Categories
Polemical Rebuttals Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Does “Musi’un” Mean “Expanding”?

Introduction

It has come to our attention that Avijit Roy, webmaster of the Mukto Mona website, wrote an article titled Does the Qur’an Have any Scientific Miracles? One portion of the article on the subject of Sura’ az-Zaariyaat is worth commenting on, as it is an exhibition of some of the common problems with non-Muslim critiques of Muslim arguments over the Internet. These would include an unjustified confidence with the relevant subject matter, a poor understanding of the arguments involved and a possible tendency to bluff with the hopes that no one else notices.

What is at issue here is the fact that the word (musi`un) in Sura’ az-Zaariyaat 51:47 can be translated as “expanding”, thus some Muslims have argued that this is a Quranic reference to the expanding of the universe. Whatever the soundness of that position, Mr. Roy’s attempt to refute it included some statements that were so ridiculous that one could not simply let them pass.

Deceit or Sincere Ignorance?

One of the first statements that raised a red flag was one that attempted to lean on the arguments of Denis Giron.

Mr. Roy writes:

    Denish [sic] Giron also explained in one of his wonderfully written pieces that the verb from which the Arabic word (musi’un) is derived cannot mean “expand”

Then Mr. Roy cites Giron’s article entitled Expansion of the Universe in the Bible and the Qur’an: Comparing Isaiah to Soorat az-Zaariyaat.

The first problem is that Giron’s article blatantly contradicts Mr. Roy’s claim. In fact, Giron’s article explicitly states that “the verb from which this word is derived can mean expand.”

One has to wonder: did Mr. Roy even bother to read Giron’s article? The simple fact is that Mr. Roy’s argument says that the word cannot be translated as “expanding”, yet he calls to witness an article that gives a rather clear argument for why it can be translated as “expanding”!

After that, Mr. Roy calls to witness an article by Ali Sina. In this case, Mr. Roy actually manages to cite a person who agrees with him, but Sina’s argument is simply ridiculous, to put it mildly. Roy’s mentioning of this article is appreciated, however, as it can serve as a prime example of Sina’s total ignorance regarding the Arabic language. Mr. Sina argues as follows:

The word used here is moosiAAoona which drives from word vaseun. It means vast. It has nothing to do with expanding. When you say al rezwano vaseun (the garden is vast). It does not mean that the garden is expanding.

While this may seem like a case of belaboring a minor point, it might be worth noting that most people who employ a double-A (“AA”) in their transliterations of Qur’anic words or phrases over the net are probably novices who merely lifted the relevant transliteration off one of the websites which provide this odd symbol as designation of the presence of the Arabic letter ayn. Regardless, Sina’s attempt to prove that musi’un cannot be translated as “expanding” betrays a rather pathetic ignorance on his part regarding the Arabic language, and thus Mr. Roy’s decision to call him to witness is a true example of “the blind leading the blind”. Most ironic of all, the article by Denis Giron itself refutes Ali Sina’s ridiculous claim.

The Islamophobes’ “Expanding” Stupidity

As it was noted in Giron’s article, and would be known by just about anyone familiar with Arabic grammar, a verbal root in Arabic can take different verbal forms (or known as wazan). The following chart will serve to illustrate the various forms of wazan in the Arabic language and this chart will form the basis of what follows.

When the verbal root is in the (af`ala) form (or, as Giron puts it, “the FORM IV verb stem”), it can take on a causative function.

E.H. Palmer states that:

This is also expressed by Socin as follows:

The word musi’un is the plural of a participle from the verb root in this verbal form, which is (awsa`a). Thus, the related verb can mean something along the lines of causing something else to be wide or vast (i.e. expanding that thing). This is supported by various modern Arabic-English dictionaries and concordances.3 Hans Wehr4 gives the meaning “expand” under the form II stem for the root, and notes that the form IV stem can have all the same meanings as the form II.5 For form II as given by Wehr, Lane6 gives “made wide, broad, spacious […] amplified, enlarged, made ample”.

As also has been noted in Giron’s article, participles can be translated as the verbal form in the present tense. This is explained by Thackston, who says that:

7

Regarding the example provided by Thackston (saajid), it appears in the plural (saajideen) in Sura’ ash-Shu’ara, 26:46. The reader might be interested in comparing all translations of this verse. Critics of the claim that m?si’un can be translated “expanding” (present tense) try and lean on the fact that “certain” translations don’t render it that way. Looking at the translations with a non-controversial example such as Sura’ ash-Shu’ara, 26:46 might be worthwhile because we see that while “certain” translations do not render the active participle as a present tense verb, others do (e.g. “prostrating” or “bowing”), and this is a very possible translation.

We are also told in another reference that:

8

One may ask, what does the derived participles from the verb signify? Kasis explains:

The participles are derived from the verb to signify the doer (active participle) or recipient (passive participle) of the action. In addition, they signify an action which may be temporary, continuous or in a habitual state of being […] The active participle is very frequently translated as an adjective or as a substantive noun. Thus katib may be translated, depending on the context, as either “writing” (adj) or “scribe” (n).9

Thus “expanding” is a very real meaning for the word musi’un. Our points above are hence summarised as follows:

    (1) That the (Form IV) af`ala stem is causative.
    (2) That awsa`a (or musi`) can have the meaning “expand”.
    (3) That active participles can be translated as present tense verbs.

But here is a food-for-thought for even those unfamiliar with Arabic to ponder. The word under discussion was (musi’un). Yet Ali Sina went on to expound on the word “vaseun” without making any recourse to the word originally under discussion. It should be noted that there is no consonant “v” in Arabic. Perhaps he meant wasee` or (waasi`). This is not a very subtle attempt of bait and switch, which makes one wonder how had this argument managed to fool Avijit Roy. Do these two men honestly believe that every word from the same root in Arabic have the same meaning? When trying to discuss the meaning of a word, why hinge your entire argument on the meaning of a completely different word? The question even those who do not know Arabic can ask Sina and Mr. Roy is: are we discussing thw word “vaseun” or are we discussing musi`un?

Conclusions

How seriously can Muslims take Ali Sina or his cohort Aijit Roy when they put forth such poor arguments which is reflective of their command in Arabic? Certainly when it comes to issues of Arabic grammar, even their supporters should not hold to closely to their arguments. Did either of these men honestly believe they could just bluff their way through these arguments? Or did they actually convince themselves that these were good arguments? What kind of (a lack of) attention is required for one to not realize that they are calling to witness an article which disagrees with the very core of their claim? How did Mr. Roy managed to attribute a claim to an article which states the exact opposite?

Now non-Muslim readers (particularly the supporters of Ali Sina or Mr. Roy) may object that we have not mentioned the fact that Denis Giron’s article was attempting to disprove the claim that Sura’ az-Zaariyaat is a scientific miracle. This was not the issue under discussion here. Note that we did not make any positive claim about this verse necessarily being an obvious scientific miracle, hence we are not under any requirement to defend such a position or refute every attempt to critique it.

However, it should be stated that Denis Giron’s actual argument should not be considered terribly controversial by any Muslim who understands it. What was at issue here was the absurd level reached in these articles by Ali Sina and Mr. Roy in their attempt to tackle this issue. Can their supporters at least agree with us that in these instances, these two men committed some rather laughable errors and put on an exhibition of just how little they know about Arabic grammar?

And only God knows best!

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "Does “Musi’un” Mean “Expanding”?," in Bismika Allahuma, November 25, 2005, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/polemical-rebuttals/musiun-expanding/
  1. E.H. Palmer, Simplified Grammar of Hindustani Persian and Arabic, 3rd ed., (Kegan Paul Trench Trubner & Co., 1890), p. 65 []
  2. A. Socin, Arabic Grammar, (GE Stechert & Co., 1922), p. 26 []
  3. See, for example Rohi Baalbaki, al-Mawrid: Modern-Arabic English Dictionary, (Dar el-Ilm Lilmalayin, 1988), p. 1233 and Hanna E. Kassis, A Concordance of the Qur’an, (University of California Press, 1983), p. 1294. The latter gives the meaning “extend”. []
  4. J. Milton Cowan, Hans Wehr: A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 4th ed. (Otto Harrassowitz, 1979), p. 1251 []
  5. It should be noted that ibid., 2nd ed. (Cornell University Press, 1966), p. 1067, is exactly the same as the previous edition. []
  6. Edward William Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon (Islamic Book Center, 1978), p. 3053 []
  7. Wheeler M. Thackston, An Introduction to Koranic and Classical Arabic, (Iranbooks, 1994), p. 58 []
  8. Eckehard Schulz, Gunther Krahl & Wolfgang Reuschel, Standard Arabic (Cambridge, 2000), p. 280 []
  9. Hanna E. Kassis, A Concordance of the Qur’an (University of California Press, 1983), p. xxxiv []
Categories
Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Wife Beating In The Qur’an? Commentary On Sura’ An-Nissa’ (4):34

It is claimed that:

    Surah 4:34 is the notorious verse which advices Muslim husbands with regard to wives from whom they fear “rebellion” (“wa-llaatiy takhafuwna nushuwzahunna“) eventually to beat them (“wa- dribuwhunna“, “and beat them!”)

The issue of a given scriptural verse and its implications are twain. First, there is the actual meaning of the verse. Second, there is the way in which it was received and understood by those who received it.

Much of the problem is due to the numerous attempts at an English interpretation of the Qur’an and not a one being all that good. Let us look at the verse in its context which often neglected intentionally for the sake of the bigoted polemics. This is how it should be rendered into English based on the Prophet’s (P) own words, how his Companions (R) understood them, and how the traditional scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence ruled according to these precepts:

“Men are the vigilant custodians of women, because of what Allah has endowed upon the one over the other, in that they spend from their means. Thus are those women righteous and devout, and protective in absentia over what Allahas deemed to be secure. As for those from whom you fear insolence, (first) edify them, (second) abstain from laying together with them, (lastly) beat them. However, if they seek reconciliation, do not be hostile against them. Verily, Allah is the Exalted the Great.”

Below are the reasons for my translation listed in detail based upon the understanding of the Prophet(P), his Companions(R) and the early Muslim authorities in jurisprudence:

(1) “Men are the vigilant custodians of women…”

al-Qawwaamoona” (sing. “al-Qawwaam“) — “Meaning vigilant to and protective” (“Ayy: mulaaziman, muHaafiTHan“)1

(2) “…because of what Allah has endowed upon the one over the other, in that they spend from their means”

bi-maa fa’al Allah ba`Dahum `alaa ba`D…” (lit. “In what Allah has endowed the one over the other) – “Meaning that they purvey for them a wedding dowry, and they spend dutifully upon them from their means, and they make sure that all their needs are met. That is the endowment Allahas put in place for them and over them…”2

(3) “…Thus are those women righteous and devout, and protective in absentia over what All?has deemed to be secure”

“Be good to them, and dignify them, for this is what was understood from the recitation of Ibn Mas’ud”3

(4) “…As for those from whom you fear insolence”

“an-Nushooz” – “….is infraction (`aSyaan); taken from ‘an-nashaz’ meaning that which is elevated from the earth…The meaning is thus: You fear her rebellion and haughtiness to what All?has ordained upon her in regards to compliance with her husband. Abu ManSoor al-Lughawy has stated, ‘Nushooz is the hatred of either one of a married couple for their spouse’. Ibn Faaris has stated, ‘A woman has committed nushooz if she has beleaguered her husband, and the husband has committed nushooz if he strikes her and beats her…”4

(5) “…edify them”

“fa-`iTHoohunna” – “Meaning with the Book of All? Meaning remind them of what All?has ordained upon them regarding being of amiable companionship and beautiful partnership with their husbands, and the level of his status over her…”5

(6) “…abstain from their beds”

“And ‘abstaining from the beds’ is that he should lie with her, but turn his back to her, and not have intercourse with her, according to Ibn `Abbaas and others. Mujaahid said, ‘Abstaining from lying with her’…al-Hasan al-Basri said, ‘For when the husband abstains from her bedside, if she is loving to her husband then this will be grieve her and she will be inclined to make things right; However, if she is hateful then her insolence will become manifest, and it will be made clear that she is haughty.”6

(7) “…and beat them”

Allah has said, ‘and beat them’ (wa-Driboohunna) as an order from Allah that the husband should begin by edifying the woman firstly, then he should abstain from her, then if none of that proves useful then to beat…and ‘beat’ (darb) in this verse is to beat simply as a gesture and to not cause pain. It is not meant to break bones or to offend her dignity as with a punch and the like. For the intention is reconciliation and not anything other than that..and the Prophet(P) said in Saheeh Muslim: ‘Fear Allah in regards to women! For you have taken them in marriage as security from Allah and intercourse with them has been made lawful for you by the Words of Allah. And you too have rights over them that they should not allow any adversary to illicitly frequent your dwelling. If they do that then you may hit them with a hit that does not hurt’

(8) “…if they seek reconciliation, do not be hostile against them”

“Allah has said, ‘if they seek reconciliation,’ meaning they have forsaken insolence. ‘Do not be hostile against them,’ meaning do not respond to them in furore in words or actions. This is a forbiddance in regards to oppressing them after they have become determined upon the goodness and are firm in good conduct. Meaning do not make it difficult for them to show you love, for this is not the way to be with them.”7

One can opportunistically cancel out the above in order to twist the words as they like according to their infinitesimal understanding, but this is a dishonest polemic. If one chooses to say that a verse from the Qur’an has a heinous meaning, in spite of the absolute majority of Muslims not sharing that narrow and twisted understanding, this serves only the facetious desires of that person’s own twisted, puny brain.

If one were to say that the Biblical verse “Thou shall not kill” means that everyone must be a vegetarian, and a Christian posted a plethora of references to show that the absolute majority of the Church throughout history did not share this view, yet that person insisted that it meant you couldn’t kill animals either, then that person would be an imbecile. The only thing such people are doing is making an obtuse joke for themselves which they can snicker at in their bedrooms and no more.

And only God knows best.

  1. Ibn al-Manthur, Lisaan al-`Arab []
  2. at-Tabari, Jaami`u-l Bayaan `An Ta’weel Aay al-Qur’an []
  3. ibid. []
  4. al-Qurtubi, al-Jaami’u li-Ahkaami-l Qur’an []
  5. at-Tabari, op. cit. []
  6. al-Qurtubi, op. cit. []
  7. ibid. []
Categories
Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Of The Sun Setting In Murky Water: Qur’anic Commentary on Sura’ Al-Kahf (18):86

Dhul-Qarnayn (Arabic: ذو القرنين‎ ḏū’l-qarnayn), “he of the two horns” (or “he of the two ages”), appears in the Quran as a figure empowered by God to erect a wall between mankind and Gog and Magog, the representation of chaos. Dhul-Qarnayn is generally described as a righteous ruler who travelled to spread the message of God. Of interest is this verse from Qur’an, 18:86 which has recently raised much ruckus among the enemies of Islam.

The following English translation was taken from A. Yusuf Ali:

“Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it, he found a People: We said: “O Dhul-Qarnayn! (thou hast authority) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness.” (Qur’an, 18:86)

A common Christian missionary “objection” to the verse above is by claiming it to be a “scientific contradiction”.

    If the presence of scientific facts can prove the Qur’an’s divine origins, the presence of scientific falsehood can disprove divine origins. For example, Sura’ 18:86:

    “Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: “O Dhul-Qarnayn! (thou hast authority,) either to punish them or to treat them with kindness.”

    Since we all know that the sun does not set in a spring of murky water and, therefore, this is a big error. However, Muslim apologists are quick to tell us that this is only poetic and not a “scientific miracle”! This type of apologetic is intellectually dishonest as well as a bit silly.

So who is the one that is actually “intellectually dishonest as well as a bit silly”? Let us analyse the verse part by part.

Analysis Of The Verse

“Until, when he reached the setting of the sun…”: The translation of this part of the verse does not say that Dhul-Qarnayn reached the place where the sun sets literally, rather it means here that Dhul-Qarnayn was facing the direction in which the sun is setting. The “setting of the sun,” is an Arabic idiom meaning ‘the western-most point’ of his expedition. However, in general, idioms should not be literally translated.

“…he found it set in a spring of murky water”: The Qur’an is obviously describing what Dhul-Qarnayn saw. What Dhul-Qarnayn saw was the image of the sun setting in a dark body of water. Since the Qur’an is clearly describing this from Dhul-Qarnain’s direct point of view (the Qur’an is quite explicit here in doing that), there is, in fact, no problem with the description of what Dhul-Qarnain saw. Of course, one is correct in saying that “the sun does not set in a spring of murky water”, but try standing at a beach during the time when the sun is about to set and anyone would be able to see the sun “entering” the sea far in the horizon. This, therefore, gives us the conclusion that Dhul-Qarnayn was somewhere west and by a large body of water, possibly the sea.

Critics of this verse should be aware that the Qur’an is not descriptive prose, and the words of the Qur’an is of high poetical eloquence, something which the Bible is not able to claim. Since the beauty of the Qur’an is in its poetical nature, it is therefore only natural that the Qur’an uses emphatic expressions to describe something like a “sunset”.

Keep in mind that the Qur’an is in poetical prose and is meant to be a challenge to the pagan Arabs in Mecca who prided themselves as writers of good poetry. Those neophytes who like to use this verse as a stick to beat Islam with should attempt to study Arabic literature and the history of that period before coming up with silly conclusions.

Therefore, it is clear the verse says that Dhul-Qarnain went west and saw the sun setting over the horizon so that it looked to him as though it was setting into the sea, which is murky-looking. Probably the critic has never stood by on the beach and observe the sunset.

For further clarification of our explanation, we reproduce two other translations of the same verse by M. M. Pickthall and Shakir.

    Translation by M. M. Pickthall

    Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring, and found a people thereabout. We said: O Dhu’l-Qarneyn! Either punish or show them kindness. (Qur’an 18:86)

    Translation by Shakir

    Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people. We said: ‘O Zulqarnain! either give them a chastisement or do them a benefit.’ (Qur’an 18:86)

We can see that the general agreement of the translations of this verse is that Dhul-Qarnain saw the sun setting into the horizon that it looks like it is set into a body of water (sea) that looks murky-looking. That this verse was never taken literally was not alien in the understanding of the early commentators.

How The Early Commentators Understood The Verse

In his famous commentary known as Al-Game’ le Ahkam-el-Qur’an, Imam Al-Qurtubi (died 671 AH/1273 CE) wrote about this verse:

It is not meant by reaching the rising or setting of the sun that he reached its body and touched it because it runs in the sky around the earth without touching it and it is too great to enter any spring on earth. It is so much larger than earth. But it is meant that he reached the end of populated land east and west, so he found it – according to his vision – setting in a spring of murky water as we watch it in smooth land as if it enters inside the land. That is why He said, “he found it rising on a people for whom we had provided no covering protection against the sun.” (Holy Qur’an 18:90) and did not mean that it touches or adheres to them, but they are the first to rise on. Probably this spring is a part of the sea and the sun sets behind, with or at it, so the proposition takes the place of an adjective and God knows best.1

Fakhr-ud-Deen Ar-Razi wrote in his commentary on the same verse that:

When Zul-Qarnain reached the furthest west and no populated land was left, he found the sun as if it sets in a dark spring, but it is not in reality. The same when sea traveller sees the sun as if it sets in the sea if he cannot see the shore while in reality, it sets behind the sea. 2

Ibn Kathir (701-774 AH/1302-1373 CE) wrote in his commentary about this verse that:

“Until, when he reached the setting of the sun” means he followed a certain way until he reached the furthest land he could go from the west. As for reaching the setting of the sun in the sky, it is impossible. What narrators and storytellers say that he walked for a period of time in earth while the sun was setting behind him is unreal, and most of it is from myths of People of the Book and inventions of their liars. “he found it set in a spring of murky water” means he saw the sun according to his vision set in the ocean and this is the same with everyone ending to the shore seeing as if the sun sets inside it (i.e. the ocean).3

According to Al-Mawardi (d. 450 A.H) in his tafsir, the verse can be understood as:

That He (Dhul Qarnayn) wajadaha (found it, saw it) setting behind the spring (‘ayn) as if it was setting in the very spring.”4

And finally, to strengthen our observation that the part of the verse above is indeed poetical in nature and that the Qur’an had never meant the statement to be understood literally or from a “scientific” perspective, let us now see a picture of the sun setting in the horizon.

Conclusions

The allegation put forth against the Qur’an is utterly baseless and is refuted by the Arabic language itself. The verse contains no reference at all to the sun literally setting, or entering, or going down, into a muddy pool of water. It is clear to us that the above-mentioned verse is only considered “unscientific” if we would also consider that similar emphatically-used phrases such as “Japan, the land of the rising sun” or “Sabah, the land below the wind” to be “unscientific” as well.

Our advice to those neophytes is that before they try to find any more “discrepancies” in the Qur’an they should consider the following discrepancy of the Bible to clarify which Book actually has a severe defect:

And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. (Leviticus 11:6)

Now we all know that the hare (or anything related to rabbits) do not chew cud. Is this a “poetical” expression of the Bible? And only God knows best.

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "Of The Sun Setting In Murky Water: Qur’anic Commentary on Sura’ Al-Kahf (18):86," in Bismika Allahuma, October 14, 2005, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/quran/setting-in-murky-water/
  1. Al-Qurtubi, Al-Game’ le Ahkam-el-Qur’an, Vol. 16 (Dar-ul-Hadith, Cairo, Egypt), p. 47 []
  2. Fakhr-ud-Deen Ar-Razi, At-Tafsir-ul-Kabeer, Vol. 21, p. 166 []
  3. Tafsir-ul-Qur’an Al-‘Azeem by Ibn Kathir, Vol. 5, p. 120 []
  4. Al-Mawardi, ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin Habib, Al-Nukat wa al-‘Uyun, Vol. 3 (Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya), p. 450 []
Categories
Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Does the Qur’an Say About Mary In The Trinity?

The Christian missionaries have engaged in bitter polemics since the advent of Islam. One of their common allegations is that they claim that in Sura’ Al-Maiah (5):119, the Qur’an made a “mistake” in claiming that the Trinity consists of God, Jesus and Mary. The said verse is as follows:

“And behold! God will say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah’ He will say: ‘Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.'” (Qur’an 5:116)

Upon careful observation, one would indeed see that God have indeed spoken the Truth:

  • The mentioning of the “Trinity” appears in the Holy Qur’an in verses 4:171 and 5:73. In these two verses the name of Mary is not mentioned as “the third Person of the Holy Trinity”.
  • Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches can be found filled with carved or molten images and/or statues of Jesus Christ and his mother Mary, in various sizes and shapes.
  • Most of these statues or images are placed in the prominent places of the prayer halls of these Christian Churches for venerating and worshipping of these entities. One would also notice that the majority of the attending congregates would kneel, worship, venerate and pray before these images as their reverent rituals and inherited traditions. Many devoted believers would place lighted candles in front of these statues or images before worshipping or paying their homage.
  • These Catholic congregates who venerate Lord Jesus as their God and call Virgin Mary as the “Mother of God”, do form the bulk of the Christians community. It has been so since the inception of the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestants, who separated from the Roman Catholics, nearly ten centuries after the advent of Islam, do not have the statues of Mother Mary in their Churches, although at one time Mary did play a pivotal role.
  • As for the Holy Ghost, the third person of the Holy Trinity, no Christian Church has so far instituted its venerating representation, image or semblance for their Churchgoers.

Under the heading MARY, we find the following information that supports the above argument.

Mary’s exalted position also earned her the titles Mother of God and Coredemptrix, suggesting that she played an active role in the redemption of mankind along with her son. The Mother of God title was applied early in church history, based on the notion that Jesus was fully God as well as human. This was established as a doctrine in the 4th century. In the Eastern churches this doctrine played a major devotional role and became a favorite subject for icon painters. During the Reformation era it was accepted by both Catholic and Protestant scholars, though Mary’s role in Protestant theology has declined markedly since then.1

It is clear that for all practical purpose and in reality, when the issue is of worshipping, venerating, deifying and/or idolizing is concerned, it is Mary – the theotokos (Mother of God), and not the Holy Ghost, which has that kind of rank and status. Briefly, in terms of veneration, the idols of Jesus and Mary are treated as deities. The Holy Ghost is not venerated as a deity in the manner that Jesus’ and Mary’s idols were treated. The quoted verse from the Holy Qur?an questions such Divine Rank and Status that have been assigned by the followers of Jesus to him and his mother.

The quoted verse does not speak of the Church developing the enigmatic doctrine of Trinity in the fourth century. It is in fact accepted that the doctrine of Trinity evolved and took its final shape nearly 350 years of CE. Bart D. Ehrman observes that

Christianity in the second and third centuries was in a remarkable state of flux. To be sure, at no point in its history has the religion constituted a monolith. But the diverse manifestations of its first three hundred years – whether in terms of social structures, religious practices, or ideologies – have never been replicated.

Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the realm of theology. In the second and third centuries there were, of course, Christians who believed in only one God; others, however, claimed that there were two Gods; yet others subscribed to 30, or 365, or more. Some Christians accepted the Hebrew Scriptures as a revelation of the one true God, the sacred possession of all believers; others claimed that the scriptures had been inspired by an evil deity. Some Christians believed that God had created the world and was soon going to redeem it; others said that God neither had created the world nor had ever had any dealings with it. Some Christians believed that Christ was somehow both a man and God; others said that he was a man, but not God; others claimed that he was God but not a man; others insisted that he was a man who had been temporarily inhabited by God. Some Christians believed that Christ’s death had brought about the salvation of the world; others claimed that his death had no bearing on salvation; yet others alleged that he had never even died.2

So, in conclusion, there is no point calling the modern-day Trinitarian Christianity as ‘true’ Christianity and all others as ‘false’ since the evolution of this doctrine itself is very late. The early Christianity themselves had bizarre beliefs about their doctrine as well as their Scriptures.

And only God knows best.

  1. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia (1995), under the heading “Mary” []
  2. Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption Of Scripture: The Effect Of Early Christological Controversies On The Text Of The New Testament, 1993, Oxford University Press, London & New York, p. 3 []
Categories
Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Qur’anic Commentary on Sura’ An-Nissa’ (4):89

Recently, we hear Christians making strange claims about Sura’ An-Nissa’ (4):89, by saying that it is a verse meant to be applied as a punishment for apostates. The said verse is as follows

They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them.

But who are they being referred to in the verse above? The previous verse had the answer.

“What aileth you that ye are become two parties regarding the hypocrites, when Allah cast them back (to disbelief) because of what they earned? Seek ye to guide him whom Allah hath sent astray? He whom Allah sendeth astray, for him thou (O Muhammad) canst not find a road.” (Qur’an 4:88)

It is the hypocrites being referred to (not apostates as insinuated by Christians) and in dealing with those who pretend to be Muslims on the outside, but are the enemies of Islam in reality. Such hypocrites are the ones who would aid the pagans against the Muslims. So we see the missionaries’ claims that the verse in Sura’ An-Nissa’ (4):89 refers to the punishment of apostates falls flat on their face. This is further attested to by Ibn Katheer in this tafseer of the above verse, when he says

And His [God’s] saying “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they)” means that they (the hypocrites) wish you misguidance so as to be like them in it; and this is due only to their great animosity and hatred towards you, that’s why God said “so take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah(meaning left al-hijrah)” as said by Al-Awfy based on Ibn Abbas, and Al-Saddy said “they showed their kufr, then take them and kill them wherever you find them, “and take no friends or helpers from their ranks” means not to take any of them as allies or seek their support against the enemies of Allah as long as they are like this; then Allah excluded from them.

So, the next question is: who are the hypocrites? Hypocrites are those who take the Islamic Shahada (Confession of Faith) but do not mean it. They do so on the sole aim of trying to cause division and hatred within the Muslim ranks. Consider the following from Sura’ Al-Munafiqun (63):1, as follows:

“When the hypocrites come to thee, they say ‘We bearth witness that thou art indeed the messenger of Allah. Yea, Allah knoweth that thou art indeed his messenger, and All?bearth witness that the hypocrites are indeed liars.”

The above verse speaks for itself. Here, God Almighty is describing the hypocrites; they are the people who profess the Islamic faith but are lying and do not mean it. When the Prophet(P) first migrated to Madina and preached to the people there, there were some Jews and pagan Arabs who profess Islam but in fact seek to destroy the faith. Thus, the hypocrites are not synonymous with apostates as Christians are trying to claim.

And only God knows best!

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Islam Polemical Rebuttals Qur'anic Commentary The Qur'an

Sura’ al-Fatihah and the Missionary’s “Straight Path”

As-salaamu ala’ man ittaba’a al-huda;

Some Christian missionaries have the inherent fantasy that Sura’ al-Fatihah (the first Sura’ of the Qur’an) somehow supports their false pagan doctrine of the Trinity.

sura-fatiha.png

The translation of this Sura is as follows:

1) In the Name of Allaah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
2) All the praises and thanks are for Allaah the Lord of the Universe.
3) The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful.
4) Master of the Day of Recompense.
5) You Alone we worship, and You Alone we ask for help.
6) Guide us to the Straight Path.
7) The Path of those on whom You have bestowed your grace, not the Path of those who earned your Anger, nor of those that went astray.

The missionaries, having an inherent disease in their hearts, are unable to appreciate the Pure Monotheism which the Sura expounds. They will first cite the whole ayaat (keep in mind that their main contention is with Qur’an, 1:6 — “Guide us to the straight path“) and then twist this interpretation to suit their false doctrine.

It seems to be a common tactic which is not alien to Christian missionary propaganda, as befitting the tactics of their Satanic apostle from Tarsus. Let us now deal with this latest polemic in the following paragraphs, insha’allah.

As one Christian polemicist had claimed:

    This is the daiy [sic] prayer recited by the Muslim every time they pray. Everyday, they are asking God to show them the straight way – this wil go on and on the rest of their lives! As I read the Al-Qur’an myself, I then found the Straight Way that they are looking for.

Then the Christian missionary “conveniently” proceeds to selectively quote verses related to Jesus alaihissalam and the imagined “straight way”. And of course, that “Straight Way” the Christian has in mind is then transposed to the verse in John 14:6.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

By this erroneous “transposition”, their claim is two-fold:

    (1) The Qur’an speaks of a “straight path”.
    (2) Jesus (and implicitly, Christianity and Christian doctrines) is the “straight path”.

With such fantasies that these Christians have, it is amazing that their stupidity always precedes their profound ignorance.

It should of course be noted that while the Qur’an does speak favourably of Jesus(P) and the message that he had preached, it is always depicted that Jesus(P) is a human Prophet of God and His servant. It is thus quite convenient for the missionary to leave out verses which stressed upon Jesus’(P) humanity in the Qur’an, for example:

“Christ, the son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!”1

More of such verses on Jesus(P) can be found here. It is thus clear that the missionary had selectively done a “pick and choose” on the verses that the missionary “feels” support their Trinitarian doctrine. However, as the evidence dictates, this is far from the truth.

Here is a full commentary of Sura al-Fatihah from Ibn Kathir, specifically Qur’an, 1:6 — Ihdeena siraatul mustaqeem (“Guide us on the straight path”).

On this passage, Ibn Kathir says:

The saying of the Exalted, ‘You Alone we ask for help’: meaning that we do not seek aid from anyone but You because the command/affair in it’s totality is under Your control Alone, no one else has even an atoms weight of control over it. And in this statement’s following His saying, ‘You Alone we worship’ lies an indication that it is not permissible to put our trust in anyone except the One that deserves worship because no one else has control over the command/affair. This meaning which is indicated here is clearly explained in other verses, like His sayings,

‘So worship Him and put your trust in Him’ (12:123)

‘But if they turn away, say: Allaah is sufficient for me, none has the right to be worshipped but Him, in Him I put my trust’ (9:129)

‘The Lord of the East and the West, none deserves to be worshipped but Him, so take Him as the Disposer of your affairs’ (73:9)

‘Say: He is the Most Beneficent, we have believed in Him and put our trust in Him’ (67:29)

When one reads the commentary, it is obvious that there is hardly any mention of Jesus(P) being God or that he is the Son of God; that all Muslims should just convert en masse to Christianity and be Trinitarian worshippers. Such allusions are simply ridiculous, to put it quite bluntly.

Interestingly though, the missionary left out the last verse of the Sura. It refers to people who have earned God’s wrath and people who have gone astray. So who are those people that the Sura’ is referring to? Here is the answer:

The saying of the Exalted, ‘not the Path of those who have earned Your Anger, nor of those that went astray’: the majority of the scholars of tafseer said that ‘those who have earned Your Anger’ are the Jews, and ‘those that went astray’ are the Christians, and there is the hadeeth of the Messenger of Allaah(T) reported from Adee bin Haatim(R) concerning this. And the Jews and the Christians even though both of them are misguided and both of them have Allaah’s Anger on them – the Anger is specified to the Jews, even though the Christians share this with them, because the Jews knew the truth and rejected it and deliberately came with falsehood, so the Anger (of Allaah being upon them) was the description most befitting them. And the Christians were ignorant, not knowing the truth, so misguidance was the description most befitting them.

It is the Christians! The Christians are denounced as those “who have gone astray”. Obviously logic dictates that if the Christians are the ones who are denounced in this verse of the Sura, it does not make any sense for the Qur’an to be supporting any of the Christian doctrines. Thus we see how obviously fallacious the claims of the missionary are and with this exposure, their arguments fall to the ground.

In conclusion, rather than supporting their beliefs Sura’ al-Fatihah actually attacks their doctrines and disputes their claim that they are the guided ones. The Christian missionaries should thus stop dreaming that the Qur’an will ever support their lies. It never had and never will. As far as the Muslims are concerned, Guidance is in Al-Huda (Islam), the Straight Path, and it certainly does not belong to the Christians.

In the end, we are reminded to put our trust in the following verse:

“And they say: “None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian”. Those are their [vain] desires. Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful!2

We are rest assured that the Christians will never be able to produce their evidence apart from twisting their facts, and their destination is no doubt the Hellfire. And only God knows best!

Cite this article as: Bismika Allahuma Team, "Sura’ al-Fatihah and the Missionary’s “Straight Path”," in Bismika Allahuma, December 29, 2006, last accessed September 25, 2022, https://bismikaallahuma.org/islam/straight-path/
  1. Qur’an, 5:75 []
  2. Qur’an, 2: 111 []