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Do you recommend the Study Quran?

Study-Quran-Syed-Hossein-NasrThe Study Quran is a 2000 page discussion of the Qur’an, by 15 contributors led by renowned scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Containing maps, annotations, timelines and indices, it is said to offer a rigorous analysis of the Qur’an’s theological, metaphysical, historical, and geographical teachings and backgrounds.

Scholars and commentators from around the world have lauded The Study Quran as “perhaps the most important work done on the Islamic faith in the English language to date.” Read the reviews here.

Others, such as Dr Shadee Elmasry have expressed grave concern over The Study Quran‘s promotion of perennialism and for being “dishonest with the evidence” while Imam Suhaib Webb has said, “I’m concerned about certain positions taken in the text and encourage those who have it to read it with a local scholar, using them to clarify any concerns. Let me add that this is the first edition. The translation of Yusuf Ali has gone through a number of editions and is still lauded till this day. My over all experience with this edition has been a positive one and I’m hopeful that further editions will continue in that direction.”

 

faraz rabbaniShaykh Faraz Rabbani was asked if he would recommend The Study Quran, and responded with:

The brief answer is yes, but with consideration.

Yes, because it is a deep, rich, valuable study companion for any English-speaker seeking to deepen their understanding and appreciation for the Book of Allah.

The consideration or caution is that this is not meant to be an authoritative reference work. It presents a range of views–Sunni, Shia, mainstream and sometimes (such as on the issue of perennialism–the “universal validity of all religions”) non-mainstream. Its editors, such as Joseph Lumbard, whom I respect and consider a friend from a distance, have said as much.

Thus, I would recommend this impressive work. Benefit from it in your connecting to the Quran, and in your gaining understanding of its guidance and beauty but don’t take it as “the final word” or an authoritative reference on matters of theology or law. It isn’t meant to be this.

Rather, it remains our duty–for each and every concerned believer–to find reliable teachers, and to learn our religion with clarity. Study Islamic beliefs, worship, spirituality, and other core sciences with qualified teachers who themselves studied–with contiguous chains connecting back to the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk). This will give you clarity and will nurture your certitude, as you navigate the challenges of life, and the nuances of knowledge, writings, books, and opinions.

May Allah reward the editors of The Study Quran for their work and service. May He accept its good and place benefit in it. And may He grant us the insight and awareness to take this benefit, and to recognize the Truth and uphold it.

And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.

 

Resources for seekers:

Allah Breathing His Spirit Into Jesus? The Possible Meanings of this Verse & The Approach of Sunni Islam Towards Ambiguous Texts

Answered by Ustadh Faraz Khan

Question: What is the meaning of the verse that states Allah blowing His spirit into Jesus?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

InshaAllah you are well.

The verse in question is, “So We breathed into him of Our spirit” (66:12)

What the Scholars of Exegesis Have Mentioned

According to works of Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), the expression “Our spirit” means “a spirit created by Us.” Of course, every human’s spirit is created by Allah Most High. The spirit of our Master `Isa (peace be upon him), however, is singled out with this expression as a way of honoring him. This ascription of honor (idafat al-tashrif) is quite common in the language of the Qur’an, such as “the house of Allah,” “the she-camel of Allah,” etc. That is, a house or she-camel so incredibly honored and so very special, that it is ascribed to Allah, who is of course utterly transcendent above using a house or she-camel, may He be glorified and exalted. Similarly, the spirit that Allah created for our master `Isa (peace be upon him) is so honored and special, it is ascribed to Allah directly, who is utterly transcendent above having His own spirit.

Another explanation given is that such an ascription is used to indicate that Allah created that thing without any intermediary or “means.” So the she-camel of Allah was created directly by Him without a womb, and the spirit of ‘`sa (peace be upon him) was created directly by Him without any means that Allah normally uses in the act of creation.

With respect to the expression “We breathed,” most exegetes mention that it was actually the Archangel Jibril (peace be upon him) who breathed the spirit into `Isa (peace be upon him). The act is ascribed to Allah in the verse, however, since He Most High is the One who commanded Jibril to do so. Therefore, “We breathed” actually means “We sent Jibril, who breathed.” [Qurtubi, Nasafi, Biqa’i, Abu Suud]

Imam Razi, however, interprets it as metaphorical, stating that the nature of the spirit is such that, once it is created in the body, it spreads to every part of the body, just as air that is breathed into a vessel. Hence according to him, there was no literal “breathing” that took place. And Allah knows best.

Dealing with Ambiguous Verses

The verse in question is considered one of the ambiguous verses (mutashabihat). With such verses, the outward apparent meaning of it cannot be taken literally with respect to Allah Most High, who is well-exalted and transcendent above all things temporal. This is established in clear, unequivocal verses such as “There is nothing like unto Him” (42:11) and “And He has no equivalent” (112:4).

Classically, there were two historical approaches among Muslim scholars in dealing with such verses. The first was, after negating the outward literal meaning, to consign the matter completely to Allah Most High without any attempt to interpret the verse (tafwid); this was the approach of the first few generations (salaf).

The second approach was to attempt to interpret the verse in a matter befitting His majesty (ta’wil), yet without affirming it with certainty since other meanings could also be correct; this was the approach of scholars of later generations (khalaf), who were forced to do so in order to safeguard the understanding of Allah’s transcendence from the incorrect beliefs of various sects that arose in their time. [Bajuri, Tuhfat al-Murid]

And Allah knows best.

wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Understanding the Qur’anic Verse “Slay them wherever you find them”: Balance, Justice, and Mercy in Islamic Rules of Jihad

Answered by Sidi Faraz Khan

Question: Could you please explain the verse of the Qur’an, “slay the polytheists wherever you find them” [9:5]  What are the implications of this verse and why/when was it revealed?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

InshaAllah  you are well.

The key to understanding the verse in question is to understand its context and the circumstances in which it was revealed.

What the Scholars of Qur’anic Exegesis Said

As mentioned by scholars of Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), these verses were revealed specifically with regards to particular groups of polytheists that breached their peace treaties with the Muslim polity. This is clear in the very first verse, as it mentions that the proclamation is given out specifically to “those polytheists with whom you had made covenants.”

Imam Razi, Imam Jamal, and others clarify in their tafsirs that this proclamation of fighting the polytheists “applies only to those that broke their covenants.” This is also why an exception to the proclamation is made in verse 4 which, as Imam Razi and others clarify, refers to “those who did not break their covenants,” i.e., they were not to be fought.

Hence, the oft-misunderstood fifth verse of “killing the polytheists wherever you find them” refers only to those that previously broke their covenants and, moreover, after they had four months to reflect on the situation and decide if they wanted to continue with their violation or not. If they decided to continue with their violation, then they would effectively be re-declaring war on the Muslim polity, in which case the verse ordered the polity to defend itself against the transgression. Even in that case, the next verse (verse 6) ordered the Muslims to provide safe passage and protection to any opposing soldier that sought asylum during combat.

Perhaps the following verse (verse 7) best summarizes the context of this discussion, as it states (with commentary from Tafsir al-Razi and Tafsir al-Jalalayn in brackets):

“How can polytheists [that were treacherous and violated their treaties] have a covenant with Allah and His Messenger? Except for those with whom you entered covenants [i.e., the polytheists who did not break them and hence were not treacherous] in the Sacred Mosque. So as long as they are true to you [with their covenants and do not breach them] then be true to them [by also fulfilling your covenants]; verily, Allah loves those who fear Him [i.e., He loves those who fulfill covenants, since whoever fears Allah will fulfill his covenants, and the Prophet kept his word and upheld his side of the treaty until his enemies broke theirs].”

[Razi, Tafsir; Jamal, Hashiyat `ala Jalalayn]

Summarizing the Issue

So to summarize, these verses have a clear historical context and cannot be used to justify acts of violence or terrorism committed against innocent civilians.

Furthermore, by Islamic law, a Muslim government must uphold its treaties and covenants with other nations, regardless of the faith of those nations. It is unlawful to break a peace treaty with any other nation. This also applies to any Non-Muslim that is a citizen of a Muslim nation or that peacefully enters one. This is because citizenship and visitor’s visas are legally considered covenants that cannot be violated. They ensure security and protection for the citizen/visitor, and require that the citizen/visitor not break any of the nation’s laws.

The same, of course, applies to a Muslim citizen of a Non-Muslim nation or a Muslim that enters a Non-Muslim nation with a visitor’s visa or the like, which again serve as covenants of mutual peace and protection. It would be unlawful for a Muslim to break such a covenant. This is also in accordance with contemporary international law and is absolutely binding. And Allah knows best. [Marghinani, al-Hidaya; Kuwaiti Fiqh Encyclopedia]

wassalam
Faraz Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani