what does god mean by this example/mathal?

When revelation tells me what some people say, it also tells me why they say those words and what results obtain as a result – so that i may see if those words represent my attitude and thus my condition..so that i may be able to choose differently and get to a different outcome.

consider 2:26

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يَسْتَحْيِي أَن يَضْرِبَ مَثَلاً مَّا بَعُوضَةً فَمَا فَوْقَهَا فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ فَيَعْلَمُونَ أَنَّهُ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّهِمْ وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ فَيَقُولُونَ مَاذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِهَـذَا مَثَلاً يُضِلُّ بِهِ كَثِيراً وَيَهْدِي بِهِ كَثِيراً وَمَا يُضِلُّ بِهِ إِلاَّ الْفَاسِقِينَ

Behold, God does not disdain to propound a parable of a gnat, or of something less than that. Now, as for those who would find safety, they would know that it is the truth from their Sustainer – whereas those who say, “What could God mean by this parable?” would be those who covered up the truth. In this way does He cause many a one to go astray, just as He guides many a one aright: but none does He cause thereby to go astray save the iniquitous.

What am I after when i turn to God’s speech? truth about my life? or the reasons for God using this or that as an example? what should i be after? what makes more sense?

the verse claims that if i want to figure out the language of God’s speech, its examples, its metaphors [the purpose behind using this rather than that metaphor, if i am looking to make judgments about when he uses a ‘minor’ thing or a ‘major’ thing etc], i am depriving myself of the truth that i may otherwise have found (and what the speaker here claims i need to find safety).

The verse claims that my safety is tied to knowing the truth that the example/parable/metaphor brings to me. the purpose of reading revelation is to find truth in it, a truth that would bring me to safety. the purpose of reading revelation is not to try to understand why the speaker uses this or that example. The purpose is not to understand the text per se. the purpose should be to find out the truth about one’s life, the truth about wherein lies one’s security and safety and thus also the truth about one’s insecurities and fears as a human being.

Safety is tied to knowing that the text/example conveys a truth that is from one’s Lord, one’s sustainer. No safety should be expected without knowing that it is truth from one’s Lord. If one neglects to look for truth, one would be stuck with thinking about the text and its examples themselves, worrying about the reasons for the speaker, god, to use this kind of example or that kind of language and so on. Safety is for those whose objective is truth. to forget about knowing/witnessing the truth that brings safety, is to cover the truth, deny oneself of the safety it could have brought and to deprive oneself of safety. It is a wronging of oneself. It is to be iniquitous towards one’s own heart/soul.

Language, the text, the examples…these can become my obsession, my main focus and interest, my objective. I may never try to know if what is said is indeed true or not. My maker knows this. He tells me therefore to not make this mistake. he asks me to look for safety and tells me that this safety would the result if i know what i am reading is the truth from my Lord, my maker. To read revelation without concern for knowing whether it is truth or not, to take its truth for granted and to claim it without knowing it – these are not going to help me reach the safety i should seek when i turn to my maker for help, for revelation from him.

It may seem to me that asking “what does God mean by this example” is an innocent and unproblematic question. The verse claims that this questions comes from a focus on authorial intention (and judgments about appropriateness of examples used) which does nothing to help me find the safety and safety-giving truth that i should instead be after. The appropriateness and usefulness of the text will be assessed in terms of the truth (or falsehood) that i can know it to be conveying to me from my Lord (or not from my Lord).

this verse then is significant as a claim about how any of the many examples and parables and verses of the revelation ought to be approached by one looking for revelation from their maker.


Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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