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6 years ago  ::  Feb 16, 2009 - 3:07PM #1
Kalimat
Posts: 30
I've noticed that many approach the Quran with varying degrees of literalism. Some have suggested that the Quran is entirely literal, with no allegory or symbolism.

I'm a young American man and I cannot pretend to have the breadth of Quranic familiarity that scholars who have studied the Holy Quran their entire lives enjoy. I think I know more about it than the vast majority of my countrymen, but sadly that's saying very little.

This servant would be very interested in the thoughts of those who have studied the Quran far longer than himself and hearing the reasoning behind both strictly literal and strongly mystical interpretations (within our own fallible understandings, of course).
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2009 - 9:25PM #2
Muhammad_Ahmad
Posts: 223
Those whom suggest that the Qur'an is entirely literal would make void the following verse:

"He it is Who has revealed the Book to thee; some of its verses are decisive -- they are the basis for the Book -- and others are allegorical. Then those in whose hearts is perversity, follow that part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. And none knows its interpretation save Allah, and those firmly rooted in knowledge... (Qur'an 3:7).

In Maulana Muhammad Ali's commentary to the Qur'an, he states:

"The chapter opens with a statement relating to the Divine origin of the Holy Qur'an as well as the Torah and Gospel. It then gives a rule of interpretation, neglect of which has led to numerous errors in religious beliefs. This rule of interpretation, which must be borne in mind in interpreting all Divine books, is that every allegorical statement must be interpreted in such a manner that it may not contradict any of the clear principles laid down by Divine revelation. As the Christian religion is based really on the wrong interpretation of certain allegorical statements, the rule is appropriately laid down as a preliminary to a  discussion of the Christian religion." (p. 132)

"The subject is very appropriately dealt with here as a prelude to a controversy with the Christians, who attribute divinity to Jesus and uphold the doctrine of atonement by blood on the basis of certain ambiguous words or allegorical statements, without heeding the fundamental principles established by the earlier prophets."
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6 years ago  ::  Mar 04, 2009 - 12:09PM #3
Kalimat
Posts: 30

Feb 19, 2009 -- 9:25PM, Muhammad_Ahmad wrote:

Those whom suggest that the Qur'an is entirely literal would make void the following verse:  "He it is Who has revealed the Book to thee; some of its verses are decisive -- they are the basis for the Book -- and others are allegorical. Then those in whose hearts is perversity, follow that part of it which is allegorical, seeking to mislead, and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation. And none knows its interpretation save Allah, and those firmly rooted in knowledge... (Qur'an 3:7).


Excellent, thank you. This is exactly the sort of thing I am looking for.

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5 years ago  ::  Apr 24, 2009 - 11:39AM #4
Globalnomad
Posts: 115

I believe the Quran was a revelation for humanity. It thus has to be able to cover the width & depth of our circumstances and situations (not meaning to take easy way out & say it's good to have a drink every day), but in the sense that it's about deeper teachings that are applicable. For example, when the Quran mentions that men and woman have to behave modestly (I dislike it when 'hijab' is reduced to piece of cloth on hair for women...), what is 'modestly'? In warm/ cold climates, in Arab/ Asian/ European/ American setting... part of modesty is not standing out... that means behaving/ dressing in different way in different places (though still spectrum of what is appropriate in different locations; 'fitting in' doesn't mean copying one or other extreme of what is considered 'normal', nor should going to edge of range per se be considered 'abnormal'). Words like justice, can you take them literally? I abhor terrorism, violence against women & so many other things, but if we look over history (around the world) what was considered 'justice' is not always in line with what we now consider to be 'just'.


Also, taking Prophet Muhammad as 'example' on how to lead our life. If he e.g. borrowed a camel to go somewhere, I don't believe I should go by camel too, but look at current 'equivalents' in the West: he had access to donkey, horse, camel etc and walked a lot, I have access to car, bus, train and can walk a lot. I learned much as part of book I'm currently finalising on Islam & Environment  (199 ways to please God, a kind of 'save cash & Creation' book).


So in summary: some of it I believe we should take literally (e.g. we are one humankind), but much we have to 'translate' to our current day/ place, but without losing the intention (as that would be a very slippery slope).


My 2p. In peace, globalnomad

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