Engaging the Quran as Revelation

What I understand


anyone who uses the term revelation for something and then ties it to any particular religion, identity, social imaginary, historical context, linguistic scheme of representation, discursive tradition etc etc (fill in your favorite and most theoretically sophisticated, academic buzzword), is not talking about revelation as what it would be for a human being who looksContinue reading “revelation”

it matters

it matters whether i go to the quran with questions about the religion of islam or i go to it with questions about the meaning of things and of my life (and concern about not having gotten it right). any number of teachers, living and dead, claim they will teach you the real/pure and theContinue reading “it matters”

awareness of the source & higher/lasting existence 4:77

أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ قِيلَ لَهُمْ كُفُّواْ أَيْدِيَكُمْ وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ فَلَمَّا كُتِبَ عَلَيْهِمُ الْقِتَالُ إِذَا فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُمْ يَخْشَوْنَ النَّاسَ كَخَشْيَةِ اللّهِ أَوْ أَشَدَّ خَشْيَةً وَقَالُواْ رَبَّنَا لِمَ كَتَبْتَ عَلَيْنَا الْقِتَالَ لَوْلا أَخَّرْتَنَا إِلَى أَجَلٍ قَرِيبٍ قُلْ مَتَاعُالدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ وَالآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّمَنِ اتَّقَى وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلاً “Have you not seen/considered the ones…” If myContinue reading “awareness of the source & higher/lasting existence 4:77”

signs of being with the caller unto God

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا جَاءكَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ يُبَايِعْنَكَ عَلَى أَن لَّا يُشْرِكْنَ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَسْرِقْنَ وَلَا يَزْنِينَ وَلَا يَقْتُلْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ وَلَا يَأْتِينَ بِبُهْتَانٍ يَفْتَرِينَهُ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِنَّ وَأَرْجُلِهِنَّ وَلَا يَعْصِينَكَ فِي مَعْرُوفٍ فَبَايِعْهُنَّ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُنَّ اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ My interpretive translation. I am well aware of the assumptions I am making about how IContinue reading “signs of being with the caller unto God”

where am I safe? 60:1

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا عَدُوِّي وَعَدُوَّكُمْ أَوْلِيَاء تُلْقُونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَقَدْ كَفَرُوا بِمَا جَاءكُم مِّنَ الْحَقِّ يُخْرِجُونَ الرَّسُولَ وَإِيَّاكُمْ أَن تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ رَبِّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ خَرَجْتُمْ جِهَادًا فِي سَبِيلِي وَابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِي تُسِرُّونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِمَا أَخْفَيْتُمْ وَمَا أَعْلَنتُمْ وَمَن يَفْعَلْهُ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاء السَّبِيلِ O you who feel secure [doContinue reading “where am I safe? 60:1”

homeless and penniless 59:8

لِلْفُقَرَاء الْمُهَاجِرِينَ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيارِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا وَيَنصُرُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ for the poor among those who break away and go forth: those who have been driven from their homes and their possessions, seeking favor from God and His approval/acceptance, and who help God and His Apostle: it isContinue reading “homeless and penniless 59:8”

O those who are given the book… (4:47)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ آمِنُواْ بِمَا نَزَّلْنَا مُصَدِّقًا لِّمَا مَعَكُم مِّن قَبْلِ أَن نَّطْمِسَ وُجُوهًا فَنَرُدَّهَا عَلَى أَدْبَارِهَا أَوْ نَلْعَنَهُمْ كَمَا لَعَنَّا أَصْحَابَ السَّبْتِ وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللّهِ مَفْعُولاً O you who have been granted the book, be safe on account of what send down, [such that] there is confirmation of the truth of allContinue reading “O those who are given the book… (4:47)”

no to rational sacrifice, no to “enchantment”

“The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization, intellectualization and the disenchantment of the world…” said Weber in the beginning of the 20th century. Many today think that he was correct in this claim. People today speak of disenchantment and possible re-enchantment of the world. Weber puts rationalization, intellectualization and disenchantment in one box.Continue reading “no to rational sacrifice, no to “enchantment””

ill-spending property

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يُنفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ لِيَصُدُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَسَيُنفِقُونَهَا ثُمَّ تَكُونُ عَلَيْهِمْ حَسْرَةً ثُمَّ يُغْلَبُونَ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ إِلَى جَهَنَّمَ يُحْشَرُونَ Behold, those who cover up are spending their properties in order to turn away from the path of God; and they will go on spending them until they become a regret for them; andContinue reading “ill-spending property”

whose burden is it? 35:18

وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى وَإِن تَدْعُ مُثْقَلَةٌ إِلَى حِمْلِهَا لَا يُحْمَلْ مِنْهُ شَيْءٌ وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى إِنَّمَا تُنذِرُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُم بِالغَيْبِ وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَمَن تَزَكَّى فَإِنَّمَا يَتَزَكَّى لِنَفْسِهِ وَإِلَى اللَّهِ الْمَصِيرُ (35:18) AND NO BEARER of burdens bears another’s burden; and if one weighed down by his load calls to help him carry it,Continue reading “whose burden is it? 35:18”

beauty of/in the pair

وَمِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ And in everything have We created pairs, so that you might find/remember (Me, your Lord) It is an act of mercy and wisdom that associates, in my mind, smoke with fire. When i see smoke, I can be, mercifully, alerted to the possibility of fire. This pairing, this association,Continue reading “beauty of/in the pair”

“serving people” as god

أَجَعَلْتُمْ سِقَايَةَ الْحَاجِّ وَعِمَارَةَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ كَمَنْ آمَنَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَجَاهَدَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ لاَ يَسْتَوُونَ عِندَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ Do you, perchance, regard the giving of water to pilgrims and the tending of the sacred place of prostration as being equal to one who finds safety with God and theContinue reading ““serving people” as god”

overcoming self-harm and finding peace II 27:20-44

وَتَفَقَّدَ الطَّيْرَ فَقَالَ مَا لِيَ لَا أَرَى الْهُدْهُدَ أَمْ كَانَ مِنَ الْغَائِبِينَ And he tried to find the [particular] bird; and so he said: What is it with me? I do not see the hudhud? Is it among those that disappear/are absent/lost/not to be found? لَأُعَذِّبَنَّهُ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا أَوْ لَأَذْبَحَنَّهُ أَوْ لَيَأْتِيَنِّي بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ IContinue reading “overcoming self-harm and finding peace II 27:20-44”

an issue of note 14:4-5

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلاَّ بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُمْ فَيُضِلُّ اللّهُ مَن يَشَاء وَيَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ AND we did not send one of the messengers otherwise than in the language of his people, so that he might make clear unto them;  but God misguides whom He wills and [then] guides him that willsContinue reading “an issue of note 14:4-5”


Boredom is a euphemism for intense discontentment with whatever one sought joy and contentment (aware or unaware) FROM but failed to find it therein/therewith to one’s contentment. This failure to provide satisfaction is a feature of those objects of our hopes and adoration (my life, my achievements, my friends, my understanding, my travels etc) that,Continue reading “offerings”

“do what you are instructed/commanded to do” (37:99-111)

Perhaps I should start by saying this: what burdens I bear when I imagine/dream that I have to give of myself (i am “sacrificing”), my love, my time, my energy, my compassion to the world!!! The poverty and death demand and solicit from me, without waiting for me to choose, indignation and sadness. Beauty solicitsContinue reading ““do what you are instructed/commanded to do” (37:99-111)”

10:25 (a supplicant’s will is the answerer’s willing)

“God guides whomever He wills towards the path that human beings can walk steadfastly (without wronging themselves and without losing their heart’s peace etc) When I feed my child, when I want to feed my child, when i find myself wanting that my child is fed, when I find in me a “will to feed”Continue reading “10:25 (a supplicant’s will is the answerer’s willing)”

enclosed in incompleteness & its wrongs

48:1-2 إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحًا مُّبِينًا VERILY We have opened for you an opening manifest/clear لِيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِن ذَنبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ وَيَهْدِيَكَ صِرَاطًا مُّسْتَقِيمًا so that God might erases/covers the wrongs of your past and that come after, and complete his blessing on you and (thus) guide you onto aContinue reading “enclosed in incompleteness & its wrongs”

Science, naturalism and divine guidance

56:58-74 أَفَرَأَيْتُم مَّا تُمْنُونَHave you ever considered that which you emit?  أَأَنتُمْ تَخْلُقُونَهُ أَمْ نَحْنُ الْخَالِقُونَ Is it you who create it – or are We the source of its creation? (asad) نَحْنُ قَدَّرْنَا بَيْنَكُمُ الْمَوْتَ وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمَسْبُوقِينَ We have [indeed] decreed that death shall be among you: but there is nothing to prevent Us Continue reading “Science, naturalism and divine guidance”

The recurring feast

قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّنَا أَنزِلْ عَلَيْنَا مَآئِدَةً مِّنَ السَّمَاء تَكُونُ لَنَا عِيداً لِّأَوَّلِنَا وَآخِرِنَا وَآيَةً مِّنكَ وَارْزُقْنَا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّازِقِينَ Said Jesus, the son of Mary: “O God, our Sustainer! Send down upon us table [of provisions] from heaven: make it an ever-recurring thing [Eid] for us – for the first and theContinue reading “The recurring feast”

remembering God in congregation (fi yawm al-jumua)

So in my view, the “masjid” I read about in the Quran is not a physical building built with someone’s money or endowment and then run by some leadership or caretakers and where people get on pulpits to talk at others and where people gather to enjoy community and where “knowledge” is imparted by “scholars/ulama”Continue reading “remembering God in congregation (fi yawm al-jumua)”

riba/increase that is not a purifying exchange

30:39 says, وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن رِّبًا لِّيَرْبُوَ فِي أَمْوَالِ النَّاسِ فَلَا يَرْبُو عِندَ اللَّهِ وَمَا آتَيْتُم مِّن زَكَاةٍ تُرِيدُونَ وَجْهَ اللَّهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُضْعِفُونَ And whatever “extra/additional” you give so that it might increase through people’s possessions brings no increase with God whereas what you give of purification, seeking God’s countenance, it is they who get theContinue reading “riba/increase that is not a purifying exchange”

20:99-103 [the tragedy of the proverbial starving saying to food: touch me not!]

Is there a moment of reckoning, a gathering of “criminals”, a heavy burden? Am I going to see myself confined to a life with a time-stamp of a few years (how do these years feel to me? long?) and what or who makes me feel that my life has a time-stamp and an expiration date?Continue reading “20:99-103 [the tragedy of the proverbial starving saying to food: touch me not!]”

the truth of ghusl/tahara for me

5:6 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِذَا قُمْتُمْ إِلَى الصَّلاةِ فاغْسِلُواْ وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ إِلَى الْمَرَافِقِ وَامْسَحُواْ بِرُؤُوسِكُمْ وَأَرْجُلَكُمْ إِلَى الْكَعْبَينِ وَإِن كُنتُمْ جُنُبًا فَاطَّهَّرُواْ وَإِن كُنتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاء أَحَدٌ مَّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاء فَلَمْ تَجِدُواْ مَاء فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيدًا طَيِّبًا فَامْسَحُواْ بِوُجُوهِكُمْ وَأَيْدِيكُم مِّنْهُ مَا يُرِيدُ اللّهُ لِيَجْعَلَ عَلَيْكُم مِّنْ حَرَجٍContinue reading “the truth of ghusl/tahara for me”

surrender that is light from my Lord

3:102 يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ O you who have attained security! Be conscious of God with all the consciousness that is due to Him, and do not die except that you are surrendering 3:84-85 قُلْ آمَنَّا بِاللّهِ وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْنَا وَمَا أُنزِلَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ وَإِسْحَقَContinue reading “surrender that is light from my Lord”

Surah 56:1-7 – the occurrence

إِذَا وَقَعَتِ الْوَاقِعَةُ When occurred the occurrence لَيْسَ لِوَقْعَتِهَا كَاذِبَةٌ There was not, of its occurrence, any denying خَافِضَةٌ رَّافِعَةٌ abasing, elevating إِذَا رُجَّتِ الْأَرْضُ رَجًّا When the earth is shaken with a severe shaking وَبُسَّتِ الْجِبَالُ بَسًّا And the mountains shattered into shards فَكَانَتْ هَبَاء مُّنبَثًّا so that they become as scat­tered dust  وَكُنتُمْContinue reading “Surah 56:1-7 – the occurrence”

Surah al-nisa III (updated so posting again)

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِي الْيَتَامَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاء مَثْنَى وَثُلاَثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ And if you have reason to fear that you might not act equitably towards orphans, then marry what is agreeable or likeable to you from women, twoContinue reading “Surah al-nisa III (updated so posting again)”

surah al-nisa II (finding the One in exchanges & relationships)

A short methodological point/reminder before we begin. People sometimes rely on “history” to make sense of “hard” verses of the Quran, thinking this is the solution to their disturbance about verses of the Quran. In so doing, they make divine speech distant and irrelevant to them. They lose a consistent approach to making sense ofContinue reading “surah al-nisa II (finding the One in exchanges & relationships)”

worship of beings & the practice of “no-deity”

28:88 وَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَهًا آخَرَ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ كُلُّ شَيْءٍ هَالِكٌ إِلَّا وَجْهَهُ لَهُ الْحُكْمُ وَإِلَيْهِ تُرْجَعُونَ and dont call upon any other deity side by side with God. There is no deity save Him. Everything is bound to perish, save His face. With Him rests all determinations and unto Him you areContinue reading “worship of beings & the practice of “no-deity””


What is the wrong and what is right? What is a transgression? Who does it harm? What is a crime? What is a “sin”? I can either listen to others or I can ask my maker. I am never was satisfied with what people say about such things. They sometimes speak on God’s behalf: GodContinue reading “Wrongdoing”

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