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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Muslim response to Wilders

14 mis-translated verses of Qur'aan in the movie Fitna are corrected here below.
Mike Ghouse with commentary from Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh

“Geert Wilders, Dutch conservative lawmaker, has made a ten-minute film exposing the horrific passages of the Koran. Per AP Wilders refers to the selected verses as “fascist.’” http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/29496.html

First of all, as a Muslim, I want to thank Geert Wilders for making this documentary, the verses, as he has quoted certainly sound fascist. These verses have not only been misquoted for millennia, but were mis-translated with the intent of maligning Islam in the middle ages to protect the European kings and their kingdoms. My gratitude to Wilders comes from the fact that he is putting it on the spot light, so we have an opportunity to discuss and clarify them, hopefully for ever. Otherwise a whole lot of people would have believed in the wrong thing. Thank you my friend.

Prophet Muhammad was pelted with stones by a bunch of miscreants, he was bleeding, and his associates and angel Gabriel were requesting him to give permission to go belt the bad boys, the Prophet said no, instead he asked them to pray with him that God gave goodwill and a good sense to the misled miscreants.

Following the model of Prophet of forgiveness and the belief that there is good in every human soul, we have to relentlessly stoke the goodness in humans. I ask fellow humans in general and Muslims in particular to pray for Geert Wilders’ safety and well being.

Mr. Wilders, I have personally prayed for your safety and well being and have requested our Imams to do the same across the world. The report expressed that "You do not fear being slain, claiming 24-hour protection." Again, I admire you for your courage and conviction and request you to consider another aspect of the equation that nearly 1.5 billion Muslims believe.

Note to the Muslim Leadership:
As Muslims leaders, we have a responsibility to prevent mis-haps. To be a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for co-existence and world peace - God wants his creation to be in peace and harmony, and that is the chief purpose of religion. Islam is indeed peace.

Geert Wilder's is going to show a 10 minute documentary on the 25th - all hell may broke loose that day and all of us will be scrambling to defend the ugly actions of the few. If our Imams can address this in the Friday Sermons, and urge Muslims to follow the model Prophet has created, we can avoid a big mishap and turn this upcoming nightmare into a peace building effort. I request all Imams to call their counterparts around the globe to win this propaganda war with love and kindness, it is an opportunity God has provided to become leaders. If you like, please circulate.

A Prelude to Qur'aan Translations:

When the European Kings were threatened by the invading Arab armies in early part of the millennia, to safeguard and protect their Kingdoms, they came with a strategey that has come be known as Islamophobia, and their strategy was:

1. To label the Invading Kings as "Muslim", as that was one of the ways to get their subjects to fight for them.

2. To mis-translate the Qur'aan to create a permanent wedge between the two communities

3. To paint the religion negatively as a Mohammedan cult.

4. To reinforce this strategy they roped in the Pope to issue a fatwa approving crusades.

Their Blueprint worked well for them and the Arab Kings were pushed back and defeated. It is important to note that a majority of the kings of the time were thieves and robbers, whose only purpose in life was to invade and annex the neighboring territories, loot their wealth, destroy their cultures and come back home stronger and erect a statue of themselves as Heroes. Very few of them wanted to spread their faith for the purpose of spreading piety and goodwill. Their goal was to control the resources and the people; in the process they destroyed civilizations, no different than today's Neocons.

The Neocons of middle ages were exceptionally successful in steering public opinion against Islam via the translations. The foundation they laid at that time has become the basis for building baseless theories against Islam. The kings happened to be Muslims that they were against, instead their propaganda turned against all Muslims and Islam.

Dahlia Sabry is researching on the effects of this work and reports that " it was found out that translating the meanings of the holy Qur'aan offered an opportunity to distort and misinterpret its meanings. This played a crucial role in framing a negative and an inaccurate image of Islam. The problem can be ascribed mostly to translations by non-Muslims, however, also partially to translations by Muslims."

Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete (English: "Law of Mahomet the pseudo-prophet") was the first translation of the Qur'aan into Latin by Robert of Ketton in 1142. Peter the Venerable persuaded Robert to join a team he was creating to translate Arabic works into Latin in hopes of aiding the religious conversion of Muslims to Christianity. It was the standard translation for Europeans from its release until the 18th century. This translation is loaded with inaccuracies.

Another Latin translation by Ludovicus Marracci was published in 1698. It was supplemented with quotes from Qur'an commentaries "carefully juxtaposed and sufficiently garbled so as to portray Islam in the worst possible light" (Colin Turner,1997 p. xii). The title of the introductory volume of such translation was A Refutation of the Qur'an.

Such translations formed the foundation for a number of subsequent translations into English, French, Italian, German, etc. The first English translation was that of Alexander Ross published in 1649. In his introduction, Ross says "I thought good to bring it to their colours, that so viewing thine enemies in their full body, thou must the better prepare to encounter … his Alcoran" (p. A3).

Similarly, H. Reckendorf (1857) says in his Hebrew translation of the Qur'an, "I can now stop writing and ask God's pardon for the sin I committed when I profaned our sacred language and transferred to it the talk of lies and falsehood" (as cited in Abdul Aal, January 29, 2006, p. 78).

In 1734, George Sale’s translation came out based on Marracci’s earlier notorious work. In 1861, J. M. Rodwell’s work provided a further example of a writer "gunning for Islam" (Turner, 1997, p. xii).

That was the story of Neocons who shamelessly wore the Christian label, and inaccurate and brazen translations were made by Muslims as well. The Noble Qur'an, also informally known as the Hilali-Khan translation was published in early 1900's and is despicable. http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Not-like-Jews-and-Christians.asp

Religions emerged to allay individual fears and bring a balance in one's life and peace for the society. It is obvious that the Kings of the past have raped the religion to their own advantage and we must not give them the religious label. Their purpose was simply expansion, exertion and oppression and religion did not figure in the conquests, they were far from it.

It is time for us to strip the wrongs people have ascribed to religion, every religion, and get to know the truth. I am amazed neither the Universities, nor the responsible Governments have under taken research project to dismantle the false castles of hate from the past. It is time now, and we have begun this process.
Geert Wilders produces 14 Verses of Qur'aan in the movie "Fitna".

Geert Wilders adds "When taking the Koran seriously as divine revelation, a superficial review of the Koran’s extremist verses is not what meshes with democracies."
All the fourteen verses quoted below have one theme in common "Punishment" for those who do not follow the rules. Mr. Geert may understand this better, if he were to look at it from an universal perspective and not as Islam V. Christianity issue.

One can find ‘punitive’ verses in every holy book. However, the critical element overlooked is the most powerful and dominant aspect of the creator; Qur'aan 1:1 "In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace." This verse is repeated 113 times in Qur’aan, more than any other verse.

For societies to function on equilibrium there must be law and order. When there is justice in a society, peace is a natural outcome. The Criminal and Civil laws are designed to bring net-peace to the society. For every violation of a rule, punishment is determined. If there were no punishment, then crimes go un-checked creating chaos in the society.

From a common man’s perspective, the word ‘painful doom’ appears to be cruelty coming from a kind God. Well, then what should hold any one from murdering and butchering the other. If you are a good guy who holds the temptations to steal someone else's hard earned goods, and the bad guys steal with no consequences to it, then every one may resort to stealing. What will happen to a society when every one is stealing, lying or cheating? No one would trust and everyone is frightened of the other.

Imagine the nightmare in America, if we were to remove the punishment aspect from the United States Constitution, civil and criminal laws.

Religions emerged to allay individual fears and bring a balance in one's life and peace for the society. It is time for us to strip the wrongs people have ascribed to religion, indeed every religion, and find the truth for ourselves. I cannot believe that the Universities and responsible Governments have not undertaken the research to dismantle the false castles of hate from the past.

We have undertaken the work to fix 60 misrepresented verses, hopefully to mitigate the conflicts and nurture goodwill for co-existence, as citizens of the world, you and I, every one included, have the responsibility to watch for the trouble makers whose business is manufacturing enemies and cashing in on fears of ordinary people.


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Surah 9: Repentance

A full copy of the text from Geert Wilders is pasted at the bottom that includes 14 verse that sounds fascist, indeed they are as quoted. Actual verses from Qur'aan are pulled with each one of the 14 verses.

Mohammad Asad - http://www.islamicity.com/QuranSearch/

1:1 In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace:

According to most of the authorities, this invocation (which occurs at the beginning of every surah with the exception of surah 9) constitutes an integral part of "The Opening" and is, therefore, numbered as verse I. In all other instances, the invocation "in the name of God" precedes the surah as such, and is not counted among its verses. - Both the divine epithets rahman and rahrim are derived from the noun rahmah, which signifies "mercy", "compassion", "loving tenderness" and, more comprehensively, "grace". From the very earliest times, Islamic scholars have endeavoured to define the exact shades of meaning which differentiate the two terms. The best and simplest of these explanations is undoubtedly the one advanced by Ibn al-Qayyim (as quoted in Manar I, 48): the term rahman circumscribes the quality of abounding grace inherent in, and inseparable from, the concept of God's Being, whereas rahrim expresses the manifestation of that grace in, and its effect upon, His creation-in other words, an aspect of His activity.(Quran Ref: 1:1 )

#1. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve. 3Mohammad Asad - http://www.islamicity.com/QuranSearch/ At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:3 And a proclamation from God and His Apostle [is herewith made] unto all mankind on this day of the Greatest Pilgrimage: "God disavows all who ascribe divinity to aught beside Him, and [so does] His Apostle. Hence, if you repent, it shall be for your own good; and if you turn away, then know that you can never elude God!" And unto those who are bent on denying the truth give thou [O Prophet] the tiding of grievous chastisement.

There is no unanimity among the commentators as to what is meant by "the day of the Greatest Pilgrimage". Most of them assume that it refers to the pilgrimage in the year 9H., in which the Prophet himself did not participate, having entrusted Abu Bakr with the office of amir al-hajj. This very fact, however, makes it improbable that the designation "the Greatest Pilgrimage" should have been given in the Qur'an to this particular pilgrimage. On the other hand, there exists a Tradition on the authority of `Abd Allah ibn `Umar to the effect that the Prophet described in these very words the last pilgrimage led by himself in 10 H. and known to history as the Farewell Pilgrimage (Zamakhshari, Razi); one may, therefore, assume that it is this which is alluded to here. If this assumption is correct, it would justify the conclusion that verses 3 and 4 of this surah were revealed during the Farewell Pilgrimage, i.e., shortly before the Prophet's death. This might explain the-otherwise perplexing-statement, reliably attributed to the Prophet's Companion Al-Bara' (Bukhari, Kitab at-Tafsir), that At-Tawbah was the last surah revealed to the Prophet: for, although it is established beyond any doubt that the surah as a whole was revealed in 9 H. and was followed by several other parts of the Qur'an, e.g., Al-Ma'idah, it is possible that what Al-Bard' had in mind were only these two key-verses (3 and 4) of At-Tawbah, which conceivably were revealed during the Farewell Pilgrimage.(Quran Ref: 9:3 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: This is a classic example of misinterpretation of the Quran. You needn’t look very far in understanding what the verse is talking about. The VERY NEXT VERSE talks about observing peace treaties and NOT attacking those people that weren’t a threat! Here is the verse: (9:4. Except those of the Mushrikin with whom you have a treaty, and who have broken that treaty, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty for them until the end of their term. Surely, Allah loves those who have Taqwa (awareness of God).)

Mike Ghouse: There is just a God, and there is no Muslim, Christian or other God. If Wilders can see one source of Creation called God, he would not have the problem. God is essentially saying if you have some one else besides me, go to him or her, don’t come to me if you don’t believe in me.

#2. Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. 5Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:5 And so, when the sacred months are over [6] , slay those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God wherever you may come upon them, [7] and take them captive, and besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every conceivable place [8] ! Yet if they repent, and take to prayer, and render the purifying dues, let them go their way: for, behold, God is much forgiving, a dispenser of grace. [9]9:2 [Announce unto them:] "Go, then, [freely] about the earth for four months [2] -but know that you can never elude God, and that, verily, God shall bring disgrace upon all who refuse to acknowledge the truth!"

9:5 Article: http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Slay-the-idolaters-whereever-you-find-them.asp .

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: The four months were given for the hostile people so that they can come and go peacefully amongst the Muslims and see what Islam is about. If it was not for them, they could leave the Holy Lands, and seek refuge elsewhere. If the whole purpose was killing and butchering them, then what is the purpose behind giving them four months??

# 3. Don't let idolaters tend the sanctuaries. Their works are in vain and they will be burned in the Fire. 17
Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:17 IT IS NOT for those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God to visit or tend [26] God's houses of worship, the while [by their beliefs] they bear witness against themselves that they are denying the truth. It is they whose works shall come to nought, and they who in the fire shall abide [27]

In its transitive form, the verb `amara comprises the meanings of both visiting and maintaining a place; hence my rendering of an ya'muru as "that they should visit or tend".(Quran Ref: 9:17 )

Some of the commentators conclude from this verse that "those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God" are not allowed to enter mosques ("God's houses of worship"). This conclusion, however, is entirely untenable in view of the fact that in 9 H. -that is, after the revelation of this surah -the Prophet himself lodged a deputation of the pagan Banu Thaqif in the mosque at Medina (Razi). Thus, the above verse expresses no more than the moral incongruity of the unbelievers' "visiting or tending God's houses of worship". As regards their exclusion from the central mosque of Islam at Mecca ("the Inviolable House of Worship"), see verse 28 of this surah.(Quran Ref: 9:17 )

9:28 O YOU who have attained to faith! Those who ascribe divinity to aught beside God are nothing but impure: [37] and so they shall not approach the Inviolable House of Worship from this year onwards [38] And should you fear poverty, then [know that] in time God will enrich you out of His bounty, if He so wills: [39] for, verily, God is all-knowing, wise!

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: The whole purpose of all religions, including Judaism and Christianity is that God alone should be worshipped. If polytheists were allowed to tend to or attend or build the holiest sanctuaries whose whole foundation was on Tawheed (the sole worship of God), it would be a huge contradiction in the religion. So to avoid this contradiction and conflict, Islam very clearly outlines the rules about who could or couldn’t come to the Haram of Makkah.

Bear in mind that the Prophet himself hosted a delegation of Christian dignitaries and priests from Najran, whom he allowed to STAY and whom he allowed to PRAY in his own mosque in the Holy city of Madina, the second holiest site to all Muslims.

Mike Ghouse:: Those who do not believe in God, simply cannot serve in the sanctuary with sincerity. Obviously one feels the pain of doing things that which is not in his or her nature. Caveat: There is no compulsion in faith, no one can push any one to believe what he or she is not willing to.

#4. Give tiding of a painful doom to Christians and Jews. 34Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:34 O you who have attained to faith! Behold, many of the rabbis and monks do indeed wrongfully devour men's possessions and turn [others] away from the path of God. But as for all who lay up treasures of gold and silver and do not spend them for the sake of Gods [51] - give them the tiding of grievous suffering [in the life to come]:

Most probably this is, in the first instance, an allusion to the wealth of the Jewish and Christian communities, and their misuse of this wealth. Some of the commentators, however, are of the opinion that the reference is wider, comprising all people, including Muslims, who hoard their wealth without spending anything thereof on righteous causes.(Quran Ref: 9:34 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: The purpose of religious leadership is to focus on the Hereafter, and they should lead by example is this respect. If they are seen to be hoarding wealth, and not distributing it to the poor and needy, what kind of example are they setting for their followers? Also bear in mind that the condemnation in this verse is the hoarding of ILLICITLY gained funds and riches.

Mike Ghouse: Another good example of misquoting the Verses. Indeed, those (not all) who embezzle public funds need to be punished, be it Muslim, Jew, Christian or otherwise. Those are the laws of any civilized nation including the Netherlands. In the verse 34, there is word like Christian and Jew.

Pasted below is the transliteration and actual Quranic verse.

Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo inna katheeran mina alahbari waalrruhbani layakuloona amwala alnnasi bialbatili wayasuddoona AAan sabeeli Allahi waallatheena yaknizoona alththahaba waalfiddata wala yunfiqoonaha fee sabeeli Allahi fabashshirhum biAAathabin aleemin

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّ كَثِيرًا مِّنَ الأَحْبَارِ وَالرُّهْبَانِ لَيَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ النَّاسِ بِالْبَاطِلِ وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَالَّذِينَ يَكْنِزُونَ الذَّهَبَ وَالْفِضَّةَ وَلاَ يُنفِقُونَهَا فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَبَشِّرْهُم بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ (9:34)

#5. If you refuse to fight, Allah will afflict you with a painful doom. 39
Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:39 If you do not go forth to war [in God's cause], He will chastise you with grievous chastisement, and will place another people in your stead - whereas you shall in no wise harm Him: for, God has the power to will anything.

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: The purpose of religious leadership is to focus on the Hereafter, and they should lead by example is this respect. If they are seen to be hoarding wealth, and not distributing it to the poor and needy, what kind of example are they setting for their followers? Also bear in mind that the condemnation in this verse is the hoarding of ILLICITLY gained funds and riches.

Mike Ghouse: In the USA, and perhaps in the Netherlands, these men are referred to as draft dodgers, during the Vietnam war if you dodge going to the war, you faced grievous chastisement by the Government of the United states of America, even though that was the wrong war. Perhaps Netherlands may not be sympathetic towards them either.

#6. Disbelievers go to hell. 49
Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:49 And among them there was [many a one] who said," [71] Grant me permission [to remain at home], and do not put me to too hard a test!" Oh, verily, [by making such a request] they had [already failed in their test and] succumbed to a temptation to evil: [72] and, behold, hell will indeed encompass all who refuse to acknowledge the truth!

See verses 44 and 45 above. It is to be noted that both the verbal form la taftinni (rendered by me as "do not put me to too hard a test") and the noun fitnah have the same root, comprising a great complex of meanings: e.g., test, trial, affliction. temptation to evil, seduction, persecution, oppression, discord, civil strife, etc. (cf. surah 8, note 25). Since it is impossible in any language but Arabic to reproduce all these many shades of meaning in a single expression, the rendering of the term fitnah must necessarily vary in accordance with the context in which it is used.(Quran Ref: 9:49 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: Here the analogy of the draft-dodgers is appropriate. Anyone who opposed or even voices dissent in the “war on terror” was labeled unpatriotic. But, here the verse is referring to those hypocrites who showed that they were Muslims in front, but internally held malice against the Muslims. Part of their malice was not supporting the Muslims in anything they did including fighting if the need was there. God chastises these people, as their negative actions raised disorder and disunity and pessimism and negativity amongst even the true Muslims.

Mike Ghouse: Any one who refuses to acknowledge the truth must be punished. I don’t know what kind of tortures Netherlands applies to criminals, but most nations in the world including the United States of American, has used the water boarding techniques to extract the truth.

God could have made us all sinless angels; instead he chose to make us humans, giving guidance on one hand, temptations on the other – then giving room to make mistakes, and room for correction. Islam has not claimed monopoly to heaven; it is assured to those who do good deeds. Good deeds are defined by Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) as how your treat others.

#7. Those who vex the Prophet, for them there is a painful doom. 60
Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:60 The offerings given for the sake of God [83] are [meant] only for the poor and the needy, and those who are in charge thereof, [84] and those whose hearts are to be won over, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage, and [for] those who are over burdened with debts, and [for every struggle] in God's cause, and [for] the wayfarer: [this is] an ordinance from God - and God is all-knowing, wise. [85]

Note 83/81: Since there is no English equivalent for the term sadaqat (sing. sadagah), I am rendering it here as "offerings given for the sake of God". This comprises everything that a believer freely gives to another person, out of love or compassion, as well as what he is morally or legally obliged to give, without expecting any worldly return: that is, charitable gifts and deeds of every description (which is the primary meaning of sadaqat -e.g., in 2:263 and 264), as well as the obligatory tax called zakah ("the purifying dues", because its payment purifies, as it were, a person's property from the taint of selfishness). In the context of the above verse, this term refers to the funds thus collected and administered by the Muslim community or state. When these funds are disbursed for the purposes stipulated in verse 60, they assume once more - this time in relation to the recipients-the aspect of "charitable gifts".(Quran Ref: 9:58 )

Note 84- I.e., the officials entrusted with the collection and administration of zakah funds.(Quran Ref: 9:60 Note 85: These eight categories circumscribe all the purposes for which zakah funds may be expended. By "those whose hearts are to be won over" are apparently meant such non-Muslims as are close to understanding and, perhaps, accepting Islam, and for whose conversion every effort should be made, either directly or indirectly (i.e., by means of the widest possible propagation of the teachings of Islam). As regards the expression fi 'r-rigab ("for the freeing of human beings from bondage"), which relates both to the ransoming of prisoners of war and to the freeing of slaves, see surah 2, note 146. The term al-gharimun describes people who are overburdened with debts contracted in good faith. which - through no fault of their own - they are subsequently unable to redeem. The expression "in God's cause" embraces every kind of struggle in righteous causes, both in war and in peace, including expenditure for the propagation of Islam and for all charitable purposes. Regarding the meaning of ibn as-sabil ("wayfarer"), see surah 2, note 145.(Quran Ref: 9:60 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: I don’t see anything that can be held as negative in the verse. It is simply talking about giving in charity, and that includes to non-muslims.

Mike Ghouse: Another falsity.

#8. Those who oppose Allah and His messenger will burn in the fire of hell. 63Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:63 Do they not know that for him who sets himself against God and His Apostle there is in store the fire of hell, therein to abide -that most awesome disgrace?

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: This verse was specifically for those hypocrites who raised their voices of dissent and fueled disunity amongst the Muslims. It is not a general verse for everyone. The next verse emphasizes this point.

Mike Ghouse: Once you pledge your allegiance, and then betray it to do harm, it is called treason. However, if you chose not to believe, but not hurt any one in the process, you go Scot free. Justness is paramount in Islamic values. This is no different than the civil laws of any nation.

# 9. Allah promises hypocrites and disbelievers the fire of hell. Allah curses them. They will have a lasting torment. 68Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:68 God- has promised the hypocrites, both men and women-as well as the [outright] deniers of the _ truth-the fire of hell, therein to abide: this shall be their allotted_ portion. For, God has rejected them, and long-lasting suffering awaits them.

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: The reason hypocrisy is so bad is because these were the “wolves in sheep’s clothing”, i.e under the guise of being Muslims they fueled rancor amongst the Muslims. It is better to know your enemy up front, so you can avoid them, rather than an outwardly friendly person who is really your enemy.

Mike Ghouse: Please remember God is merciful and forgiver. Prescription of punishment is a deterrent to crime, at least most average people will not commit crime. Mr. Wilders, Welcome to the United States of America, and particularly Texas, those who deny the truth get the life time imprisonment or the electric chair.

#10. Fight the disbelievers and hypocrites. Be harsh with them. They are all going to hell anyway. 73
Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:73 O PROPHET! Strive hard against the deniers of the truth and the hypocrites, and be adamant with them. [101] And [if they do not repent,] their goal shall be hell -and how vile a journey's end!

Note 101 - I.e., "do not compromise with them in matters of principle". Regarding the meaning of the verb jahada ("he strove hard", i.e., in a righteous cause), see surah 4, note 122. The imperative jahid is obviously used here in its spiritual connotation, implying efforts at convincing both the outspoken unbelievers and the waverers, including the various types of hypocrites spoken of in the preceding passages. Although the imperative is addressed in the first instance to the Prophet, it is considered to be morally binding on all believers.(Quran Ref: 9:73 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: Comments It is obvious that the order is for striving to guide them, otherwise the translation be adamant would be rendered useless if one was to simply kill them. If the meaning is punishment, then punishing criminals is not wrong.

Mike Ghouse: Think in terms of civic societies and how the criminals are punished or at least there is a law ranging from a day in Jail to the death penalty. Shall we be lenient to rapists, murderers? Shall we tell them, that we believe in civility and as a bonus for their crimes, there is no punishment fro them.

#11. Allah will afflict disbelievers with a painful doom in this world and the Hereafter. 74
Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:74 [The hypocrites] swear by God that they have said nothing [wrong]; yet most certainly have they uttered a saying which amounts to a denial of the truth, [102] and have [thus] denied the truth after [having professed] their self-surrender to God: for they were aiming at something which was beyond their reach. [103] And they could find no fault [with the Faith] save that God had enriched them and [caused] His Apostle [to enrich them] out of His bounty! [104] Hence, if they repent, it will be for their own good. but if they turn away, God will cause them to suffer grievous suffering in this world and in the life to come, and they will find no helper on earth, and none to give [them] succour.

Note 102- See the first sentence of verse 61 above, and the corresponding note 86. The allegation that the Prophet deceived himself in the matter of revelation is, naturally, equivalent to disbelief in the outcome of his revelation, i.e., the Qur'an.(Quran Ref: 9:74 )

Note 103 - Lit., "which they were unable to attain to". The classical commentators take this as a reference to an abortive plot, on the part of some of the hypocrites, to kill the Prophet during the expedition to Tabuk. However, without contesting the validity of this historical interpretation, I believe that the above allusion has a far deeper meaning-namely, the existential impossibility of one's ever attaining to inner peace without a positive belief that man's life has meaning and purpose, either of which can be glimpsed only through the revelations bestowed on those exceptionally gifted and receptive personalities, the prophets. (An indirect reference to divine revelation as the only source of this kind of cognition appears in 96:5, that is, in the earliest Qur'anic passage revealed to the Prophet.) Thus, torn between their half-hearted desire to "surrender themselves to God" and their unwillingness to accept the divine guidance offered them by the Prophet, the hypocrites "were aiming at something which was beyond their reach".(Quran Ref: 9:74 )

Note 104- I.e., by means of the spiritual guidance contained in the Qur'an and the material welfare resulting from an adherence to its moral and social principles. The above phrase implies that the reluctance of the hypocrites to pay heed to the Prophet was not due to their finding fault with the Faith as such but, rather, to their lack of gratitude for the spiritual and material benefits which they had derived from it. (Because of its historical associations, most of this verse is expressed in the past tense, although its moral import is obviously timeless.)(Quran Ref: 9:74 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: Comments

#12. For disbelievers there will be a painful doom. 90
Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:90 AND THERE came [unto the Apostle] such of the bedouin as had some excuse to offer, [with the request] that they be granted exemption, [122] whereas those who were bent on giving the lie to God and His Apostle [simply] remained at home. [123] [And] grievous suffering is bound to befall such of them as are bent on denying the truth!

Note 122 - I.e., from participating in the expedition to Tabuk. The term al-mu'adhdhirun connotes both "those having a valid excuse (`udhr)" and "those offering false excuses"; it is, therefore, best rendered as "such as had some excuse to offer". The specific mention of the a'rab ("bedouin") in this and the following passages probably arises from the fact that their attitude - positive or negative-towards Islam was of the greatest importance within the context of early Muslim history, inasmuch as the message of Muhammad could not obtain a real, lasting foothold in Arabia without first securing the allegiance of those warlike nomads and half-nomads, who constituted the great majority of the Peninsula's population. At the time when the Prophet was preparing to set out towards Tabuk, many of the already-converted tribesmen were willing to go to war under his leadership (and, in fact, did so), while others were afraid lest in their absence their encampments, denuded of man-power, be raided by hostile, as yet unconverted tribes (Razi); others, again, were simply averse to exposing themselves to the hardships of a campaign in distant lands, which did not seem to them to have any bearing on their own, immediate interests.(Quran Ref: 9:90 )

Note 123 - I.e., without even caring to come to Medina and to excuse themselves.(Quran Ref: 9:90 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: All religions carry the same criteria, that if you don’t believe in the fundamentals of that particular religion, you will be punished. Why is Islam being singled out?

Again the verses in question are about the hypocrites of the time.

Mike Ghouse: The key phrase is bent on telling the lies, which is denying the truth.

#13. Don't pray for idolaters (not even for your family) after it is clear they are people of hell-fire. 113Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:113 IT DOES NOT behove the Prophet and those who have attained to faith to pray that they who ascribed divinity to aught beside God be forgiven [by Him] even though they happened to be [their] near of kin [148] -after it has been made clear unto them that those [dead sinners] are destined for the blazing fire.

Note: As is obvious from the sequence, this prohibition relates to the dead among such sinners-i.e., those who have died without repentance (Zamakhshari, Razi)-and not to those who are still living: for "a prayer for forgiveness in respect of a living [sinner] ... amounts to asking God that He grace him with His guidance ... and this is permissible" (Manar XI, 60).(Quran Ref: 9:113 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: There is no point in praying for one who has died as a polytheist, as this is an unforgivable sin. This verse was specifically revealed about the Uncle of the Prophet SAW, whom the Prophet loved very much. If the Prophet was not allowed to pray for him then how can any regular person from his followers?

Mike Ghouse: Those who do not believe in God, don't really have to worry about any punishment after death as there is no God for them to believe in the first place, prayers for them don't mean a thing. However, God's most endearing quality, that comes as a creator is kindness and grace that he or she reserves to itself. (deliberate use of words). Then he advises in the most pluralistic terms, giving respect to one's belief. Mind you, disagreement is handled in the most civil terms, putting the other person on equal footing.

109:1 SAY: "O you who deny the truth!
109:2 "I do not worship that which you worship,
109:3 and neither do you worship that which I worship!
109:4 "And I will not worship ~hat which you have [ever] worshipped,
109:6 Unto you, your moral law, and unto me, mine !

#14. Fight disbelievers who are near you, and let them see the harshness in you. 123 Mohammad Asad - At-Tauba (The Repentance)

9:123 O you who have attained to faith! Fight against those deniers of the truth who are near you, and let them find you adamant ; [163] and know that .God is with those who are conscious of Him.

Note 163- I.e., uncompromising with regard to ethical principles. For the general circumstances in which war is permitted, see 2:190-194, 22:39, 60:8-9, and the corresponding notes, as well as notes 7 and 9 on verse 5 of this surah. The reference to "those deniers of the truth who are near you" may arise from the fact that only "those who are near" can be dangerous in a physical sense or, alternatively, that - having come from afar- they have already approached the Muslim country with an aggressive intent.(Quran Ref: 9:123 )

Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh: Uncompromising rigidity in the matters of right and wrong, black and white is not something to be ashamed of. If I am not harsh in for example somebody robbing my house at night by calling the police and prosecuting those involved, what message does it give?

Mike Ghouse: How does one translate Adamant to harshness? Shows lack of freedom on the part of Neocons to question what is dished out to them. They are taking that false translation as gospel. The least they can do is see if there is another translation. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
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Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh
ICI is fortunate to have Shaikh Zia as Imam of our center. Imam Zia ul Haque Sheikh was born in Azad Kashmir, and at the age of four he migrated to England with his parents. He attended regular schools until the age of thirteen, when he enrolled in a full time Islamic school.

He memorized the Quran, and at the age of sixteen, he started an Islamic Theology course, which consisted of Arabic Syntax, Etymology and Grammar, Logic, Quranic Exegesis, Hadith Exegesis, Comparative Religions, Islamic Jurisprudence of the four main schools of thought, Foundations of Jurisprudence, Quran and Hadith, and other subjects. After extensive studying for approximately twelve years, he graduated in 1994 with a Masters in Islamic Theology. He is still engaged in various courses to further his education.

He is a founding member and Board Member of the North Texas Islamic Council, an umbrella organization representing Islamic Organizations in the North Texas Area. He is also one of the Board Members of Irving Faiths together, a group of various religious organizations, dedicated to Peace and Harmony between faiths.

He is one of the instructors at Suffa Academy in the Islamic Association of North Texas, teaching subjects such as Seerah, Aqidah, and Hadith studies.

He also conducts regular study circles at the Islamic Center of Irving, and is often invited to speak at colleges, universities, conferences and seminars.

He is actively involved in Interfaith and Dawah work.

He has served as an Imam in the USA since 1996.

Education & Other Skills:

Masters in Arabic and Islamic Theology

Memorized the complete Qur'an

Languages: Arabic, Urdu, English, Punjabi, Gujarati fluently

Has his own website : www.isaina.org

Has written a complete explanation of Imam Bukhari's Book of Iman

Hobbies & Interests:

Soccer, Weight Training, Keeping Fit, Dawah Work
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Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is president of the Foundation for Pluralism and is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing interfaith, political and civic issues. He is the founding president of World Muslim Congress with a simple theme: Good for Muslims and good for the world. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and Blogs listed at his personal website www.MikeGhouse.net. Mike is a Dallasite for nearly three decades and Carrollton is his home town. He can be reached at MikeGhouse@gmail.com

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By Grant Swank
Koran's Verses via Dutch Film
December 04, 2007 12:00 PM EST

http://www.theconservativevoice.com/article/29496.html


Geert Wilders, Dutch conservative lawmaker, has made a ten-minute film exposing the horrific passages of the Koran.

Per AP Wilders refers to the selected verses as “’fascist.’”

He does not fear being slain, claiming 24-hour protection.

Theo van Gogh, film director, made “Submission” available for public viewing. It was a “fictional study of abused Muslim women with scenes of near-naked women with Quaranic texts engraved on their flesh.”

Theo van Gogh was murdered—shot with throat slit by a Muslim extremist. His body was discovered on an Amsterdam street in 2004.

“Prominent Muslim critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who wrote the (van Gogh) screenplay, was threatened in a note left on Van Gogh's body. She now lives under round-the-clock protection in the United States.

“Wilders plans to depict parts of the Quran he says are used as inspiration ‘by bad people to do bad things.’

“Less than 10 minutes long, the film is expected to air in late January.

"It will show ‘the intolerant and fascist character of the Quran,’ said Wilders, whose anti-Islam campaign helped his Freedom Party win nine seats in parliament in last year's election.

“In the past, Wilders has said that half the Quran should be torn up and compared it with Adolf Hitler's book ‘Mein Kampf.’ He has claimed the Netherlands is being swamped by a ‘tsunami’ of Islamic immigrants.”

In other countries, there are those sympathetic with Wilders’ point of view. There is grave concern on the part of persons enjoying democracies that infiltration of extremist Islamic lifestyle, especially that built upon the sharia so-called justice system, is a real-life real-time deadly threat to civility.

Numerous persons who have researched the Koran verse-by-verse have concluded that the general public in the main is ignorant of the Allah-dictates that threaten civility. This ignorance is evident when uninformed individuals still refer to Islam as a “peace religion.”

When taking the Koran seriously as divine revelation, a superficial review of the Koran’s extremist verses is not what meshes with democracies.

A sample of extremist Koran verses includes the following:

Surah 9: Repentance

1. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve. 3
2. Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. 5
3. Don't let idolaters tend the sanctuaries. Their works are in vain and they will be burned in the Fire. 17

4. Give tiding of a painful doom to Christians and Jews. 34

5. If you refuse to fight, Allah will afflict you with a painful doom. 39

6. Disbelievers go to hell. 49

7. Those who vex the Prophet, for them there is a painful doom. 60

8. Those who oppose Allah and His messenger will burn in the fire of hell. 63

9. Allah promises hypocrites and disbelievers the fire of hell. Allah curses them. They will have a lasting torment. 68

10. Fight the disbelievers and hypocrites. Be harsh with them. They are all going to hell anyway. 73

11. Allah will afflict disbelievers with a painful doom in this world and the Hereafter. 74

12. For disbelievers there will be a painful doom. 90

13. Don't pray for idolaters (not even for your family) after it is clear they are people of hell-fire. 113

14. Fight disbelievers who are near you, and let them see the harshness in you. 123

Concerning the Dutch situation, AP reports: “Immigrants from Muslim countries number about 1 million of the country's 16 million people.

Wilders informs the media: "’I will make the film and see what reaction it creates.’"

Read "Dutch lawmaker planning film criticizing the Quran" at www.iht.com/bin/printfriendly.php?id=8512622

Send your comments to: WMCArchives@Gmail.com

Subject line write: Muslim Response to Geert Wilders
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The World Muslim Congress is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware." Our Mission is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. No one should have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it. Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator. www.WorldMuslimCongress.com

Jews turned into Apes

Jews who were turned into Apes
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/Quraan/Jews-who-were-turned-into-apes.asp
Mike Ghouse, January 21, 2008

Last night I received an email that listed “Top 10 verses Muslims wish were never revealed”. Item number 5 was this. “Qur'an 2:65 mentions that Jews who broke the Sabbath were turned into Apes.” claiming that Islamic God is anti-Semitic. I will post every one of the 10 items and hope to wrap it up by the end of this month.

As a Muslim, it offends me to read this title, and I certainly understand the pain the Jews must feel when they read this quotation. Every one is busy with their lives, rightfully so and consume the sound bites dished out to them without even wondering the veracity of it. We have seen that everywhere, facts simply don’t matter to our administration even when a Million lives have been annihilated based on wrong facts. Who has the time to find the truth?



9/11 has given a boon to writers around the globe and Islam bashing yields guaranteed returns. There is a percentage of population who are hunkering down to devour any thing anti-Islam and the hawks know where to dive for their fish. You can write anything anti-Islam and people will donate the money. Look it up, every website that writes hate asks for money. It is precisely this ganging up for making money that turned me towards finding the truth several years ago and now, this year, 2008, I have made a commitment to address those 60 or some verses that are routinely misquoted as a part of the propaganda.

I understood the concept of Pluralism. It has been around for thousands of years in India and one of the greatest Kings of India, rightly called Akbar the great, was perhaps the first one in the world to sponsor such an effort. I learned from Bhagvad Gita a verse, that has become a part of my system “finding the truth is one’s own responsibility”. I have written quite extensively on it, but for now I will get back to the verse above.

“Qur'an 2:65 mentions that Jews who broke the Sabbath were turned into Apes.”

I clicked on the link provided just for 2:65 –it took me to the University of Southern California's website http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/002.qmt.html#002.065

I looked for that sentence, it was not there. By giving the link, people are duped into believing that what is said is authentic. This is not the only one, there are at least 60 of them that are in the propaganda machine.

Islamicity is where I go to check any verse in Qur’aan, it is an authentic Islamic website. You can go to the Qur’aan search and plug in the verse number and out comes the verse in Arabic, followed by transliteration and the English translation by Mohammad Asad, a respected scholar.

The first item to check was the translation by Hilali Khan, the only one who adds words that aren’t there. To my amazement the word Jew was not plugged in his version of the translation either. The Arabic which I can read, does not say that either.

Religions emerged to allay individual fears and bring a balance in one's life and peace for the society. It is time for us to strip the wrongs people have ascribed to religion, indeed every religion, and find the truth for ourselves. I cannot believe that the Universities and responsible Governments have not undertaken the research to dismantle the false castles of hate from the past.

In the interest of peace and co-existence, it is time for all of us to get together and find the truth. If these hate mongers can spend their time and monies in promoting peace, we would be better off. I have begun a page at www.WorldMuslimCongress.com - on the panel Qur'aan-information to capture every verse that is maligned.. On some, I will go indepth, at least I am going to quote what is out there in the books. I was amazed this website had the gall to point to the right verse number, but misquote the verse.

God bless us all - here is the info.

Propaganda Verse : Qur'an 2:65 mentions that Jews who broke the Sabbath were turned into Apes.

Here is the real verse with seventeen translations.

Al-Baqara (The Cow) 2:65 ولقد علمتم الذين اعتدوا منكم في السبت فقلنا لهم كونوا قردة خاسئين

2:65 for you are well aware of those from among you who profaned the Sabbath, whereupon We said unto them, "Be as apes despicable!"

al-Baqarah 002:065

Transliteration

Walaqad AAalimtumu allatheena iAAtadaw minkum fee alssabti faqulna lahum koonoo qiradatan khasi-eena

Literal: And you had known those who transgressed/violated from you in the Saturday/Sabbath, so We said to them: "Be lowly/ousted out monkeys/apes ."

Yusuf Ali: And well ye knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."

Pickthal: And ye know of those of you who broke the Sabbath, how We said unto them: Be ye apes, despised and hated!

Arberry: And well you know there were those among you that transgressed the Sabbath, and We said to them, 'Be you apes, miserably slinking!'

Shakir : And certainly you have known those among you who exceeded the limits of the Sabbath, so We said to them: Be (as) apes, despised and hated.

Sarwar : You certainly knew about those among you who were transgressors on the Sabbath. We commanded them, "Become detested apes,"

Khalifa : You have known about those among you who desecrated the Sabbath. We said to them, "Be you as despicable as apes."

Hilali/Khan : And indeed you knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath (i.e. Saturday). We said to them: "Be you monkeys, despised and rejected."

H/K/Saheeh :And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the sabbath, and We said to them, "Be apes, despised."

Malik: You very well know the story of those of you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath; We ordered them: "Be detested apes".[65]

QXP :And you are well aware of those of you who broke the Sabbath, whereupon We said unto them, "Be as apes despicable!"

Maulana Ali: And indeed you know those among you who violated the Sabbath, so We said to them: Be (as) apes, despised and hated.

Free Minds: You have come to know who it was amongst you that transgressed the Sabbath, We said to them: "Be despicable apes!"

Qaribullah: You have surely known of those amongst you who transgressed the Sabbath. We said to them: 'Be apes, despised! '

George Sale: Moreover ye know what befall those of your nation who transgressed on the sabbath day; we said unto them, be ye changed into apes, driven away from the society of men.

JM Rodwell: Ye know too those of you who transgressed on the Sabbath, and to whom we said, "Be changed into scouted apes:"

Asad: for you are well aware of those from among you who profaned the Sabbath, whereupon We said unto them, "Be as apes despicable!" -


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Send your comments to: WMCArchives@Gmail.com

In the subject line, please write: Jews who were turned into Apes


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The World Muslim Congress is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware." Our Mission is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. No one should have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it. Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator. www.WorldMuslimCongress.com

Quraan Reading

QUR'AAN READINg

By Tariq Ramadan, and comments by Mike Ghouse and others - discussion was carried at: to join the group, send an email to: WorldMuslimCongress-subscribe@yahoogroups.com - A group of about 1500+2000 individual members from all faiths and backgrounds. Please read our mission below. Islam and Qur'aan belong to every one as other faiths and religions. No one owns them, let's not attempt to monopolize a religion or the holy book. If we drop exclusive ownership of God, Religion and the books, we will have fewer conflicts.


This 200 word item was sent to New York Times - Further comments are below the article.


Agree with Mr. Ramadan that one should prime the knowledge with a different book before reading Qur’aan. I highly recommend Karen Armstrong’s book Muhammad, the book that changed my perspectives.



Glad to see the assertion, “The Koran belongs to everyone, free of distinction and of hierarchy.” Indeed, none of the holy books should belong to any one in particular, their message if for the whole humanity.



Approaches to studying Qur’aan vary. I believe if we can study from the point of view of a guidance book to humanity and in the light of co-existence, then we see a common sense develop, that is on par and reflective of the goodness emitted in Qur’aan.



The key is your orientation. There is beautiful verse in Qur'aan, Al-Inshiqaq, Surah 84:7-15: Each person will be given a book. Those who are given their books in their right hands (understanding the book correctly) will be judged leniently; and they will return to their people joyfully. But those who are given their books in their left hands (misunderstanding) will call their own destruction on themselves, and burn in the fire of hell. There are the people who have never cared for their neighbors; they thought they would never return to God. Their Lord watches all that people do.



There is a clear distinction between the word of God and its interpretation. Interpretation is human and is subject to one’s disposition, whereas the word of God is the final word. It is incredible how some of them are deliberately mistranslated by Crusaders and the defenders. Much of the jumping the Neocon jacks do is based on those cruel misrepresentations, which they have built their theories on those false foundations. Thank God there are over 20 translations on the market now.



http://www.mikeghouse.net/Articles/Reform-or-Understand-Islam.asp

Reading the Koran

By TARIQ RAMADAN, January 6, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/books/review/Ramadan-t.html?_r=2&ref=books&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

For Muslims the Koran stands as the Text of reference, the source and the essence of the message transmitted to humanity by the creator. It is the last of a lengthy series of revelations addressed to humans down through history. It is the Word of God — but it is not God. The Koran makes known, reveals and guides: it is a light that responds to the quest for meaning. The Koran is remembrance of all previous messages, those of Noah and Abraham, of Moses and Jesus. Like them, it reminds and instructs our consciousness: life has meaning, facts are signs.

It is the Book of all Muslims the world over. But paradoxically, it is not the first book someone seeking to know Islam should read. (A life of the Prophet or any book presenting Islam would be a better introduction.) For it is both extremely simple and deeply complex. The nature of the spiritual, human, historical and social teachings to be drawn from it can be understood at different levels. The Text is one, but its readings are multiple.

For the woman or the man whose heart has made the message of Islam its own, the Koran speaks in a singular way. It is both the Voice and the Path. God speaks to one’s innermost being, to his consciousness, to his heart, and guides him onto the path that leads to knowledge of him, to the meeting with him: “This is the Book, about it there can be no doubt; it is a Path for those who are aware of God.” More than a mere text, it is a traveling companion to be chanted, to be sung or to be heard.

Throughout the Muslim world, in mosques, in homes and in the streets, one can hear magnificent voices reciting the divine Words. Here, there can be no distinction between religious scholars (ulema) and laymen. The Koran speaks to each in his language, accessibly, as if to match his intelligence, his heart, his questions, his joy as well as his pain. This is what the ulema have termed reading or listening as adoration. As Muslims read or hear the Text, they strive to suffuse themselves with the spiritual dimension of its message: beyond time, beyond history and the millions of beings who populate the earth, God is speaking to each of them, calling and reminding each of them, inviting, guiding, counseling and commanding. God responds, to her, to him, to the heart of each: with no intermediary, in the deepest intimacy.

No need for studies and diplomas, for masters and guides. Here, as we take our first steps, God beckons us with the simplicity of his closeness. The Koran belongs to everyone, free of distinction and of hierarchy. God responds to whoever comes to his Word. It is not rare to observe women and men, poor and rich, educated and illiterate, Eastern and Western, falling silent, staring into the distance, lost in thought, stepping back, weeping. The search for meaning has encountered the sacred, God is near: “Indeed, I am close at hand. I answer the call of him who calls me when s/he calls.”

A dialogue has begun. An intense, permanent, constantly renewed dialogue between a Book that speaks the infinite simplicity of the adoration of the One, and the heart that makes the intense effort necessary to liberate itself, to meet him. At the heart of every heart’s striving lies the Koran. It holds out peace and initiates into liberty.

Indeed, the Koran may be read at several levels, in quite distinct fields. But first, the reader must be aware of how the Text has been constructed. The Koran was revealed in sequences of varying length, sometimes as entire chapters (suras), over a span of 23 years. In its final form, the Text follows neither a chronological nor strictly thematic order. Two things initially strike the reader: the repetition of Prophetic stories, and the formulas and information that refer to specific historical situations that the Koran does not elucidate. Understanding, at this first level, calls for a twofold effort on the part of the reader: though repetition is, in a spiritual sense, a reminder and a revivification, in an intellectual sense it leads us to attempt to reconstruct. The stories of Eve and Adam, or of Moses, are repeated several times over with differing though noncontradictory elements: the task of human intelligence is to recompose the narrative structure, to bring together all the elements, allowing us to grasp the facts.

But we must also take into account the context to which these facts refer: all commentators, without distinction as to school of jurisprudence, agree that certain verses of the revealed Text (in particular, but not only, those that refer to war) speak of specific situations that had arisen at the moment of their revelation. Without taking historical contingency into account, it is impossible to obtain general information on this or that aspect of Islam. In such cases, our intelligence is invited to observe the facts, to study them in reference to a specific environment and to derive principles from them. It is a demanding task, which requires study, specialization and extreme caution. Or to put it differently, extreme intellectual modesty.

The second level is no less demanding. The Koranic text is, first and foremost, the promulgation of a message whose content has, above all, a moral dimension. On each page we behold the ethics, the underpinnings, the values and the hierarchy of Islam taking shape. In this light, a linear reading is likely to disorient the reader and to give rise to incoherence, even contradiction. It is appropriate, in our efforts to determine the moral message of Islam, to approach the Text from another angle. While the stories of the Prophets are drawn from repeated narrations, the study of ethical categories requires us, first, to approach the message in the broadest sense, then to derive the principles and values that make up the moral order. The methods to be applied at this second level are exactly the opposite of the first, but they complete it, making it possible for religious scholars to advance from the narration of a prophetic story to the codification of its spiritual and ethical teaching.

But there remains a third level, which demands full intellectual and spiritual immersion in the Text, and in the revealed message. Here, the task is to derive the Islamic prescriptions that govern matters of faith, of religious practice and of its fundamental precepts. In a broader sense, the task is to determine the laws and rules that will make it possible for all Muslims to have a frame of reference for the obligations, the prohibitions, the essential and secondary matters of religious practice, as well as those of the social sphere. A simple reading of the Koran does not suffice: not only is the study of Koranic science a necessity, but knowledge of segments of the prophetic tradition is essential. One cannot, on a simple reading of the Koran, learn how to pray. We must turn to authenticated prophetic tradition to determine the rules and the body movements of prayer.

As we can see, this third level requires singular knowledge and competence that can only be acquired by extensive, exhaustive study of the texts, their surrounding environment and, of course, intimate acquaintance with the classic and secular tradition of the Islamic sciences. It is not merely dangerous but fundamentally erroneous to generalize about what Muslims must and must not do based on a simple reading of the Koran. Some Muslims, taking a literalist or dogmatic approach, have become enmeshed in utterly false and unacceptable interpretations of the Koranic verses, which they possess neither the means, nor on occasion the intelligence, to place in the perspective of the overarching message. Some orientalists, sociologists and non-Muslim commentators follow their example by extracting from the Koran certain passages, which they then proceed to analyze in total disregard for the methodological tools employed by the ulema.

Above and beyond these distinct levels of reading, we must take into account the different interpretations put forward by the great Islamic classical tradition. It goes without saying that all Muslims consider the Koran to be the final divine revelation. But going back to the direct experience of the Companions of the Prophet, it has always been clear that the interpretation of its verses is plural in nature, and that there has always existed an accepted diversity of readings among Muslims.

Some have falsely claimed that because Muslims believe the Koran to be the word of God, interpretation and reform are impossible. This belief is then cited as the reason why a historical and critical approach cannot be applied to the revealed Text. The development of the sciences of the Koran — the methodological tools fashioned and wielded by the ulema and the history of Koranic commentary — prove such a conclusion baseless. Since the beginning, the three levels outlined above have led to a cautious approach to the texts, one that obligates whoever takes up the task to be in harmony with his era and to renew his comprehension. Dogmatic and often mummified, hidebound readings clearly reflect not upon the Author of the Text, but upon the intelligence and psychology of the person reading it. Just as we can read the work of a human author, from Marx to Keynes, in closed-minded and rigid fashion, we can approach divine revelation in a similar manner. Instead, we should be at once critical, open-minded and incisive. The history of Islamic civilization offers us ample proof of this.

When dealing with the Koran, it is neither appropriate nor helpful to draw lines of demarcation between approaches of the heart and of the mind. All the masters of Koranic studies without exception have emphasized the importance of the spiritual dimension as a necessary adjunct to the intellectual investigation of the meaning of the Koran. The heart possesses its own intelligence: “Have they not hearts with which to understand,” the Koran calls out to us, as if to point out that the light of intellect alone is not enough. The Muslim tradition, from the legal specialists to the Sufi mystics, has continuously oscillated between these two poles: the intelligence of the heart sheds the light by which the intelligence of the mind observes, perceives and derives meaning. As sacred word, the Text contains much that is apparent; it also contains the secrets and silences that nearness to the divine reveals to the humble, pious, contemplative intelligence. Reason opens the Book and reads it — but it does so in the company of the heart, of spirituality.

For the Muslim’s heart and conscience, the Koran is the mirror of the universe. What the first Western translators, influenced by the biblical vocabulary, rendered as “verse” means, literally, “sign” in Arabic. The revealed Book, the written Text, is made up of signs, in the same way that the universe, in the image of a text spread out before our eyes, abounds with these very signs. When the intelligence of the heart — and not analytical intelligence alone — reads the Koran and the world, the two speak to one another, echo one another; each one speaks of the other and of the Unique One. The signs remind us of meaning: of birth, of life, of feeling, of thought, of death.

But the echo is deeper still, and summons human intelligence to understand revelation, creation and their harmony. Just as the universe possesses its fundamental laws and its finely regulated order — which humans, wherever they may be, must respect when acting upon their environment — the Koran lays down laws, a moral code and a body of practice that Muslims must respect, whatever their era and their environment. These are the invariables of the universe, and of the Koran. Religious scholars use the term qat’i (“definitive,” “not subject to interpretation”) when they refer to the Koranic verses (or to the authenticated Prophetic tradition, ahadith) whose formulation is clear and explicit and offers no latitude for figurative interpretation. In like manner, creation itself rests upon universal laws that we cannot ignore. The consciousness of the believer likens the five pillars of Islam to the laws of gravitation: they constitute an earthly reality beyond space and time.

As the universe is in constant motion, rich in an infinite diversity of species, beings, civilizations, cultures and societies, so too is the Koran. In the latitude of interpretation offered by the majority of its verses, by the generality of the principles and actions that it promulgates with regard to social affairs, by the silences that run through it, the Koran allows human intelligence to grasp the evolution of history, the multiplicity of languages and cultures, and thus to insinuate itself into the windings of time and the landscapes of space.

Some have falsely claimed that because Muslims believe the Koran to be the word of God, interpretation and reform are impossible. This belief is then cited as the reason why a historical and critical approach cannot be applied to the revealed Text. The development of the sciences of the Koran — the methodological tools fashioned and wielded by the ulema and the history of Koranic commentary — prove such a conclusion baseless. Since the beginning, the three levels outlined above have led to a cautious approach to the texts, one that obligates whoever takes up the task to be in harmony with his era and to renew his comprehension. Dogmatic and often mummified, hidebound readings clearly reflect not upon the Author of the Text, but upon the intelligence and psychology of the person reading it. Just as we can read the work of a human author, from Marx to Keynes, in closed-minded and rigid fashion, we can approach divine revelation in a similar manner. Instead, we should be at once critical, open-minded and incisive. The history of Islamic civilization offers us ample proof of this.

When dealing with the Koran, it is neither appropriate nor helpful to draw lines of demarcation between approaches of the heart and of the mind. All the masters of Koranic studies without exception have emphasized the importance of the spiritual dimension as a necessary adjunct to the intellectual investigation of the meaning of the Koran. The heart possesses its own intelligence: “Have they not hearts with which to understand,” the Koran calls out to us, as if to point out that the light of intellect alone is not enough. The Muslim tradition, from the legal specialists to the Sufi mystics, has continuously oscillated between these two poles: the intelligence of the heart sheds the light by which the intelligence of the mind observes, perceives and derives meaning. As sacred word, the Text contains much that is apparent; it also contains the secrets and silences that nearness to the divine reveals to the humble, pious, contemplative intelligence. Reason opens the Book and reads it — but it does so in the company of the heart, of spirituality.

For the Muslim’s heart and conscience, the Koran is the mirror of the universe. What the first Western translators, influenced by the biblical vocabulary, rendered as “verse” means, literally, “sign” in Arabic. The revealed Book, the written Text, is made up of signs, in the same way that the universe, in the image of a text spread out before our eyes, abounds with these very signs. When the intelligence of the heart — and not analytical intelligence alone — reads the Koran and the world, the two speak to one another, echo one another; each one speaks of the other and of the Unique One. The signs remind us of meaning: of birth, of life, of feeling, of thought, of death.

But the echo is deeper still, and summons human intelligence to understand revelation, creation and their harmony. Just as the universe possesses its fundamental laws and its finely regulated order — which humans, wherever they may be, must respect when acting upon their environment — the Koran lays down laws, a moral code and a body of practice that Muslims must respect, whatever their era and their environment. These are the invariables of the universe, and of the Koran. Religious scholars use the term qat’i (“definitive,” “not subject to interpretation”) when they refer to the Koranic verses (or to the authenticated Prophetic tradition, ahadith) whose formulation is clear and explicit and offers no latitude for figurative interpretation. In like manner, creation itself rests upon universal laws that we cannot ignore. The consciousness of the believer likens the five pillars of Islam to the laws of gravitation: they constitute an earthly reality beyond space and time.

As the universe is in constant motion, rich in an infinite diversity of species, beings, civilizations, cultures and societies, so too is the Koran. In the latitude of interpretation offered by the majority of its verses, by the generality of the principles and actions that it promulgates with regard to social affairs, by the silences that run through it, the Koran allows human intelligence to grasp the evolution of history, the multiplicity of languages and cultures, and thus to insinuate itself into the windings of time and the landscapes of space.

Tariq Ramadan is a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford and at Erasmus University in the Netherlands.


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Comments:

Marylou - Reading Qur'aan

<<< The key is your orientation. There is beautiful verse in Qur'aan, Al-Inshiqaq, Surah 84:7-15: Each person will be given a book. Those who are given their books in their right hands (understanding the book correctly) will be judged leniently; and they will return to their people joyfully. But those who are given their books in their left hands (misunderstanding) will call their own destruction on themselves, and burn in the fire of hell. There are the people who have never cared for their neighbors; they thought they would never return to God. Their Lord watches all that people do. >>>

Mike, First question -- our understanding of this would be that God does NOT punish, but we reap the consequences of our own ignorance, therefore, we have no fear of God, but we do fear the consequences of our ignorance, thus we pray for enlightenment. Is Islam saying that in addition to reaping the consequences of our ignorance, there is additional punishment from God? Also, I assume that "burning in hell fire" is a metaphor?

Mike Ghouse: No, there is no additional punishment from God. No one needs to fear God. God has established great systems that run precisely on their own. What we need to fear is the consequences for our ignorance, which are set. However, God may see the good things we do, unawares of ourselves and may grace us with peace in his kingdom, that is purely discretionary, but if we have done good to others, treated others as we would wanted to be treated, then there is no fear of any kind. All are guaranteed a pass to an eternal blissful state of existence – which has come to be known as Heaven.

Marylou: "There is a clear distinction between the word of God and its interpretation. Interpretation is human and is subject to one’s disposition" We agree -- that’s why Jesus said to "call no man our authority on earth; we have one authority who is in heaven." As Christians, we are to question interpretations of the Bible we don't understand or agree with another's interpretation, and ask God for personal insight.

Mike Ghouse: Indeed, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had said in his last sermon, I am leaving this book (Qur’aan) to you to understand it on your own. He further said that no one is going to be appointed to interpret this book for you. If we are going to be accountable for our deeds, then the burden is on us to understand, not blame any one else. Individual responsibility is huge in Islamic teachings, it is further clarified that on the day of reckoning, no one will be there to give you a hand, you are on your own, and your parents are figuring it out for themselves as your kids are. I will sum with a verse from the Hindu scriptures – finding the truth is your own responsibility.

Marylou: How do Muslims deal with interpretation? Do they rely solely on Imams? What if Imams differ? Who is the final authority as to what is the "word of God"?

Mike Ghouse: Like any discipline, business or an act of life, we look for guidance from the experienced ones; religion is no different. There is no final authority on what is God’s word, there is final responsibility though – that is the individual. Occasionally there is talk about the Caliph – it is really a pipe dream, as Islam does not give room for middlemen or women between God and us. No one’s interpretation is final. You are responsible for creating peace within and around you, if your actions fail; you are responsible, if you do well, you should be proud of it.

Caveat: The Shia denomination and its sub-denominations do give room for their Imam to interpret the religion for them and it works for them. Following the imam does bring the peace within and around oneself, as the entire group follows the same rule. In the Sunni tradition there is respect for the imam, but his word is not final.

In Sunni or Shia dominated nations, Sharia laws are instituted, theoretically they will work if every one were to follow the same rules. Sharia laws are not from God, but made by men for men …for the sake of keeping the sanity and a balance in a given society. The laws are extremely sensitive, some time it is hair splitting and sadly have led to abuse by the enforcers and hence Sharia gets a bad rap.

Most of the Sharia laws are ‘how to’ rules interpreted from Qur’aan and are appreciated. Mistakes have been made and there is no consensus on the logistics of following issues; Divorce, Apostasy, Conversions and Treatment of Women. Community at large needs to review this issue seriously. Missing which will tempt the newer generation to paint the whole Sharia laws with a negative label.

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Shamim Siddiqi

My Dear Br Ghouse, ASA

"Coexistence" is a very vague and extremely relative terminology. It means that necessarily all the constituents are at par, enjoying equal rights have no fear from anyone or nay side and all have equal opportunities to live together. If the situation is not such, it would be a farce, a misnomer, an illusion and a self deception. I wish you could first have strive hard to attain that "blessed" society and environment in this "half-fed-half naked" world that stands full of totally exploited communities/people in this country and around the continents of Asia, Europe,, Africa and S America. You may be nurturing a wish but on false premises and erratic presumptions

Let us first try to deliver Justice to suffering humanity at all levels. Then please desire for your cherished "coexistence" and for that justice humanity has to be obedient to its Creator and Sustainer and feel always accountable to Him after death. Only with this message you will be able to deliver justice, establish peace and security on the abode of man. Only then they will be able to live in peace and coexist together, not before that.

Hope you will please adjust your motto and be more realistic. We all are struggling for the same cause and therefore should not stand at pole asunder.

With best regards.

Mike Ghouse - Brother Shamim your comments are appreciated. Co-existence is the goal we all need to drive towards, certainly with liberty and justice for all. Co-existence is learning to accept other people’s rights, and acknowledging the areas of conflict and working our best to let the conflicts not destroy each other.

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From: Rashid Samnakay - Reading Qur'aan | Alliance of Civilizations

Mike, Salaams
How right you are.

” Indeed, none of the holy books should belong to any one in particular, their message if for the whole humanity”. You said. But Quran does refer to annaas and baniadama! Humanity and mankind (to the surprise of Muslims women are included too).

Why it is different? The problems are manifold but some are so obvious:

- The falsified holiness of Arabic (and every thing Arab including their country and dress)
- Have done the wadhu if not shower before one touches the book. Such rigmarole! No wonder few Muslims read it let alone understand it.
- Monopolizing it for Muslims only. That is why it is not placed in hotels as is the Bible.
- Very few translations in other languages and commentaries out side the regurgitated ancient tafsirs.

What is required for Muslims is to assert that Islam is a set of universal values and a Muslim is one who submits to these values. THEREFORE QURAN IS NOT A MUSLIM BIBLE FULL OF CHURCH DOGMAS to be propagated by priests but every human being. Additionally it is no a monopoly of scholars- religious ulemas or Theological PhDs.

It is every body's business. It is a Highway code for who ever drives on the motorway of communal/social/national life.

Mike Ghouse - Thanks Rashid, most of the stuff you are talking about is cultural - doing wadu before reading Qur'aan is a good idea, it is showing respect and it also transfers one from one mood to the other. Yep, as long as what one does is to achieve peace within and without, no one can go wrong. Treat others as you would wanted to be treated. The being (there isn't a being) of God does not change no matter what name you call him (her or it) upon. We cannot limit God or confine God into words. God is limitless, un-confinable and indefinable. Most people are comfortable with the usage of the word God to refer to the creator... A few are comfortable calling him Allah. One may feel more sanctimonious with one word or the other... that is fine too.

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To be a a Muslim is to be a peace maker; one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures Goodwill for a harmonious co-existence and world peace - God desires his creation to be in peace. Mike Ghouse



The World Muslim Congress is driven by the Qur'an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: "O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware." Our Mission is to work for a world of co-existence through inclusiveness and participation. As a member of diverse family of faiths, our efforts will be directed towards justice and equity to attain peace for the humankind with a firm grounding in commonly held values. No one should have advantages at the cost of others. Such benefits are temporary and deleterious to lasting peace. We believe what is good for Muslims has got to be good for the world, and vice versa, to sustain it. Indeed we aspire to promote goodwill amongst people of different affiliations, regardless of their faith, gender, race, nationality, culture or any other uniqueness blessed by the creator. www.WorldMuslimCongress.com