Various colours in the Quran

Various colours in the Quran 1


The great diversity of colours

While referring to the infinite diversity of colours and shades of various objects and events in nature – in inanimate, animate and human world, the Quran insistently calls us to observe the beauty and depth of this diversity (e.g. And all that He has multiplied for you in the Earth of diverse colours; verily there is a message in this for a people who recollect. 16:13; cf. 16:69. 35:27, 35:28, 39:21).

The multifaceted Quranic references to colours range from the varied colours of honey, produced by the bees ‘instinctively feeding from all fruits’ (16:69), to the endless nuance of various colours and shades in rocks, plants, flowers, crops, fruits, animals and humans (35:27-28). And from the great diversity in outer and inner traits of the evolving man (30:22, 5:48, 11:118, 16:93, 35:27-28, 42:8, 49:13) to the never-ending ‘colours’ of countless minds (35:19-28, 16:13, 2:136-139, 30:9-24).

Please note that the word ‘colours’ in the Quran is attached with profound meaning and intent. On one hand, it refers to the persistent emphasis on the concepts of pluralism and multidimensionality of the Truth: One LIGHT (‘the Truth’) is split into many COLOURS (‘a truth’s’). On the other hand, it implies that, while there is only one universal principle of ‘islam’, there are infinite paths (‘PLURAL PATHS of peace’, subul as-salaam, 5:16) to achieve that principle: The Quran promotes religious pluralism

The full spectrum of colours

This appears in the famous ‘Colour Verses’:

See you not that God sent down water from the Heaven? With it We then bring out produces of various colours. And in the mountains are streaks of whites and reds, of various colours, and intense blacks. 35:27

And so amongst men and animals and livestock, are they of various colours. As such, only the knowledgeable among His servants stand in awe of God: surely God is Mighty, Forgiving. 35:28

Please observe how the above precisely portrays the full spectrum of all very different colours (‘of whites and reds, of various colours, and intense blacks. 35:27’).

After mentioning the full colour WHITE, which contains all the colours of light’s visible spectrum, and then the primary colour RED, which is the most distinct colour and is at the outermost end of the visible spectrum, it descends through ‘OTHER COLOURS’ (‘various colours’) of the range towards the inner end – i.e. orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet – and approaches the pure BLACK (‘and intense blacks’), which, being without colour and at the other end of the continuum, is the complete opposite of white.

This tremendous diversity of colours and hues in nature (16:13) includes not only the full range of visible colours (35:27-28), or ‘invisible colours’ as various radiations of electromagnetic spectrum (35:19-21), but also the infinite nuances of human minds, along with all the ‘spiritual colours’ (35:19-28): We are called to observe the colours

Below we will try to go through the various colours specifically mentioned in the Quran.

Colours mentioned in the Quran

All the three primary colours of light – red, yellow and blue, wherefrom all other colours can be obtained by mixing – appear in the Quran, each with its precise, idiosyncratic meaning/s and intent.

RED occurs in the Quran only once, in the ‘Colour Verses’ quoted above (35:27-28; ‘of whites and reds, of various colours, and intense blacks.’). Here red gets special importance as chosen out of all the colours of the rainbow, apparently as the first and the most distinct colour of the visible spectrum. Notably, the words whites, reds and blacks appear here in plural, indicating that there is not just one white or one red or one black, but there are countless intermediate shades and grades of each of them.

This Quranic categorisation of all colours into whites (layers of consciousness, 24:35), reds (and ‘various colours’, layers in-between, 35:27) and blacks (layers of ignorance, 24:40), with their spiritual connotations, is comparable to sattva, rajas and tamas of Bhagabadgita.

YELLOW, in all forms, occurs total five times in the Quran (2:69, 30:51, 39:21, 57:20, 77:33). Yellow, when golden bright, is a very attractive colour that tempts greed and materialistic pursuits (2:69). But when it is a colour of fiery flame, it is a terrifying reminder of the nature’s law of recompense (77:33).

Then yellow, when appears in the parable of fading plants, is also a colour of decline and degeneration (incl. spiritual degeneration: Then He grows therewith produce of various colours: then it withers; you see it grow yellow … 39:21; 30:51, 39:18-22, 57:20), thereby signifying the transitory nature of everything in this universal flux (27:88, 28:88, 39:21, 55:26-27, 57:20, 84:16-20).

BLUE is used once in the Quran, in an allegory about the hereafter to denote ‘blurred (blue) vision’ (The day the horn is blown, and We gather the offenders on that day blue. 20:102; cf. 20:124, 17:71-72). Here blue, as the least distinct in the visible spectrum, represents blurriness or relative blindness, spiritual blindness in this occasion. It may also imply ‘blueness’ (cyanosis) related to the panic felt by a convict in the face of divine judgment.

Apart from the primary colours, the Quran also specifically mentions the following mixed colours, as well as black, the non-colour:

GREEN recurrently appears throughout the Quran as a delightful colour that symbolises life (6:99, 12:43, 12:46, 18:31, 22:63, 36:80, 55:76, 76:21). This is evidently because ‘green’, by turning light energy into life energy and converting inorganic (dead) into organic (living) matter, represents the ultimate source of all life on Earth (22:63-66; cf. 18:32, 26:148).

The Quran describes the natural phenomenon of storage of solar energy in the form of fuel, via ‘green’, and then its rebirth into activated life-forces and flames through kindling of fire, as a proof and reminder of God’s ability to resurrect the dead: Every kindling of fire is a reminder!

Also, while identifying ‘green’ as the fountain of an endless range of harvests of all colours (6:99), the Quran asks us to ponder on this unity in diversity as an evidence of God’s oneness and greatness and His infinite creative and re-creative power (17:44, 57:1, 36:77-82; cf. 16:10-13): One ‘green’ with many products

A shower of divine rain provides our insight with perception of ‘green’, where ‘green’ functions as a metaphor for spiritual life (22:63).

PINK appears in the Quran to denote the alarming colour of a disintegrated sky (55:37).

Here is a way we can rationalize it. The sky is primarily black, unless secondarily illuminated by light-emitting objects (79:29).  However, due to the particles in our atmosphere, the sky appears to us blue during the day and red at sunrise and sunset. The day sky appears blue because molecules in the air scatter sunlight’s blue (short waves) more than they scatter red (long waves), leaving the blue to prevail. The sky is red at sunrise and sunset because, as the light then comes through the atmosphere at an angle, the blue light gets filtered or scattered out in its long journey, leaving the red to prevail. Also, an evening sky often looks red because of air pollution, since dust, vapour, and other floating particles in the air act as a filter on the sunlight.

Thus, while the apparent blueness of the sky is due to the integrity of the atmosphere, a worsening environmental pollution with increasing global warming and ozone hole expansion is likely to shatter this integrity, making the blue sky appearing ‘red’ instead (Then, when the Heaven is split asunder, and it turns rosy like murky oil. 55:37). Is this verse, with mention of ‘murky oil’, somehow warning us about the environmental dangers from the misconsumption of fossil fuels in our time?

DARK GREEN occurs in the Quran only once (55:64). As the colour of dense foliage, it allegorically portrays the thriving life of eternal garden.

WHITE appears in the Quran mainly to describe states of minds reflecting light of spiritual awareness (2:187, 7:108, 20:22, 26:33, 27:12, 28:32, 35:27, 37:46, 37:49; 3:106, 3:107, 12:84) .

BLACK, on the other hand, occurs mainly to describe states of minds lacking light of spiritual awareness (2:187, 16:58, 35:27, 39:60, 43:17, 3:106, 3:106).

Even when allegedly related to human appearance, these words, white and black, bear no more than a purely mental or spiritual connotation, with no reference to physical colour. See Black and White in the Quran

In brief, while ‘white’ in the Quran represents the mental state of enlightenment, i.e. the awareness of God’s oneness, and ‘black’ does the opposite, the word ‘colours’ describes the states in-between: Meaning of ‘colours’ in the Quran

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Extended shahada creates false religions by inventing secondary authorities

(Reason 17 of22 serious reasons shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

Extended shahada creates false religions by inventing secondary authorities

 
Apart from La ilaha illa Allah (‘There is no god but God’), no other shahada is approved by the Quran (3:18-19, 4:166).

And absolutely no authority is given nowhere to whatsoever association of other name/s with God’s (Do you know any who can be named along with Him? 19:65; 3:18-19, 3:151, 7:71, 12:40, 19:65, 28:88, 39:45, 40:12).

To our observation, the Quran doesn’t include in shahada any name other than God’s due to the following most obvious reason:

Bearing witness about a selected creature, in association with bearing witness about the Creator, exalts the creature – somehow and to some extent – to the rank of the Creator and, therefore, presents as a case of association or shirk (19:65), the only unforgivable sin in Islam (4:48; cf. 4:116, 39:65, 6:88).

Then the extended shahada, where one bears witness about Muhammad in association with bearing witness about God, evolved as a violation to this monotheistic concept.

Because no such formula is approved by the Quran, it must be an innovation and a later development.

It must have been formulated by Muhammadans after the Prophet’s death and during the first decades of the Islamic era in a specific environment – under the pressure of various socio-economic, political and psycho-theological factors – in order to serve, on the first place, specific purposes of various interest groups of that time.

Now, while proclaiming the precise formula ‘There is no god but God, Muhammad is God’s messenger’ – which binds and couples the testimony of God’s oneness with the testimony of Muhammad’s messengership in an interwoven formula1 – many Muslims of earlier generations somehow perceived God and Muhammad as two reciprocal mates of a divine pair.

Thus, by binding, coupling, interweaving and mingling Muhammad with God, they subconsciously fabricated in their fantasy an idolatrous concept of a very intimate, special, dual relationship between their fictional, mocked God and their imaginary, legendary Muhammad.

With time they eventually converted their cult leader into an idol2, an associate and a terrestrial counterpart with God (warning! And God has said, “Do not take-up two gods, two. There is only One god, so it is Me, only Me, that you shall revere.” 16:51).

Then, also in daily practice, by bearing witness about Muhammad in association with bearing witness about God, one turns Muhammad the human into an associate with God and, therefore, a secondary authority in divinity and divine legislation (6:19, 6:106, 6:150, 16:35).

This supposed co-authorship of Muhammad with God gives manmade books of hadith hearsays a green light and a divine status besides the Quran3, while seriously violating a most important instruction of the Quran: Do not uphold any other hadith but the Quran only (So, in which HADITH after God and His messages will they believe? 45:6; 7:185, 77:50; cf. The Quran prohibited hadiths).

Then this makes one to blindly accept Hadith (words and deeds attributed to Muhammad) as divine and to follow it as a secondary source of Islam (warning! Or do you have another book which you study?/ In it, you find all that you may wish to find? 68:37-38; warning! Or have We given them a Book wherefrom they are taking clarification? Nay, but what the transgressors promise one another is nothing but delusion. 35:40; cf. 6:112, 2:169).

From then on, any manmade teaching or any idea or opinion of a particular interest group can be made ‘divine’ by falsely attributing it to Muhammad through one or more fabricated hadith hearsays.

This creates false religions and thereby diverts people from the right path of Islam.

And this is exactly what happened with Islam4 during the Umayyad and the earlier parts of the Abbasid period.

Since then, this supposed co-authorship of Muhammad with God in divinity and divine legislation, thus illegitimately exercised through countless hadiths, has been seriously interfering in the divine authority of the Quran (17:42-43) and hence creating great confusion among the people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

And this has eventually contributed to the downfall of the ‘Islamic civilization’ of the past as well as to the dangerous breeding of so many serious ills and failures of the Muslim societies of the past and the present5 (7:182, 185; cf. 68:44).

Thus it appears that all the corruption in Islam somehow started with the manmade extension of the Quranic shahada.

 

Summary

Extended shahada creates false religions by inventing secondary authorities

The traditionally  perceived ‘divinity’ of Muhammad – an un-Quranic and anti-Quranic concept – remains constantly ‘established’ in mind as it is continuously ‘certified’ by bearing witness about Muhammad in association with bearing witness about God.

Formulized as ‘full shahada’, this ongoing psychological exercise turns Muhammad the human into an associate with God and so into a human god and so a second author in divinity and divine legislation.

This supposed co-authorship of Muhammad with God gives manmade books of hadith hearsays a green light and a divine status besides the Quran, while seriously violating a most important Quranic instruction: Do not uphold any other hadith but the Quran only. Then this makes one to blindly follow Hadith and its outgrowths as a secondary source of Islam. From then on, any teaching or any idea or opinion of a particular interest group can be made ‘divine’ by deviously attributing it to Muhammad through one or more fabricated hadith hearsays.

This creates false religions and thereby diverts people from the right path of Islam. And this is how generations of Muhammadans remain misguided by the vicious cycle of various pseudo-islams and their unending consequences.

 

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Note 1

This extra-Quranic formula, with its interweaving nature, clearly resembles the Christian confession of faith where the Father and the Son co-exist within one deity as One (John 17:3). It could be also perceived by some as an emblem representing the unity of existence (wahdat al-wujud), where the Creator and the creation intermingle into One.

Note 2

Since the ulterior motives behind the extended shahada violate the notion of God’s indivisible sovereignty and thereby prompt people to worship the messenger as a semi-divinity and a divine co-legislator along with God, it may as easily instigate the intolerant devotees to commit acts of extremism and most heinous crimes in the name of their human Lord (warning! Say: Shall I seek for Lord other than God when He is the Sustainer of everything? 6:164; cf. 2:135-136, 3:64-65, 3:80, 18:101-110).

Note 3

Because Muhammad, as depicted in the Quran, is not allowed to share in divinity or in divine judgement (6:114, 10:35-36, 12:40, 18:26, 28:88, 30:30, 30:43, 98:5), he was not authorised to deliver any of his own teachings in God’s name or to claim any of his personal sayings to be inspired by God (69:43-46, 17:73-75). Thus, as he is not a co-author in divinity and divine legislation, he was not supposed to issue, amend or cancel any religious law on his own (30:35, 12:39-40, 66:1). He brought no ‘other book’ and no other message apart from the Quran (10:15, 68:35-44). Obviously, no hadith book can be accepted as a co-authority with the Quran to clarify the Quran (35:40; cf. 6:112, 2:169).

Note 4

Looking into the historical context of the early Islamic centuries we can try to grasp what was there in the minds of those Muhammad-worshippers during the Umayyad and the earlier parts of the Abbasid period, who invented the extended shahada as they found it so vital to associate Muhammad’s name with God’s.

Note 5

The Quran appears to predict the socio-politico-economic and spiritual decline of the Muhammadans who, instead of following ‘God’s hadith’ (4:87, i.e. the Quran; cf. 77:50, 18:6, 53:59, 56:81, 39:23, 52:34, 6:68, 4:140, 12:111), have been mainly following various manmade hadiths that mock the actual messages of the Quran (4:140, 6:68, 7:182-185,15:95, 31:6, 68:44).

Why light is one and darknesses are many

 

Why light is one and darknesses are many

 

The word light (‘nur’), in all its 43 occurrences in the Quran, always appears in singular form and never as plural. While its antonym darknesses (‘zulumat’), in all its 23 occurrences, always appears in plural form and never as singular.

But why does light appear as singular, and darknesses as plural?

Light, as the symbol of knowledge and guidance, leads us through one right path towards the Truth (1:6, 5:16). Darknesses, as the symbol of ignorance and bewilderment, on the other hand, lead us through many wrong paths away from the Truth (1:7, 5:16, 14:1, 14:5, 33:43, 57:9, 65:11).

The right path, the straight line, travelling in a constant direction towards the destination, is the shortest distance to it and therefore is one. The wrong paths, the curved lines, do not move in this constant direction and therefore are longer and numerous.

Thus, because the word light denotes the right path, it is always singular. And, because the word darknesses denotes all other paths that deviate from it, it is always plural.

A straight line is one. Curved lines are many. The Truth is one. Untruths and ‘a truth’s’ are many. A lie has many variations, the truth none. The Fountain of truth, God, is one. The sources of falsehood, gods, are many.

This contrast between the oneness of light and the multiplicity of darknesses is beautifully highlighted in the Quran in The famous Light Verse and its homologous, neighbouring verse, the verse of darknesses (24:35, 24:40). While the former defines light as awareness of God’s oneness, which manifests itself as a self-glowing lamp that illuminates the mind’s Universe by generating multi-layered consciousness (24:35, 37:4-6), the latter describes darknesses as mental stages of ignorance or spiritual blindness, comparable with stages of increasing blackness through the depths of an ocean (24:40; cf. 24:35). Due to successive disappearance of colours of penetrating sunlight – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet – the ocean at its depths gradually becomes bluer and darker, eventually becoming completely black at the end of a process where darkening occurs progressively at levels or layers.

In other words, while light refers to the one, single, full colour white (24:35, 7:108; cf. 27:12; full consciousness), darknesses refers to the endless colours of the spectrum that deviate from the white (24:40, 35:27; layers of blindness/ partial consciousness). And this is how the concept multi-layered darknesses, which signifies the multidimensionality of the Truth in human comprehension, is expressed in the Quran in terms of colours (35:25-28).

This also reveals the Meaning of ‘colours’ in the Quran. Thus, while the word ‘light’ represents ‘white’ or full colour and implies ‘the Truth’, i.e., the whole truth of the Oneness (24:35), the word ‘colours’ in the Quran implies ‘a truth’s’ (e.g., religions), which are fragmented, partial expressions of ‘the Truth’ and deviations from it (16:13, 16:69, 30:22, 35:27, 35:27, 35:28, 39:21; cf. 2:69, 2:69; 2:138, 2:138; 23:20). They variously contain together with light (24:35) also some darknesses, caused by obstacles, i.e., IDOLS as associates (24:40). Here it is important to note that The Quran allows shirk as a necessary evil and that The Quran promotes religious pluralism.

Confined to this world of multiplicity, our minds are overcrowded and overwhelmed by numerous IDOLS sculpted by our own imagination. The light of Oneness is constantly shattered into the colours of many by the darknesses of multiplicity. And this is how One light (the Truth) is split into many colours (a truth’s).

Why light is one and darknesses are many 2

 

Final thoughts

Because the word light denotes the right path, it is always singular. And, because the word darknesses denotes all other paths that deviate from it, it is always plural.

This implies the singularity of the straight path towards God (white; ‘the Truth’) and the multiplicity of the layers of deviation from it caused by associates (colours; ‘a truth’s’).

The meaning of the story of Adam

The meaning of the story of Adam

 
Like any story, the story of Adam is also narrated in the Quran in the past tense, apparently giving a first impression as if it is relating some events of the past. However, because it is an allegory with certain moral intent, it is not time-bound. Its events are meant to be occurring in all tenses – past, present and future – including present continuous.

In the article Understanding the allegory of Adam we have carefully read the story of Adam in 2:29-38 in an attempt to understand its best possible meaning. From our study we have the following findings:

• A literal reading of this story is anthropomorphic and idolatrous.

• The story unfolds after creation of the Universe and evolution of man (2:29-38; 2:21-30; cf. 7:11). This makes ‘Adam’ a symbol for man and explains why ‘man’ totally replaces ‘Adam’ in 15:28-44 and 38:69-85.

• As a mythical name for all humans, Adam belongs to past no more than s/he belongs to present and future. The story of Adam, therefore, is an ongoing story of all humans.

• The story takes place solely on Earth (2:29-30; cf. 15:48).

• Adam’s status as ‘Inheritor on Earth’ has a generic connotation as it is actually a designation for all humankind (2:30, 6:133, 6:165, 10:14, 27:62, 33:72, 35:39; cf. 15:26-38).

• Adam is a species that is instinctively violent (2:30-31; cf. 2:11, 12, 27).

• ‘All the names taught to Adam’ signify the total knowledge given to human through his ever-growing vocabulary (2:31-33).

• To human bow down all the ‘Forces’, except the ‘Evil Force’ inside his mind (2:34-36; cf. 2:14).

• Adam and his/her spouse symbolize mankind’s male and female equals (2:35-39).

• The Quran deliberately bypasses those components of this Genesis myth that discriminate against woman (2:35-39; 7:19-23; cf. 5:15).

• ‘Garden of Adam’ is the spiritual, multi-coloured garden of One Humanity (2:35; cf. 2:22-23, 2:25).

• ‘Eating’ from ‘the tree of discord and division’ causes ‘Fall’ from that ‘Garden’ (2:34-36; cf. 2:30, 2:72, 2:84-85, 2:178, 2:213; cf. 5:27-32; 7:19-27, 31, 35, 199-201; 10:19; 17:53).

• ‘Fall of Adam’ symbolizes ‘Fall of mankind’ (note plural in 2:36 and 2:38; cf. 7:19-24, 7:10-11).

• The ‘word’ received by Adam is the ‘divine inspiration’ received by all mankind (2:37-39, 2:22-23; cf. 7:24, 35; 7:59-84; 38:5, 38:12-65).

• The story eventually identifies Adam as plural (2:36-39; cf. 7:24-25; cf. 15:28-42).

The above reflections elaborate our understanding of 2:29-38 into the following rendering. Please note that, though this allegorical narration in the original is in the past tense, this can as easily be meant, in the Quranic idiosyncrasy, to stress the continuous recurrence of the events mentioned: a continuity which is more clearly brought out in translation by the use of the present tense (cf. 3:59, 7:172, 22:63, 31:10, 35:27):

He it is who created for you all that is in the Earth. Also, He settled to the Heaven and fashioned them into seven Heavens; and He knows all things. 2:29

And when your Sustainer says to the Forces: Indeed I am establishing upon Earth an inheritor, they say: Do You establish therein one who spreads corruption therein and sheds blood, while we, we hymn Your praise and sanctify You? He says: Surely I know that which you know not. 2:30

And He teaches the human (Adam) all the names (the total knowledge given to human through his ever-growing vocabulary), then presents them to the Forces; then He says: Tell Me the names of those if you are right. 2:31

They say: Glory to You, we have no knowledge except that which You have taught us, You are the Knowledgeable, the Wise. 2:32

He says: O human (Adam)! inform them of their names. When he informs them of their names, He says: Did I not tell you that I know the unseen of the Heavens and the Earth, and that I know what you reveal and what you were hiding? 2:33

And when We say to the Forces: Bow down before the human (Adam), they all bow down except the ‘Evil Force’ inside his mind (Iblis); he refuses and becomes arrogant, and becomes of the rejecters. 2:34

And We say: O human (Adam)! Dwell you and your spouse in this garden (in this spiritual, multi-coloured garden of One Humanity) and eat freely thereof whatever you wish, but do not approach this one tree (this tree of discord and division), lest you become wrongdoers. 2:35

But the Evil Force (the Devil) causes them to slip therefrom, and expels them from what they were in (humans fall from the higher station of One Humanity). We say: Descend you all (you all humans), as enemies to one another (as split up into conflicting factions); and you have on Earth your abode and a provision for a time. 2:36

Then the human (Adam) receives words (the divine inspiration of Oneness) from his Sustainer, so He turns to him mercifully; surely He is Oft-returning, the Merciful. 2:37

We say: Descend from it you all (you all humans); but most certainly there comes unto you from Me guidance, then whoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 2:38

A lesson from the story of Aaron

A lesson from the story of Aaron

 

Prophet Aaron allowed ‘the worship of the golden calf’, to avoid conflicts among his people. Can we learn some insight from his example?

 

Question: I see in the Quran a contradiction. In one place it says that Aaron shared in the guilt of worshipping the golden calf (7:151, 20:92). Then elsewhere it says that Aaron did not share in the guilt (20:85-90). How do you reconcile that?

Answer: Contrary to the Pentateuchal account (Exodus 32:1-5), the Quran doesn’t accuse Aaron of having actually participated in making or worshipping the golden calf; his alleged “guilt” consisted in having remained tactfully passive in the face of his people’s idolatry, for fear of causing a split among them (7:150; cf. 20:90-94). I do not see a contradiction here.

Question: Can you check out in the Quran 20:92 and 7:151 that Aaron actually participated in worshipping the golden calf?

Answer: I do not see in the Quran that Aaron actually participated in worshipping the golden calf. Let us read the verses you mentioned:

And Aaron said to them before: “My people, you are being tested with it. Your Sustainer is the Gracious, so follow me and obey my command!” / They answered: “We will continue to worship it until Moses comes back to us!” / He said: “O Aaron, what prevented you when you saw them being astray?” 20:90-92

He said: “O my Sustainer, forgive me and my brother, and admit us in Your grace; and You are the most Merciful of the merciful!” 7:151

Question: But this was a blatant act of idolatry. As the deputy of Moses and the leader in charge of the Israelites, it was his responsibility to stop it. Don’t you think that the silent approval of a sin is a sin in itself?

Answer: The point is that the Quran here doesn’t really contradict itself. Aaron never supported idolatry. He simply tried to avoid a split and bloodshed among his people (20:94). The Quran is quite clear on this issue:

I was concerned that you would say that I have caused a split between the Children of Israel, and that I did not follow your orders (to keep them united). 20:94

Question: If Aaron did not commit a sin, then why did Moses accuse him (20:92-93) and drag him by the hair (7:150, 20:94)? Also, why did Moses pray for Aaron’s forgiveness, if it was not for his sin (7:151)?

Answer: Moses blames Aaron before understanding the bigger picture. And Aaron clarifies his position that he didn’t support idolatry but rather tried to prevent conflicts and bloodshed among his people (7:150, 20:94). Subsequently, Moses prays for his own forgiveness (apparently for his hasty judgement and inapt response) as well as for Aaron’s (in case there was any unintentional shortcoming on his part. 7:151). This is in compliance with the divine directive to always remain conscious of the fallibility of our human nature.

Please note that, besides painting Aaron in the golden calf story in a positive light, the Quran invariably holds him with high regard as a prophet (19:53) with a ‘clear authority’ (23:45), who was very eloquent (28:34) and blessed (37:120), and was ‘on the right path’ (37:118), hence presented as a great legacy to be commemorated by the generations (37:119; cf. 4:163, 10:75, 10:87, 20:29-30). In line with this, the great Sufi teacher Ibn ‘Arabi alleges the stance of Aaron in the golden calf story as rightful and that of Moses as hasty. He even asks: Shouldn’t Moses know, as a prophet, that God is everywhere, even in the golden calf?

Question: Suppose you are a grand mufti and you ask an imam to lead the worshippers of a local mosque. After a week you are back to the mosque wherein you see a large Buddha statue being worshipped by an assembly of devotees. The imam explains to you that he allowed this idolatry only because he wanted to avoid conflicts among the people. Do you think he acted rightly and that he did not violate God’s commandments?

Answer: Your analogy with a mosque is incorrect in this instance. It was not a mosque and Aaron was not leading a few worshippers but a nation.

Even if I had to take this inadequate comparison seriously, the answer is really simple and straightforward. Yes, if I was a grand mufti and if I discovered after a week that my imam of that mosque allowed some people to worship a statue of a ‘golden calf’ (say, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna and so on), for a few days, and that he allowed it with a sincere intent to avoid conflict and bloodshed, I will fully understand him.

Based on my conscience and common sense, yes, I will say that what the imam has done is not anything insensible. Please note that ‘avoid bloodshed’ is also one of the major commandments of God. Aaron showed his respect to this divine commandment. We can certainly learn a good moral from Aaron.

Question: It is true that a main divine command is not to kill. Yet, God’s Will must be established on Earth and this cannot be done without sacrifices and sufferings. The prophets should know this better than others. Didn’t the Aaron of the Quran forget the importance of this prophetic responsibility he was entrusted with?

Answer: The Pentateuchal account portrays Aaron as one who instigated idol-worship (Exodus 32:1-5). In contrast, the Aaron of the Quran reluctantly tolerated idolatry to avoid conflicts and disunity among his people. Thus, as he was instructed to keep the guidelines of God – that included preventing idol-worship and also to keep the people united – he tried to make a balance between the two (7:150; cf. 20:92).

In other words, while the Quranic Aaron tried to make a right balance between the two divine commandments, the Pentateuchal Aaron blatantly violated the first commandment. I can go with the Quranic Aaron all the way, but not with his counterpart.

Question: So, are you saying that, for the sake of peace in our societies, we should now follow the Quranic Aaron and approve ‘the worship of the golden calf’?

Answer: Well, to deal with the issue of idol worship, all modern governments are in fact following an approach similar to that of the Quranic Aaron: they are emphasizing ‘the unity in diversity’ of their citizens by ‘tolerating’ every religious group to worship its own ‘golden calf’. Thus, in a secular state, Christians, Muhammadans, Buddhists, Hindus and others are all being allowed to worship their own idols (Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna and so on) without being interfered by the government.

As a prophetic figure, the Aaron of the Quran can present as an excellent role model to be followed by us in the real life situations of our today’s multicultural, multi-coloured, multi-religious world.

The significance of ‘Nay, but’ in the story of Lot

The significance of ‘Nay, but_

 
“Do you really approach men with desire …? Nay, but …”

In the article The story of Lot condemns xenophobic hate, not homosexual love, we tried a holistic reading of all the four passages, 7:80-81, 26:165-166, 27:54-55 and 29:28-29, where Prophet Lot is giving witness, four times, against his misguided nation:

And Lot, when he said to his people: Do you commit an outrage1 such as no one among the nations has exceeded you therein,/ For2 you really approach men with desire3 instead of women? NAY, BUT (No, instead,) you are a people who transgress the limits. 7:80-81

Do you approach the males of the nations?/ And you leave what your Sustainer created for you of your mates? NAY, BUT (No, instead,) you are a people hostile, aggressive. 26:165-166

And Lot, when he said to his people: Do you commit an outrage while you see clearly?/ Do you really approach men with desire instead of women? NAY, BUT (No, instead,) you are a people who act ignorantly. 27:54-55

And Lot, when he said to his people: You really commit an outrage such as no one among the nations has exceeded you therein./ Do you really approach men (from other nations, 26:165), and you cut off the highway and commit evil in your gatherings (you commit xenophobic attacks and gang rapes in the highway, 15:76)? 29:28-29

In our study we observed that all these passages are structured in the form of QUESTIONS.

And that, apart from 29:28-29, each of them contains the conjunction ‘BAL’, translated here as ‘Nay, but’ (No, instead,).

And that, in each of these occurrences, ‘BAL’ appears as a response to the QUESTION/S (“Do you …? Nay, but …”).

And that, in each of these responses, ‘BAL’ appears as a NEGATION or rectification of the content/s of the question/s, while condemning those who “transgress the limits”.

And that, 29:28-29 is the only passage, out of the four, which doesn’t contain ‘BAL’ (‘nay, but’). In other words, this is the only instance that doesn’t negate any content of the questions posed in it. Also, it doesn’t mention those elements that are negated in the previous passages.

And that, this is the only instance which – by replacing ‘BAL’ (‘nay, but’) with ‘WA’ (‘and’; remember the defining and explaining function of ‘wa’ in classical Arabic) – expounds an affirmation that clarifies the negations, while eventually confirming the meaning of ‘the transgression of limits’4.

And that, this explains why the first three passages involve NEGATION (‘nay, but’) and the last involves AFFIRMATION (without ‘nay, but’).

So, in these four interrelated passages, all structured as questions, Prophet Lot is giving WITNESS, FOUR TIMES, against his misguided nation. While it seems in line with the Quranic injunction of witnessing four times (24:6-8), it delivers a prophetic reminder for all humanity:

“Instead of offering love and hospitality to the people from ‘other nations’ (26:165; who all share the same ‘Sustainer of the nations’, 26:164), you are targeting them with hate crimes. You are transgressing the divine limits.”

Thus these questions, where the word ‘bal’ (‘Nay, but’) appears as a NEGATION, are posed by the messenger to the transgressors as challenges:

“Are your actions driven by attraction and love? No, they are not. Instead, they are intended to bully and control. To subdue and crash all the outsiders.”

This is to differentiate the acts of attraction and love from the acts of hate and oppression. And so to deliver a timeless message for us and all generations.

Meaning of the Arabic word ‘BAL’, translated above as ‘Nay, but’

To better understand the above verses, and also the story of Lot, we need to pay due attention to the key word ‘BAL’, translated above as ‘Nay, but’ (7:81, 26:166, 27:55; cf. 29:29).

The Arabic conjunction ‘bal’ has a wide range of meanings: ‘nay’, ‘nay, but’, ‘not this merely but also’, ‘well, but’, ‘no’, ‘rather’, ‘but’, ‘and even’, ‘in fact’, ‘no, instead’, ‘on the contrary’, ‘but the truth is’, ‘no, but the fact is’, ‘no, but the actual issue is’, and so on. It is the 34th highest frequency word in the Quran with total occurrence 122 times (first 2:88; last 89:17). ‘Bal’ usually indicates the end of a current topic (a thesis) and the abrupt change to a new, often opposing one (an antithesis). Especially when occurs in the middle of a sentence, it heralds a fresh statement which is quite different or even entirely opposite to its previous statement. E.g., قام زَيْدٌ بَلْ عَمْرٌو Zaid stood up, no, rather it was Amr.

In brief, as a flexible conjunction, ‘bal’ appears to rectify, amend or negate a previous concept by introducing a completely new one. Here are a few examples from the Quran:

He said: “How long have you stayed here?” He said: “I have stayed here a day or part of a day.” He said: “Nay, but (No, rather) you have stayed here for a hundred years! 2:259

They say: “You are making this up!” Nay, but (No, rather) most of them know not. 16:101

They said, “This is a dense cloud that will bring to us rain!” Nay, but (No, rather) this is what you had asked to be hastened. 46:24

Then when We bestow a blessing upon him, he says: “I attained this because of knowledge I had!” Nay, but (No, rather) it is a test, though most of them do not know. 39:49

However, whenever ‘bal’ appears as a response to a POLAR QUESTION (i.e., a question that expects an answer of yes or no; e.g., “Do you …?”, such as the questions posed by Prophet Lot), it always NEGATES the content of the question and thereby connotes ‘No, instead’. For example, “Do you …? Nay, but (No, instead,) ”. Apart from the verses in the story of Lot quoted above (7:81, 26:166, 27:55; cf. 29:29), here are a few more examples from the Quran:

They said: “Did you do this to our gods O Abraham?”/ He said: “Nay, but (No, instead,) it was the biggest one of them here who did it!” 21:62-63

Are We hastening to give them the good things? Nay, but (No, instead,) they do not perceive. 23:56

He is the One who gives life and brings death, and to Him is the alteration of the night and the day. Do you not reason?/ Nay, but (No, instead,) they speak as the people of olden times did speak. 23:80-81

Or do they fear that God and His messenger would deal unjustly with them? Nay, but (No, instead,) it is they themselves who are unjust. 24:50

“Has he invented a lie against God, or is there madness in him?” Nay, but (No, instead,) those who do not acknowledge the End are in retribution and far straying. 34:8

“Did we turn you away from the guidance after it had come to you? Nay, but (No, instead,) it was you who were criminals.” 34:32

Or have We given them a Book wherefrom they are taking clarification? Nay, but (No, instead,) what the transgressors promise one another is nothing but delusion. 35:40

(The messengers) said: “Your misfortune is within yourselves. Is it because you are reminded? Nay, but (No, instead,) you are a people who transgress the limits.” 36:19

Were We then tired with the first creation? Nay, but (No, instead,) they are lost in doubt about the new creation! 50:15

Or have they created the Heavens and the Earth? Nay, but (No, instead,) they do not comprehend. 52:36

“Has the Reminder come down to him alone among us? Nay, but (No, instead,) he is a boastful liar!” 54:25

Or is there any that can give you provisions if He holds back His provisions? Nay, but (No, instead,) they have plunged deep into transgression and aversion. 67:21

Summary

In the article The story of Lot condemns xenophobic hate, not homosexual love, we tried a holistic reading of all the four passages, 7:80-81, 26:165-166, 27:54-55 and 29:28-29, where Prophet Lot is giving witness, four times, against his misguided nation.

Curiously, out of these four interrelated passages – which are all structured as questions – the first three involve NEGATION (with ‘nay, but’) and the last involves AFFIRMATION (without ‘nay, but’), which clarifies the negations.

In our reading, we have paid due attention to the recurring word ‘BAL’, translated here as ‘NAY, BUT’. The word essentially means ‘nay’, ‘nay, but’, ‘rather’, ‘no, instead’, ‘on the contrary’, ‘no, but the fact is’ and so on. As a flexible conjunction, especially when occurs in the middle of a sentence, ‘bal’ appears to rectify, amend or negate a previous concept by introducing a completely new one (e.g., 2:259, 3:149-150, 4:157-158, 7:179, 16:101, 39:49, 46:24, 52:33).

However, whenever ‘bal’ appears as a response to a POLAR QUESTION (i.e., a question that expects an answer of yes or no; e.g., “Do you …?”, such as the questions posed by Prophet Lot), it always NEGATES the content of the question and thereby connotes ‘No, instead’. For example, “Do you …? Nay, but (No, instead,) ”. Apart from the verses in the story of Lot quoted above (7:81, 26:166, 27:55; cf. 29:29), here are a few more examples: 21:62-63, 23:56, 23:80-81, 24:50, 34:8, 34:32, 35:40, 36:19, 50:15, 52:36, 54:25, 67:21; cf. 7:81, 26:166, 27:55.

Because the word ‘bal’ (‘Nay, but’) appears in the story of Lot only in polar questions, its negation invariably connotes ‘NO, INSTEAD’. Thus, all these questions are posed by the messenger to the transgressors as challenges: “Are your actions driven by attraction and love? No, they are not. Instead, they are intended to bully and control. To subdue and crash all the outsiders.”

 

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Note 1

Translated above as outrage, the word fahishah is used mainly to mean “an action that exceeds the bounds/limits.” Thus the word may or may not have a sexual undertone.

Fa-Ha-Shin = became excessive/immoderate/enormous/exorbitant/overmuch/beyond measure, foul/bad/evil/unseemly/ indecency/abominable, lewd/gross/obscene, committing excess which is forbidden, transgress the bounds/limits, avaricious, adultery/fornication. LL, V6, p: 128, 129  ##  http://ejtaal.net/aa/#q=fHsh. The triliteral root occurs 24 times in the Quran, in two derived forms: 17 times as the noun fahishah n.f. (pl. fawahish) 3:135, 4:15, 4:19, 4:22, 4:25, 6:151, 7:28, 7:33, 7:80, 17:32, 24:19, 27:54, 29:28, 33:30, 42:37, 53:32, 65:1; and 7 times as the noun fahsha n.f. 2:169, 2:268, 7:28, 12:24, 16:90, 24:21, 29:45.

Note 2

Note how the two questions in 7:80-81 together form a single question: Do you commit an outrage such as no one among the nations has exceeded you therein,/ For you really approach men with desire instead of women? While the first question is answered in the affirmative in 29:28, the second one is reconfirmed as a question by its recurrence in 27:55 and then its subsequent negation.

Note 3

Translated above as desire, the word shahwat is used mainly to mean passion or intense desire, which may or may not have a negative or sexual connotation. However, due to traditional preconception, many translators have understood the word in Lot’s story as lust, adding to it an undertone of unnatural sexual attraction.

Shiin-ha-Ya = to long or desire eagerly, made it to be good/sweet/pleasant or the like, loved it or wished for it, desired eagerly/intensely, yearning of the soul for a thing; appetite, lust, gratification of venereal lust, greedy, voracious, was or became like him, resembling him, jested or joked with him, associated with smiting action of the (evil) eye i.e. he vied with him in smithing with the evil eye. LL, V4, p: 338  ##  http://ejtaal.net/aa/#q=shhy. The triliteral root occurs 13 times in the Quran, in three derived forms: eight times as the verb ish’tahat – to desire (16:57, 21:102, 34:54, 41:31, 43:71, 52:22, 56:21, 77:42), three times as the noun shahawāt – passions/desires (3:14, 4:27, 19:59) and twice as the noun shahwat – with desire (7:81, 27:55, both in the story of Lot).

Note 4

A comparative reading of 7:80-81 and 29:28-29 clarifies the meaning of the transgression of limits by the people of Lot:

So, do these transgressors commit an unsurpassed outrage because they really approach men with desire instead of women? No, it is because they transgress the limits: And Lot, when he said to his people: Do you commit an outrage such as no one among the nations has exceeded you therein, for you really approach men with desire instead of women? NAY, BUT (No, instead,) you are a people who transgress the limits. 7:80-81

In fact, their crimes are so heinous because they commit acts of aggression: And Lot, when he said to his people: You really commit an outrage such as no one among the nations has exceeded you therein. Do you really approach men (from other nations, 26:165), and you cut off the highway and commit evil in your gatherings (you commit xenophobic attacks and gang rapes in the highway, 15:76)? 29:28-29

Lot’s people assaulted ‘men from other nations’

Lot_s people assaulted

The story of Lot condemns rape, not love

Earlier we observed how some verses in the Quranic story of Lot are clarified by some other verses. Thus, the men who were assaulted (7:81) are identified as men from other nations (foreigners, outsiders; 26:164-165; cf. 15:70, 7:80, 29:28-29). And the acts that transgress the limits (7:81) are specified as xenophobic hate attacks on foreigners and travellers, atrocities such as gang rapes in the highway (29:28-30, 29:33, 11:77-78, 11:80, 15:67-70, 15:76, 54:37).

We concluded that The story of Lot condemns xenophobic hate, not homosexual love. In other words, what is denounced in this story is xenophobia, inhospitality and oppression. Not homosexuality, not even sexual orientation in any form.

This conclusion is strongly supported by the recent trend in both Jewish1 and Christian2 scholarship that acknowledges that the main crime of the inhabitants of Sodom was “inhospitality including rape”, which had in fact nothing to do with homosexual behaviour.

Evidently, the entire context, both in the Bible and the Quran, contains enough indications that the conduct of the people of Lot could not be about same-sex relationships but something coercive3, such as men on men rapes and gang rapes.

Now, as suggested by some modern researchers, in many desert cultures rape used to mean inhospitality. It had more to do with humiliating the strangers. This is similar to the same-sex rape during wartime, when the victors would often rape the defeated soldiers – to insult the men by treating them like women, as witnessed in recent years, for example, in the prisons during the Bosnian war or in the Abu Ghraib prison during the Iraq war.

“In ‘What the Bible really says about homosexuality’, Daniel A Helminiak explains4, ‘In desert country, where Sodom lay, to stay outside exposed to the cold of the night could be fatal. So a cardinal rule of Lot’s society was to offer hospitality to travellers. The same rule is a traditional part of Semitic and Arabic cultures. This rule was so strict that no one might harm even an enemy who had been offered shelter for the night.’ Helminiak goes on to say that ‘sodomy’ used to mean inhospitality, and that while the men of Sodom may have wanted to force Lot’s guests into anal intercourse, this had more to do with humiliating the strange men. ‘During war, for example, besides raping the women and slaughtering the children, the victors would often also ‘sodomize’ the defeated soldiers. The idea was to insult the men by treating them like women.’ When viewed in this light, the story takes on a different meaning entirely. It begins to seem as though the discussion of homosexuality was more or less an afterthought, and certainly not the main issue at hand.”

The men who were assaulted were ‘men from other nations’

The Quran re-narrates the Biblical story of Lot in the following verses: 7:80-84, 11:69-70,77-83, 15:56-77, 21:71-75, 26:160-175, 27:54-58, 29:28-33, 37:133-136, 54:33-39.

It is interesting to observe that the word ʿālameen (nations, worlds) constantly appears throughout these verses as well as their contexts: 7:54, 7:61, 7:67, 7:80, 7:104, 7:121, 7:140; 15:70; 21:71, 21:91, 21:107; 26:16, 26:23, 26:47, 26:77, 26:98, 26:109, 26:127, 26:145, 26:164, 26:165, 26:180, 26:192; 27:8, 27:44; 29:6, 29:10, 29:15, 29:28; 37:79, 37:87, 37:182.

One may ask: Why does the Quran persistently repeat this word while narrating this ancient parable? And what could be the intended meaning of it in this particular setting?

Please note how frequently the word ʿālameen, translated here as ‘nations’, recurs in the story of Lot:

And Lot, when he said to his people: Do you commit an outrage such as no one among the nations has exceeded you therein,/ For you really approach men (from the nations, 26:165) with desire instead of women? NAY, BUT (No, instead,) you are a people who transgress the limits./ The only response of his people was: Expel them from your town; they are a people who wish to be pure! 7:80-82 

So when the messengers came to the family of Lot./ He said: Indeed, you are a people unknown./ … And the people of the town came rejoicing./ He said: These are my guests, so do not embarrass me!/ … They said: Haven’t we forbidden you (to protect anyone) from the nations? 15:61-62, 67-68, 70

And We saved him (Abraham) and Lot to the land which We have blessed for the nations. 21:71

And no reward do I ask of you, for my reward is upon the Sustainer of the nations./ Do you approach the males of the nations?/ And you leave what your Sustainer created for you of your mates? NAY, BUT (No, instead,) you are a people hostile, aggressive./ They said: If you do not stop, O Lot, you will surely be one of those who are expelled! 26:164-167

And Lot, when he said to his people: You really commit an outrage such as no one among the nations has exceeded you therein./ Do you really approach men (from the nations, 26:165), and you cut off the highway and commit evil in your gatherings (you commit xenophobic attacks and gang rapes in the highway, 15:76)? 29:28-29

Here we have a few points to contemplate:

Expel them from your town! 7:82 

When compared with related verses (e.g. O Lot, you will surely be one of those who are expelled! 26:167; cf. 15:70, 27:56), this reveals a trend: the misguided people of Lot were expelling some people from the town. And, as indicated here and elsewhere (note ‘them’ versus ‘your town’, 7:82; cf. 15:70, 21:71, 26:164-167, 29:29), they were expelling people of ‘other nations’.

They said: Haven’t we forbidden you (to protect anyone) from the nations? 15:70

This gives a clear clue that this gang of transgressors were jingoists as they were blaming Lot for protecting foreigners (cf. 15:68). And that ‘the males of the nations’ (26:164-165) who were assaulted and expelled by them were ‘men from other nations’ (foreigners, outsiders; 26:164-165; cf. 15:70, 7:80, 29:28-29).

And We saved him (Abraham) and Lot to the land which We have blessed for the nations. 21:71

So, Lot was saved to a land that was blessed as it welcomed all nations, unlike the town of Lot that was condemned as it expelled people from other nations (7:82, 15:70, 26:167, 27:56). So, couldn’t this xenophobic inhospitality be the main crime of the people of Lot?

And …my reward is upon the Sustainer of the nations./ Do you approach the males of the nations?those who are expelled! 26:164-167

These verses answer a question. Do these ‘nationalists’ approach ‘men from other nations’ with attraction and love (7:81, 27:55)? No, instead, they are “a people hostile, aggressive” (26:166, cf. 4:30) who violate the divine message of one humanity (note: ‘the Sustainer of the nations. … the males of the nations?’ 26:164-165) by committing xenophobic assaults on ‘people from other nations’.

Do you really approach men (from the nations, 26:165), and you cut off the highway and commit evil in your gatherings? 29:29

The context describes their crimes as hate attacks on foreigners and travellers, atrocities such as gang rapes in the highway (29:28-30, 29:33, 11:77-78, 11:80, 15:67-70, 15:76, 54:37).

An important observation

Above we observe how the word ʿālameen (nations, worlds), in the context of this story, actually refers to ‘nations’ and, more precisely, ‘other nations’ or ‘communities from the greater world’. And we observe how the word recurs so frequently, in line with the constant Quranic call to pluralism and multiculturalism, obviously to emphasize the importance of peaceful co-existence and co-operation between the nations.

Final thoughts

What is denounced in the story of Lot is xenophobia, inhospitality and oppression. Not homosexuality, not even sexual orientation in any form.

This awareness is strongly supported by the recent trend in scholarship both of the Bible and the Quran. It suggests that the entire context of this story, as occurs in these scriptures, contains enough indications that the conduct of the people of Lot could not be about same-sex relationships but something coercive, such as men on men rapes and gang rapes.

Further reading:

The story of Lot condemns xenophobic hate, not homosexual love

Does the Quran disapprove homosexuality?

 

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Note 1

Most Jewish sources today argue that the punishment of Sodom was more about their wicked system of inhospitality. According to Rabbi Yuval Cherlow the “people of Sodom insisted on preserving their high quality of living to such an extent that they established a principle not to let the poor and homeless reside in their city.” Here is a good article reflecting the Jewish interpretation of this story: The Destruction of Sodom.

Note 2

As Yale historian John Boswell noted, since the 1950s Christian scholars began to acknowledge that the inhabitants of Sodom were actually destroyed for their inhospitable treatment of visitors. For example, according to Brian Gray, “If any sermon should be preached based in the significance of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, it should be for the despicable level of inhospitable, greedy and self-serving nature … This story is not about homosexuality, and it says nothing that could be used to condemn gay people.” See Sodom and Gomorrah – The Myth, The Truth.

Note 3

Here is a study that shows how the term “sodomy” was invented in Christian Theology following the gradual adoption of highly inaccurate cultural interpretations of specific Biblical narratives: “Sodomy” – a Biblical Word Study that Might Surprise You

Note 4

The passage quoted above including Daniel A Helminiak’s explanation about the original meaning of ‘sodomy’ can be found in: What the Qur’an says about homosexuality

The Quran links the added shahada to rejection

(Reason 9 of ‘22 serious reasons shahada should contain no name except God’s’)

The Quran links the added shahada to rejection

 
Associating ‘others’ with God is a rejection of His Oneness

The Quran describes associating ‘others’ with God as rejection (kufr), i.e., a deviation from the acknowledgement (iman) of God’s absolute oneness:

This is because when God Alone was mentioned, you rejected, but when associates were included besides Him, you acknowledged. 40:12; cf. 39:45; 12:106

When God Alone is mentioned, the minds of those who do not acknowledge the End are filled with aversion; and when others are mentioned besides Him, they rejoice! 39:45

The divine wisdom seems to have apprehended that the polytheistic inclination in the majority to reject God alone and to look for associates, along with the imitating of some of the earlier religious groups, would contribute to this deviation from acknowledgement to rejection among Muhammadans, thus extending the shahada with addition/s:

The majority of them will not acknowledge God without setting up associates. 12:106

O you who acknowledge, if you obey some of those who received the Book they will turn you after your acknowledgement into rejecters! 3:100; cf. Those who rejected among the people of the Book and/i.e., the associaters … 98:1; cf. 5:48-51

Not surprisingly, as we will observe below, the Quran describes bearing witness about Muhammad as rejection, i.e., an antithesis of the acknowledgement of God’s absolute oneness.

The added shahada relates to rejection

Please note that the only instance in the Quran where Muhammad is included in ‘shahada’ is, ironically, a speech uttered by the hypocrites (63:1). This is apparently that ‘twisted speech’ (47:30), or that specific ‘mark’, whereby hypocrites can be recognized and differentiated from the true acknowledgers (29:11).

Now, while the Quran thus relates the testimony ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’ to hypocrisy, it also links it to REJECTION. Let us read the verse 63:1 in its context:

When the hypocrites come to you they say, “We bear witness that you are indeed God’s messenger.” And God knows that you are indeed His messenger, and God bears witness that the hypocrites are indeed fabricators/liars.

They have made their proclamation as a cover, thus they repel from the way of God. Miserable indeed is what they do.

That is because they acknowledged (by bearing witness that there is no god but God, 3:18), then rejected (by bearing witness that along with God there are associates, 6:19, ?by bearing witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger, 63:1, thus bearing witness over their own rejection, 9:17). Hence, their hearts are sealed, so they do not understand.

And when you see them, you are impressed by their look; and when they speak, you listen to their speech. … They are the enemies, so beware of them. 63:1-4

So, the hypocrites who proclaim the added shahada are actually those who ‘acknowledged, then rejected’. And, as disclosed below, they are the same hypocrites who ‘set up associates … while they bear witness over their own rejection’, ?because they bear witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger:

It was not for those who set up associates to maintain God’s temples while they bear witness over their own rejection (i.e., they bear witness that along with God there are other gods, 6:19, ?by bearing witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger, 63:1). For these, their works have fallen (cf. 2:38, 3:151, 39:65, 6:88), and in the fire they abide. …

And those (hypocrites) who establish a temple of worship to create mischief and cause rejection, to cause division among those who acknowledge, and as an outpost for those who fought God and His messenger before. They will swear that they only wanted to do good, but God bears witness that they are fabricators/liars. 9:17, 107

These verses above remind us of the current Muhammadans who maintain sectarian mosques founded on extended shahada while bearing witness about associates! It is interesting to read them together with a few other related texts, e.g.:

Then who is more evil than they who attribute their own fabrications to God or give the lie to His messages? … They will say, “Where are those whom you used to call on besides God?” they will say, “They have abandoned us!” and they bore witness against themselves that they were rejecters. 7:37

We shall throw dread into the hearts of those who rejected, because of what they have associated besides God, for which He has never sent down any authority; and their destiny is the fire; what a miserable abode for the transgressors! 3:151 (cf. 2:38)

Note the veiled association between bearing witness about Muhammad and REJECTION:

God is enough as witnessMuhammad is God’s messenger; and those who are with him are stern towards the rejecters and kind among themselves. 48:28-29

Bearing witness about Muhammad relates to fabricated teachings

Then let us look into 63:1-4 through some of its further correlations. Here we note that the hypocrites – who proclaim the added shahada despite the repeated divine decree that God is enough as witness that Muhammad was God’s messenger – fabricate false teachings (cf. fabrications in 7:37 and hadith in 6:68) and create division among people:

Those who acknowledge fight in the cause of God, while those who reject fight in the cause of evil; so fight the supporters of the DEVIL, for the planning of the DEVIL is weak. …

And We have sent thee as a messenger to the people but God is ENOUGH as witness (so, no one else needs to bear witness about you).

Whoever obeys the messenger has obeyed God; and whoever turns away, We have not sent you as a guardian over them.

And they say, “obedience,” but when they go away from you a faction of them spends the night in devising (teachings) other than what you tell them; and God records what they devise. So turn away from them and put your trust in God. God is enough for your trust.

Do they not study the Quran? And if it were from any other than God they would have certainly found therein many contradictions. 4:76, 79-82

The ones who break their pledge to God after making the covenant (bearing witness about God’s oneness, cf. 7:172), and cut asunder (the unity of humankind) what God has bidden to be joined, and spread corruption on Earth; these will be the losers. 2:27

The passage below confirms, once again, the oft-repeated Quranic position that God is enough as witness that Muhammad was God’s messenger and expounds how bearing witness about Muhammad relates to fabricated teachings (note the word ‘hadith’):

Say: What is greatest as witness? Say: God: a witness between me and between you, and this Quran has been revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches. Do you then bear witness that along with God there are other gods? Say: I do not bear witness! Say: He is only One god, and I am innocent of what you associate (e.g., the idol you make of me by associating me with God in shahada; cf. 41:6, 18:110)! … (note in the next verses: invents lies messages 6:21; associates associates 6:22; associates 6:23; lied fabricated 6:24; not acknowledgereject 6:25)

And when you see those who engage in mocking Our messages, then turn away from them until they move on to a different HADITH; and if the DEVIL lets you forget, then, after recollection, do not stay with those unjust people.

Follow what has been revealed unto you from your Sustainer: ‘There is no god but He’; and turn away from those who set up associates.

And thus We have appointed to every prophet an enemy – DEVILS from humans and invisibles, inspiring one another with decorative speech, as delusion. Had thy Sustainer willed, they would not have done it. So disregard them and all they fabricate. …

Say: “Bring your witnesses who bear witness that (through His associate/s, 6:19) God has forbidden this (cf. 16:35).” If they bear witness, then do not bear witness with them, nor follow the desires of those who have given the lie to Our messages, and those who do not acknowledge the End; and they make equals with their Sustainer! 6:19, 68, 106, 112, 150 (the context goes on describing the sectarians as polytheists, 6:159-164)

The added shahada shaped today’s distorted, Arabized Islam

Finally, keeping in mind 63:1-4, which relates the testimony about Muhammad to rejection and hypocrisy, please read the following:

The Arabs are harder in rejection and hypocrisy, and more liable to ignore the limits of what God has sent down upon His messenger – but God is Knower, Wise. 9:97

The above verse, if rendered figuratively (cf. 18:54), seems very prophetic as it somehow sheds light on our current world situation. Though revealed in a different historical context, it appears to be criticizing the rejection and hypocrisy of even some of the today’s Arab bigots. Instead of upholding the simple, universal messages of Oneness, as summarized in the original shahada of Islam – these stubborn sectarians are trying to dominate the Muslim world by maintaining a rigid, distorted, Arabized version of Islam, which is a byproduct of the un-Quranic, extended shahada that associates ‘others’ with God (39:45).

Summary

The Quran links the added shahada to rejection

The Quran describes associating ‘others’ with God as rejection (kufr), i.e., a deviation from the acknowledgement (iman) of God’s absolute oneness (40:12; cf. 39:45; 12:106). The divine wisdom seems to have apprehended that the polytheistic inclination in the majority to reject God alone and to look for associates, along with the imitating of some of the earlier religious groups, would contribute to this deviation from acknowledgement to rejection among Muhammadans, thus extending the shahada with addition/s (12:106, 3:100; cf. 5:48-51, 6:19).

So, while the Quran relates the testimony ‘Muhammadur rasulullah’ to hypocrisy, it also links it to REJECTION. And this explains why the hypocrites who proclaim this added shahada (63:1) are actually those who ‘acknowledged, then rejected’ (63:3). They acknowledged by bearing witness that there is no god but God (3:18). And they rejected by bearing witness that along with God there are associates (6:19), ?by bearing witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger (63:1), thus bearing witness over their own rejection (9:17; cf. 7:37, 3:151, 2:38). Please note that, as disclosed elsewhere, they are the same hypocrites who ‘set up associates … while they bear witness over their own rejection’ (9:17, 107). Also note, for instance in 48:28-29, the veiled association between bearing witness about Muhammad and REJECTION.

When we look into 63:1-4 through some of its further correlations, we observe that the hypocrites – who proclaim the added shahada despite the repeated divine decree that God is enough as witness that Muhammad was God’s messenger – fabricate false teachings and create division among people (4:79-82; 2:27; 6:19, 68, 106, 112, 150, 159-164; 9:17, 107). These verses remind us of the current Muhammadans who maintain sectarian mosques founded on extended shahada while bearing witness about associates (cf. 9:17, 107).

Furthermore, the Quran seems to prophetically condemn the ‘rejection and hypocrisy’ of some of the today’s Arab sectarians (9:97) as they are trying to dominate the Muslim world by maintaining a rigid, distorted, Arabized version of Islam, which is a byproduct of the un-Quranic, extended shahada that associates ‘others’ with God (39:45; cf. 41:6, 18:110).