Wednesday, September 4, 2013

how to do Q&A with revelation?

I was a 3 years old little girl when I started reading the Qur'an. Every time I would complete the recitation of a page in Arabic and close my gigantic bind copy almost as big as myself to run off to play, I would see to my complete awe and delight a round piece of chocolate wrapped in golden paper appear out of nowhere under the bind. I would exclaim "where did this come from!?" and daddy would tell me every time: "the angels brought you the chocolate because they liked your reading the Qur'an." Of course, even though he was the one sticking the chocolate under the Qur'an, he was still telling the truth.

I think this was one of the things that taught me to be excited with gratefulness at the miracle of creation through angels--the energy between matter and the figurative Creating hand, the aspect of things that look to the Divine Attributes of Beauty encompassed by Divine Mercy and Compassion. (consider that the cocoa beans and the abilities of the humans necessary to make a wrapped chocolate out of the cocoa beans are both from their Creator, the Creator of the unified creation, a cosmic space we and the cocoa beans both breath from and into.)
see this video for an attempt into understanding angels in this way:
or in short:

However, this non-tangible and fantastical sounding approach should be coupled with learning how to do, essentially, Q&A sessions with the Qur'an with empirical methodology. In fact, the Qur'an teaches us how to ask questions to it and how to verify its authenticity itself, through its challenges and advice to humanity.

Consider these verses that call humans to observe, think, meditate, learn and travel, and these verses are just a few selections of many more. The more frequent repetition of a concept in the Qur'an stresses the relative importance of the matter compared to such practical and other matters that are often mentioned only once or twice.

32:27 (Asad) Are they not aware that it is We who drive the rain onto dry land devoid of herbage, and thereby bring forth herbage of which their cattle and they themselves do eat? Can they not, then, see [the truth of resurrection]?

36:68 (Asad) But [let them always remember that] if We lengthen a human being’s days, We also cause him to decline in his powers [when he grows old]: will they not, then, use their reason?

12:109 (Asad) And [even] before thy time, We never sent [as Our apostles] any but [mortal] men, whom We inspired, [and whom We always chose] from among the people of the [very] communities [to whom the message was to be brought]. [105] Have, then, they [who reject this divine writ] never journeyed about the earth and beheld what happened in the end to those [deniers of the truth] who lived before them?-and [do they not know that] to those who are conscious of God the life in the hereafter is indeed better [than this world]? Will they not, then, use their reason?

6:50 (Asad) Say [O Prophet]: "I do not say unto you, 'God's treasures are with me,'; nor [do I say], 'I know the things that are beyond the reach of human perception'; nor do I say unto you, 'Behold, I am an angel': I but follow what is revealed to me." [38] Say: "Can the blind and the seeing be deemed equal? [39] Will you not, then, take thought?

96:1 (Asad) READ [1] in the name of thy Sustainer, who has
96:2 (Asad) created man out of a germ-cell [2]
96:3 (Asad) Read - for thy Sustainer is the Most Bountiful One
96:4 (Asad) who has taught [man] the use of the pen 
96:5 (Asad) taught man what he did not know! [3] 
96:6 (Asad) Nay, verily, man becomes grossly overweening
96:7 (Asad) whenever he believes himself to be self-sufficient:
96:8 (Asad) for, behold, unto thy Sustainer all must return. [4]

3:137 (Asad) [MANY] WAYS of life have passed away before your time.[98] Go, then, about the earth and behold what happened in the end to those who gave the lie to the truth:

6:11 (Asad) Say: "Go all over the earth, and behold what happened in the end to those who gave the lie to the truth!" 

16:36 (Asad) And indeed, within every community [33] have We raised up an apostle [entrusted with this message]: "Worship God, and shun the powers of evil!" [34] And among those [past generations] were people whom God graced with His guidance, [35] just as there was among them [many a one] who inevitably fell prey to grievous error: [36] go, then, about the earth and behold what happened in the end to those who gave the lie to the truth!

27:69 (Asad) Say: “Go all over the earth and behold what happened in the end to those [who were thus] lost in sin!” [66] 

29:20 (Asad) Say: “Go all over the earth and behold how [wondrously] He has created [man] in the first in­stance: and thus, too, will God bring into being your second life for, verily, God has the power to will anything![15] 

30:42 (Asad) Say: “Go all over the earth, and behold what happened in the end to those [sinners] who lived before [you]: most of them were wont to ascribe divine qualities to things or beings other than God.” [40] 

Also consider this verse challenging us to replicate a fly, or to even just take back what the fly takes from us (such as when mosquitoes suck on us):

22:73 (Asad) O MEN! A parable is set forth [herewith]; hearken, then, to it! Behold, those beings whom you invoke instead of God cannot create [as much as] a fly, even were they to join all their forces to that end! And if a fly robs them of anything, they cannot [even] rescue it from him! Weak indeed is the seeker, and [weak] the sought!

We are of course here reminded of our position of createdness and stemming from it our ajz (weakness) before God, but God only. We are also reminded to reflect upon creation and to use our reasoning based on such empirical observation when deciding who to hail as our god. Will it be money and material, bank accounts and assets, jewelry and art collections, political and mediatic power, doctors and medicine, technology, gravity and other laws of creation, good luck and chance that we will expect nourishment, salvation, protection, continuation of our existence, the meeting of our needs and desires from, or will it be the One Creator of all that is and all that can be conceived of? And God provides us with the tool of discerning the right from the wrong: anything that cannot create something insofar as even a fly, is not worthy of worship.

Consider as well this verse challenging the readers to replicate the undisputedly superior eloquence by far surpassing any of the Arabic literary rivals of the Qur'an and its unique style, not in its entirety but only a portion of it. Subsequently revealed verses gradually reduce the challenge up from 10 chapters down to eventually a single chapter (surah). This challenge has yet to be met or to even be claimed to have been met. When these verses were revealed the best Arabic poets came together in councils in an attempt to imitate the eloquence of the Qur'an and failed self-admittedly. The fact that for 14 centuries the challenge has stood unmet is one of many proofs of the uniqueness of the Qur'an as divine speech, unadulterated by any form of human interventions, proof that Prophet Muhammad nicknamed as a young man as "al-Ameen" "the Trustworthy" before his prophethood, was neither a poet lying about his prophethood nor a crazy man in delusion of receiving divine revelation.  

2:23 (Asad) And if you doubt any part of what We have, bestowed from on high, step by step, upon Our servant [Muhammad], [14] then produce a surah of similar merit, and call upon any other than God to bear witness for you [15] -if what you say is true!

Here we are not shunned for our doubts, but instead we are asked to take experimental action to evaluate whether our doubts have a true basis or not. If we can produce ourselves or get others (a team of the best literature professors or poets) to produce a chapter of similar eloquence (not even of better eloquence! just similar), then, both the Qur'an's challenge has failed disproving its infallible divine source and I have proven that the Qur'an could have conceivably been written by a human. And if I fail at producing this, then I can once again confirm, now with all doubts removed from my heart that the Qur'an is the divine word. The doubt itself then becomes a tool to solidify and increase our imaan bil ghayb (belief with conviction and certainty in that which cannot be perceived with the 5 senses).

Qur'an translation by Leopold Weiss Muhammad Asad from

This can be used as khutbah or speech material

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