Friday 15 April 2011

Submitters and Quranists

Is being a Submitter the same as being a Quranist? Who gets to decide the definitions of these terms? Full blog post here

Please leave a comment or discuss on the forum

Monday 11 April 2011

Spectrum part 2

Looking at 25:67, it seems another spectrum (see Spectrum Part 1 ) or sliding scale is mentioned,

lam yus'rifū 
walam yaqturū

where the optimum is bayna dhālika 

qawaman comes from the root qwm

wa-aqimu (imperative form of qwm) Word Study is here 


It became apparent to me a while ago that the Opposing Pairs of words that can be found in the Qur'an are there to depict what the words mean, through their contexts, their root meanings and the mental images they bring to mind. I am trying to collect the Opposing Pairs here

The opposing pairs in some cases seem to give upper and lower limits of a sliding scale (analogue) or two opposites (digital). 

When I looked at the root of "river" I saw that it shares a root with "day". I pondered what they could possibly have in common and in seemed to me that both a river and a day run their course, or in other words go from one end to the other. Like a sliding scale or a spectrum. When I saw ṭarafayi l-nahāri in 11:114 this seemed to make even more sense that the 2 ends of the nahari are the 2 polarities of the spectrum.

In particular, in 24:58 Salat al Fajr and Salat al Isha seem to depict 2 types of Salat. Of course these are usually taken to mean Salat performed at times of day, however it would appear to me now (after studying the uses of the the forms of fajr's root in the Qur'an in this Word Study)  "fajr" has meanings of gushing forth and overspilling the boundaries and "isha" would then be the other end of the scale, subdued, retreating. I hope to do another blog post soon, inshaaAllah on my thoughts about Salat, from the Salat Word Study

Something I thought was odd, was that in 20:130 wa-aṭrāfa l-nahāri is a plural whereas in 11:114 ṭarafayi l-nahāri is a dual. So I do wonder why this is. I am tempted to relate the premise of the spectrum to a tree, with branches at the top and roots at the bottom (Similar to the mental image I get when I read 14:24). The branch tips are the upper limits and the root tips are the lower limits. The trunk is the spectrum or the sliding scale except instead of having 2 blunt ends, the start and end points are intricate and diverse.

Other examples of this sliding scale / spectrum premise is in 17:110. Loud/quiet ?  Public/Private ?

More opposing pairs for further study inshaaAllah are:

Spread truth / spread corruption
straight path/astray
worldly life/hereafter
care or nurture or maintain/neglect

I find it interesting to muse whether each of these pairs has an absolute "one or the other" (digital, on/off, black or white) or whether they can be analogue with something in between. I don't like to say varying shades of grey - I prefer to imagine a spectrum which has all the colours of the rainbow on it! Some of course don't really make sense to have any in-betweens. If there are indeed some of the ones in the list which could be on a sliding scale, then it would seem that we would be better off aiming at one end of the scale than the other - the striving. I do believe no-one is perfect; perfect itself being an extreme. 2:143 gives me the feeling that trying to stay within the spectrum and not going to extremes is a positive thing. I personally believe "justice/injustice" for example is very difficult to measure (Only God can do this easily) and in day to day life ones own judgement has to come in and we have to decide for ourselves and "weigh up" what is fair. When I imagine a sliding scale of justice, there will be a point along that scale where the balance tips and the wrong side is down. More about scales of justice here:  7:8 and 23:102 

2:238 (Salat al-wusta) seems to suggest that the centre / middle is important, in the sense of being "spiritually balanced".  When I was looking at the word "Junub" in this Word Study a thought occurred to me that "off centre" seems to describe well the mental image of the summary of all the forms of the root JNB be it a physical body part or a location. Distance seem to be indicated. This ties in nicely with Salat in 4:43 and 5:6 where I take this to mean "spiritually off-centre" or "spiritually remote"

It has occurred to me that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. For example strength/weakness - somewhere along the scale or if you go off the scale and become too strong it could turn into oppression. Too much kindness without discipline could end up being a cruelty. Too much humbleness could turn to weakness? Too much patience waiting for the right moment or a sign could lead to inaction. Too much fear of doing the wrong thing could lead to not making a choice.   Of course if this is the case, then each word could have its own spectrum with "Too much" at one end and "not enough" at the other.

Now when I read "Wa aqeemoo al-wazna bil-qisti wa ltukhsiroo al-meezan" in 55:9 it seems to take on a  new meaning for me. Not a replacement meaning. Just another dimension or layer or facet to a previous notion.

15:87 sabʿan mina l-mathānī

Starting off a chain of thoughts...
I speculate that "sabʿan mina l-mathānī" in 15:87 could be referring to “l-samāwāti” two verses before it in 15:85 seeing as l-samawati appears with sab’a (the number 7) in 2:29, 17:44, 23:86, 41:12, 65:12, 67:3 and 71:15  
After reading Farouk's Blog Post on Quranology Blog  about 15:87, where "folding" was mentioned,  I investigated the word folding and found “naṭwī” which is also linked to “l-samāa” in 21:104 - this is also to do with folding, as per the Quranic example of  “folding a book". If we try out the example ourselves and take an open book from flat to closing it, this makes a “V” shape. When I look at  20:12 now – “bil-wādi l-muqadasi ṭuwan” - I get a mental image of a  V shaped valley.
39:67 also mentions the “wal-samāwātu maṭwiyyātun” (this links the samawati from 15:85 with the "folding" concept)
Spookily, I noticed the number 7 in arabic digits is like a V shape too.
(11:5) yathnūna is from the same root as mathani (in 15:87) and is referring to the ṣudūrahum this time.

So yathnuna / mathani  and natwi / tuwan / matwiyyatun are 2 different roots, both implying something to do with folding.  Seeing as the mathani root seem to connote "pairs" or the number 2, I am leaning towards "doubling up" for 11:5 in reference to the sudurahum.  

Chapter 11. This doubling up of the sudurahum in 11:5 seems to be an attribute of the people who are mentioned to be ones who are hiding, covering and concealing. Then come several mini stories of the Messengers/Prophets. After those stories we see a  "fa-is'taqim" which to me is summarising the previous passages of the examples of the behaviour of the Messengers/Prophets throughout this Surah, and gives me a mental picture of the contrast between standing upright, being assertive and determined and having courage, as opposed to cowardice, hiding away, concealing, being deceitful.
wa-aqimi comes up again in 11:114 (for the salat - click here for the salat word study indicating to me that salat is a way to not let the "sudurahum" to become doubled up.  (ṭarafayi l-nahāri is also mentioned here in 11:114 which I would like to do another blog post about soon inshaaAllah) 

The Surah prepares to conclude with "iʿ'malū ʿalā makānatikum" in 11:121 which to me is asking us to reflect on our own "posture" or position and do our deeds accordingly; the question is, are we "doubled up" or "standing upright"?
The chapter then finally concludes with a reminder that God is not unaware of anything we do.

Getting back to what started this chain of thoughts off, if mathayni is to do with 2 and doubling or pairs, then maybe it's not just "samawati" that is referred to, seeing as usually "samawati" is mentioned along with "wal-ardi"   

Wednesday 6 April 2011


Fajr Word Study

notes / thoughts

breaking / overstepping  the boundaries? 2:74 2:187
splitting? of what? the deen / the quran? 17:78
fujūrahā is opposite of taqwa? 2:74  91:8

More thought required, ran out of time!

Friday 1 April 2011

Jonah (Yunus) and the Hutu

Chapter 37

139And that truly Jonah (was) from (E) the l-mur'salīna.
140When he abaqa to the l-ful'ki, the l-mashḥūni
141So he fasāhama , and he was of the l-mud'ḥaḍīna
142fal-taqamahu l-ḥūtu, and he is mulīmun.
143So had it not been for that he (was) from the l-musabiḥīna
144He would have stayed/remained fī baṭnihi to a day/time they be sent/resurrected/revived.
145So We fanabadhnāhu him bil-ʿarāi and he is saqīmun .
146And wa-anbatnā on him a shajaratan from yaqṭīnin
147And We sent him to one hundred thousand or more
148So they believed, so We gave them long life/made them enjoy to a time/period of time .

Was Jonah literally swallowed by a fish / giant fish / whale? I was pondering this. From Chapter 37, vs 139-148. My own thoughts of what I understand from it: I infer from this that Jonah was from the messengers. He ran away to a laden ship. The laden ship could signify that the place he ran to was not on firm ground, so where he ran away to was caused him an even greater instability. And the "laden" signifies to me that the place he ran to was already full of problems too, more problems than he already had himself. Why did he run away? He may have been anxious or uncertain and he became worried and sick, so much so that he became weak and frail and thin and he became one of the people who dispute even after clear signs. All the stress and striving and fighting his thoughts and his inner turmoil of what was happening to him took hold of him and was bigger than his own self and consumed him, and he either blamed himself or he was blameworthy. He was however someone who used to glorify God, and if it hadn't been for that, he would have been left in that state until his death. But God removed the turmoil and reset him, back to a state of weakness and frailty or even sick in the sense that he was "fed up" or in a state of having "had enough of his plight" with not enough strength or spirit to carry on. But then God caused him to grow spiritually in strength like a strong tall plant so he became full of certainty. And then he was able to go to the people and do his job as the messenger and the people believed him.

Saqimun (sick) is also in this chapter where Abraham is "sick" of the people worshipping the statues. (37:89)
I also believe spiritual growth is also symbolised in vegetation/trees/plants  in 48:29 and 14:24

It makes me think about how sometimes we have to be shown our own limits of what we are able to accept until we do something about the problem. Whether we just give up and give in and let the problem (whatever it may be in life) consume us or whether we submit to Allah, trust in Him and ask for him to increase us in inner spiritual strength and faith and give us the passion and energy and courage to to face up to what we need to overcome.

related posts: hutu word study