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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, carosio said:

As those holy texts have been handed down (to earth) and are deliberately ambiguous with the true meaning being withheld, then it is no surprise that readers have no other option but to invent their own interpretations without hope of clarification.  What then, is the point?

 

 

To my knowledge, you as an ordinary reader cannot just interpret it as you please.

 

There are paths, like the exegesis of the Quran through scholars and more importantly, the understanding and explanation from Muhammad.

 

I've read something about "those who transgress" in the Quran, this can also relate to those who take the text out of context- without following the proper meaning through the scholarly or prophetic guidance.

 

Maybe Friendly Muslim can elaborate.

Edited by Mr Fisk

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What I meant by "reader" was anyone who reads and attempts to understand the text, scholar or otherwise. Your answer doesn't fully explain the key point I was highlighting which is the phrase "God only knows the true meaning".

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13 minutes ago, Mr Fisk said:

To my knowledge, you as an ordinary reader cannot just interpret it as you please.

 

There are paths, like the exegesis of the Quran through scholars and more importantly, the understanding and explanation from Muhammad.

 

I've read something about "those who transgress" in the Quran, this can also relate to those who take the text out of context- without following the proper meaning through the scholarly or prophetic guidance.

 

Maybe Friendly Muslim can elaborate.

Isn't this the fundamental flaw in all religions, including the Abrahamic ones? 

 

Someone says they've been speaking with an omnipotent being & here are their rules & regulations which you should hence take forth. 

 

Now if you're buying into the religion, you literally take them as gospel.  Any deviation from the original, for whatever reason, then surely you're no longer a follower of that religion? 

 

Additionally, if you are a believer / follower of a religion, what gives you the right or the degree of intelligence to amend or alter & challenge the instructions given by the omnipotent being, you were happy to follow in the first place? 

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Posted (edited)

The point about misinterpretation relates to individual phrases rather than the whole text.  Like all holy texts, it is very easy to pull out individual phrases and interpret meanings to them which fail to take into account context and, in the Qur'an's case, huge vagaries in relation to translation and the fact that often the verses therein relate to historical events happening in the period 610-633 (battles, political tensions, religious arguments) which most casual readers or cherry pickers don't know of.  Understanding some of those, helps understand the text much better.

 

A good example of this is the sentiment, often pointed at by Islamophobes, as prima facie evidence of Islam's intolerance to other faiths.  This largely stems from a phrase which appeared in Dawood's translation which appeared in the 1950s and is in the Penguin Classics edition:

 

"He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him and in the world to come, he will be one of the lost.'

 

Pretty damning, right?  Clear evidence of intolerance.

 

And yet . . and yet . . .

 

The word 'Islam' in this context does not mean what we think of it now - ie a religion followed by 1.6 bn people.  The word 'islam' in the 7th century Arabic of the Quran means 'complete devotion to God, unmixed with any other [God].  It's important to know that, because the Arabic world - including Mecca - was essentially pantheist at the time, until the Quran took hold.

 

Those who read the word Islam in the context most do - of the religion presented to the Prophet Muhammed - will set up a barrier , illegitimately based on this verse, between Islam and other monotheistic religions.  Not so.  It was God / Allah who originally sent down both the Torah and the Bible earlier and the Quran appeals to what is common in both:

 

"People of the book [Jews and Christians] - let us arrive at a statement that is common to us all; we worship God alone, we ascribe no partner to him [ie, there is only one god, at a time of pantheism] , and none of us takes others beside God as lords."

 

The Quran repeatedly forbids arguing with the People of the Book and in one passage (29:46) he addresses all three major religions: "We have assigned a law and a path to each of you.  If God had so willed, He would have made you one community, but He wanted to test you through that which He has given you, so race to do good; you will all return to God and he will make clear to you the matters you differed about."

 

I'm rambling, but only to make the point that focusing on individual lines to come up with 'aha' moments, while tempting and easy, is actually fraught with difficulties and complexities.

 

One more thing on the name of the religion.  Islam is a derivative of the arabic word; Sal'm.  Which means 'peace'.

 

I'm no expert though.  Friendly Muslim would be able to elaborate.

 

Edited by bendix

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11 minutes ago, Baron99 said:

Isn't this the fundamental flaw in all religions, including the Abrahamic ones? 

 

Someone says they've been speaking with an omnipotent being & here are their rules & regulations which you should hence take forth. 

 

Now if you're buying into the religion, you literally take them as gospel.  Any deviation from the original, for whatever reason, then surely you're no longer a follower of that religion? 

 

Additionally, if you are a believer / follower of a religion, what gives you the right or the degree of intelligence to amend or alter & challenge the instructions given by the omnipotent being, you were happy to follow in the first place? 

First off, noone spoke to the omnipotent being.  According to Muhammed, the Quran was revealed to him in very small parts over a period of 23 years. It wasn't revealed as one text, and it certainly wasn't revealed in the order you see in the text today.  AND it wasn't revealed directly; it came as messages from the Angel Gabriel.

 

Now - did an 'angel' (whatever that means) really appear?  I don't know.  According to eye witnesses who saw some of the process, the Prophet seemed to go into a trance, sweated, murmered words etc.   What we might consider for example to be some sort of trancelike 'divine intervention.'  Should we take the words absolutely literally (using our conditioned understanding of what an angel is and looks like), or should we try to understand it in the way that makes best sense for the individual?

 

The verses that comprise the Quran  were collected and memorised by Muhammed and his disciples randomly and over more than two decades.  It was only after various battles between Muhammed's follows and the Meccan pantheists from 624-630 (when many of those who knew the verses died, and after Muhammed's death in 633 that the Quran was ordered as we know it today and collected into one volume by Abu Bakr.

 

If you deviate from the original, are you a non-believer?   No, for the reasons I've tried to outline.  Becoming a muslim is incredibly easy - the process is simple.  NOW, you question is probably;  ok, the Quran proscribes eating the flesh of the pig.  If I then eat bacon, am i a non-believer?  Or if i don't pray five times a day, am i non-believer?  Am i no longer a muslim?  

 

Absolutely not.  You are still a muslim.  You might be breaching some of the rules of the Quran, but you remain a muslim. Whether you are a good muslim in the eyes of scholars, imam or even Allah himself, well that's another issue altogether.  But you remain a muslim.

 

Again, I'd love to hear Friendly's comments on my understanding.

 

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37 minutes ago, carosio said:

What I meant by "reader" was anyone who reads and attempts to understand the text, scholar or otherwise. Your answer doesn't fully explain the key point I was highlighting which is the phrase "God only knows the true meaning".

I agree there must be somethings in the Qur'an that 'only God knows' but as far as I am aware, general understanding of meanings etc are clear- when it comes to guidance, morals etc.

 

Even some verses where a minority will try to misinterpret, the meanings and reasons of why these verses were revealed (and where) are all given by scholars or through the prophetic tradition.

 

The things that only God knows are with Him and no knowledge of these has been passed on to any human, including Prophets. From my readings, these things can include some letters in beginning of chapters (e.g. some begin with Alif, Lam, Meem before the actual verse- these have no interpretation and only Allah knows their meaning). Then there is things like the Hour- when it will come- no one knows.

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31 minutes ago, bendix said:

A good example of this is the sentiment, often pointed at my Islamophobes, as prima facie evidence of Islam's intolerance to other faiths.  This largely stems from a phrase which appeared in Dawood's translation which appeared in the 1950s and is in the Penguin Classics edition:

 

"He that chooses a religion other than Islam, it will not be accepted of him and in the world to come, he will be one of the lost.'

 

Pretty damning, right?  Clear evidence of intolerance.

 

And yet . . and yet . . .

 

The word 'Islam' in this context does not mean what we think of it now - ie a religion followed by 1.6 bn people.  The word 'islam' in the 7th century Arabic of the Quran means 'complete devotion to God, unmixed with any other [God].  It's important to know that, because the Arabic world - including Mecca - was essentially pantheist at the time, until the Quran took hold.

 

Those who read the word Islam in the context most do - of the religion presented to the Prophet Muhammed - will set up a barrier , illegitimately based on this verse, between Islam and other monotheistic religions.  Not so.  It was God / Allah who originally sent down both the Torah and the Bible earlier and the Quran appeals to what is common in both:

 

"People of the book [Jews and Christians] - let us arrive at a statement that is common to us all; we worship God alone, we ascribe no partner to him [ie, there is only one god, at a time of pantheism] , and none of us takes others beside God as lords."

Being tolerant of the other Abrahamic religions but not of non Abrahamic religions is not being tolerant.

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8 minutes ago, altus said:

Being tolerant of the other Abrahamic religions but not of non Abrahamic religions is not being tolerant.

We need to define the word tolerant, and again we need to focus on historical context.  

 

As the Prophet Muhammed became more influential and Islam spread, the pantheist ruling classes sought to oppress and attack Islam.  The hostility of the pantheist authorities determined to convert Muslims back to their view, or finish them off. Battles were fought. Treaties signed and broken.  It was only in this context - of being attacked and persecuted - that the Quran were allowed to be fight back.

 

Even then, war was to be avoided.  Allowed to live in peace side by side, the Quran says that "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:256) and those polythiest and other non Abrahamic religions who keep peace with Muslim and allow freedom of worship are tolerated and celebrated (9: 1-15), those nonbelievers who seek safe conduct should be protected and kept safe (9:6) etc.

 

There is nothing in the Quran about intolerance to other religions, except to those who actively want to suppress Islam and attack its believers.  On the contrary, much of it is about living in peace with people of all beliefs.

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12 minutes ago, bendix said:

We need to define the word tolerant, and again we need to focus on historical context.

We don't need to define the word tolerant - there are dictionaries for that. If you mean that Islam advocates mutual tolerance with other religions (and not just Abrahamic ones), you should say so.

 

What is your view of it's position on apostasy and atheism?

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17 minutes ago, bendix said:

We need to define the word tolerant, and again we need to focus on historical context.  

 

As the Prophet Muhammed became more influential and Islam spread, the pantheist ruling classes sought to oppress and attack Islam.  The hostility of the pantheist authorities determined to convert Muslims back to their view, or finish them off. Battles were fought. Treaties signed and broken.  It was only in this context - of being attacked and persecuted - that the Quran were allowed to be fight back.

 

Even then, war was to be avoided.  Allowed to live in peace side by side, the Quran says that "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:256) and those polythiest and other non Abrahamic religions who keep peace with Muslim and allow freedom of worship are tolerated and celebrated (9: 1-15), those nonbelievers who seek safe conduct should be protected and kept safe (9:6) etc.

 

There is nothing in the Quran about intolerance to other religions, except to those who actively want to suppress Islam and attack its believers.  On the contrary, much of it is about living in peace with people of all beliefs.

In many parts of the world christians are being killed/persecuted; it doesn't bode well for being a christian in many of these lands.

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2 hours ago, carosio said:

In many parts of the world christians are being killed/persecuted; it doesn't bode well for being a christian in many of these lands.

Wherever that takes place, which is wrong- does not mean it is advocated in the slightest by Islam.

 

What some people do does not mean it represents the religion as a whole.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, bendix said:

I'm rambling, but only to make the point that focusing on individual lines to come up with 'aha' moments, while tempting and easy, is actually fraught with difficulties and complexities.

But the same must also be true in trying to justify that a few words contained in some text are actually scientific descriptions of how a human is formed as in the quotes by Friendly Muslim.

Edited by apelike

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