The NATURE OF THE BOOK
According to Dr. Shahroor’s research, the Book which we have received from GOD and is comprised into 114 Suras is broken down into THREE sections as follows:
1. The Quran (this is the Mutashabih verses)
2. The Message (Muhkam verses, also referred to as “Umm Ul-Kitaab”); 3. Explanations of the Book (Tafseel Ul-Kitaab).
“He sent down to you this BOOK, containing LAW (Muhkam) verses which constitute the essence of the scripture-as well as Similar (Mutashabih) verses. Those who harbor doubts in their hearts will pursue the Similar verses to create confusion, and to extricate a certain meaning. None knows the true meaning thereof except GOD and those well founded in knowledge. They say: ‘We believe in this-all of it comes from our Lord’. Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.” (3/7)
1. The Quran (Mutashabih verses ONLY)
It is IMPERATIVE that the reader understand that the word “Quran” DOES NOT refer to the entire book which is comprised of 114 Suras. The “Quran” is a collection of verses which are sent down from GOD to perform the following functions:
– Teach humans (not only believers) about the laws of the universe and nature.
“A Quran that we have separated, in order for you to explain it to the PEOPLE (Al-Naas) over a long period, although we sent it down all at once.” (17/106)
Also we can see again in:
“The month of Ramadhan in which the Quran was sent down as a guide to the PEOPLE (Al-Naas)…” (2/185)
On the other hand, we find that the Book (Kitaab) has been sent to the BELIEVERS.
“That Book (Al-Kitaab) in which there is no doubt a guidance for the RIGHTEOUS (Mutaqeen)” (2/2)
– Proclaim what is FACTS from GOD (Haqq).
“His words are FACTS (Haqq)” (6/73)
Death is a FACT whether you believe in it or disbelieve. Therefore it is from the verses of the Quran which is comprised of “Haqq” (i.e. you like it or not facts and rules of this life).
Now, it is a GRAVE ERROR to say that the Entire Book is “Haqq” or “GOD’s WORDS” since the verses on Salat or Zakat or Hajj may or may not be accepted by people (depending on belief). therefore, if we confuse these verses from the Book with those from the Quran “Haqq”, then we actually prove that GOD’s words can be broken and that they are NOT “Haqq” TRUTH!.
– Contains Miracles and future predictions.
This is a major portion of the Quran which talks about resurrection, heaven, hell, prophecy, etc…
– Contains Stories from the Past.
“We narrate to you the most accurate history through the revelation of this QURAN. Before this, you were totally unaware.” (12/3)
– Protect the verses of the Book (Kitaab).
“This Quran was not to be proclaimed without GOD, but to AUTHENTICATE what is given to him (the Message) and to separate the book in which there is no doubt from the Lord of the Universe” (10/37)
The verses of the Book are merely laws which are prone to additions and alterations (such as what happened in the Torah). Therefore, the verses of the Quran were mixed in with the verses of the Book to authenticate and protect them from tampering.
Example of tampering with the Book:
“Therefore, woe to those who distort the Book (al-Kitaab) with their own hands, then say, “This is what GOD has revealed,” seeking a cheap material gain. Woe to them for such distortion, and woe to them for their illicit gains.” (2/79)
In the above verse it becomes evident that “Tampering” with GOD’s verses which are from the Book are very possible and therefore warrant a warning from GOD not to do so…
Let us look at what GOD says about the Quran:
“Say’ if the Humans and Jinn were to gather on bringing a Quran like this, they would not, even if they supported one another” (17/88)
Is it plausible that in one place GOD warns people not to write the Book and then in the other He CHALLENGES them to write it!!!!
This would not make any sense unless the Book & Quran were TWO separate things.
The “Mutashabih” verses (Quran) comprises the largest part of the Book and represents the Prophethood “Nubu’wa” of Mohammed.
2. The Message (Muhkam verses)
The Quran are a collection of all the verses which are Mutashabih (Similar in nature). The similarity stems from these verses all being FACTS “Haqq”.
Um-Ul-Kitaab is a collection of the LAW verses (Muhkamat) which are called the “Essence of the Book” and also the “Message” that Mohammed delivered.
An example of a Muhkam verse is: “Say’ GOD is ONE…” (112). Had the verse been written WITHOUT “Say”, then it would have been a Quranic verse (Mutashabih) since it becomes a FACT (GOD is ONE). However, by adding the word: ‘Say’, it becomes an OPTION to the person to say GOD is ONE or not.
There is only one entire sura in the Book which is entirely made-up of “Muhkam” ayat. This is Sura # 9 and it is indicated by not carrying a “Basmallah”.
Had Sura # 9 carried a “Basmallah”, then that would mean that there is AT LEAST one verse in it which is a FACT “Haqq” therefore it must be “In the name of GOD” since GOD teaches us “The Most Merciful Has MARKED the Quran” (55/1) . However, reading the sura indicates it is all LAWS and REGULATIONS which may or may not be followed.
If someone is wondering how Dr. Shahroor came to the conclusion that Sura # 9 is all Muhkam, then I must point the following verse which gave the clue of an ENTIRE Sura that is Muhkam:
“And if a (Muhkam) Sura is revealed and in it is mentioned fighting, you see those with disease in their hearts…” (47/20)
The “Muhkam” verses are very simply all the LAWS that are found throughout the Book (Divorce, Inheritance, Punishments, Charity, Rituals, etc..). These verses comprise the “Message” which was sent through Muhammad and it is this which MUST BE FOLLOWED by all Muslims.
Please note that when GOD says “Obey GOD and His Messenger”, this is not referring to the entire Book, but to ONLY the “Muhkam” verses which constitute Mohammed’s Message and the “Essence of the Book”.
Never do you find GOD saying “Obey GOD and His Prophet!”. This is because it would mean following the Mutashabih verses which CANNOT all be understood by ordinary people (it needs specialization and the proper time for understanding).
3. Explanations of the Book (Tafseel Ul -Kitaab)
In this section fall all the verses which are not LAW, and not FACT, but are there so we understand how to interpret the Book we have received from GOD (an example would be 3/7 which explains that there is Muhkam & Mutashabih).
The verses which are “Explanation of the Book” are very few and can easily be identified since they will inevitably be referring to the Book itself.
Dangers of Mixing Mutashabih, with Muhkam, with Tafseel
What has been going on here is a bizarre occurrence where the Muslims think that the ENTIRE Book is meant to be upheld and implemented. The problems that occur when we try to implement FACTS “Haqq” can be seen in this example:
“None shall grasp it except the pure (Mutahar’een).”
The above verse is from the Quran and states that its meaning cannot be comprehended except by those of pure heart or mind. To think of it as “Muhkam” means that ALL believers must FORCE THEMSELVES to be pure so they can touch or grasp the Quran (this is what Sunnis do where they force themselves to do Wud’u before touching the Book).
It is the view that we have been confusing matters greatly by thinking that we should be following and upholding the entire Quran, when in fact, we should be ONLY upholding the “Muhkam” laws of the Book (The Message).
The Quran is meant for mankind to be understood as and when science and man advance to learn and benefit from it. We are not meant to understand it all at once, nor is it part of our religion. If we understand it at a given time, then it will definitely increase our faith. But if we do not understand any part of it, then no harm is done.
The divisions we have seen amongst all Muslims (19 issue for example) has been based on a MUTASHABIH verse which was never meant to be a MUST to understand or follow, but was inserted as a FACT based on “Haqq”.
The Straight Path
In our daily prayers as believers we always ask GOD “Guide us to the Straight Path” (1/6), yet we have never understood WHAT this Straight Path is nor what following it will do to us.
In his book, Shahroor examines the “Straight Path” using the Quran as a guide and actually manages to IDENTIFY what the Straight Path is which we are all asking GOD to help guide us to it:
“Say, ‘Come let me tell you what your Lord has prohibited for you:
1) You shall not set up idols besides Him.
2) You shall honor your parents.
3) You shall not kill your children from fear of poverty-We provide for you and for them.
4) You shall not come near sins, obvious or hidden.
5) You shall not kill-GOD has made life sacred-except in the course of justice.
These are His commandments to you, that you may understand.” (6/151)
6) You shall not touch the orphans’ money except in the most righteous manner, until they reach maturity.
7) You shall give full weight and full measure when you trade, equitably. We do not burden any soul beyond its means.
8.) You shall be absolutely just when you bear witness, even against your relatives.
9) You shall fulfill your covenant with GOD.
These are His commandments to you, that you may take heed.” (6/152)
“This is MY PATH – A STRAIGHT ONE. You shall follow it, and do not follow any other paths, lest they divert you from His path.
10) These are His commandments to you, that you may be righteous.” (6/153)
Shahroor gives the above as the “10 Commandments” which, if they are followed, will lead to the Straight Path that GOD talks about.
The book gives a detailed breakdown of each of the commands and their implication in our lives.
These 10 commandments according to Shahroor, represent the BACKBONE of GOD’s message to humanity and this is the same commandments that were revealed to Moses and Jesus for the people to implement.
The only points that need some clarification are:
3 & 5. Although these two items may look at first like they contain the same command (thou shall not kill), in-fact there is a big difference between the two.
In the forbidding of killing your children, GOD sites the reason as “fear of poverty”, so it can be deduced that in a situation where there is NO ‘fear of poverty” then it is acceptable to kill one’s children?.
Shahroor goes on to explain that the child becomes a “life” or <nafs> after it is born, and therefore AUTOMATICALLY falls under the 5th commandment (not to kill a life). So, to kill from fear of poverty is a state where the child is not yet born and the parents fear that they will not be able to raise or nourish him/her. In this situation, GOD tells the parents that killing the child through abortion for THIS REASON is a BIG MISTAKE because GOD will provide for them all:
“You shall not kill your children due to fear of poverty. We provide for them, as well as for you. Killing them is a BIG MISTAKE.” (17/31)
Note how GOD calls such killing a “Big Mistake” and not a “Crime” which carries a punishment.
4. You shall not come near sins, obvious or hidden.
The definitions of sins <fahisha> can be found in the following verses:
– “Do not marry the women who were previously married to your fathers-existing marriages are exempted, for it is a gross offense <fahisha>, and an abominable act.” (4/22), Also 4/23 contains the Lower limits.
– “Lot said to his people, “You commit such an abomination <fahisha>; no one in the world has done it before!” (7/80)
– “You shall not commit adultery; it is a gross sin <fahisha>, and an evil behavior.” (17/32)
So, the “obvious’ sins are 1) Adultery, 2) Homosexuality, 3) Incest.
As for “hidden” sins, this is found in 4/128 where a man attempts to have intercourse with his wife from other than what GOD has allowed:
– “If a woman fears desertion or abstainment from her husband, the couple shall try to reconcile their differences, for conciliation is best for them. Selfishness is a human trait, and if you do good and lead a righteous life, GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.” (4/128)
Shahroor explains that the reason a man may abstain or not have sex with his wife is if she refuses to have sex with him beyond what GOD has allowed, thus it is upto them to reconcile.
10. Follow this path that you may be righteous.
Although the 10th command does not seem like a command, but Shahroor explains that the 10th command tells us that ALL the commands that followed before it must be followed in order to attain righteousness (i.e. following command # 1 or # 2 only will not lead to righteousness).
What was also interesting for me is that Shahroor does not consider Salat, Fasting, etc.. to be as important as the “straight Path”, but rather he considers them to be PERSONAL methods to help people attain and implement the “Straight Path” commandments.
Also, whosoever ignores these commandments OR takes OTHER than them or changes them, then this person has fallen under those who “have deserved the wrath, and the strayers” (1/7)
The commandments can also be found repeated in more detail in Sura # 17 verses 22-39.
Upper and Lower laws in the Quran
In his book, Dr Shahroor explains that the laws contained in the Quran are NOT static laws and should be viewed as “limits” if we are to understand and implement them correctly in a living society.
1. The Lower Limits
“Do not marry the women who were previously married to your fathers, except was has already been done, for it is a gross offense, and an abominable act.” (4/22)
“Prohibited for you are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, the sisters of your fathers, the sisters of your mothers, the daughters of your brother, the daughters of your sister, your nursing mothers, the girls who nursed from the same woman as you, the mothers of your wives, the daughters of your wives with whom you have consummated the marriage-if the marriage has not been consummated, you may marry the daughter. Also prohibited for you are the women who were married to your genetic sons. Also, you shall not be married to two sisters at the same time-but do not break up existing marriages. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (4/23)
The above two verses give an example of a “Lower” limit which CANNOT be passed no matter what changes occur in society or people.
2. Upper Limits
“The thief, male or female, you shall cut their resources as a punishment for their crime, and to stop them. GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.” (5/38)
According to Shahroor, this is an “Upper Limit” which means that you CANNOT do more than this to a thief (i.e. kill them, or throw them in jail), but the punishment CAN be less than the upper limit depending of each circumstance.
As for those who do more than “petty theft” and are involved in major large scale embezzlement and hurting the economy, then they will fall under the verse:
“The just retribution for those who fight GOD and His messenger, and seek destruction on Earth, is to be killed, or crucified, or to have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or to be banished from the land. This is to humiliate them in this life, then they suffer a far worse retribution in the Hereafter.” (5/33)
Again, the above represents “upper limits” which may be used according to the crime.
Another example of an “upper” limit is in 2/178 which talks about Capital Punishment for the crime of murder (i.e. the maximum is to kill the criminal, but to exceed this would be to kill his relatives or other members which is EXCEEDING an upper limit).
3. Upper & Lower Limits Together
Shahroor uses 4/11-14 as an example where GOD sets the upper and lower limits and leaves it upto us to move within such limits.
I.E: males get 66.6%, while females get 33.3%. This represents the upper limit for the male and the lower limit for the female.
If you give the male 75% and the female 25%, then you have TRANSGRESSED GOD’s limits. However, if you give 60% to the male and 40% to the female, then you are still operating WITHIN GOD’s limits.
4. Upper and Lower Limits Being EQUAL
In this example, Shahroor sites a verse which has given the upper & lower limit as the same (i.e. NO movement is allowed):
“The adulteress and the adulterer you shall whip each of them a hundred lashes. Do not be swayed by pity from carrying out GOD’s law, if you truly believe in GOD and the Last Day. And let a group of believers witness their penalty.” (24/2)
This is a combined limit as evidenced by the saying “Do not be SWAYED by pity from carrying out GOD’s law”.
The conditions for carrying out the Zina punishment are all outlined in 24/3-10 so as to leave no doubt as to WHEN the punishment conditions are met.
Women’s Dress Code
There are many points in the verse below which until today cause lots of confusion for scholars throughout. We will, GOD willing, take the points of the above verse one-by-one:
“And tell the believing women to:
1) Subdue their eyes, and
2) Keep their private area chaste <Farj>.
3) They shall not expose their <Zeenatuhun>, except that which is exposed. They shall place their cover on their <Juyoobuhun>, and shall not expose their <Zeentauhun> except to their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters,
5) <Ma Malakat Aymanuhun> or
6) Workers who do not have sexual interest, or
7) The children who do not yet understand women’s private parts.
8.) They shall not strike their feet so it is known what they hide from their <Zeenatuhun>.
All of you shall repent to GOD, O you believers, that you may succeed.” (24/31)
1) This command has also come down in 24/30 to address the male believers that they should subdue their gaze, and in 24/31 for the female believers that they do the same.
This is the first line of defense for both males and females from wanting and this would imply in today’s society to people we see in the street or even on TV, for the believers will not stare at sights which would make them uncomfortable (if the roles were reversed) but should exercise judgment.
2) Maintain the chastity has also come before this verse in 24/30 to address the believing men that they should maintain their chastity. The word <Farj> is directly related to the “private area” or “genitals” of both the man and the woman. The command in this verse is that women (and men in the previous verse) should PROTECT and CONCEAL their “private area”.
The implications of this word go beyond merely the exposure of ones private area, but also to the level that protection involves not letting anyone touch or come near. Thus the idea of “foreplay” and touching or “oral sex” is AUTOMATICALLY rejected by the Quran for all those who are unmarried and no excuses are given.
3) The <Zeena> of a woman is identified in the same verse when GOD commands her to “cover” her Zeena which is the <Jayb>.
<JAYB> in Arabic is used for any opening with TWO sides to it. Thus for the body of a woman, the <Jayb> would be the area of the breasts, the area under the arms, the vagina area <Farj> as well as the hands, feet, nose, mouth and
ears. It is incorrect to define <Jayb> as merely the breasts of a woman since that will lead to a wrong understanding of the minimum dress-code requirements (i.e the woman can cover her breasts and walk around naked revealing everything else).
The area of the head (mouth, ears, nose) as well as the feet and hands all fall under the EXCEPTION to being covered which is mentioned as <Ma Zahar> in the same verse. <Ma Zahar> is literally translated as “that which protrudes”, thus the limbs (head, feet and hands) are all protruding <Zahar> from the body and therefore are exempt from having their <Zeena> which is the <Jayb> from being covered.
It is worth noting that a woman’s stomach and back are NOT part of the <Zeena> and can be revealed if one wished to do so with no implications of “Right” or “Wrong”.
It is upto the believing women to ensure that all these areas known as <Zeena> are covered and not revealed to anyone except: 1. Husband, 2. Father, 3. Husband’s Father, 4. Son, 5. Husband’s Son, 6. Brother, 7. Brother’s Son, 8. Sister’s Son.
Some people may think that this allows a woman to appear entirely naked in front of the above list. The answer to that is “yes”, it is not from the Halal or Haram if this happens, but it will be modesty and cultural norms that make this concept peculiar.
It is CRITICAL to note that the list of men to whom a woman can reveal her <Zeena> does NOT include her (Uncle, Son from Suckling, Brother from Suckling, Mother’s Husband, Daughter’s Husband and Sister’s Husband) EVEN THOUGHT these people are “Mahram’s” whom she is forbidden from marrying (see sura # 4 for the full “Mahram” list).
This new understanding implies that some men may still have a sexual drive or desire for a woman even though they are her “Mahram’s” which she is forbidden from marrying. Thus she is NOT to reveal her <Zeena> in their presence.
This understanding of <Zeena> will force most Fiqh scholars to re-examine their understanding that the <Zeena> is merely ornaments or make-up, but it is something much more which only a limited few are allowed to see (or else the Mahram’s in Sura # 4 must never see a woman if she has make-up or jewelry on).
4) The next word for those who may see a woman’s <Zeena> is described by the word <NISAUHUN>.
This word has been mistakenly understood to be “women”, whereas the word <Nisa’a> can also be used for “those who came later” <Nasee’a>. This word covers all those who come later on such as: Son’s Son, Grandchildren, Son’s, Son of Brother, Son’s Son of Sister (i.e. all those who come from the seed of the people allowed to see the woman’s Zeena).
5) <Ma Malakat Aimanukum> (to be dealt with separately)
6) <Ghayr Ulu Al-Arab’a Min Al-Rijal>, this can be used to describe all men who do not have any interest in sexual conduct with the woman (such as a doctor who is giving her birth).
7) Children who do not yet understand the meaning of a woman’s private parts.
8.) Striking their feet to reveal their <hidden Zeena>. This is referring to the <Zeena> which we have already identified as all the <Jayb’s> with the exception of that which is is on the limbs “Protruding Zeena”. This “hidden Zeena” can only be revealed through the striking of the feet if it were used to describe any form of dancing for a woman that causes the revealment of her “hidden” bodyparts (breast, inner-thighs, and armpits). Such dancing can be found in what is today called “exotic dancing”, “belly dancing” and “striptease dancing”.
This is the BEAR MINIMUM that GOD has ORDERED the believing women to abide by with no repercussions or consequences in the hereafter. As for those who wish to have more INSTRUCTIONS as to what is suitable dress code, they do not have to look far:
“O prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers that they shall lengthen their garments. Thus, they will be recognized and avoid being harmed. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.” (33/59)
The instructions above is for the believing women who wish to avoid harm (either social or otherwise) which is caused if they were not fully clothed and may be treated with disrespect or as women who do not abide by GOD’s moral laws (i.e. prostitutes).
It is our duty as believers in the Book to ensure that GOD’s commands and instructions are understood so they may be implemented by people of all places and all times.
Ribba in The Quran
In his book, Shahroor attempts to balance between the various verses regarding Interest and its economic implications. As such, Shahroor identifies three categories which may involve Interest <Ribba>.
Before defining the 3 categories, it is important to define the word used in the Quran: <Ribba> = “to grow or increase”.
1. Zakat & Charities
This is cash or goods given from one person to another with NO obligation on behalf of the recipient.
The difference between Zakat and Charities (sadaqaat) is that <Zakat> is the minimum requirement for charities <sadaqaat> and it is an obligatory requirement (i.e. charities is a general description for Zakat).
The Quran talks about the “poor” people who receive charity <sadaqaat>:
“Charities shall go to the poor…” (9/60)
For such people, they fall under the definition: “GOD condemns usury, and blesses charities…” (2/276)
I.E. those people are UNABLE to pay back any money given to them, so what is given MUST be treated as a charity and not asked back.
Whosoever charges interest to such people of need is addressed in:
“Those who charge usury are in the same position as those controlled by the devil’s influence…” (2/275)
Also, such people are warned in 2/278-279 to leave what has been given or to expect a war from GOD.
2. Loans to people who are not poor (but not rich)
Such people should be treated with loans at ZERO interest or the loan should be given as a charity (2-279-280).
3. Loans to people who have wealth.
All other verses concerning interest do not fall under the Charity or Zakat conditions (such as loans to businesses, landowners, Oil companies, etc..).
Such category comes under the verse:
“O you who believe, you shall not take usury, compounded over and over. Observe GOD, that you may succeed.” (3/130)
GOD has thus placed a CEILING limit to the interest which may be charged (even to the rich) and that is it does not exceed 100% of the loan principal.
Therefore, the issue of interest according to the Quran can be summed-up as follows:
1. Zakat and Charity recipients should not be given loans, but it should be non-returnable.
2. In some cases it is plausible o give a loan WITHOUT interest and this is the Upper Limit for charity and Zakat recipients.
3. Loans which are given to normal recipients (i.e. not Zakat or Charity recipients) can be charged interest with a MAXIMUM ceiling of 100% of the principal. Any interest above this should not be paid by the recipient.
What is GREATER Than Salat?
Most people believe that Salat is the MOST important pillar in Islam and that without it a man is nothing but a lost soul which is doomed to eternal hell.
Although I agree that Salat is IMPORTANT, it is definitely NOT the most important element by testimony of the Quran itself:
“You shall recite what is revealed to you of the scripture, and observe the <Salat>, for the Contact Prayers prohibit evil and vice. But the remembrance of GOD is GREATER. And GOD knows everything you do.” (29/45)
Here GOD has given the “Remembrance” or <Zikr> MORE IMPORTANCE than the Salat itself by saying <wa la zikr Allah AKBAR>.
<Zikr> in the Arabic tongue carries as one of its meanings “Remembrance” (see 12/42, 18/24, 7/165, 6/44, 25/73).
So, what is this <Zikr> which is greater than Salat and how do we go about doing it?. Is it saying “Allah, Allah” 1,000 times?, or is it more than that?.
One does not have to go far to find the answer. For the people who perform the <Zikr> are found also in GOD’s glorious book and it describes a people who have gone BEYOND the mere remembrance of GOD at the designated Salat times, but they have GOD infused within their very soul that they carry the thought of Him ALWAYS:
“They remember GOD while standing, sitting, and on their sides, and they reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth: ‘Our Lord, You did not create all this in vain. Be You glorified. Save us from the retribution of Hell.” (3/191)
These are the people whom when they buy, they “Remember” GOD’s instruction:
“Do not cheat the people out of their rights.” (7/85)
And when they sell, they “Remember” GOD’s instruction:
“Do not cheat when you measure or weigh.” (11/84)
And when they speak, they do not lie. And when he is sick he “remembers” that only GOD can cure him.
This is the human being which the devil is after and tries to deter him from the <Zikr> by any means necessary:
“The devil wants to provoke animosity and hatred among you through intoxicants and gambling, and to distract you from REMEMBERING <Zikr> GOD, and from observing the Salat. Will you then refrain?” (5/91)
Note how GOD has placed the <Zikr> BEFORE the <Salat> in this verse showing that this is the PRIORITY that Shaitan has put in trying to make people stray from the Straight Path of GOD.
Just remember, what you may think is today the most important element in your life and your religion, may actually turn-out to be nothing of the sort.
Know what your enemy “Satan” is trying to make you abandon for the strength of “Remembrance” is a weapon we all need to yield in our daily lives.