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 Topic: Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation

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  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #30 - June 24, 2016, 07:38 PM

    Hi Wahhabist. For my part my post above wasn't intended as an attack on what you're trying to do here, which, to me as an outsider, seems interesting and worthwhile. Apologies if it didn't come across that way.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #31 - June 27, 2016, 07:27 PM

    I appreciate what you have collected and displayed here

     I think you will find that what I have posted is more than merely collecting and displaying (Joking).

    Seriously though, those who passionately insist that we, Ex Muslims, are internal and partial to the divinity-based Ummah, in the sense that we somehow have a reformative role to play, should at least buy shares in textual evidence when it comes to Islam. Otherwise, it is always going to be what the Arabs indelicately call "حوار الطرشان" aka 'the [spoken] dialogue of the dumb'.

    Further, it has long been my contention that the sun is the best disinfectant; if anyone faithfully translates what you call the (Islamic) canon into English, then more than the half of your flexibility work would be done.

    This is because you must've come across the notion that one cannot complete one's Islam without learning (classical) Arabic.

    Such an approach is trying to summarise and subsume the massive majority of the Ummah (i.e. non-Arab Muslims) into the minority (i.e. the Arabs who constitute 200 or so million people).

    This reduction is not dissimilar in its theoretical impoverishment to trying to force 1.6 billion people to become mere disposable copies of one man called Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Abdulmutallab, who was from the mercantile Arabian tribe of Quraysh.

    I act funny when I smell elitism or the prevailing intellectual gate-keeping (التزكية) where Muslims and others ignore what anyone says in favour of who they really are (My grandma died on the Tijaniyyah order in Madina believing so much that she was the chosen of the chosen that she once told me all she had needed to do to go to Jannah was to simply die).

    Out of the four mainstream Sunni Mazhaabs, only Abu-Hanifa was of the opinion that saying "Allah is Great" in any human language is a valid substitution to the Arabic "Allahu Akbar" when a Muslim starts their daily prayers.

    Abu-Hanifa looks as though he concerned himself with the universal meaning and ideals of Islamic monotheism, rather than investing undue importance and supranatural powers in the particularity of the Arab-centric nature of Islam as it has become codified and accepted.

    Whatever we come up with, in terms of arguments, we cannot do away with the textual inside traditional arguments either with ourselves as Ex Muslims or Muslims in general.

    I take a leaf from what Muhammad is reported to have said in Sahih al-Bukhari regarding such an approach:

    حدثوا الناس بما يفهمون ، أتريدون أن يٌكذبَ الله ورسوله

    "Talk or tell people about Islam that which they comprehend or understand; do you want Allah and his Messenger to be disbelieved?!"

    P.S. I'm still struggling to get access to a computer keyboard because I'm moving house. Wish me luck my dear, and wait for me at dawn on the highest earthly summit for I will strive not to let you down X  
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #32 - June 27, 2016, 08:15 PM

    Hi Wahhabist. For my part my post above wasn't intended as an attack on what you're trying to do here, which, to me as an outsider, seems interesting and worthwhile. Apologies if it didn't come across that way.

     Zeca, so far, yours is the only contribution which is capable of enriching this thread. I often learn new things from reading what you post. I did not feel attacked by your part.

    If anyone, it was me who has more than once registered resistance against and questioned the wisdom of what I can now unambiguously refer to as the outside arguments. These outside arguments tend to be universal in their applicability when it comes to organised irreason in all its manifestations. 

    My questioning of their wisdom in relation to Muhammad is not to say that these outside arguments are less valid or important when it comes to those whose investigatory activity on the origins of the Qur’an and Islam is a purely theoretical thrill. Sadly enough, such apparent a luxury was not afforded me or a lot of divinity-based Muslims as well as Ex Muslims.

    If I’m being completely honest about your part, then I'd say it’s not very helpful in such a discussion to raise the historicity of its subject.

    If Muhammad might not have existed or existed as found in the textual evidence, then what are you, Wahhabist, trying to achieve by treating him otherwise?

    I treat him otherwise because Muhammad had existed for me and others here. Muhammad did exist for 1.6 billion people as a matter of historical absolute. indeed, Muhammad does exist in today’s informal world, at least, as far as his lèse-majesté is concerned.

    Anyway, stick around and thanks a bunch for apologising when you really did not need or have to X
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #33 - June 27, 2016, 08:39 PM

    A telling digression:

    Today, I was talking to a Muslim friend who’s helping me with decorating my new flat; I told him about my writing something on and thinking about Muhammad’s illiteracy.

    He did not know about the Bukhari hadith but before I could finish reading it to him in Arabic, he interjected that there probably is something not quite right with the version which contains “and he [Muhammad] wrote with his hand”.

    This person is otherwise highly intelligent and sufficiently capable of undertaking a dispassionate investigation on all sorts of things. Except Islam.

    I have never ever tried to dissuade this fellow Wahhabi Muslim from Islam -- nor any other Muslim for that matter.

    I have made him a promise that if he does not talk about religion, I would keep my mouth shut in his presence. However, for some odd reason, he irrevocably believes that my disbelief were a youthful rebellion from which I would spring back when I get on in years and or when the idea of natural death stops being a distant possibility with the advancement of age.

    But when he starts a conversation with me on Islam, as he does every now and again, albeit jokingly, I do not draw his attention to outside arguments, such have proven futile enough with him. That I have come to see what constitutes demonstrable evidence differently is of no wight with him. So, I tend to hit him with the same and exact type of textual evidence which he and his Ummah accept.

    Lately, he tells me, his Imams are telling him to consciously avoid me as I, in their pastoral estimation, pose more danger to his immortal soul than the original disbelievers with their outside arguments.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #34 - June 27, 2016, 09:00 PM

    Best of luck on your move. I abhor moving, myself.

    Actually, the collecting and displaying is more important than your conclusions. I don't say this to be insulting or to make light of your work. I say it because the Ummah is not going to accept your conclusions, as your conclusions are not canon and canon is all that matters to the Ummah. It will, however, accept what you have collected from canon and then come to the same conclusions, and that is the result desired.
    When you show that the source itself gives up the logical conclusion, you change everything. As your friend's imams fear.

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #35 - June 28, 2016, 05:23 AM

    A telling digression:

    Today, I was talking to a Muslim friend who’s helping me with decorating my new flat; I told him about my writing something on and thinking about Muhammad’s illiteracy.

    He did not know about the Bukhari hadith but before I could finish reading it to him in Arabic, he interjected that there probably is something not quite right with the version which contains “and he [Muhammad] wrote with his hand”.

    This person is otherwise highly intelligent and sufficiently capable of undertaking a dispassionate investigation on all sorts of things. Except Islam. ..............

    Wahhabist .,there are millions of such people in Islam and in other faiths ., who are capable of undertaking a dispassionate investigation on all sorts of things but when it comes to their faith they shut all their senses.,  that is not a big deal but a question to you.,

    As you must have read many times in my posts that I question the existence of "Muhammad"  of Quran (Not hadith) itself ., in the same way I question the validity  of folks  who   think that "Muhammad" you describe was the person  who wrote Quran. He may  knew how to read and write Arabic of  that time but do you think he wrote all those 114 chapters of Quran?

    with best wishes

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #36 - July 11, 2016, 07:10 AM

    Best of luck on your move. I abhor moving, myself.

    Actually, the collecting and displaying is more important than your conclusions. I don't say this to be insulting or to make light of your work. I say it because the Ummah is not going to accept your conclusions, as your conclusions are not canon and canon is all that matters to the Ummah. It will, however, accept what you have collected from canon and then come to the same conclusions, and that is the result desired.
    When you show that the source itself gives up the logical conclusion, you change everything. As your friend's imams fear.

    Thanks, I've finally fully moved house, so posting in the thread should hopefully resume this week.

    Showing the source itself is the best signposting anyone of us can do, particularly if we presuppose that the reader's opposition comes from their being willing and ready but in fact are unable to disbelieve and doubt because they think they're compelled by what they take to be incontrovertible textual evidence. 
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #37 - July 11, 2016, 07:18 AM

    Wahhabist ... He may knew how to read and write Arabic of  that time but do you think he wrote all those 114 chapters of Quran?

     Yeezevee, I do not believe it would add anything of value to this discussion for me to provide the reader with a list of my convictions; an example of which would be to directly answer your question as to whether I think Muhammad alone and singlehandedly ‘wrote’ the Quran as we have it today.

    The whole thread is trying to ascertain, if gradually and circuitously, through uncomplicated casting of doubt and simplistic textual analysis, whose it the authorial voice in the Quran:

    In principle, was Muhammad humanly qualified and equipped with that which would have allowed him authorship of any book?

    Was he the passive conduit he made himself out to be in relation to the Quran’s transmission from his end?

    And finally, does the primary textual evidence bear out valid contradictory conclusions to the absolute certainty of it all?

    The task at hand isn’t insurmountable, not because we are somehow in possession of astonishing analytical agility which hitherto has proven elusive to generations of fellow toilers and grafters. No. The task isn’t insurmountable for the simple reason that the primary literature commands and maintains an extraordinary level of certainty in stating matters whose linguistic mediation and logical methods are not sound or rigorous — they are otherwise at variance with a number of easily possible, unforced conclusions which any unbiased and thorough investigator should arrive at.

    Certainty it is behind it all and positing that had to be simple: it is Alif Laam Meem, if you please, that is the Book about which there is no doubt.

    You can find certainty in all good surahs but this signed copy, at no additional cost, is in The Cow 2:1-2. (Not to miss the Qur’ān’s moments of unintended irony, the syntax of the second verse negating all doubt contains structural ambiguity i.e. depending on where you pause, around the three-dotted superscript, the meaning changes.)

    Whether or not Muhammad himself has ‘written’ some or all of the 114 Qur’ānic surats is what I’m trying find out, Yeeze, by sharing how I’m thinking about it from a neutral and impartial starting point.

    I believe that doing so, from time to time, regarding all sorts of fundamental stances and questions, is a healthy mental habit which is capable of making us responsive by default to changing factual and other realities. Maynard Keynes’ “when the facts change I change my mind” can’t be envisaged to materialise if the facts don’t get revisited and one’s judgments and preconceptions don’t get completely suspended once every while.

    Finally, there's something human to consider here. When you put a lot of hope in something and then become conscious of other people joining in or sharing hope in the same thing with the same or more degree of concentration, then it’s only going to be made worse to have two additional unfortunate things: experiential false positives for it as well as exceptional, seemingly inexplicable events and states of mind even if these lend them the most peripheral of support.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #38 - July 16, 2016, 06:40 AM

    A bit on substance and a lot on approach: A recap

    So far, ‘The Prophet’ Muhammad has been shown through the authenticated hadith in Sahih Bukhari to have written by his hand the phrase ‘ibn Abdullah’, after deleting another phrase which is ‘the messenger of Allah’.

    Therefore, Muhammad’s illiteracy claim is not absolute in all the repeated senses we are given to take and understand by the Islamic literature, primary or otherwise. This is because the literature explicitly bears out one documented incident in which Muhammad wrote something by his hand, in direct contradiction to the certainty and absolute literality of his illiteracy.

    Muhammad’s illiteracy claim can be challenged legitimately by the fact that he was able at the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah to write his father name ‘ibn Abdullah’, having personally wiped out his being ‘the messenger of Allah’.

    Great capitalisation is being made here on what in other contexts might be the only exception (i.e writing his name) to the general validity of the rule (i.e. his illiteracy). It is also true that no allowances of any sort are not being made for the primary texts in this regard; instead, they are being held to the highest possible standard of factual accuracy and reliability in relation to Muhammad’s illiteracy.

    This exacting treatment is only fair because the gauntlet has been thrown down by the primary texts themselves.

    What we cast, then, are simple and valid doubts when faced with extraordinary Islamic claims which are traditionally made and inflexibly maintained in its authenticated sources and throughout its history.

    If the Islamic primary texts were to occupy in such matters the tentative space where they could reasonably be expected and might belong to (i.e. in the realm of edifying allegories; in the comforting mist of metaphors and even the occasional spiritual flying saucers, Fata Morganas etc), instead of venturing into boastful certitude as well as mathematical absolutes; then it would be uncharitable not be lenient with and make allowances for these texts.

    A consequence of this is that Muslims today do not subjectivise their faith as Christians do with due humility, and do out of their mainstream acceptance that the veracity of their Scripture is neither universally verifiable nor in anyway self-evident. Institutional Christianity nowadays puts up with the charge of it being, in the final analysis, a leap of faith and nothing more. It’s not intrinsically true, consistent or factual. It's an act of will on its subscriber’s part.

    I could be quite mistaken here, but it doesn’t seem to be in the league of the moral compulsion of Islamic certitude as found in both 2:23-24 and17:88.

    Mainstream Muslims do not tend to say Allah has personally spoken to them or has revealed Himself to them so as to use that as personal evidence legitimising their private unshakable belief in Islam and Allah. Rather, mainstream Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims tend to resort to considering universally valid what passes as evidence for them subjectively.

    So, instead of humbly saying that what they find in Islamic textual evidence makes perfect sense to them as to compel them to believe in Allah and His Unitarian nature, they immodestly albeit sincerely claim that that is the obvious universal truth for anyone of discernment and basic intelligence.

    (Incidentally, suffers of severe autism also tend to be unable to separate their subjective knowledge and feelings from that of other people and the outside world — this is a widely accepted explanation why they tend to become frustrated with people not understanding them, even though what they think and take to be obvious and shared knowledge from their POV often isn’t communicated by them or necessarily by others to the intended people.)

    There is a concatenation here: Why could such absurd a notion be encountered in real life as demanding non-Arab believers and disbelievers to contemplate the miraculous beauty of the Qur’an and its wording in its original, classical Arabic?

    The age old notion of daring and challenging the world (as found in 17:88) to produce a similar or commensurate work of beauty and perfection is usually and incessantly made by the Qur’an. This is notwithstanding most accepted and authoritative translations of the Qur’an, upon which the vast majority of the divinity-based Ummah relies, all too often have in their introductory comments the exculpatory disclaimer that the Qur’an is only the Qur’an in Arabic.

    If so, then the posed Qur’anic challenge of following the Arabic hard act could easily be beyond the challengers to judge themselves as they are not native to a dead dialect of Arabic (which does not have native speakers today) in which claimed exceptional beauty and perfection is encapsulated.

    Even if a work of better or commensurate perfection to the Qur'an was to be produced by a person or a committee of people, as every living intelligent being is dared to above, who could possibly adjudicate on such a matter and what criteria could be used for such a task in an ideal world of unfettered inquiry, restrained Islam and intellectual immunity?

    This is if we look the other way on how ridiculous it would otherwise sound, for example, if an Englishman challenges a person who does not speak English to come up with a sonnet in the splendour and beauty of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 31. (Personally I’d be inclined in such frivolity to add a necessary extra ninety-nine and end up with Sonnet 130 for its almost Gothic, bedraggled realism. But there we are.)

    Be that as it may, what is needed to be done, to tackling such claims of veracity and rectitude, is to show that the case for Islamic certainty, concerning in this case the illiteracy of Muhammad, preferably as found in its authenticated texts (to foil any attempt to question or change the subject), is not made and does not stand surface scrutiny. That’s all. We do not need to offer alternatives or better answers.

    In other words, what we need to show is that 1+1 does not equal 11. Our job is done right there. We do not need to give the correct answer at all. All we need to show is that 11 is an incorrect answer and this restraint on our part is because the set of incorrect answers to this mathematical question runs into infinity. We are telling the people who claim to know that they do not know, without at the same time claiming knowledge ourselves because in that case, consistency would require us too to give irrefutable evidence.

    Finally, it has to be acknowledged that those who take intellectual shelter in the inclusive spaciousness of the outside arguments might be doing so because the inside arguments require a familiarity with the texts which they personally might not have been afforded, say, because of linguistic and other barriers. No, I have not gone back and contradicted in this thought process what I had said here. Nor indeed am I saying, as it might easily appear above, that the outside arguments are only or largely of use to and entertained by SOASian abstraction and academia which all too often seem farther removed from pedestrian Islam.

    I am trying to write what I have yet to read anywhere, operationalising and echoing what three said above in Reply#7. A cold hard critical look at the man, according to the texts, is possible for a coward like me to undertake thanks to online anonymity. I might commit the foolery of considering what I produce on the forum to be ‘intellectual Banksyism’, I could do that all I want but it would not have been possible if it all wasn’t online and anonymous.

    The outside arguments are useful where common sense, albeit in a broad brush, is sought and applied in any leisurely self-inflicted thought experiment. They also come in handy when we do not seek to convince or talk to divinity-based Muslims about Islam. It does not have be either inside or outside, it is true. But strict adherence to and conclusive recognition of the outside arguments by me, you or anyone in such matters with such Muslims is a discussion non-starter. This procedural limitation could not have been said about the inside arguments.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #39 - July 16, 2016, 06:41 AM

    Apologies for not getting on with more substance. A lot of preparatory work is needed to be laid for us to get anywhere, without being sidelined, derailed or diverted from the crucial issues when thinking about such emotive matters as textual Islam and its certitude. I will be cracking on, at full throttle, very soon X
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #40 - July 24, 2016, 05:52 PM

    One of the main events in Islamic eschatology (i.e. a precursor to and a sign of the nearness of Yawm al-Qiyamah) is the appearance of a character called Al-Masih ad-Dajjal or The False Messiah.

    Ad-Dajjal means “the Liar”, however, he rarely gets mentioned in the literature without pointing out also that he is not any liar, he is The One-Eyed Liar.

    An example would be the Bukhari version of the below hadith: "there's no sent messenger by Allah who did not warn his people against the one-eyed liar ..." (Source)

    This distinction is made and insisted on in the Islamic textual evidence, in the Sunnah conclusively, to help the Muslim believers by means of a visual aid when it comes to telling ad-Dajjal apart from their true God, Allah. The need for this telling apart and warning is because ad-Dajjal is endowed with supernatural properties, such as having a “Jannah” and a “Fire”, with which he tests and causes Fitna (probably in the fourth sense as here) to those Muslim believers during whose life time he unfortunately appears. Thus, a number of authenticated hadiths try to foretell ad-Dajjal’s appearance and fortify Muslims against getting deceived by him into mistaking him for Allah.

    The exact details of this apocalyptic character would be interesting to explore in depth for their own sake. However, the following authenticated hadith in Sahih Muslim, narrated by Anas bin Malik, is relevant to Muhammad’s illiteracy:

    عن أنس بن مالك قال قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم الدجال ممسوح العين مكتوب بين عينيه كافر ثم تهجاها ك ف ر يقرؤه كل مسلم

    “. . . Anas bin Malik said the Prophet of Allah, peace be upon him, said ad-Dajjal has an erased eye and has written between his eyes Kafir” Ans said “and then he [the prophet] spelled it “Ka Fa Ra” and then the prophet finished it off by saying “every Muslim is able to read it.”

    Here is the famous Imam al-Nawawī commenting on the hadith above in his Commentary on Sahih Muslim:

    قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم : ( مكتوب بين عينيه كافر ثم تهجاها فقال ك ف ر يقرأه كل مسلم ) وفي رواية : ( يقرأه كل مؤمن كاتب وغير كاتب ) الصحيح الذي عليه المحققون أن هذه الكتابة على ظاهرها ، وأنها كتابة حقيقة جعلها الله آية وعلامة من جملة العلامات القاطعة بكفره وكذبه وإبطاله ، ويظهرها الله تعالى لكل مسلم كاتب وغير كاتب ، ويخفيها عمن أراد شقاوته وفتنته ، ولا امتناع في ذلك ، وذكر القاضي فيه خلافا : منهم من قال : هي كتابة حقيقية كما ذكرنا . ومنهم من قال هي مجاز وإشارة إلى سمات الحدوث عليه ، واحتج بقوله : " يقرؤه كل مؤمن كاتب وغير كاتب " ، وهذا مذهب ضعيف .



    Him, peace be upon him, saying “has written between his eyes Kafir, and then he spelled it, Ka Fa Ra, every Muslim is able to read it” and in another version “every believer is able to read it whether he is a writer [i.e. able to read and write] or not a writer [i.e. unable to read and write]”.

    The correct opinion, on which those who are thorough in their investigation of the matter are on, is that the writing [between ad-Dajjal’s eyes] is literal in its denotation and that it is one of the categorical signs through which Allah shows his disbelief, lying and falsehood. Allah shows this to every Muslim who is able to read and write and who isn’t able to read and write, and hides it from whomever He wants to cause Fitna and misguidance. And there is no objection here [that Allah makes whomever He makes able to see and read the three-letter word, even though He hides it from others who might be able to read and write but can't see]. The judge [?] mentioned the presence of a dispute [i.e. that this is not the consensus]; some of them [scholars?] said the writing is literal in its denotation as we mentioned, and others said it was Majjaz [i.e. non-literal] and used to support this opinion what the prophet said “reads it every believer whether he is able to write [and read] or isn’t able to write [and read]”. This opinion [that it's non-literal] is weak [i.e. not correct].
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #41 - July 24, 2016, 05:59 PM

    From the above authenticated hadith it is clear that Muhammad knew how to spell the word "disbeliever" as it is written between ad-Dajjal's eyes in written Arabic.

    Different versions of the hadith show different words —  some show, as above, that the Alif was dropped from the word "Kfr" —  but what is consistent in the authenticated textual evidence, in all the versions of this hadith, is the fact that Muhammad has spelt out the word in question himself by saying the letters of the word, one after another. So, what matters here, as far as his illiteracy is concerned, is Muhammad's ability to spell a word. Not what word he might have spelt or spelled out.

    Therefore, the total number of the words Muhammad can certainly be said to be familiar with, in the sense that he was able to read and write them, goes up with this latest addition to the previous five words. This account clearly shows that Muhammad's illiteracy, in the sense that he could not read or write anything, was not absolute at all.

    This, of course, is the second documented incident in which Muhammad is shown to have made a reference to individual letters as constituting words.

    The first time was the hadith where Muhammad said "whoever reads a letter from the book of Allah gets a Hasanah and a Hasanah is like ten of its kind [i.e. multiplied by ten], I say not AlifLaamMeem is a letter; rather, Alif is a letter and Laam is a letter and Meem is a letter". This hadith, as mentioned in a previous post, is narrated by al-tirmidhi through the companian ibn Masu'd.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #42 - July 24, 2016, 07:11 PM

    Different versions of the hadith show different words —  some show, as above, that the Alif was dropped from the word "Kfr" —  but what is consistent in the authenticated textual evidence, in all the versions of this hadith ...

    Hang on a second!

    An objection could be made here: surely this is a generalisation because the other versions do not make it explicit that Muhammad spelt the word in question.

    Muhammad only says "Kafr or Kfr is written between his eyes" and this is the case in the Bukhari version "there's no sent messenger by Allah who did not warn his people against the one-eyed liar ..." (Source).

    So, can you explain the reasons why you seem to generalise here?

    It is true that not all the versions of the hadith explicitly support Muhammad spelt the word between ad-Dajjal's eyes. But every single authenticated version of this account explicitly makes a reference to something being written between ad-Dajjal's eyes. Since this hadith is not Qudsi and the presence of other versions in which every Muslim, regardless of his or her ability or inability to read written words, is able to read what is written between ad-Dajjal's eyes, we are permitted to stick to the literality of what the wording denotes as this is the usually followed textualist rule.

    The fact that Allah will hide it from the disbelievers, including those literate and are able to read, is not something unheard of in Islam; the night of Hijrah, in which Muhammad is reported to have poured dust/dirt on those who were surrounding his Meccan house to kill him, without them being able to see Muhammad because Allah has turned him into something they couldn't see, is one example and which some conservative mufsireen cite as the 'Cause of Revelation' for 36:9 in Ya-Seen.

    Other mufsiroon disagree with this and say that Muhammad only read 36:9 in the night of Hijrah rather than it being the night of its revelation. These mufsiroon say that the reason why this verse was revealed was because of a previous incident in which Muhammad was about to be assassinated by Abu-Jahl but when he got to Muhammad, Abu-Jahl couldn't see Muhammad, so he was unable to drop the massive rock he was carrying on invisible Muhammad. Another man, from Banu Makhzoom, took the rock from Abu-Jahl and vowed to kill Muhammad with it. However, when this man got to Muhammad, Muhammad became invisible again. So, this verse 36:9 was revealed as documentation for the invisibility cloak of Muhammad. (Source)

    Another textual example in which optical misdirection took place because Allah willed it against the non-believers, and the non-believers were robbed of their ability to see, is the Islamic version of how Jesus/Isa came to be raised to Allah [4:157-158]. Another man was taken in Jesus's place because this innocent man was made by Allah to look exactly like Jesus in appearance* and thus those non-believers were deceived and diverted. (The whole affair could have been pleasant, eco-friendly and bloodless if Allah had wanted it to be; by merely lifting Jesus to him so that the non-believers could not find Jesus and would go on looking for Jesus without success. Then, there would have been no injured human being in the execution of this fable.)  

    Such supportive textual examples make the case for the literality of what is claimed to be written between ad-Dajjal's eyes, as far as the Muslim believers are concerned, (i.e. it is real and not illusory for these Muslim believers) rather than the reverse case being true i.e. that nothing's actually written between ad-Dajjal's eyes yet the Muslims are made able by Allah willing it and making it appear as such when they look at ad-Dajjal in the face.

    This reverse case (of it being not real but Muslim believers are able to see the word) is clearly contrived and flies in the face value of the hadith and its wording as found in the authenticated sources as well as less authenticated books of hadith (which have not been referenced in this investigation for the sole reason of preventing critics from being able to cast doubt on the authenticity of the quoted texts and the strength of their Isnad).

    Therefore, what Muhammad said to be written between ad-Dajjal’s eyes is literal, and literal too in its denotation is the fact of Muhammad spelling its individual letters.

    The discrepancy between what Muhammad said to be written between ad-Dajjal’s eye (i.e. Kafir) and what Muhammad spelt out (i.e. Kuffer or Ka Fa Ra) does not weaken the case being made about Muhammad’s ability to spell a word.

    What matters is that Muhammad has spelt something meaningful in Arabic — something which others who can read and write were and are able to read it. This concrete outcome is not something within the power of an absolutely illiterate person to bring about.

    Further, if this discrepancy were to be fancifully interpreted and used in the same way in which Muhammad was reported in al-Bukhari during the drafting of the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, and the contention was that Muhammad still shows he did not excel at writing his father’s name and here was another incident where Muhammad said Kafir (كافر) and spelt it Ka Fa Ra (ك ف ر); then that still does not negate the fact that Muhammad had attempted to write something meaningful by his own hand in direct contradiction to [29:48].

    * According to this, Christians should have been thanking this man for dying for their sins, or more accurately, for having been scapegoated. This man whose true identity is literally "Known But To God" is the second example in Islamic texts where Allah either ordains the actual killing of a human being as a sacrifice for one thing or another, or a killing order through which Allah tests the faith of a believer by revealing to him that slaughtering his son -- Ishmael -- is what was wanted from that father to prove his worth; and then Allah has a change of heart for whatever reason he normally has and grants a last-minute reprieve.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #43 - July 25, 2016, 09:18 AM

    The above post is fully updated and properly sourced now.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #44 - July 25, 2016, 10:01 AM

    Abu-Jahl couldn't see Muhammad,   Another man, from Banu Makhzoom, took the rock from Abu-Jahl and vowed to kill Muhammad with it. However, when this man got to Muhammad, Muhammad became invisible again.  So, this verse 36:9 was revealed as documentation for the invisibility cloak of Muhammad

    The above post is fully updated and properly sourced now.

     That is very well written  Wahhabist.., Thanks

    let me  add this link here    for those words  along with that verse  36:9

    Chapter (36) sūrat yā sīn

    (Clicky for piccy!)

    Sahih International: And We have put before them a barrier and behind them a barrier and covered them, so they do not see.

    Pickthall: And We have set a bar before them and a bar behind them, and (thus) have covered them so that they see not.

    Yusuf Ali: And We have put a bar in front of them and a bar behind them, and further, We have covered them up; so that they cannot see.

    Shakir: And We have made before them a barrier and a barrier behind them, then We have covered them over so that they do not see.

    Muhammad Sarwar: We have set-up a barrier in front of and behind them and have made them blind. Thus, they cannot see.

    Mohsin Khan: And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see.

    Arberry: and We have put before them a barrier and behind them a barrier; and We have covered them, so they do not see.

    And I really doubt that believers  explanation " So, this verse 36:9 was revealed as documentation for the invisibility cloak of Muhammad"

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #45 - July 25, 2016, 06:28 PM

    Thank you, Yeezeeve, for quoting these seven different translations of the Ya-Seen verse, 9.

    I saw the “believers’ explanation” of Muhammad vanishing into thin air as an invitation to suffer the little chuckles which finally came my way in this parched process, even if they are by means of derision — the invisibility cloak being an unmistakable Harry Potter allusion.

    Just like the matter of Inside-Or-Outside arguments has been occupying my mind in relation to the three qualities of Muhammad, the matter of which translations to use, too, is something I have thought about and written something on. However, what made me not post it up here is my wish to maintain a balance between substance and approach, translations of the Qur’an and hadith falling into the approach or procedural side of things.

    After the hiatus of nearly a month in which I could not sit down to the task of carrying on with this thought experiment, my present thinking is that posts do not have to be either on substance alone (thus, informative and their language careful and non-polemical) or on approach alone (where the meagre faith the researcher has in humouring Islam — by speaking its language, using its texts and restricting oneself to its narrow and claustrophobic arguments conclusively — unabashedly shows its truest colours; and thereby some unavoidable intellectual patronising presents itself because the target audience is not responsive to any alternative outside ratiocination).

    Rather, posts can contain both elements of the two, each covering matters of substantive textual nature while at the same time setting out the procedural absurdities which textual Islam faces a balanced investigator with because of its in-built idiosyncrasies and the sort of suppositions textual Islam make when trying to win over the non-believers who were and are not Abrahamic; it is no secret that textual Islam offers zero arguments when it comes people like me, whose position concerning God or gods is best described as agnostic in the sense that such an entity or entities are practically and at best unknowable.

    Islam’s convincing work was already partially done for it when it came to the Arabs amongst whom Muhammad ‘appeared’. Islam’s work was partially done because these were not agnostic and or atheist people; what could be inferred from the available textual evidence is that in principle the Arabs believed in the idea of a creator or creators (توحيد الربوبية) so that Muhammad’s job was simply to point out to them which one is the real McCoy and thus worthy of their conclusive worship (توحيد الألوهية) because of His personal attributes (توحيد الأسماء والصفات).

    To turn our ongoing dilemma with textual Islam on its head, demanding as well as expecting it to talk to us according to that which we have come to understand and accept, we would wonder what type of evidence and arguments Muhammad would need to offer to convince those of us with whom he would not share epistemology — that is, our sense of awe, shattering earthly beauty, numinous and theosophical suggestibility notwithstanding.  


    The Islamic textual consensus is that the Qur’an is miraculous both in its wording and its meanings. So, if anyone was to take up the Qur’anic challenge in 17:88 and was to try to come up with a book on a par, in miraculous-ness, with the Qur’an, then this book would be expected to be miraculous in the both senses in which the Qur’an is miraculous. That is, miraculous in its wording as well as miraculous in its meanings.

    We can run with the idea of the miraculous wording (i.e. word combination) of the Qur’an to an interesting direction in which we would be faced with real possibilities and experienced realities by this faith’s genuine subscribers.

    Thus, the fact that the miraculous nature of the wording of the Qur’an is non-transferrable is not something whose corollaries are academic and theoretical. It is something encountered in every translation of the Qur’an into any one of the human languages whose speakers are divinity-based Muslims, so that the type of the English Qur’an, for example, mediated through the prosaic wording used in Sahih Internetional or Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, Mohsin Khan etc. is not the miraculous Qur’an as revealed upon Muhammad in classical Arabic, which in turn is hospitable to seven authenticated Arabic dialects/recitations (out of the possible total of thirteen recitations) in which the Qur’an’s revelation was somehow concurrent.

    If so, then this thought experiment’s commitment to impartiality can be challenged for reasons like the fact that its poster’s opposing-to-Islam conclusions are known already to everyone reading it, and this is in spite of my repeated claims to being impartial by denying my own knowledge and personal findings when it comes to textual Islam — such findings naturally go far beyond the limited scope of this trilateral experiment which is trying to figure out what Muhammad textually was.

    Then let me kid myself not anymore, let me suspend my suspension of judgment for the purpose of entertaining the receptive reality of what I have patiently examined of the textual evidence not on the forum, but in relation to the divinity-based subscribers of Islam. What becomes relevant then is as follows:

    If you investigate anything Islamic, as found in its authenticated primary sources, limiting yourself to the type of jurisprudential understanding as well as teachings which hold, in followership terms, the widest mainstream Islamic currency; and then you present your findings to others who happen to be divinity-based Muslims themselves, or others with vested interest in promoting any type of Islam — textually backed and based or not — which contradicts your findings (because of things like its at-odds sources of knowledge and or methodological/mazhaab reasoning and application); then you are likely to be faced with things which would have nothing to do with the substance nor the approach through which you arrived at your substantiated findings.

    The things with which you personally are likely to be faced include, but not limited to, being dismissed on the basis of who you are; having, as you would, anything and everything about you disparagingly questioned by — again, in particular but not limited to — the conservative followers of a faith whose singular most sacred book repeatedly claims its universality in guiding to the righteous path those who earnestly seek its guidance: repeatedly in [54:17], [54:22], [54:32] and [54:40].

    The reasons why this defensiveness might be, if you ask these dismissing you offhandedly, are going to be more sociological than theological. That is to say, a number of verses in the Qur'ān (for example, [61:8-9], [9:32-33] and [2:109]) establish and encourage and reinforce a siege mentality in the Ummah so that any investigator’s intentions as well as motives for undertaking it in the first place figure, weigh and matter more than the content of their textual investigation; its approach, level of detail, frame of reference; its accuracy of any possible translation, authenticity of sources, integrity; its consistency and any multidisciplinary scope necessary for rendering it scholarly and reliable — thus, rendering its purpose serious.

    Put another way, what would seem to be uniquely important in the estimation of the divinity-based Ummah, when trying to ascertain and divine the veracity of (and thereby you, the investigator, becoming both a worthy recipient of and ideally placed to be guided by) Islam, through its textual evidence, is your receptiveness to the Qur'ān from the start, and your willingness to believe as well as making your willingness explicit. Thus, it would not have been conducive to Islamic righteous guidance to go about it through the medium of doubt.

    To approach what Islam textually claims with a sceptical mindset is you not exhibiting warranted solemnity and respect, is you entertaining too much levity and not showing the 'right' spirit — indeed, by trying to read the fine/small print and by asking these questions you might already have become one of those trying to extinguish the light of Allah through their mouths. It does not matter, as it's mentioned above, that you do not intend to disprove or challenge textual Islam by having a sceptical mindset; the negative consequences of your approach are a prism through which how you relate to Islam, as either a friend or foe, is determined by the divinity-based Ummah.

    Doubt is not neutral a position (sic) when it comes to textual Islam. Doubt looks as though it should have been a reaction to actual inconsistencies and genuine textual contradictions that your Iman and daily prayers could not ward off. Doubt is not something you should go out of your way to acquire because that's how you show ingratitude to your Maker through whose mercy, blessing and guidance you now stand a realistic chance, for being a Muslim, of escaping eternal torture in the hereafter. Doubt is not a mindset to have if you wish to be guided to the righteous path; it is for the falsifiers to doubt (as in 29:48) because it is in their interest to attempt to extinguish the light of Allah by their mouths.

    So, you might think you are seeking guidance by carefully examining the textual evidence when all along you should have been seeking Islamic guidance in spite of yourself, your doubt and your intellect. This is because an element of ‘luck’ or being chosen by Allah for guidance comes into Islamic eternal salvation for the vast majority of the divinity-based Ummah if this humility-encouraging, authenticated textual hadith is anything to go by.

    عن أبي هريرة عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال لن ينجي أحدا منكم عمله قال رجل ولا إياك يا رسول الله قال ولا إياي إلا أن يتغمدني الله منه برحمة


    Abu-Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him said, "nobody's actions are going to spare him/her [Jahannam]", so a man asked, "not even you, O Messenger of Allah?" He [Muhammad] said "not even me except if Allah 'sheathes' me in mercy of His own choosing". Narrated in Sahih Muslim (Source)

    As such, you and your analytical doubt can easily be seen as unworthy of Islamic guidance because you had supposed you were able and adequately equipped to establish this type of truth whose proprietor, Allah, is like nothing else in factual and subjective experiential existence. It was hubris that you thought you could find Allah through the laughable limitation of your reason and intellect when examining the Islamic textual evidence in relation to anything.

    If you at all have individual agency and internal independence, then you should stop for a moment inside your mind or indeed un-mind to suppose the possible, the probable and the inevitable. Suppose, then, you should stumble on Allah in the most unsuspecting of moments and places. Suppose you make your way to the Islamic righteous path by accident because you could, in all theological seriousness, become the cause of Allah's amazement by being guided against your will to paradise.

    You just suppose, my friend, and you might win in this lottery of getting put in slavery chains, not unlike D'jango: dragged, apparently kicking and screaming, to your eternal salvation because such is authenticated in Abu-Hurairah's hadith in Bukhari and Muslim here: "Allah is amazed by the fate of a group of people entering Jannah in chains".

    You just suppose and I assure you even here, there is no compulsion of any sort in connection with Islam.

    Do tell us please, how did you come to believe you have it in you to enter Jannah because of something you have done and thus earned?

    Whatever you do and say is going to be advisory in the final analysis, because it's all down to Allah and His will alone where you might end up in Yawm al-Qiyamah when you've died a monotheistic Muslim.

    (Then what of Archangel Gabriel's interference to rig the game of salvation when unsuspected guidance seemed to have had a realistic chance to prevail; when Gabriel physically stuffed a drowning human being's mouth with mud, as if this was necessary, to prevent this person from saying anything that might in the remotest possible way mean "there's no true God but Allah" even if this statement was not supported by a single good action in this person's tyrannical life. We will meet Gabriel again in B.)

    Now, how can all this be squared up for the potential guidance of those outsiders (agnostic and atheists) with whom Muhammad does not share epistemology so that Muhammad could be said to have executed his duty and delivered his heavenly message, in a way that is truly universal so that whoever rejects it the fault lies with them?

    Revised and updated
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #46 - July 26, 2016, 05:21 PM

    Al-Qadi in the mustalahat of the Shafi'e school of jurispudence refers to al-Qadi Hussain al-Marwazi (d. 244 AH)

    Here are some more:
    مصطلحات الشافعية: القاضي: القاضي حسين القاضيان: الماوردي والروياني الإمام:إمام الحرمين الشيخان:النووي والرافعي شيخ الإسلام:زكريا الأنصاري

    I really respect the efforts you've put in your research.

  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #47 - July 27, 2016, 08:50 PM

    Thank you for you kind words, Haris Bukhari.

    Just to contextualise your post for those who might not have understood what you meant: I inserted a question mark after the word "the judge" in my post above:

    ......... The judge [?] mentioned the presence of a dispute [i.e. that this is not the consensus]; some of them [scholars?] said the writing is literal in its denotation as we mentioned, ...........

    I inserted the question mark after it because I was being lazy and loosely translating without first looking into exactly who this particular judge, whom being referred to by al-Nawawi, is.

    Haris has now provided us with his name as well as a glossary of these specialised terms used by the Shaf'i school of thought in particular.

    A fuller (albiet in Arabic) account of the school's terminology can be found here.

    The judge in question is Abu-Muhammad (and Abu-Ali) Hussain bin Muhammad bin Ahmed al-Marwazi.

    And here is al-Dhahabi briefly mentioning al-Marwazi.

    In short, al-Marwazi was a big deal and when it came to jurisprudence, the judge knew what was what. This should parry and deflect the possible charge of my intentionally quoting fringe Islamic opinion to force a pre-set conclusion. It is no secret that the whole point of Islam is based on faith but that did not mean Islam does not dabble in defective logic or common sense every now and again; it has that much respect for its followers and detractors.

    I was also being lazy when I skipped translating a difference in the text which was fleetingly made between ad-Dajjal and Allah. That is, ad-Dajjal's being a one-eyed creature is a "change" because it isn't something he was born with (think of Mike Wazowski, if you will) or because this is not normal in his functional humanity.

    Functional humanity because if we regard the story of ibn Sayyad (صافي بن صياد) and how Muhammad suspected him of being ad-Dajjal and how ibn Sayyad losing sight in one eye had made him a suspect, then we can assert that ad-Dajjal is a human being.

    Whether or not we can safely derive from this that Allah has two functioning eyes, because this distinction seems textually material, is open to interpretation; the texts only negate Allah is with an eye that is blind.

    Sahih Muslim supports two contradicting versions when it comes to which eye of ad-Dajjal's two eyes is blind.  In one version, ad-Dajjal is blind in his right eye and the other in his left, but since ad-Dajjal can't be blind in both while being consistently called "أعور" (which means someone with one functioning eye) by the texts, what is done less and less here seems to be engaging more and more one's belief and credulity, rather than conscious analysis and basic warranted scrutiny.

    However, the Islamic point of looking at this has an Aristotelian outlook in relation to immutability and change as change must not logically occur to the nature of anything that is worthy of being deemed true God. This is because change engages the concept of time in relation to its subject, and change engages a cause or causes to the Prime Mover who caused and causes everything without ever being the object of causation Himself.

    Thus, the fact that change (or in Kalam/speculative theology, "سمات الحدوث") has taken place to ad-Dajjal's eye, as the translated text asserts (without making it explicit who is saying this, al-Marwazi or al-Nawawi) is enough to separate him from Allah.

    This might be saying more about ad-Dajjal's paranormality in every other way than those Muslim believers' powers of observation when meeting him, even though what they are being encouraged to distinguish is logically going to necessitate at least a modicum of awareness, familiarity with or sight of the original Being which somehow must not be confused with this otherwise extremely good copycat.

    Thank you again, Haris.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #48 - September 07, 2016, 09:06 PM

    It is within your right, as a reader, to expect and demand authenticated textual evidence for what the researcher has claimed to be the dismissive and close-minded reception by the divinity-based Ummah for an investigator who is not divinity-based Muslim. The proposed scenario is one in which the divinity-based Ummah is faced with an examination of textual Islam which renders any aspect of it inconsistent, doubtful or false.

    The researcher, therefore, cannot get away with making such claims without supporting them with evidence as far as the target audience is concerned. In addition to that, as far as this forum is concerned, he cannot rely on whatever positive reputation he’s managed to establish with the generous and trusting reader thus far as to expect the reader, too, to take his word for it.

    Further, the researcher should not be allowed to digress into anecdotes and his personal experiences in conjuring these predictions because that makes his arguments persuasive only to himself as well as others who are willing to take it on trust what he says to be his limited portion of interactional reality when it comes to divinity-based Muslims, and thus it somehow should be generalisable and representative of all divinity-based Muslims and textual Sunni Islam. No, that should not be the case and this is more so because the researcher reacted with immediate annoyance when he suspected others of over-reliance on their personal experiences and un-argued for conclusions when it comes to understanding and investigating textual Islam in relation to its prophet’s illiteracy.

    If such ought to be the case when it comes to making claims by all, then what is the textual evidence to support this notion that the divinity-based Ummah would not be responsive to any valid and contradictory textual arguments made by an outsider?

     وقد نزل عليكم في الكتاب أن إذا سمعتم آيات الله يُكفر بها ويُستهزئ بها فلا تقعدوا معهم حتى يخوضوا في حديثٍ غيره إنّكم إذا مثْلهم إن الله جامع المنافقين والكافرين في جهنم جميعا

    In [4:140] Allah orders the believers to stage a walkout and physically leave the geography in which Qur’anic verses are treated with disbelief and ridicule. Boycotting disbelievers and ridicule makers must thus be the case, according to this verse, until the conversation changes into something else. Allah then goes on to give the reason that by physically staying put (whilst the verses of Allah are being disbelieved in and ridiculed) the believers become like the disbelievers, and Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hellfire all together.

    Mufisroons have different views on what exactly is meant by ‘likeness’ in “you become like them [, those disbelievers and ridicule makers]”. Likeness here ranges, according to them, from the Muslim attendees becoming disbelievers and ridicule makers themselves to their being equally sinning as the disbelievers and ridicule makers.  

    However, what is being forbidden here is not Muslim believers agreeing with what doubters and detractors say, which would have been understandable. Rather, it is their continued presence in a place where such a challenging treatment is given to the verses of Allah.

    Textually speaking, then, a Muslim is not permitted to intermingle, sit to, free mix, converse with and be present in any place where the verses of Allah are mockingly disbelieved in. The only practical way for such a theological risk to be avoided altogether is for a Muslim to avoid sitting and having conversations with those who doubt and disbelieve in the veracity of Allah and His textual ayat.

    Effectively, to not read this thought experiment and others because their authors do not accept Allah as God and since the subject under discussion will always pertain to Allah, the tendency to not ridicule Islamic texts and not make Allah an object of ridicule in the presence of divinity-based Muslims cannot be guaranteed. Then what is the answer?

    It is important to contextualise [4:140] as this verse is Madina-revealed and thus, the doubters and ridicule makers could reasonably be expected to be the Munafiqun, according traditional tafsir, based on the indication the two verses before it make. However, we have [6:68], which is Mecca-revealed, to contend with; it orders believers to avoid the same thing i.e. physically leave those engaging in offensive discourse concerning Allah and doubting Allah’s verses.
    واذا رأيتَ الذين يخوضون في آياتنا فأعرض عنهم حتى يخوضوا في حديثٍ غيره، وإمّا ينسيّنك الشيطان فلا تقعد بعد الذِّكرى مع القوم الظالمين

    This Meccan verse, [6:68], is different from [4:140] in that it specifically orders Muhammad to not sit to those who engage in offensive discourse about the verses of Allah until these offenders talk about something else. The obvious problem presenting itself is that of Allah seeming to suppose that human conversations and informal talks can somehow occur in an orderly fashion of linearity where episodically the verses of Allah get disbelieved in and ridiculed, and then the whole topic gets put to one side for another matter to be placed under discussion — that there were a regimented system to the organic, aleatory digressions of human chats and discourse.

    Practically, it is going to be a walkout and then walk in, then a walkout and walk in, and then more of the same during any conversation in which heaping mockery and disbelief on the verses of Allah might be an anticipated reality. Yet, that preparedness for walkouts might not after all be what is being asked of a Muslim in social settings of an unfettered inquiry in which he or she happens to be geographically present, even for the purpose of giving dawah and spreading the word of Allah. This is because the command (فَأعْرِضْ) [grammatically in the imperative mood, meaning “dismiss/disassociate with”] in this verse encompasses three things according to tafsir al-Tabari et al; turning one’s face or back to the offenders, standing up with the implication of walking away from them, and walking away. All these are physical actions through which a Muslim must communicate and register their protest against and resistance to the verses of Allah being ridiculed and disbelieved in in their presence.  

    (Another problem in 6:68 pertains to interpretive textualist tafsir because the verse uses the same verb “يَخُوْض” twice but the meaning of the verb changes according to its subject; the first use is interpreted to mean the offenders treat the verses of Allah with mockery, disbelief and ridicule whilst the second use of the verb is interpreted to simply mean Muhammad’s interlocutors change the topic of the conversation. Even if interpretive consistency would produce a semantic absurdity in its second use, the same verb attached to other than Allah’s verses should linguistically have meant Muhammad can only remain put in the presence of the disbelievers when they treat another topic of the conversation with mockery, disbelief and ridicule. Yet the meaning of the same verb —  يخوضون، يخوضوا — magically transforms in tafsir from a treatment of Qur’anic verses with disbelief and ridicule to a simple change of topic. An argument, then, could be made that this semantic variation is an ideological imposition on what otherwise seems to give itself up to the absurdity above. The linguistic meaning of the verb, “خَاضَ”, is to <wade in> or to engage in something which is fraught with difficulty, something has or poses physical and or psychological challenges to the person trying their hand at it, cf. 74:45. Thus, the verb naturally should mean the same thing in both uses in the same verse and there are no linguistic grounds why it should mean something different when it is attached to other than Allah’s verses. This ideological imposition is the case even in az-Zamakhshari’s tafsir, despite its generally deep linguistic treatment of verses and despite az-Zamakhshari being a great authority on the Arabic language in his time.)

    The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’, whose fatwas and advice is sought by millions of Sunni Muslims all over the world, in fatwa N. 5855, gives guidance to a questioner from Australia on how to interact with the non-Muslims in general and when it comes to conversing with and engaging them in faith dialogues.

    What is of relevance to the matter at hand — that of how to deal with an outsider using insider arguments as appreciated by the divinity-based Ummah to cast textual doubts and arrive at contradictory conclusions, in this case, on Muhammad’s illiteracy — is the eighth point in the fatwa, where the issuers forbid ordinary Muslims living in Australia from attending debates and talks, organised by the State on what seems to unite the citizenry in their different faiths and belief systems. The type of arguments it might be possible to be used in such State sponsored gatherings by the non-Muslim parties might not strictly be within the scope of “the inside arguments”, that is true; but the wisdom or otherwise of placing qualifications on any Muslim’s attendance to any such gatherings and dialogues is quite telling, particularly when a qualification should concern the argumentative prowess and ability of a Muslim's religious representatives and scholars in a proposed debate.

    “Eighth: It is permissible to meet non-Muslims in public places established by the state for public debates, seminars, lectures on religious issues provided that the Muslim scholars elaborate on the ‘Aqidah (creed), pillars and manners of Islam removing the doubts raised and refuting the false defaming views that may be voiced against Islam by some attendees professing other faiths. This way they will be defending the Truth. As for Muslims who are feared to be tempted away from their religion, either because of their ignorance, or their frail faith, or their lack of knowledge about Islam, it is not permissible for them to attend these gatherings to protect them from the bad influence of the suspicions and doubts raised by opponents of Islam.”

    The fatwa issuers seem to suggest winnable debates in which those arguing for Islam and Allah are able, at all times, to deliver victory are the permissible ones. Again, such is an absurd pre-condition whose necessary theological satisfaction, thereby making them permissible to be attended by a Muslim, is something which cannot be known before the actual religious events and talks take place. This practically leaves the ordinary divinity-based Muslim with little choice but to avoid attendance all together for fear of doubts being instigated in their mind concerning the veracity of Islam and the sanctity of Allah's verses i.e. the Qur'an.

    A week ago, I received an invitation to this presentation, entitled History of Doubt in the Muslim World, to be taking place next Tuesday, on 13th September, which will be heavily based a book by the author Abdel Rahman Badawi called [A] History of Atheism in Islam (the actual untranslated book in Arabic is here).

    These were doubters and heretics in the 2nd and 3rd centuries of Islam who often earned notoriety by being accused of as well as having the epithet Zindīq attached to them. Whichever subgroup of the three in which Zindīqs are tabulated by Badawi -- a) the true believers in Manichaeism "المانوية أو المنانية", b) Kalam/speculative theologians "المتكلمون", and c) the literary folks; writers and poets -- they tended to be killed not unexpectedly on the orders of the presiding caliph (more on this might come later).

    A similar procedural difficulty in connection with speculative theologians can be faced in studying Sunni Aqidah (Aqidah Ahlu Assunnah wal Jamaah) and using it as a source for these theologians' sayings, when it comes to the names and attributes of Allah in the understanding of the religious practitioners of the 2nd and 3rd centuries of Islam. Such would be the case once the learner can be said to have memorised, 'understood' all the arguments for the correct Sunni Aqidah, as the quoted fatwa recommends in a similar situation, in unadulterated works and books which debate - or more accurately - respond and engage in rebuttals with their adversaries without references being made to these adversaries' actual or written works or their being made available for others to judge themselves. Orality and oral transmission in itself poses an authenticity question concerning the whole certainty project but it is more so when attributing sayings to those inside doubters who were born and died/killed believing themselves to be divinity-based Muslims and with inside arguments that eventuated in their being deemed outsiders, and thus, their ideas and books were and are advised against as a matter of utmost religious seriousness.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #49 - September 10, 2016, 11:10 PM

    I can´t find the like button. It´s never here when I need it. Looking forward to the next..

    Don't let Hitler have the street.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #50 - September 10, 2016, 11:45 PM


    A week ago, I received an invitation to this presentation, entitled History of Doubt in the Muslim World, to be taking place next Tuesday, on 13th September, which will be heavily based a book by the author Abdel Rahman Badawi called [A] History of Atheism in Islam (the actual untranslated book in Arabic is here).


    Hello  Wahhabist glad to read that in your post., I wonder whether any one translated that  Abdel Rahman Badawi's  book "History of Atheism in Islam" ??    

    And I wonder whether you are familiar with writings of Dr.  Amira Nowaira  of Alexandria University .,  Alexandria, Egypt

    And my good wishes to you

    Do not let silence become your legacy.. Question everything   
    I renounced my faith to become a kafir, 
    the beloved betrayed me and turned in to  a Muslim
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #51 - September 16, 2016, 02:50 PM

    I can´t find the like button. It´s never here when I need it. Looking forward to the next..

     Thank you, dear three. I aim to post next for the last time on the matter of Muhammad's illiteracy to bring it a conclusion.

    It is obvious in the way I have kept posting in this thread the fact that I did not start from a position of knowledge and certainty, but rather of being open to suggestion and looking to see what was possible to cast as legitimate doubt on previously overlooked authenticated textual evidence concerning the first of three matters as related to Muhammad -- that of his illiteracy. This is why this thought experiment looks messy, disorganised, and in need of chapterisation and proper book referencing when it comes to its sources and evidence.

    Effectively, this thought experiment is the normally hidden workings of a paper on such an Islamic matter; because papers tend to come out with their conclusions already known (Ok, probably more often than not), unlike how these conclusions came into being as a process in the way this process has been, or that their authors making it explicit that they do not know beforehand where they might end up arriving at as it is the case here with the present case.

    And like a lot of traditional knowledge seekers when it comes to "inside arguments", I had satisfied myself with what I was taught by my Imams and Wahhabi scholars and saw that as the starting point until I somehow reached the stage of Ijtihad where I could be said by other more knowledgeable than me people that I was qualified enough to apply my own understanding to the Qur'an and Sunnah -- of course, after my becoming trusted not to stray from those central conclusions of my Islamic teachers and scholars on the discipline and ways of ahlu sunnah wal jamaah in Aqidah, Figh and, of course, tafsir.

    Thus, my previous adherent approach to everything textual in Islam which challenges Muhammad's illiteracy has been one of accusing myself of being not ready to or qualified for forming my own understanding on textual Islam; I had to sheepishly defer to others in what my God wanted from me in His Arabic words which I otherwise happen to understand and speak fluently bilingually.

    I had doubted myself when the authenticated texts seem to show me something contrary to the Sunni consensus I was being made to swallow whole by those who were tasked with teaching me and preparing me to become independent in forming my own opinions in matters over which interpretive difference is Islamically permissible.

    But even if this conveys a personal journey, you as a reader have not been taken for granted here as to be invited to take anything on trust. And I am all too happy for you to challenge anything I have asserted here; in particular, anything whose hyperlink leads you to an Arabic source which you do not understand. If for the authenticity of a hadith in Sahih Bukhari and Muslim, as this experiment has confined itself to, then you can copy any hadith's number and look for its translation by sources other than me, for example, in, to examine the claims made here by me through their original translations by unreliable me.   

    Further, the point of thought experiments is that they do not start from certainty but from uncertainty being the default position and then they try to see the extent to which uncertainty might be said to be the case in any positive claim made by others. So, if a truth depends in its manifesting itself on your willingness to accept it, then that truth is contingent and not universal/observable.

    That is to say, such a truth has insufficient evidence and is deficient in itself to be the completest (as in the end part of [5:3]) and timelessly honouring the burden of proof, once and for all, when it comes to the veracity of Islam and Allah being the only true God to those human beings how happen to exist after the death of Muhammad until today.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #52 - September 16, 2016, 03:41 PM

    Hello  Wahhabist glad to read that in your post., I wonder whether any one translated that  Abdel Rahman Badawi's  book "History of Atheism in Islam" ??    

    And I wonder whether you are familiar with writings of Dr.  Amira Nowaira  of Alexandria University .,  Alexandria, Egypt

    And my good wishes to you

     The answer to both your questions is "No".

    Badwai's book does not seem to me to be worthy of translation into English if it were to be taken in itself to advance the cause of Arab doubters and heretics as the talk on which it was based last Tuesday seemed to suggest (with meagre justification).

    In fact, I was somewhat disappointed by the presentation because it seemed to me to be a rehash of a book which was written to specifically show how erroneous these heretics in the Abbasid "Golden" era and subsequent eras were. Yes, the book tries to be as fair as possible in their treatment but that is not to say that what it has been claimed to be these Zindiqs' sayings are truthful in attribution "العزو العلمي والأمانة العلمية".

    As a doubter myself, I do not accept most of what was attributed to these heretics in terms of it being imported from foreign lands when it comes to the Arabs and Islam i.e. from Persia. For Zindiqs were people who entered Islam in central Asia, as it was claimed by a presenter of the talk, to be exempted from paying Jizya. Basically, they became Muslims to escape this spiritual tax and thus, their true submission to Islam is somehow subject to doubt and question by the divinity-based Ummah. Such then it is claimed to be the case of those who came to be known to criticise Islam and doubters of its claims using inside arguments and internal textual evidence even though they did not really believe in them.

    The book seems to attribute to the Arabs their putative inability to come up with original doubts concerning Islam in its central book; doubts raised by them were either foreign influences or emanating from literary people who were playful and not serious when it comes to regarding Allah and Muhammad seriously (i.e. poets such as Abu Nuwas and Al Ma'arri etc).

    This is maintained to be so even though Islam in its second phase in Madina where, its prophet raised the sword and it subsequently spread the fastest in the numbers of adherents in its 23 year-old duration when Muhammad can be said to be alive.

    When Muhammad died, it needed another round of sword raising to bring to submission those Arabs who genuinely believed that the person to whom they had to pay Zakat had died and thus, Zakat was no longer applicable to them as in [9:103].

    The first Caliph disagreed with these Arabs' interpretation of the verse of course, and what followed of internecine wars were too known for me to care to say too much about.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #53 - September 20, 2016, 08:38 PM

  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #54 - September 20, 2016, 08:39 PM

    btw I know the presenter and she is a very cool gal and I didn't attend the talk but I agree with your view of Badawi's book.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #55 - September 21, 2016, 07:06 PM

    btw I know the presenter and she is a very cool gal and I didn't attend the talk but I agree with your view of Badawi's book.

     You’re absolutely right about her. She and the co-presenter, Ahmed Zayed, were really nice to chat to as well as going down to the pub with after the event. We spent a few hours drinking and talking about so many things pertaining to doubt and scepticism that it was almost 2 a.m. when I finally got home.

    Needless to say, your presence would’ve lent tone to this gathering of صناديد الزندقة simply because you’re among other things السَّمَيْدَع وما إلى ذلك  
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #56 - October 10, 2016, 09:21 AM

    For some frustrating reason I'm unable to write more than 4000 words in one post. So I'm going to have to break it down into smaller posts.
  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #57 - October 10, 2016, 09:26 AM

    The promise made in this thought experiment to keeping things simple and uncomplicated is going to prove difficult to honour when it comes to textualist tafsir and what that tradition could be said to offer in relation to Muhammad’s illiteracy claims as might be found in the Qur’an.

    (Here, I must criticise myself for using the term <textualist> instead of <literalist> when what I mean is not very different from what others mean when they loosely use <literalist>. Yet I saw fit to move away from calling those tafsir practitioners on the way of the Salaf <literalists>. This is because whether they happen to be book authors on tafsir or individual Sahaba and their Tabi’i students or those scholars and Imams who came later during the Abbasid Caliphate and carried on with their tradition and its preservation, all these tafsir practitioners were not literalists in the sense of their outright and consistent rejection for metaphorical/non-literal interpretations of the Qur’an. This dichotomy is false. Nor were they in opposition to imaginative interpretations of the Qur’an so long as their owners show ‘good reason’ and persuasively argue for them, using admissible evidence in this particular codified order: other Qur’anic verses, then authenticated tafsir-related hadith, then Sahaba consensus and the rest of it in Usul al-tafsir books. What matters to this approach, thus, is the textual validity of any Qur’anic interpretation. Not any interpretation’s capacity for accommodating the social situations and conditions of modern divinity-based Muslims, in an increasingly multi-ethnic multi-faith globalised world, with this interpretation’s pre-set goal being to deliberately water down the ideals of Shariah in its most primary source by means of interpretive creativity alien to Salafist tafsir. Therefore, an argument could be made that the former’s insistence on textual validity makes them worthy of being termed <textualist> with some justification. But should we become most occupied with precision, it is possible to substitute <textualist tafsir> with <intertextualist tafsir> to capture the said tradition’s properties such as the codified rigidity or otherwise of its evidentiary frame of reference; to basically capture and express its aboutness and metalogic. This is the preamble to a larger complicated discussion that only assumes sharper focus when we’ve agreed on and are done with evidentiary authentication —  قطعية الثبوت — to move on to the interesting field of Islamically valid significations —  قطعية وظنية الدلالة — and denotations.)

    In talking about the matter of unwarranted ideological impositions in post #48 above an example was given in support of the claim made here that such a situation takes place in textualist tafsir with pervasive regularity.

    A few more examples for textualist tafsir’s arbitrariness in explaining the Qur’an as it suits ideology, sometimes in stark contradiction to the literality of the text, would therefore be necessary here:

    1. See [39:62] in which the Arabic word <Khaliq> — خَالِقُ — is attributed to Allah to mean “The Creator” and the rest of the verse explicitly says the object of Allah’s creation i.e. “everything”. But in [29:17], the same word/verb <Takhluqun> —  تَخْلُقُوْنَ — is attributed to other than Allah which is problematic in and of itself because attributing the ability to create to other than Allah contradicts Allah’s monopoly over such ability as it is claimed to be the literal and textualist case in [39:62]. Also, if we overlook this contradiction of conclusively attributing the same thing to Allah and then attributing to others in another verse, then the object of the same word/verb <Takhluqun> —تَخْلُقُوْنَ — in [29:17] still muddies the waters because of what it actually means. That object is <Iffka> إِفْكَا which is a word whose meaning is a matter of great disagreement between the textualist practitioners. What they seem to agree on, however, is that the word — تَخْلُقُونَ — doesn’t mean the same as it is the case in [39:62]. Rather, they seem to say and do actually say that the word in [39:62] — خَالِقُ — is literal in its creationist denotation but in [29:17] the word in its verbal form, as it is attributed to other than Allah, means “they concoct”.

    This ideological interpretation is not supportable by linguistic/morphological evidence because for the Arabic verb <Takhluqun> — تَخْلُقُونَ — to mean “concoct”, its internal structure has to change to <Takhtaliqun> —  تَخْتَلِقُونَ — which is demonstrably not the case in [29:17] even though that is what textualist tafsir claims. In addition, the same “Creator of everything” goes on in [7:191] to rhetorically mock, in the form of a question, associating with Him other deities when these deities do not and cannot create anything like He does and can i.e. contradicting Himself in [29:17].

    2. Another unwarranted ideological textualist deviation is [10:22] where personal pronouns switch midway through the verse; from a vocative/”ضمير المُخاطَب” subjective case — كُنْتُـم — to an absent/“ضمير الغائب” subjective case — فَرِحُوْا — when it should have been in grammatical accord with the first plural subject pronoun i.e. it should have been فَرِحْتُم instead. This Quranic deviation is done for the purpose of “adding multiplicity in capturing people’s behaviour when faced with mortal danger on land and sea” according to az-Zamakhari, who seems to be the only textualist who bothered to comment on this confusion of personal pronouns.

    Again, this pronoun-switching to convey such a linguistic generalising purpose, as claimed by az-Zamakhari, is not known in the Arabic language outside the Qur’an. The only exception capable of being made to the negation of such a pronominal occurrence in Arabic is in the case of a single speaker known to be trying to achieve self-aggrandisement by using the two personal plural pronouns —ضمير الجَمع المنفصل "نحْن" يأتي مرفوعاً للفاعلية و ضمير الجمع المتصل "ناء الدالة على الفاعلين" المبني فعله على السكون. — in referring to his or herself; the equivalent to this nosism in English is the “Royal We”.

    3. The third example in which the Quran switches pronouns, but in this case from singular to plural, is in surah Yusuf [12:70-76]. Here, the narrative starts with Yusuf (جَهَزَهُم ، جَعَلَ) and his sibling’s bag (رَحْلِ أخيه). Then comes an announcer (مُؤَذِنٌ) calling for the rest of Yusuf’s brothers to stop right there; “O caravan, indeed you are thieves”. But when Yusuf’s brothers ask responding to the announcer what might had gone missing, it is reasonable to expect the narrative to remain grammatically singular to accord with the single announcer; yet, these brothers wonder what had gone missing by using the plural (تَفْقِدُون) inexplicably. The answer from the announcer, too, inexplicably becomes plural as well (قَالُوا نَفْقِدُ) and in the same verse, the same announcer reverts back to the quantitative singularity of the singular first person pronoun “I” (وأناْ به زعيم).

    This singular-plural switching between pronouns as found in this Quranic narrative is something for which textualist tafsir offers extratextual interpretations e.g. that the announcer didn’t shout the accusation of thievery at the caravan travellers on his own.

    (This is an example where the term <literalist> fails to capture the behaviour of these textualist commentators because they have clearly departed from the quantitative literality of the text here by becoming imaginative in their interpretation — saying that though the announcer is textually singular, it is not logically impossible that the announcer brought others with him when confronting the caravan travellers. If so, then it is true that that isn’t logically impossible but what motivates these textualists to entertain that textually unsupported possibility in the first place is for them to cope with the grammatical inconsistency of the text i.e. that the text needs something external to it to make quantitative sense.)

    See also [2:17] for a similar pronominal switch from a singular case (الذي استَوقَدَ) to a plural one (بنورهم). True to form, textualist tafsir ‘twists the neck of the text’ and digs deep in supportive Arabic poetry and much else to assert that the narrative here has reverted back to its starting plural point (مَثَلُهُم). Though that does describe what might have happened, it does not explain why.

    4. Staying on with surah Yusuf, we find that the Qur’anic verse [12:75] uses the same word twice (جَزَاءُه) to mean two distinctly different things as far as textualist tafsir is concerned. In its first use, (جَزَاءُه) means “its punishment” and in its second use it means “its punishment of being taken into slavery”. Such interpretive arbitration is not linguistically supportable because this word cannot mean the second meaning it’s claimed to denote in Arabic (to be taken as a slave) anywhere else outside textualist tafsir. And it shows its interpretive arbitrariness in the fact that the verse requires the insertion of at least two-to-three pairs of explanatory square brackets for it to become humanly intelligible.

  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #58 - October 10, 2016, 09:38 AM

    The above are quick examples to support the claim that textualist tafsir is awash with methodological inconsistencies, showing its interpretive propensity to seem to claim definitiveness of meaning and certainty where uncertainty is more likely to be the case, owing to such problems as arbitrary insupportable variation brought about by ideology.

    That is to say, the textualist tafsir’s tendency of claiming an Arabic word, as used in the Qur’an, means something but then to claim that what it means is not exclusively (i.e. if we scrutinise the tafsir of a word or verse in the time of the Sahabah, then we have ten of them known and are reputed to be involved in the tafsir of the Qur’an — according to al-Suyuti in his Itqan — and thus, variation and inconclusiveness presents itself during this time and period as follows; ibn Abbas said X, ibn Umar said Xx, Ali said xXx etc) is similar in being contradictory to the other textualist tendency of claiming, as shown in 4:140 in post #48, that an Arabic word means more than what it is claimed to mean in the same Qur’anic context, effectively allowing generations of tafsir commentators limitless room for (usually ideological) re-interpretations.

    This is maintained as righteously guided and is argued for in textualist tafsir without it rendering such an open-ended explanatory approach contradictory; and, without it negating, perforce, previously understood and delineated and claimed to be definitive Qur’anic meanings around which they claim to be a (tentative) consensus.

    Such textual contradictions present themselves to you when you humanise and treat the Qur’anic text not unquestioningly as a primary source of knowledge and certainty (because that only produces a panegyric) but as a text capable of being genuinely understood by its intended recipients — that is, humanity in its entirely from 1400 years ago until the Final Day— exactly as the text itself claims to establish in [2:44], [4:174], [10:57], [25:1], [29:23] etc.

    What we are left with, then, is generally a two-fold contradiction.

    On one hand, the textualist tafsir approach says we humans cannot fully comprehend Allah’s verses even though these verses are comprised of human words, and that the Qur’an only gives its readers an idea of anything’s “what’s it like” and gives its readers close approximations in the most beneficial way possible for their human awareness and general guidance. These humanly comprehendible approximations, as mediated through tafsir, whose practitioners finish off their commentaries with the customary disclaimer “Allah knows best”, are then maintained in this approach to constitute the completest, most faultless genre as it befits a miraculous book sent down through miraculous Muhammad by virtue of his personal illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and geo-cultural isolation.

    On the other hand, the textualist approach claims that the extent to which these human and Arabic words used in the Qur’an are capable of being understood collectively (i.e. a Qur’anic word or verse means a thing, however tentatively that meaning is stated, and that that thing is the one later generations of Muslims must adhere to if they want to be as authentic in their Qur’anic understanding as those amongst whom it was revealed), they are definitive in nature and must not deviated from.

    Put another way, what we divine from the Qur’an says more about our human inability to understand fully (due to its supernatural author who alone knows it best). Be that as it may, what limited human understanding of the text is possible to achieve is sufficient to convey the miraculous nature of the text, its apodictic perfection and flawlessness in every possible way. Basically, we don’t know perfectly but what we know is perfect. And if there are inconsistencies in what we know to be absolute perfection then we account for that by humbly referring to our limited human understanding. (You are not being unduly imaginative if this makes you think of Humpty Dumpty).

    The second fold of the contradiction above offers an explanation why Scholarly Consensus/Ijmāʿ (الإجماع) comes third, after the Qur’an and authenticated hadith, in its being a valid source of knowledge and certainty when it comes to Sunni Islam in matters of figh, hadith and tafsir alike. Ijmāʿ here pertains to the collective understanding of the Salaf of an Islamic matter i.e. the Salaf are the first three *exemplary* generations of Muslims (NB An Islamic generation here is marked by 100 years -- and not as the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as 30 years – and thus, from year 1 AH to 300 AH.). Although Ijmāʿ is textual in form, it is not primary in nature and its evidentiary status acquires Islamic validity only in the absence of positive texts from the two primary sources; the Qu’ran and authenticated Hadith — this secondary status is more so when it comes to ibādat/acts of worship. (Ijmāʿ being secondary and applicable in the unavailability of primary texts is true for all the four Sunni jurisprudential schools of thought, though some give evidentiary primacy to Qiyās over Ijma as a method of truth discovery on Islamic rulings). However, it is important for our purpose to note that methodological inconsistencies check and follow Ijma too.

    There are matters of worship over which there is a textualist Sunni consensus even though without primary evidence supporting it from the Quran and hadith. An example for unsubstantiated Ijma pertaining to acts of worship would be saying ‘Takbeer’ collectively after the daily prayers in mosques (e.g. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, wa lillahi al hamd) in specific days of the Islamic calendar. These days are the first ten days of dul al-Hijjah and the three ‘Tashriq’ days which follow Eid al-Adha. There’s no primary textual evidence to support Muhammad himself said Takheer after the daily prayers in unison with others or in the collective manner it is done after his death and done today all over the world. All the available textual evidence are the doings of a few Sahaba e.g. Abu-Hurairah, ibn Umar and Umar as found in Sahih Bukhari. Yet, these reports do not support doing Takbeer *collectively* and *after* the daily prayers; Umar did it as a caliph in his tent/dome in Mina and Abu-Hurairah and ibn Umar are reported to have done it whilst walking in markets where passers-by would echo them. No mention of it done a) in mosques, b) after the prescribed daily prayers and c) collectively. This meets the diagnostic criteria of an innovation (بدعة), but it is nevertheless the Sunni textualist consensus according to ibn Rajab. Importantly, the reader should not lose sight of the problem of interpretive variation in the form and how the said Takbeer is performed i.e. although it is accepted to be an act of sunnah, there’s no consensus over the exact phrasing of Takbeer amongst those Fuqahā' who otherwise claim Takbeer to be the valid consensus either as general (مُطْلَق) or restricted (مُقَيْد) by manner, time and place.

  • Muhammad's illiteracy, poetry unlearnability and isolation
     Reply #59 - October 10, 2016, 10:28 AM

    Now, the reader might rightfully wonder what textualist tafsir’s interpretive arbitrariness has got to do with Muhammad’s illiteracy claim?

    The reason why the above discussion was necessary to be had is because what follows of Qur’anic verses tend to get explained away in textualist tafsir because what such verses otherwise indicate contradicts something ideological mentioned elsewhere in the primary authenticated texts.

    In arbitrarily explaining away contradictions, this tradition departs from its interpretive literality claims which are believed to be capable of producing the kind of textual authenticity and validity other by-default non-literal approaches lack.

    Textualist tafsir acts as a consolidator who carefully weaves and straightens up any real or perceived semantic knots in the Qur’anic text in a process of codified interpretation that, though it spans 1438 in years, has not got one single negative or critical comment to make on any aspect of the text, of course, owing to who its author is and not the text itself. But when it comes to accepted Qur’anic interpretive literature (i.e. Manahij Al-Mufassirin), however close from each other the different tafsir schools are, what unifies all these schools is their practitioners’ unwavering insistence on keeping it all complimentary and adulatory. (What else could they do if not to limit the scope of their critical activity to thoroughly praising the text all the while hoping to avoid foolishly rushing in where angels fear to tread?)

    Thus, their seemingly manufactured consensus and uniformity of response, in reality, cannot be conceived of without arbitrariness figuring and coming into their interpretive endeavour ubiquitously.   

    If so, then the arbitrariness of this approach can mean the importation of extratextual interpretations to preserve ideological consistency everywhere. These extratextual interpretations might take the form of linguistic contrivances (as fleetingly shown above) and or the unwarranted suspension of usual language rules.

    Extratextuality in tafsir also takes the form of resorting to the type of rescuing hadiths which otherwise would have been considered inadmissible due to irregularities (علل) in such things as their Isnad or their particular phraseology or actual content.

    (An example for actual contentual inconsistencies is the sort of Quranic abrogation in which the text/rasm is kept unchanged but the literal meaning/interpretation of a verse is done away with as in [4:14-15] in relation to punishing zina.  More importantly, textualist tafsir claims that, in principle, the process of abrogation occurred, when it occurred in those rare textual occasions during the life of Muhammad, only in legislative and ruling-related matters i.e. ahkam/أحكام. This is the textualist consensus according to some of them, because to accept that abrogation took place in Quranic stories — أخبار — too is to accept that Allah had either lied or misspoken; these two conclusions are Islamically absolutely impossible. If so, then we have Quranic textual inconsistency in relation to stories or story-telling in [20:70] where the verse reports what the magicians said was “God of Aaron and Mosses” in unambiguous contradiction to “God of Mosses and Aaron” in both [7:121-122] and [26:47-48]. So which was it that Allah is saying to be what these magicians have actually said? Another inconsistency in reporting it is that in [20:70] there is no mention of Rabbil ‘alamin/ رب العالمين. Textualist tafsir could not avail itself of abrogation as a way out from this apparent variation in reporting the same incident by placing Mosses after Aaron as well as dropping Rabbil ‘alamin from it; textualist tafsir could not do that having had excluded abrogation, as a process, from occurring in Quranic stories and news. However, the answer is that the textualists try to cope with this problem in a few different, arbitrary ways; one of which is admitting that metrical considerations in the Quran — Saj’/ سجع — could be accorded primacy over the factual accuracy of reporting historical stories i.e. Musa ends in the same vowel as does the large chunk of the surah’s verses, and that this ‘external rhythm’ gets briefly suspended between [20:90-96] where another vowel still takes over, to maintain external rhythm, before reverting back to the one at the end of the word <Musa>. Put simply, Musa was mentioned after Haroon to maintain the ending rhythmic pattern of the verse. If so, then this goes against the textualist ideological devaluation of Saj’ as a rhetorical device and goes against their disapproval of it for the reason that those who regularly deploy Saj’ in their speech/writing affectedly go into some trouble to keep and achieve the evenness of rhythm at the expense of meaning and its diminution. But this very thing they deprecate is what their argument boils down to in describing the reporting behaviour of Allah in surah 20 verse 70 and its semantic inaccuracy and artificiality. Another textualist reconciliatory solution is regarding historical stories in the Quran as capturing only the meaning of these biblical stories and not their exact wording as the human characters have said them, because Allah is the owner of the miraculous wording of the whole Quran. This, too, necessarily raises more problems as it negates Quranic factual accuracy creating a situation in which the narrator/Allah interferes with the text, and such an interfering reality makes it difficult to accept attributing anything the narrator/Allah says is the text as authored by its original authors in this and other stories. This would be exactly the same as liberally translating a text and then dishonestly presenting it as most accurate; see Quranic claims of truthful accuracy in [4:87] and [6:115]. Thus, those who advocate that the wording of historical stories in the Quran belong to Allah tend to deem the reporting inconsistency found in [20:70] to be artificial; and, they reason for it by saying these stories and their dialogues were not in Arabic to begin with. Again, this apparent obtuseness misses the objection being made here because it is about Allah reporting what the magicians said differently; dropping “Rabbil ‘alamin” and changing the order in which they said the two names. Further, personal names are names in every human language and even if we accept the inevitability of variation wording the story differently in a different language necessitates, that nevertheless does not excuse a change in the order in which actual events and sayings have taken place. Lastly, the fact that historical/biblical stories in the Quran are accepted only accurate in meaning as some textualists would want to have it in [20:70] is in fact resorting to arbitrary extratextuality in interpretation.)

    The arbitrariness of this approach can also mean emptying Quranic words of their apparent meanings to stop them from indicating what is ideologically inconsistent i.e. Muhammad’s literacy in the present following case.

    The three first verses of surah Al-Bayyinah [98:1-3] seem to suggest that Muhammad reads from Suhufan (يتلو صُحُفَا). Suh̩ufan in all the other remaining six Quranic contexts —  [20:133], [53:36], [74:52], [80:13], [81:10] and [87:18-19] — means either Abraham’s and Moses’ written Scriptures or other written/paper media according to textualist tafsir.

    Whichever way Suhuf (صاد، حاء، فاء) and its morphological derivatives are commented upon by the textualists in the above six occurrences, the interpretations of these nouns remain literal and literally physical e.g. the Scriptures, sheets, pages, the pages. They are never metaphorical and their concrete tangible nature seems to be the textualist consensus.

    Here, it is stimulating to witness the textualists choke on their own ostensible literality when they try to explain the verb (يتلو) as attached to Muhammad which we have encountered before in 29:48 ( وما كنتَ تتلو من قبله من كتاب). All textualist mufsiroon, without exception, insist on the literal meaning of (يتلو) in [29:48] to be Muhammad’s inability to read from a written book. This insistence is when interpretive literality suits these textualists ideologically.

    So according to the textualists, what does (يتلو) mean in the second verse of Al-Bayyinah?

    The answer must to be shown to the reader for the approach of this thought experiment to remain consistent, and perhaps it is time the reader is given some actual names of those who have thus far been termed textualists.

    Here are a few illustrative examples from textualist tafsir in which it seems to try to suppress the apparent (zahir) and literal meaning of the words <al-Bayyinah>, < Yatlū >, <Suhuf> etc. The argument here is that the reason for this suppression of what otherwise seems to be apparent is to not render Muhammad as literally reading from a written medium, thereby challenging his illiteracy claims.
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