The message from God to all His prophets is consistent. It is simple and straightforward. It is simply a sanction of universal values listing the deeds to be observed by all. In simple terms, it is a master plan for a productive life.
Let us not forget that it is the Devil’s purpose and nature to interfere. God has, time and again, reminded His servants not to serve him who imposes false limits beyond God’s own sanctions1. God’s revelation is all about this concept – nothing more and nothing less. There are no religious institutions, no religious obligations nor ritual prayers. God did not make provision for religious pilgrimages nor for the systematic collection of money in His name. He did not command His prophets or messengers to worship Him in the ordinary sense of that word. There is no reference to religious institutions or religious obligations in His Scripture. None whatsoever. What better way for the Devil to subvert God’s system2 than by contaminating it!
So, how did all these practices creep into Islam? Where in the Reading are these practices dictated? Let us examine the Scripture to see what God has enjoined upon us.
Inherently, all the prophets, messengers, and His servants – be they men or women – are required to serve God through their respective individual deeds both in substance and in spirit. Islam is concerned with deliberate and conscious obedience to God by the individuals to attain his or her peace in this world – not mindless automated behaviour. God’s message conveyed to us by all His messengers simply says: ‘You shall not serve other than Him’. Within the framework of those words lies the truth of Islam or the peacefulness.
We did not send any messengers before you but with the message: there is no god except Me, therefore you shall serve Me alone3. (21:25)
The key to peacefulness is by serving God alone – not the prophets, or messengers or anyone else. In order to do that, it is neccessay that we devote completely to the way of life prescribed by Him alone. This is the natural instinct implanted to us by Him. Somehow as we strive to find our way to the peacefulness in this life we hear different stories about God and in some extreme cases we are told God has begotten a son, or one chosen messenger must be honoured each time God’s name is invoked, and we also hear stories about what God wants. These are doctrines of invented religion and many people are deceived by the promoters of these religions.
“Praise God who has never taken a son for Himself, nor does He have a partner to rule, nor does he need anybody to protect Him from humiliations”. (17:111)
People humiliate God when they claim God has begotten a son, or mention other names besides Him each time they praise Him, or invent lies in His name. If we look around us we find Rabbis, Priests, Mullahs, and Imams who claim to be the protectors of God. Suprisingly people failed to see that these are the groups of people who are promoting these ideas. They are the same people who invented the non-prescribed worship and prayer; religious laws, pilgrimage, sacrifices etc. and then insist that is what God wants.
Each person is expected to serve his or her Lord through living a normal life of using the high faculty of their senses. There is no mention in the Reading of worship in the ordinary sense of that word or of ritual prayer be it three, four or five times a day or a week. It was but the religionists’ conspiracy against God and the Last Prophet, which saw the introduction of religious institutions, houses of worship, ritual prayers and religious laws.
For example, the religionists have manipulated the meaning of the term ‘way of life’ or deen to mean ‘religion’, and ‘I serve’ (ya’budu) to mean ‘I worship’. Whilst at first glance these changes seem minute, however, in realism they have had a tremendous impact on Islam. Sadly, the keepers of the faith have also perpetuated many other distortions. Among them are the Ka’aba in Mecca and the practice of mandatory pilgrimage. It would be wrong, however, to say (as sometimes people do) that the changes of the meanings have no real bearing on what the words mean or the translators conclusions that one draws from them. We will see, in fact, it is just the opposite in both cases. In some instances, the very meaning of the text is at stake, depending on how one resolves the textual problems.
The first and fundamental rule in understanding the meanings of the Quran is the testimony of one word from the Quran itself. CONSISTENCY.
“Why do they not ponder over the Quran? Had it been from anyone other than God, they would surely find many contradictions therein” (4:82)
In simple term the message of the Quran is consistent or inerrant. Any misunderstanding or inconsistency of interpreting the words is the results of humans’ errors. When humans interptret a word or a verse of the book he or she must determine if the intepretation supports the meaning of similar words or verses in other parts of the Quran. If such an interpretation contradicts with each other – then the interpretation is incorrect. For instant, we cannot interpret the root word ‘Amr as life and other derivatives with the same shade of meanings like ‘Umur as ‘age’, ‘Amara as ‘cultivate or to bring to live’, and ma’mur as ‘lively’, and then suddenly change ‘Umra as ‘visit’ a meaning that has nothing to do with live.
Arabic words are constructed by a regular system of derivation, etymology, conjugation and scheme of verbal inflextion and also connecting letters for making nouns, verbs, subjects, adjectives, pronouns, adverbs, etc. from their roots. This root provides the basic lexical meaning of the words. This is done by adding some letters to the root word or by changing the vowel signs. It also has regular ways of making different words from the root word to signify tense, number, gender, and paradigms. For example, let us look at the three consonants of Ka, Ta, Ba a root word associated with writing. The following are some derivation and their patterns derived from adding different vowels and alphabets between the consonants:
Kitab = Book or scripture
Katib = A writer or Scribe
‘Uktub = Write
Maktub = Written text
Kutiba = Prescribed
Kataba = He wrote
Katabu = They wrote
Katabat = She wrote
Katabna = We wrote
Yaktubu = He writes
Yaktabuna = They write
Taktubu = You write
Naktubu = We write
Maktab = School
It is important to note that by knowing the meaning of the base one can know the meaning of the derivative. Arabic has innumerable roots and each one possess a clear meaning. It also has words and phrases to express fully various ideas and distinguished between shades of meaning.
It is difficult to trace how and why the manipulations of the meanings of the words (not the original words) in the Quran began because the first English translation we have in our possession is less than one hundred fifty years old. From the 7th century Arab clerics were the first people who started compiling Arabic dictionaries for religious intentions. Many of these dictionaries were written at different times and in different places to address the different needs. These clerics however compiled their dictionaries with different perspectives, beliefs, views, needs, desires, understandings, and from different schools of thoughts. In all these ways they differed one another. However, not much later books were written by other opposing factions claiming to classify, qualify and rectify mistakes and remedy the errors of earlier compilers. In other words errors and mistakes can happen to humans’ works and it can result in contradictions. In 4:82 it says, “if other than God, surely they will find many contradictions therein“.
The first Arabic-English Lexicon by Edward William Lane was written in 1892. Much of Lane’s work were aquired from Taj al-Arus’s dictionary compiled by an Arab cleric of mid-seventeen century named Sayyid Murtadza Al Zabidi Al Bilgrami a compilation said to be among the best Arabic dictionaries exhibiting fully and clearly of the numerous explanations, meanings and comprehensive corrections of mistakes found in other Arabic dictionaries and lexicological works written by earlier clerics. In spite of these corrections we could still find errors among the best dictionaries and lexicons like assigning seven different words ibil, ba’ir, jamal, rikab, awbar, ‘ishar, and him as Camel or nine different words to refer to humiliate or abase.
It is interesting to know that the early Arabs belonged to a community entrenched with a belief of many gods. They subscribed to the worship of a deity through rituals, sacrifices of animals and other food products; they maintained that there was a special holy place where this being dwelt here on earth (like the square house in Mecca), and it was there that these sacrifices were to be made. They prayed to this god for communal and personal needs. Thus when the Quran was revealed to an Arab they see it as a mysterious book of some importance for religion, but it certainly was not for something to be learned or mastered. As I mentioned earlier the Quran is not about religion, it negates any religious practices – it is a guide book and the criterion to distinguish between right and wrong – good and bad. It also gives detail of the moral conduct of people of the past from different civilizations and sanctioned the limits of just laws.
It seems that God knew about the Arab race before He revealed the Quran to an Arab prophet and He has declared they are the staunchest disbelievers and hypocrites who don’t deserved to know the limits sanctioned in the book. This will be demonstrated beyond all doubt by this book. The Reading confirms:
The Arabs are staunchest in disbelief and hypocrisy, and most likely not to know the limits of what was revealed by God to His messenger, and God is Knower and Judge. (9:97)
It is very sad to see non-Arab Muslims around the world look very highly upon the Arabs just because the Quran was revealed in Arabic. If only they study the Quran carefully they will realize the probability of Arabs being the caretakers of God’s deen is close to zero. The current status quo, however, has the Arabs as the heroes and champions of ‘religion’ with non-Arabs putting their blind trust in the religionists who are obsessed with Arabic language and culture.
1 The Chambers 20th Century Dictionary amongst others defines “sanction” as “motive for obedience to any moral or religious law (ethics): a penalty or reward expressly attached to non-observance or observance of a law or treaty. In the context of the Qur’an, the limit to the orderly way of life is sanctioned. Thus it is called the ‘Consented Sanctions’ or ‘masjidil-haram’.
2 God’s system does not operate through organized institutions. People were created as individuals, and each answers directly to God. Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad were told to inform people that, “No burden soul will bear the burden of another”. Rabbis, priests, monks, and mullahs operate a false system created by the enemies of God and His messengers.
3 Serving God alone is the main essence of all scriptures. Moses announced it in Deuteronomy 6:4 and Jesus repeated it in Mark 12: 29-30 and Muhammad in the Qur’an 17:22-23.