. Much has been carefully preserved by the Ottomans and now by the Turkish state, but also in Uzbekistan, England, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other places in Asia and Africa.

Difference of opinion exists on the issue of the Prophet’s succession and on exegesis of his rulings. Therefore, the different schools of thought show differences in practical fatawat on several issues, from performance of prayer to legislation on inheritance and divorce. 

However, unanimity prevails on key issues: the Prophet having existed at all, including the most important dates and actions, and the texts he had written down in the Book for the faithful: the Qur’an al Kerim. It is remarkable, that this unanimity exists between thought schools that severely clash over other issues. This is the result of the extensive and credible way these words have been recorded. Many people have been heard and many have memorized the words identically. I'd say, therre isn't enough reason to mistrust the documentation, also because people like Sahih Bukhari were outsiders to the Arabic community. They had a fresh input.

A question is: Is the outside world willing to accept this heritage and acknowledge its historic value? For a long time, this has been the case and the mainstream still does. But, in recent times, we have seen attempts to falsify and even belittle this heritage, perhaps for political reasons. But, clear proof that Islamic history is false, has not yet been shown. By the way, it matters very little to the teachings of the religion itself, what the outside world says or thinks.

I've heard several people say: The Islam has copied the Bible, or a more ancient version of the Bible. Or: any reference to natural science, is a direct copy of Persian, Greek, Egyptian, Chinese, or Roman texts. For me, this is a reason to write this blog. To me, a journey of which the outcome still is a wild card. I hope, and am curious, if my reader is willing to make this journey with me @}}-


Sunday, November 9, 2008

One Truth?

'To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have We prescribed a Law and an Open Way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single People, but (His Plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.' (5:48)

This verse -- in my opinion perhaps the most difficult verse in the entire Qur’an -- tells us, in a nutshell, what belief in a Creator is and why the various believers do not come nearer to each other. The way of conduct and the open path refer to the relation between Allah swt and each individual of His creatures, but also between Allah and the entire community of men. Every person has his or her own relation with Allah. However, there also is a Scripture that not only addresses itself to the individual, but also to all other people. Except for this Scripture, Qur’an, there are other scriptures, where communities other than the Islamic umma listen to. Therefor, we may conclude: It is simple, there is only one physical truth; yet it is not simple, as man has received only a very limited view on this physical truth and has obtained the right to make his own idea of it. So there is one truth; yet, everybody has their own truth. Not is said here, who precisely is correct. Not without reason, Islam means peaceful surrender to God and man has received the needed tools from the Prophet, but also the option of choice. Precisely because we have only a limited view on the truth, there can never be compulsion in religion. The last Scripture, Qur’an, contains the truth. Yet, it may be true, that other paths to the truth may be acceptable. And truly acceptable, not just second best. Allah knows best.

Then, second aspect is, that discussions between believers, non-believers or otherwise-believers, usually don’t lead to much result in the sense of convincing others of who's right. Islam has said: Allah decides whether a person believes or disbelieves, and if so, in what precisely. The separation of minds leads to different religious communities, but also to different individual religious views, and those usually strongly persist within firm outlines. Discussions on faith, therefore, are not always and everywhere possible or desirable. People don’t come nearer to each other, and it is better to respect that and find a common ground in earthly matters that are nearer every day’s experience.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My First Thoughts on the Qur'an

First and foremost: I'm not claiming to be the best or most consistent believer.
I say all of this at my own responsibility and in my own name.

In how far do general thoughts on faith apply to the faith of which I like to share thoughts with readers, namely that which I consider my own: Islam. Islam literally means peaceful submission and surrender, willing obedience to God and His rule. The Qur'an is the main scripture of Islam and is left to us by the Arabian prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, after completion in 632 AD. However, Islam is not named after him, the name refers to a state of mind: Glad submission to the one God. It's mission is completion and correction of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, in order to provide the faithful with a clear and consistent idea of who God is, the history of God's messengers and of previous believers, the future of mankind in the afterlife, and the psychological dimensions of faith and disbelief. The main issue of Qur'an deals with the tension between freedom of faith and expression for the individual and religious community, versus divine sanctioning on obedience and truthfulness in faith and expression. Is it possible to combine a proper truthful faith with a freedom to make one's own choices? Is there only one way to this truthful faith, or are there any acceptable alternatives? Is it 'allowed' to switch between religions or leave the faith altogether, and who has any say in this? Also today, faithful communities are struggling to find a proper answer to these questions within their community, but also related to other communities of different creeds, as those latter are an important background to the Islamic umma. The Qur'an is, unlike the Bible, not written as one chronological story, but as a compilation of verdicts and narrations compressed in rhyming sentences and short sayings, which may be read without specific order. They shouldn't be read entirely independently, as the compilation as a whole is a complete set of rules and regulations. Some verses, also named ayat, signs, apply to specific situations only, others are better understood in combination with others. For a good understanding one should regularly read Qur'an as a whole. Another aspect is the use of time and people. Sometimes Qur'an refers, in one verse, to different time lapses and different individual persons or groups of people. At other places every reader may feel spoken to, even when it may very well be the case that only the prophet Muhammad is referred to. An example is the People of the Book. Sometimes learned people in general are meant, sometimes Jews and Christians only and as a community, sometimes the followers of the three monotheistic religions, also Islam. The Qur'an is, in my opinion, a self explanatory text. However, if it were that easy, not such fuss was made of it, and those many shelves with commentaries hadn't been filled. The human factor is important and sometimes spoils many goodies here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why This Blog?

Islam is a world of truth and depth. For good reasons, Islam is vibrant and very much alive, also today, in our age of technology. Modern ideas and knowledge, don't clash with ancient Islamic texts. Yet, Islam is under constant scrutiny, nowadays. In itself, this is no problem. I'll do my best to react to some of the frequent questions and criticism, as open minded as I can. Is it true, that Qur'an is just a copy of ancient Greek, Biblical, Persian, or other scriptures? Is there an 'easy' permission to kill those who leave Islam, or don't want to enter Islam? Where does it mainly differ from, or agrees with other scriptures? In my own opinion, religious scriptures are a labor of love and a study topic for life. They are modern. There's always new information and guidance in religious scriptures.

I've used, among others, Qur'anic translation into Dutch 'De Koran' by prof dr J.H. Kramers, Uitgevery De Arbeiderspers, Amsterdam, 1992/1997, ISBN 9789041705983; 'Quran Explorer',; and Maurice Bucaille's book 'The Bible, The Qur'an, and Science'