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