Monday, 11 April 2011

Spectrum

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:


Believe/reject
Good/evil
Paradise/Hell
Light/Darkness
Truth/Falsehood
Day/Night
Kindness/Cruelty
Freedom/Oppression
Generosity/Stinginess
Pure/Impure
Cleanliness/Filth
Love/Hate
Like/dislike
Patience/impatience
knowledge/ignorance
reward/punishment
Tawheed/Shirk
Mortal/immortal
Sky/Earth
Fertile/Barren
Strength/Weakness
Obedience/disobedience
Spread truth / spread corruption
straight path/astray
guided/misguided
lawful/unlawful
worldly life/hereafter
justice/injustice
forgive/avenge
devotion/abandonment
care or nurture or maintain/neglect
peace/war
submission/aggression
mountains/valleys
strive/laziness
humble/arrogant
Gratitude/ingratitude


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.
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