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Archive for August, 2014

Chasm of the Isms

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Chasm[1] of the Isms[2]

They say the truth will make you free.
My truth will bind you slave to me –
Which may be what you want to be.
– Robert Frost[3]

In the pursuance of truth in the realm of day to day needs, innately, humanity structures and conduct its lives in framework of isms that from time immemorial have ranged from paganism to secularism, theism to atheism, racism to regionalism, and lately communism to capitalism, to name a few. The conformed fellowship in an ism is multifactorial ranging across freedom of choice, apologetic fellowship, peer pressure or merely ‘a monkey see, a monkey do.’ Not finding the penultimate solution, mankind had and however does create even its own 'religions' or ways of life and not amazingly, those isms attract a zealot following, at least at the origination of that ism. Many a times, a state apparatus is there to nurture, protect and propagate its ism that we witness in recent history in the examples of Catholicism, Colonialism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism and now in Capitalism under the garb of democracy. We have to keep in mind that democracy is a set of values that are inherent in human collective consciousness and are not tied to a particular ism.

Isms at their inception are adopted with much fanfare and high expectations and before long they fizzle out. Another 'better' ism is usually waiting in the wings and takes its place only to face the same fate. One common thread across the failure of isms is that they are either not congruent to human nature, or they let the hedonistic and exploitative tendencies of humans run amok. Some of the isms focused primarily on external aspects of life while others negated the outside and focused on inner development of the individual. Those which focused on both external and internal aspects of life failed from their mutual disharmony. There were no corrective mechanisms built into them and thus could not stand the external challenges or the changing needs of time, hence they crumbled from their inherent brittleness.

For example, Communism at its inception, though had lofty ideals for equality of man, but its unchecked power naturally got vested into oligarchy that inevitably turned its society into a cesspool of incompetence, cronyism and non-accountability. The 'equal man' in communism was to be rewarded equally irrespective of quality and quantity of individual effort, which in turn created lethargy in the society. Despite its goals of equality, the system turned so unstable that it crumbled like a domino from within for the mere fact that its means to achieve equality were not congruent to human nature; it criminalized wealth and dis-incentivized effort. The moral dearth that Communism engendered was only proven by subsequent history that witnessed it, but was prophesized during its full galore – “the rigid laws of Bolshevism, which care only for the body, giving sufficient to live on, will kill the higher sentiments of sympathy and love, qualities which only make life worth living but lacking which humanity must degenerate into the worst barbarism.”[4]

With industrialization in the concluding couple of centuries, the materialism transformed into Capitalism, which in turn makes every effort to disassociate itself from the underlying goods and their associated risks and primarily focuses on wealth hoarded in individual coffers, the accumulation of which becomes the highest purpose of life. Wealth is measured mostly in currency, which in turn thrives on speculation, in the shadows of which lurks manipulation, and that is just another name of greed. Greed and selfishness by their very attributes have no self- checks on their limits and their natural outcome is tyranny, be it by individuals, corporations or by nations on others. Individuals may still show some remorse but there are no inherent scruples for faceless capitalistic institutions. In the consequent mass hysteria, “evil is taken for a virtue if it wears the cloak of nationalism”[5]. The only thirst quencher of Capitalism is capital pure and simple and erroneously its many fold development in recent history is touted as a validation of its success, and all the while we turn a blind eye to the humungous destructive nature of the same materialistic growth that it brought up as witnessed by global wars in the last century alone and the cosmos is still restless as never before. In World War I there were 37 million casualties[6], and in the World War II over 60 million people were killed[7]. These numbers are from first half of last century alone, touted for growth of it science, industry and free thinking. Ironically, the new standards of ultimate safety of nations are the deterrence of their nuclear capabilities that each ism waves at some other. Are we safer now?

The ism of our times, materialism in the guise of Capitalism stripped of its theories and experienced as it is, has outlasted various isms. Nevertheless, to achieve the capital, the greed if left unchecked will be its unbecoming. In Capitalism, the significant monetary laws are reactive in nature, made only after the fact, when people of a certain class have benefited at the cost of others, but the inherent greed finds ingenious ways to circumvent the existing laws for its next exploitation. Laws at the most can deter greed, but there is no significant public policy to encourage magnanimity. For the have-nots, the access to capital gives rise to an apparent comfort, but the graph curve of happiness which is initially merged with that of capital growth soon disassociates and veers off downwards only to show that capital can buy comfort, but happiness is a non-purchasable commodity by itself. Some might even argue that it is the capital which formulates and controls the law rather than the make-believe vice versa. As long as the capitalist owns the capital of the state, it cares least as to who constitutes the law, because law making itself can be bought and parliaments at times behave more like a board of the financial establishments that they are supposed to contain, rather than representing and protecting the interests of a common humanity and the voter who put them there in the first. Each next law which, if not a loophole for some vested interests, is a weak solder upon an existing solder, where the ever choking weight of the laws gets ever heavier from its layers, without getting rid of the underlying human weakness, the greed. Incentives for making the laws in Capitalism are primarily focused for generating more wealth with a tendency to overlook that wealth in a bigger picture is a means not a goal unto itself. Pharaohs, the capitalists of their time, even tried to take their wealth along with them in to the next world, but did they? Lifespan of wealth for a capitalist in no more than the life of its possessor. Wealth for a capitalist begins with his life and ends with it. In Capitalism, public good is only a secondary gain from a personal interest first. From a capitalist logic, if it is a disproportionate gain, would it not be a waste of an effort to achieve a return that might not be utilized in one’s lifetime, unless Capitalism means wealth without effort which in turn is just another scheme for the exploitation of others. In another example, if one opens the yellow pages (when they used to print them till recently) and compare the number of entries for divorce lawyers versus marriage counselors, would anyone be surprised if the former outnumber the latter by many folds? Is Capitalism missing upon something as simple as marriage and a family among its midst and is it even aware of dissipation of this fundamental societal institution? The spiritual death can be read in the cliché of “the most told story” of Jesus Christ becoming “the most sold story” is not only a joke but a fact under Capitalism.

Man's experimentation with isms is a glaring case in which man repeatedly has lost his freedom while pursuing freedom. Trying to achieve freedom by an ism is almost synonymous with chasing horizon. Every ism promised a 'paradise', irrespective of it being in this world or the next, but failed either to fully specify the route to that paradise or hypothesized a path that was less of a path and more of a hurdle to its 'promised land' but for a privileged few. Each ism of the yore is just another title for the same story of 'paradise lost'. Even now there are many new isms simmering to emerge, to be formulated, proselytized and expectantly to be followed.

Religions in general claim their Divine roots, but in due course, dogmas seep in and hold the faiths hostage by replacing the Divine intelligence from its center-stage with dogmatic beliefs that are embodied foremost by its clergy which uses every means under the sun to be in the pseudo-intellectual spotlight. The clergy by its very definition has conflict of interest as its livelihood is tied to the very enterprise it leads. Instead of a bulwark against dogmas, they become the source of dogmas, because fantasy sells, be it in Disneyland or from the pulpit. However, “pure monotheism would go to the real Fountain Head of all light, but the polytheistic tendency, innate in an undeveloped mind, would blight its judgment and benight its reasoning. Man would take the agent for the principal, the husk for the kernel, the effect for the cause, and the immediate for the ultimate. This psychology creates polytheism. All forms of “isms,” ranging from fetishism to Man-worship, thrive under it.”[8]

Advocates for any school of thought will claim truth for themselves, while denying it to others. So do Muslims. Only, unbeknown to most Muslims, what sets Islam apart from the rest is that its source of accuracy is the Quran, which is implanted in the nature of human beings. Neither the human beings will be able to move away from his nature, nor will he be able to shed Quran which outlines his nature to begin with:

30:30.So pay your whole-hearted attention to (the cause of) faith as one devoted (to pure faith), turning away from all that is false. (And follow) the Faith of Allâh (-Islam) to suit the requirements of which He has made the nature of mankind. There can be no change in the nature (of creation) which Allâh has made. That is the right and most perfect Faith, yet most people do not know (it). Then set your face upright for religion in the right state the nature made by Allah in which He has made men; there is no altering of Allah’s creation: that is the right religion, but most people do not know (it).[9]

These sacred words sum up the religion of man. They give quite a new conception of it. They neither speak of prayers nor of offerings nor of sacrifice. To please God or appease an angered Deity, or to create reconciliation between the Creator and the created are not the objectives of religion as set forth in the above quotation. It speaks of something quite different. It refers to our own nature and its various latent constituents. To work them out is our objective, and the way to work them out is the religion revealed to man from the Most High.[10]

Thus, there is an ever-present self-correction and self-cleansing in interpretation of Islam. Any interpretation or formulation in the name of religion has to be judged through the lens of nature of mankind, because that is the right and most perfect Faith, yet most people do not know (it). With this rock solid foundation of Islam to suit the requirements of which He has made the nature of mankind, raises the natural question that what prevents a Muslim from seeing Islam in a natural and contemporary light? Why cannot Quran as interpreted in general Muslim culture conform to the Laws of Allah, both physical and moral, and their mutual harmony? Will not defying the nature of mankind in interpreting Quran fossilize Islam like the religions of the yore? Is it not the very mind of a Muslim that has created the chasm between nature, man and Islam rather than the word of God?


[1] Merriam-Webster. Chasm –
: a deep hole or opening in the surface of the earth.
: a major division, separation, or difference between two people, groups, etc.
[2] Merriam-Webster. Ism –
: a belief, attitude, style, etc., that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix –ism
[3]“Robert Frost and the Politics of Poetry” By Tyler Hoffman, (c) 2001, p. 202, University Press of New England, Hanover,, NH 03755.
[4]The New World Order by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 47, Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore, 1944.
[5]The New World Order by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 2, Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Isha’at Islam Lahore, 1944.
[6]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_I_casualties
[7]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties
[8]Islam and Zoroastrianism by Khwaja Kamal ud din, p. 18, Basheer Muslim Library, The Mosque, Woking, pub: 1925.
[9] Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
[10]Explanation of verse 30:30 by Khwaja Kamal ud Din – Message of Islam, Appendix: Religion of Nature – The Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, The Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, England

Opening Thought: Reason — A Requisite

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Opening Thought: Reason – A Requisite[1]

“If the Religion taught in the book is a husk and a garb, if it is dogma and formulae, if it is sacrament and priest craft, a symbolism and rituals, and if it hinges upon the personality of its teacher and revolves on certain supposed events in his lifetime, it is not religion, but a superstition, and myth. It is transitory, a fog which cannot stand in the strong rays of the sun of rationality. But if a religion gives you certain broad principles of life to meet your physical, moral, and, spiritual needs, and makes utility to mankind the criteria of ethical virtues and leaves the rest to your judicial discretion and good common sense, while appealing always to your reason for the acceptance of its tenets, it hardly hampers your progress. It, on the other hand, helps your uplift. That such principles have been revealed to man from God, and have been codified, cannot impede our advancement. If axioms and postulates revealed to Euclid have only helped our activities in our mathematical researches, why a broad-basic principle-laying religion can[not] create a moral and ethical inertia. Has not science made progress with bounds and strides, and did it not take place only after we based our researches on certain basic principles? If so we find in every avenue of human activities, why not in the realm of religion?”[2]

A religion has to appeal to human reason. Qur’ân emphasizes it:

13:03. Verily, in all this there are messages indeed for people who think[3] [Emphasis added]

Like any book Qur’ân expects its readers to ponder and reflect on its message:

16:44. … We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may explain to mankind (the commandments) that have been sent down to them so that they may ponder and reflect (over it).[4] [you implies Muhammad, but is not limited to him alone]

A textbook identifies the appropriate age level for its readers. A course in school identifies its prerequisites. Similarly, the fundamental pre-requisite for Qur’ân is the intelligence and thinking power of its reader. The understanding of the Book is limited only by the analytical endeavor of its readers, their existing knowledge, their energy for discovery and curiosity. Qur’ân expresses its disdain for those who do not use their reason in life in general and in the study of Qur’ân in particular:

7:179: Our Law has committed to Hell numerous people, rural and urban; they are living the life of hell. They have hearts that they use not to understand. They have eyes with which they see not, and ears with which they hear not. They are like cattle. Nay, they are even worse. Such are the people who have chosen to live through life in total darkness of ignorance.[5]

8:22. Verily, the vilest of all creatures in the sight of God are those deaf, those dumb ones who do not use their reason.[6]

Inherent in “thinking” and “reasoning” is the use of logic, judgment and the right to differ, all of which nurtures intelligence and creativity creating a snowball effect. No one would disagree that the most refined faculty of humans is their intelligence and sense of reason, the bedrock of human progress of material and moral life and their natural amalgam. The reverse of the verse quoted above also implies that failure to use of reason can render one intellectually deaf and dumb, a morally despicable example of human degeneration.

Qur’ân further elaborates on such deafness and blindness:

22:46. Why do they not travel in the land so that they should have hearts that help them to understand and ears which can help them hear? As a matter of fact (when going astray) it is not the (physical) eyes that are blind but blind are the hearts which lie in the bosoms.[7]

Throughout Qur’ân the power of reasoning is considered a blessing and, therefore, it should not be an obstacle to understanding and following a religion. It is an obstacle to the followers of blind faith.

The Holy Book does not force its reader to accept anything at the expense of his rationality. Personal conviction is the spirit of the Qur’ân, and personal judgment encouraged.[8]

Qur’ân and Islam do not need the crutches of non-verifiable historical miracles or blind faith from their followers. If miracle is the sole standard for accepting a religion as true, then why don’t people looking for such miracles to authenticate a religion adopt other religions for their respective miracles, since traditionally all religions carry a library of their non-verifiable miracles? The real miracle of Qur’ân is the transformation that it brought about in its followers:

12:108. Say, `This is my path. I call to Allâh. I am on sure knowledge verifiable by reason and (so are) those who follow me. (I believe that) Holy is Allâh. I am not of the polytheists.'[9]

Qur’ân, thus, sets the standards for knowledge, verifiable by reason, which is commonly referred to as “science.”

Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430) in his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis (De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim) provided excellent advice for all Christians who are faced with the task of interpreting Scripture in the light of scientific knowledge. This translation is by J. H. Taylor in Ancient Christian Writers, Newman Press, 1982, volume 41. – Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. [1 Timothy 1.7][10]

St. Augustine’s words may equally apply to Qur’ân and its interpretation, though with certain caveats. Scientific laws are a subset of His Laws. Discoveries in science are a personal human experience of His Laws. Hence if the human effort in interpreting a Scripture contravenes science, one has to reinterpret the narrow concreteness of the translation, since neither can we reject His Laws in Qur’ân nor of His science.

In the Arabic of Hedjaz in which Qur’ân is revealed, the “Qur’ânic words are too rich in their significations…we need not give them new meanings, nor reinterpret them to satisfy new demands of life. Their connotations are wide enough to denote every new concept…They may become amplified, but on the material already existing.”[11]

Qur’ân forewarns its readers, including Muslims, against misapplication of its principles by the use of unjustified logic and reasoning.

17:82. And We are gradually revealing of the Qur'ân (that teaching) which is (the cause of) healing and mercy for the believers. But this (revelation) only leads the unjust persons from loss to loss.[12]

It is to reverse this loss to loss from unjust reasoning that has pervaded the Muslim thought and sapped its human potential which compels this writer to undertake the current project to clarify the miracles, confute the myths, correct the mistakes, contend the matters and refute the manifest conjectures that over time have been attributed to Qur’ân and by proxy to Islam itself. All this can be achieved by simple and plain reading of the Qur’ân and with a focus on what Qur’ân tells its reader and not by reading one’s own presuppositions into Qur’ân.


[1] This chapter is requoted from “Consumer Guide to God – A Muslim Perspective” by M. Ikram Jahangiri, pub. 2012.
[2] Free Religious Movement, Islamic Review and Muslim India , Vol. IV, No. 12, December 1916, p. 561, The Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, The Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, England
[3] Ar-Rad – The Thunder: Muhammad Asad
[4] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[5] Al-A’raaf – The Heights of Discernment: Shabbir Ahmed
[6] al-Anfal – The Spoils of War: Muhammad Asad
[7] Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[8] Islamic Review and Muslim India, Vol. II, No. I, p. 25, January 1914. The Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, The Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, England
[9] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[10] “Saint Augustine on Science and Scripture” – http://www.pibburns.com/augustin.htm
[11] Introduction to Study of The Holy Quran, by Khwaja Kamaluudin, pp. 20-21, Dar-ul-Ishahat-Kutub-Islamia, Fatamabi Court, 4th Floor, 17 M Azad Road, Jacob Circle, Bombay. 1939, 1950, 1991.
[12] Isra – The Night-Journey : Nooruddin

‘Muslims in Britain and the start of the First World War’

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

With national commemorations taking place in Britain of the centenary of the start of the First World War, which Britain entered on 4th August 1914, I compiled a 24-page booklet under the title which I have given to this post. I have opened a new section on the www.wokingmuslim.org website, to which I have added this booklet as the first item:

www.wokingmuslim.org/work/ww1/

I had sent the booklet to various organizations and people, including a Woking weekly local newspaper, 'Woking News and Mail'. They have published an article based on this booklet in their issue of today 7th August.

Although the newspaper contacted me before they prepared this article, they have somehow wrongly assumed that I live in the town of Woking; hence the opening of the article "A Woking man …". This is not correct.

Here is an image of the article in the newspaper.

Jesus, John, Adam, Isaac – Who’s Your Daddy? Who Else, but Their Respective Fathers!

Monday, August 4th, 2014
Jesus, John, Adam, Isaac – Who's Your Daddy? Who Else, but Their Respective Fathers!

There is fanciful thinking by some, or actually by most, that Jesus was conceived without a father. Before we even delve into a discussion of an alleged fatherless conception of Jesus, we have to be cognizant of the fundamental requirement for conception of a child. It needs a father and a mother and in modern times, male and female life-germs. Even God makes such an argument about Himself while rebutting the Christian doctrine of son-ship:

6:101. He is Wonderful and Primary Originator of the heavens and the earth! How (and whence) can there be a son for Him, when He has no consort? He has created all things and He has perfect knowledge of everything.[1]

In the above verse it becomes obvious, that even if God were to have a son, God Himself would have needed a consort, or on the flip, Jesus, son of Mary, must also have had an actual human father. Simply put, no father, no son, and that goes for son of Mary as well. The irony is that proponents of virgin birth of Jesus, even from within the Muslims are willing to make an exception for Mary and Jesus, which God cannot afford even for Himself.

But such claim to fame of 'fatherless' Jesus has no bearing in Quran, though it foretold Mary about his birth and her response was:

3:47. She said, `My Lord! how can I and whence shall I have a child while no man has yet touched me (in conjugal relationship)?’ (The Lord) said, `Such are the ways of Allâh, He creates what He will. When He decrees a thing He simply commands it, “Be” and it comes to be.’[2]

In this case, Mary, an unmarried chaste woman, asks the obvious – `My Lord! how can I and whence shall I have a child while no man has yet touched me (in conjugal relationship)?’ and God replies with a prophecy – (The Lord) said, `Such are the ways of Allâh, He creates what He will. Superficial reader will jump to the conclusion that Mary conceived Jesus immediately and immaculately, whereas after this dialogue God without breaking His laws of sociology and biology arranged a husband for her that secular history identifies as Joseph the Carpenter[3]. Jesus was not the only the child, Mary had other children as well[4]. So she conceived Jesus after her marriage and word of Allah came true in due course i.e. When He decrees a thing He simply commands it, “Be” and it comes to be’ without breaking His own Laws.

Quran makes reference to arrangement of Mary's marriage by the priests of the monastery where she dwelled:

3:44. …You were not present with them when they (- the priests) cast their quills (to decide) as to which of them should have Mary in his charge (to arrange her marriage)…[5]

For some intelligent reason best known to their authors, references to chastity of Mary are interpreted for her remaining unmarried, yet getting pregnant. This is absurd and against basic moral values, rather a smear on Mary. If nothing else, marriage is the best and natural guard against “un-chastity”:

21:91. And (We showed Our favours to) the woman (- Mary) who preserved her chastity [when single and later through marriage], so We revealed to her some of Our words and We made her and her son (- Jesus) a sign (of eminence) for the nations.[6]

Preservation of one’s chastity through marriage is outlined in Quran:

23:1-11. TRULY, success in this life and in the Hereafter does come to the believers, … And who guard their private parts, Except from their spouses, that is those whom they justly and rightfully own in proper wedlock, in that case they are not to be blamed, But those who seek anything else (to satisfy their sexual desire) beyond this, it is they who are the transgressors, … It is they who are the real heirs; Who will own Paradise where they shall abide forever.[7]

The above verse clearly lays down that a conjugal act within a married relationship is a chaste act, else Islam would transform into doctrine of Christianity of an inborn sin – Job 25:4. How then can man be righteous before God? Or how can he be pure who is born of a woman? [New King James Version]. Thus Mary preserved her chastity through her marriage.

Out of her marriage, birth of Jesus and his attributes are foretold to Mary:

3:45. (Recall the time) when the angels said, `O Mary! Allâh gives you good tidings through a (prophetic) word from Him (about the birth of a son) whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, (he shall be) worthy of regard in this world and in the Hereafter and one of the nearest ones (to Him),
3:46. `And he will speak to the people when in the cradle (- as a child) and when of old age, and shall be of the righteous.'[8]

Maryam, mother of Jesus is mentioned by her name on numerous occasions in Quran because of her high status due her piety. As far as father of Jesus (i.e. Joseph) is concerned he is lumped up with general mention of fathers of the prophets:

6:83. …Abraham…
6:84. …Isaac and Jacob…Noah…David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron…
6:85. …Zachariah, John, Jesus and Elias…
6:86. …Ismâîl and Elisha and Jonah and Lot…
6:87. And (We exalted men) from among their fathers and their descendants and their brethren. We chose them and We guided them along the exact right path.[9][Emphasis added]

Similar to verse 3:47 above, elsewhere Quran gives the prophecy of birth of Jesus to his mother, Mary: 

19:16. And give an account of Mary in this Book when she withdrew from her people to an eastern spacious place (of the temple).
19:17. Then she screened herself off from them. Then We sent to her Our (angel of) revelation and he presented himself to her in the form of a perfect and well-proportioned man.
19:18. Mary said, `I invoke the Most Gracious (God) to defend me from you. If you guard the least against evil (leave me alone).'
19:19. He said, `I am but a messenger of your Lord. I give you (glad tidings of) a most pure son.'
19:20. She said, `How can I bear a son while no man (has married me and) has yet touched me, nor have I been unchaste.'[10]
19:21. (The angel) said, `So the fact is (just as you describe). Your Lord has said, "It is easy for Me. (We shall do it) so that We make him a sign and a (source of) blessing from Us for the people. It is a matter ordained".'[11]

In fulfillment of the prophecy, Mary gets married as mentioned in verse 3:44 above and then she conceives Jesus:

19:22. She (- Mary) conceived him (- the child) and withdrew with him to a remote place[12][which could be within the temple that Mary lived in or possibly to her hometown for a prenatal care].

Continuing from above Mary is talking to herself, praying for help or even addressing her husband during her childbirth[13]:

19:23. (At the time of the delivery of the child) the throes of child birth [– of Jesus] drove her [– Mary] to the trunk of the palm-tree[14]. She said, `Oh! would that I had become unconscious before this and had become a thing gone and forgotten.'[15]

In Quran creation of every human is the same:

23:12. We create a human being from an extract of clay;[16]

It would be quite fanciful to imagine God making a human cast of clay and then breathing into him His spirit before Adam came to life. Isn’t it simple to think that from clay grow the plants, animals eat the plants, man then eats the salts in clay, the plants and animals to become and stay alive, and to develop his physical and intellectual identity? Elementally humanity comes from clay and returns to clay. Quran puts it quite succinctly when it states We create a human being from an extract of clay. The emphasis is on extract, which in modern interpretation points to carboniferous biology that comes out of clay, of man and every living thing on earth. How true.

Now, going back to birth of Jesus, Quran is quite clear as to how he was created:

3:59. Verily, the case of Jesus is as the case of Adam in the sight of Allâh. He fashioned him out of dust, then He said to him,`Be’, and he came to be.[17]

i.e. Jesus (PBUH) was born just like Adam (who is a template of mankind) from clay and by natural conception because both belong to mankind:

39:13. O mankind! [including Jesus,] We have created you out of a male and a female…[18]

As far as Adam, the first human to receive the revelation is concerned, that stage for human species took some time in its evolutionary timeframe:

76:1. There did pass over a human being a while of a long space of time when he was not a thing worth mentioning.[19]

Similar to a skeptic Mary, her uncle Zachariah in his old age was foretold of a child, John. This might seem nothing short of a miracle given Zachariah’s then skepticism for reasons beyond his control:

3:38. Then and there did Zachariah pray to his Lord saying, `My Lord! grant me, by Your Own grace, pure and pious descendant, You alone are indeed the Hearer of prayers.'
3:39. So the angels called to him as he stood praying in the Sanctuary, `Allâh bears you the glad tidings of John, who shall confirm the word of God and who shall be noble, utterly chaste, a Prophet from among the righteous.'[20]

Note, nowhere Quran mentions Zachariah’s wife being old and postmenopausal, except that she was apparently barren to Zachariah:

3:40. `Lord!’ he said, `How shall I have a son now that old age has already come upon me and my wife is barren?’ (The Lord) said, `Such are the ways of Allâh, He does what He will.’[21]

In the above verse we find an apparent age difference between Zachariah and his wife, an indication that in the then pervading social norms, older men married younger women, which in secular history also happened with Mary and even Abraham.

Such are the ways of Allâh, He does what He will by some medical treatment as shown by next verses:

21:89. And (We showed Our favours to) Zachariah. Behold! he called out to his Lord and prayed to Him, `My Lord, do not leave me solitary, alone (and heirless), You are Best of those who remain after (-You alone are the Everlasting God).'
21:90. So We heard his prayer and granted him (a son) John, and cured his wife (of sterility) making her fit (for bearing children) for him. They used to vie one with another in (doing) good deeds and call upon Us with (mixed feelings of) hope and fear, and they were humble before Us.[22]

Elsewhere as well the narrative of Zachariah and his son John is mentioned:

19:2. (This is) an account of the mercy of your Lord (shown) to His servant Zachariah,
19:3. When he called upon his God, crying aloud (in humble supplication).
19:4. He said (praying), `My Lord! now the very bones within me have waxed feeble and the hair of (my) head are all gray and hoary, my Lord! never have I been (hitherto) deprived of a favourable response to my prayer to You.
19:5. `I fear (for the unrighteousness of) my kinsfolk after me, and my wife is barren. Grant me by Your (special) grace a (pious and righteous) successor,
19:6. `Who may be an heir to me and inherit (the divine blessings promised to) the House of Jacob and make him, my Lord! well-pleasing (to You).'
19:7. (God accepted his prayer and said,) `Zachariah! We give you the glad tidings of (the birth of) a son, named Yahyâ (- John, – who will live long). We have made none like him (in your house) before this.'
19:8. He (- Zachariah) said, `My Lord! how shall I beget a son when my wife is barren and I have (already) reached the extreme (limit of) old age?'
19:9. (The Lord) said, `So shall it be,' and (the angel bearing the revelation) said, `Your Lord says, "It is easy for Me, and behold, I have created you before this whereas you (too) were nothing".'[23]

In the verse 19:9, the phrase about Zachariah – "It is easy for Me, and behold, I have created you before this whereas you (too) were nothing" clearly implies that all births are conceived in the same manner, from the union of mother and father.

Similar to Mary and Zachariah, a skeptical Sarah too is amazed of her being foretold of birth of Isaac in her self-perceived ‘old age’:

11:69. And certainly, Our messengers came to Abraham with good tidings. They said, `(We bid you) peace.' He said, `Peace be (on you too) always.' And he lost no time in bringing them a roasted calf.
11:70. But when he saw that their hands did not extend to that (meal) he considered it strange on their part and apprehended evil from them. They said, `Have no fear for we have been sent to the people of Lot.'
11:71. And his wife was standing (nearby) and she too was inspired with awe. So we gave her good tidings of (the birth of) Isaac and after Isaac of (his son) Jacob.
11:72. She said, `O wonder for me! Shall I bear a child while I am a very old woman and this husband of mine (also) a very old man? This is a wonderful thing indeed!'
11:73. They (- Our messengers) said, `Do you marvel at the decree of Allâh? Members of this house! the mercy of Allâh and His blessings are upon you. Surely, He is the Lord of all praise, Owner of all glory.'[24]

In all three examples above, the parents i.e. Mary, Sarah and Zachariah are skeptical for various reasons of their own for them to even possibly imagine having a child, which they did in due course when the prophecies to each one of them unfolded for them.

The advocates of a birth of Jesus without conception from a human father frequently base their case for him being referred in Quran frequently as ‘son of Maryam’ e.g.

5:46. And We sent Jesus, son of Mary, in the footsteps of these (Prophets), fulfilling that which was (revealed) before him, of the Torah, and We gave him the Evangel which contained guidance and light, fulfilling that which was (revealed) before it, of the Torah, and was a (means of) guidance and an exhortation for those who guard against evil.[25]

Jesus is referred to by his mother’s name either because it is the intention of Quran to expunge the doctrine of innate ‘original sin’ as promulgated in Christianity in which pregnancy of mothers is sinful[26] or because of the prominent position that Maryam enjoys. She is singularly surrounded in blood relations by various prophets, whose uncle (Zachariah), cousin (John the Baptist) and son (Jesus) were prophets or merely for the fact that in Jewish tradition children are remembered by their mother's name e.g.[27]

20:94. (Aaron [addressing his brother, Moses]) said, `O son of my mother! do not hold me by my beard nor (pull me) by my head. (If I was not strict to them it was because) I was afraid lest you should say, "You have caused a disruption among the Children of Israel and did not preserve my word".' [28]

In the above verse, by addressing each other, in Jewish tradition, via their mother did not mean that Moses and Aaron did not have a father.

On the contrary, in Arab tradition, children are usually identified by their father's name unless the mother holds a prominent position, which does not mean either that they do not have mothers or fathers respectively. With changing times and customs, due to children out of wedlock in the present day Western cultures, it would be odd if someone is asked about their fathers. For them it is more prudent and socially acceptable to ask of their mothers. It does not imply that they do not have their fathers.

David is mentioned in Quran of having a son, Solomon, while there is no mention of David’s wife. Does it mean that Solomon came into this world without having a mother?

38:30. And We gave (a pious son like) Solomon to David. How excellent a servant (of Ours) he was! For he turned to Us in obedience and repentance again and again.[29]

Quran refers to Mary as daughter of Amran (the father of Moses and Aaron) while it does not mention father of Asiya, the Phaoah's wife, which in turn does not mean that Asiya had no father – see v. 66:11-12 below.[30]

66:11. And Allâh compares those who believe to the wife of Pharaoh [– Asiya]. Behold! she said, `My Lord! make for me an abode in the Garden (of Paradise) close to You and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work and deliver me from the wrongdoing people.[31]

The chastity of mother naturally has a bearing on her children:

66:12. And Allâh (next compares the believers to) Mary, the daughter of Amrân, she who took care to guard her chastity, so We breathed into him (the believer who is exemplified here) Our inspiration, while she declared her faith in the revelations of her Lord and His Scriptures and she became of the devoted ones to prayers and obedient to Him.[32] [Emphasis added].

In the above verse in context of a believer, including Jesus, with Mary as an example of purity, note the use of the term him, the male gender rather than her. This removes any misconceptions of 'immaculate' impregnation of Mary without a husband, rather affirms an 'immaculate' Jesus because We breathed into him [, not her,] Our inspiration. Additionally, Jesus was already-existing as an individual from parental conjugation, when We breathed into him Our inspiration after which he became 'immaculate'. This is the same immaculate birth of each human that Quran mentions elsewhere as well:

32:7. Who made perfectly well all that He created. And He originated the creation of a human being from clay.
32:8. Then He created his seed from an extract of an insignificant fluid (derived by his consuming food produced from clay or soil).
32:9. Then He endowed him with perfect faculties (of head and heart in accordance with what he is meant to be) and breathed into him of His spirit (thus made him the recipient of the Divine word). And He has given you hearing, eyes and hearts. Yet little are the thanks you give.[33]

The reason as to why Jesus is mentioned as son of Mary in Quran is quite eloquently explained in the following excerpt:

The mere fact that no mention is made, in the Holy Quran, of Jesus' father is not sufficient to show that he had no human father. No mention is likewise made of the father of Moses, nor of the the Holy Prophet Muhammad. Does it follow, then, that they had no human fathers? The Holy Quran is not a book on genealogy to have kept such a record. Jesus has purposefully been called Ibn-i-Maryam (son of Mary) in the Holy Quran. With this single stroke it has overturned and demolished the Christian doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus. It is written in The Book of Job (Old Testament), How can he be clean that is born of a woman? (25:4). The Quran, arguing ad hominem, said unto the Christians that Jesus, having been born of a woman (Mary), could not even be clean, much less to be regarded as a Divine Being Who is above every kind of uncleanliness and impurity.[34]

Thus, by calling Jesus as son of Mary is another example where The Qur'an is the Watcher over the old Scriptures and guards the Truth in them:

5:48. To you (O Messenger) We have sent the Book in Sure Truth confirming the Divine Origin of whatever Scripture [besides Torah, Zabur and Bible, Zend Avesta, Bhagavad Gita, Tipitaka, Tao Te Ching etc.] was before it. The Qur'an is the Watcher over the old Scriptures and guards the Truth in them.
5:15. O people of the Scripture! Our Messenger, who has come to you, unfolds many teachings of the Scripture which you had kept hidden, and many a thing he passes over. There has come to you, indeed, from Allâh a Light and the perspicuous Book (–the Qur'ân) that distinguishes the right from the wrong.[35]

The subject matter of birth of Jesus is further explained in the book ‘Birth of Jesus’[36] by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, that reader may refer to as well.
 


[1] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[2] al Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[3] Matthew 1:18-25
[4] – Mark 6:3. Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” So they were offended at Him. [New King James Version]
– Matthew 13:55. Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? [New King James Version]
– John 7:3. His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. [New King James Version]
[5] al Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[6] Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[7] Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin
[8] al Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[10] This is a possible reference to the prevailing monasticism amongst the Israelites that Mary belonged to and later the Christians as well – 57:27. …And We placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him [–Jesus], but as for monasticism they invented it themselves, We did not enjoin it upon them…. Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin.
[11] Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
[12] Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
[13] The observation is by Shabbir Ahmed.
[14] Mary, similar to Maya , the mother of Siddharta Gautama Buddha, apparently gave birth in the manner of holding on to tree limb to ease the pangs of labor – as depicted in a carving for the latter: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_(mother_of_Buddha)#mediaviewer/File:SiddhartaBirth.jpg
[15] Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
[16] Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin
[17] al Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[18] Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
[19] Al-Insan – The Human Being: Nooruddin
[20] al Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[21] al Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[22] Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[23] Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
[24] Hud – Hud : Nooruddin
[25] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[26] Psalm 51:5. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. [New King James Version]. See also Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:22.
[27] al-ahmadiyya, p.16, March 1979
[28] Ta Ha – The Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[29] Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
[30] al-ahmadiyya, ‘Jesus had a father’, p.10, January 1979
[31] Al-Tahrim – The Prohibition: Nooruddin
[32] Al-Tahrim – The Prohibition: Nooruddin
[33] Al-Sajdah – The Prostration: Nooruddin
[34] A Reply to the Christian Pamphlet – The History of Hadjie Abdoellah, p. 42-3, by Mirza Masum Beg B.A., Editor, 'The Light' Lahore.
[35] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[36] ‘Birth of Jesus’ by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, revised and edited by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed. Pub: 2005. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Literary Trust of Trinidad and Tobago.

Qadiani Jamaat member’s great praise for Maulana Muhammad Ali’s translation of the Quran

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Post submitted by Omar Raja


So, I was reading some reviews online on amazon.com regarding Maulana Muhammad Ali's english commentary to Holy Quran.

Of interest is the following one, and though adhering and defending the Qadiani jamaat, still manages to acknowledge the greatness of Maulana Muhammad Ali's work.

[Quote]

The Legacy of Islam-Ahmadiyya, June 11, 2014

By

mozaki "mozaki" (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

This review is from: The Holy Qur'an with English Translation and Commentary (English and Arabic Edition) (Hardcover)

Firstly, it is important to disclose that I'm a member of The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam (the mainstream movement, not the Lahore group who are the publishers of this English translation and commentary of The Holy Quran). I am writing this review to offer some perspective on the history of this great translation and on also some context on The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam for those who may be unfamiliar with it.

The Islam-Ahmadiyya is a 19th century Messianic movement that believes that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be on him) was the latter-days heavenly personage according to end-times prophecies of the major world religions. Mohammad Ali, who no doubt was considered a great scholar of Islam and highly educated, was a disciple of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (pbuh). This translation was reportedly commissioned to Mohammad Ali by Ghulam Ahmad (pbuh) himself. After Ghulam Ahmad’s demise in 1908 he was succeeded by Hakim Nooruddin, the first Khalifatul Masih (Successor of The Messiah) and a highly revered scholar of Islam in India. However, when Hakim Nooruddin passed away in 1914, Mohammad Ali refused to accept the Caliphate of the newly elected Mirza Bashiruddin Mehmud Ahmad who was just 25 years old at the time. In the main body of the Ahmadiyya movement a pledge of obedience to the Caliph is very profound. Mohammad Ali and his supporters proposed that the movement change its structural hierarchy so have a committee manage over the affairs of the movement rather than a Caliph. This was rejected and thus he and his followers separated and formed The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. Lahore, which back then was a part of India, was a thriving center of civilization (sadly today it is being ripped up by terrorists like much of Pakistan).

The other major distinction is that although the Lahore movement attributes the office of The Mahdi and Messiah to Ghulam Ahmad (pbuh) and regard him as someone who enjoyed a great communion with God, their thinking does not constitute him to be a prophet in the true sense. The main Ahmadiyya movement constitute him to a be a follower-prophet of Muhammad (pbu) but still very much a prophet in the real sense.

In the “Preface to The Revised Edition” of this book Mohammad Ali writes, “the greatest religious leader of this time, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, has inspired me with all that is best in this work. I have drunk deep at the fountain of knowledge this great Reformer and founder of The Ahmadiyya Movement has made to flow”. Mohammad Ali also rightly acknowledges Hakim Norruddin, a great scholar of The Holy Quran who had committed it entirely to memory, for his contributions to this work.

Some may find it interesting that it was this translation that led the renowned contemporary Islamic scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf to highly praise Mohammad Ali and his contributions throwing himself headlong into controversy to the ire of bigots. Sheikh Hamza Yusuf had said that it is obvious that two of the most widely distributed Quran-translations of the day, that of Marmudke Pickthall and Yusuf Ali, had “heavily borrowed” from Mohammad Ali’s work. He emphasized that the so-called Muslims should be fair and acknowledge this contribution according to the teachings of religion. But that kind of thinking is alien to bigotry. God know what kinds of threats he may have come over to have to recant his statement.

It is heart-warming to see this work which is the founding work that has brought the religion of Islam to millions in the English-speaking world keeping its rightful place a hundred years on.They can shut up Hamza Yusuf, but they can't re-do history. [bold emphasis mine]

[Unquote]

Link to the reviews on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/English-Translation-Commentary-Arabic-Edition/product-reviews/091332101X/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

Mozaki must be unaware of the despicable things said about this commentary (God forbid) by his own second Khalifa, Mirza Bashir-ud-Din Mahmud Ahmad!