3:7 “we find safety with it”

What is important here is to decide what i am going to mean by “aamanna bihi” generally rendered “we believe in it”. what does it mean to say that? is the Quran asking me to believe in something that I do not understand? is it asking me to not try to interpret and understand? i dont think so. the people of knowledge are made to say “aamanna bihi, kullun min inda Rabbina”. I am expected to know that it is from my sustainer or Lord. I am not asked to say I believe something to be true without knowing its true. i am better off rendering “aamanna bihi” as “we find safety or security with it”. The way i know it is from my sustainer is that it allows me ot feel safe from all that leaves me insecure and unsafe.

In this meaning then, there are signs that speak to me directly. for instance, in the creation and alternation of the night and the day is a sign that the Quran speaks about. This sign has a direct experiential reality and authority. it speaks to me directly about the One whose mercy gives me a time to rest (the night) and gives me a time to seek out and taste His sustenance (the day). The signs of mercy in the food i eat, the animals i benefit from, the sign of resurrection in the earth that is brought to life by Him with water He sends from the sky – these are signs for me to see and experience with the definiteness of the external senses.

the allegorical or “mutashabihaat” are those signs mentioned in the book that do not refer directly to some physical or external phenomenon or sign. in such cases – for instance the sign in Moses putting his hand in his armpit and the hand coming out white, without blemish, or the sign in fasting during the month of ramadan – these are signs that pose a danger – one can take these signs as opportunities to start talking about ‘what they really mean’ with the aim of showing how no clear meaning is possible and hence what these signs point to is unclear and therefore unhelpful as a guidance for the soul….OR one can instead focus on how these allegorical signs bring me (or fail to bring me) the safety my soul needs. In the case of allegorical verses, the focus should not be “i am going to try to find the right interpretation of these signs” because these signs, by their nature, are allegories coined by the maker and what exactly he meant by them is known to Him alone..BUT, as the verse makes clear, my approach to them should be to say “does this sign have a meaning that brings me to safety and is this a sign from the One who sustains me (and all my senses and feelings)” My goa should be to seek safety not the correct interpretation. The “tawil” that is spoken of here is the one that i am tempted to pursue to challenge other interpretations for the sake of dispute and turmoil WITHOUT interest in what brings me to safety.

If my soul’s maker is speaking in the signs that seem allegorical to me, that seem to me to refer to things that i do not see with my eyes (e.g. pharoh enslaving a people and claiming to be their Lord), then I should seek to see how these are signs from my sustainer and how they make me safe. My goal with them should be my safety (Aamanna) and not the pursuit of the “real” interpretation of these allegorical signs, which must only be known to the one who coined those allegories. My attitude to the signs, which are thankfully of two types and not one, helps me see if I am turning to my maker for safety/imaan, or if i have disease in my heart that makes me pursue/seek fruitless (for my safet) turmoil and arguments about what the sign “really” means.

Published by Faraz Sheikh

Faraz Sheikh

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