August 20, 2007

Quran and Jews (II)

As our discussion about Ethics ended unexpectedly, we started a new route concerning the position of Islam and Quran on Jews. It started with Lord's reference to a verse of Quran which states that the worst enemies of Islam & Muslims are Jews. I gave an explanation of that verse, based on some interpreters' ideas. In his recent post, Lord posed several questions which may be formed into 2 main arguments: one concerns the very basis of interpretation of Quran; and the other asks of my own attitude towards Jews & Zionism, which he finds contradictory.


Let me begin with second problem, which seems much easier to answer. 3 simple principles may describe my view in details:
a) Not every anti-Zionist person/movement is necessarily anti-Semitic.
b) Still, anti-Semitism is in the root of some anti-Zionist movements.
c) I think that Quran seems to be against political movements of radical Jews, not against Judaism itself.


Now, let's consider the case of interpretation of Quran. You are completely true when you say: “Quran is not just for interpreters, it’s for everyone, everywhere and every time.” But notice that:
1) This Book was revealed in the context of time and a 25-years-history.
2) The language used in Quran is somehow mysterious, full of metaphors, etc.
3) Quran does not give a detailed explanation of its content, and Tradition (Word and Deed of Holy Prophet) is a proper mean to understand the exact meaning of some verses, in addition to the fact that even the details of some important practices of Islam (like daily prayers) is not given in Quran.
This way, interpretation is sometimes a mean to get the meaning of the verse, not sub-layers of its content.
Lat me clarify this position (behind which there is an important philosophy) a bit more: Some of the Muslim scholars believe that when we open Quran and read it, we should pay attention to the fact that this Book was revealed 14 centuries ago to the people of then Arabia, and every word/phrase of this Book had a special meaning to them. We have to understand ‘that’ meaning, not the contemporary meaning of a word/phrase. 2 factors are important here:
* The meaning of a word/phrase itself: As you well know, a special Term or Word in for example Persian may mean differently to people who live in different cities. You may dig the history of Persian Literature and find that there are many words which their meanings were somehow different in the Iran of 100 years ago. The same applies to other languages. Then, Language evolves throughout history, and words may get different meanings during a period of about 14 centuries.
* The socio-political context of the verse: Suppose that we are watching news, and it states that “2 criminals executed in Iran.” Then I say: “Thugs!” You may know from the previous chats we had that I am a fanatic fan of the current regime, then, ‘thugs’ refer to the executed criminals. On the other hand, you may know that I am strongly against the current regime, and I think that they execute opposition leaders under the name of ‘criminals’, then you know that my word refers to the leaders of IRI, not to those executed. This example shows what I mean by ‘socio-political context’.
This way, an interpreter’s role is sometimes to tell us what a word had meant to the audience of Muhammad (PBUH). One interpreter says that Yahud & Sons of Israel had completely different meanings to those people. If this idea is true, we should consider it.
I hope that this post helps you get my point better.
Good Luck


Lord Kavi said...

1. good answers!
but I think it made new questions for me, that I'll ask you! I'll inform you.
2. you can make romance again; if you did, dont remember "Littium" this time ;)

have fun

Lord Kavi said...

updated man ;)

Lord Kavi said...

Dear mohammad:
I think I will continue as possible!
and it seems that Fariborz is some clever one!
I'm ready for your answer and you know, debates make may joyful; as I said before!

RandallJones said...

I think that Muslim scholars need to learn Hebrew and study Jewish scripture.

I know its not easy to learn a new language, so for those who read English, here are two books about Judaism, that provide information that the mainstream media does not discuss.

#1) Judaism's Strange Gods by Michael A. Hoffman

and #2) Jewish History, Jewish Religion by Israel Shahak

RandallJones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RandallJones said...

On page 24 of the book
Jewish History, Jewish Religion, Israel Shahak writes:

In 1962, a part of the Maimonidean Code …the so-called Book of Knowledge, which contains the most basic rules of Jewish faith and practice, was published in Jerusalem in a bilingual edition, with the English translation facing the Hebrew text. The latter has been restored to its original purity, and the command to exterminate Jewish infidels appears in it in full: ‘It is a duty to exterminate them with one’s own hands.’ In the English translation this is somewhat softened to: ‘It is a duty to take active measures to destroy them.’ But then the Hebrew text goes on to specify the prime examples of ‘infidels’ who must be exterminated: ‘Such as Jesus of Nazareth and his pupils, and Tzadoq and Baitos and their pupils, may the name of the wicked rot.’ Not one word of this appears in the English text on the facing page.

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