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Because all translations of the Quran are nowhere near perfect, I believe that those who can, should compile their own unique book containing the best translations that the world, and the Arabic Quran, has to offer them. As we all discover better translations, our books can be instantly updated for others to reference. Begin compiling and sharing your own. Here is mine:

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Why Is There Science in the Quran? 84:1

I have often wondered what good there is in discovering science inside of the Quran, but only after it had already been discovered outside of the Quran.

Ideally believers would make a real world discovery after reading a verse. Or we would add to the science that comes from the discovery that the verse mentions. But gaining scientific literacy is also a good outcome from reading these scientific verses. As is increased faith in the Quran as being divinely inspired to Muhammad the Prophet.

But once we are thoroughly convinced that the Quran is from God and Muhammad is His messenger. And after we know which fields of science we should take an interest in, then what?

Well, again, contributing to that area of science would be great for those with the aptitude. But I also think relating the verse and the science to the meaning of life, or to everyday life, is something every believer can do. I have found, however, that this is easier to say than it is to do. Take Quran 84:1 for example. Steps 1 and 2 are pretty straight forward:

1st) The heavy lifting concerning the science behind the literal part of this verse is worked out by our scientists.

“The Big Rip is a cosmological hypothesis first published in 2003, about the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the matter of the universe, from stars and galaxies to atoms and subatomic particles, is progressively torn apart by the expansion of the universe at a certain time in the future.”

2nd) We read about the science, and write a better translation (as far as I know, the Quran 2015 translation, happened to be the first translation with the word rip in it, read other translations):

“When the universe is ripped apart.” 84:1

3rd) In this last step, we try to relate the verse to the meaning of life, or even everyday life. I sometimes wonder how the difficulty of the step compares to step 1 and the job of the scientist? In the A. Yusef Ali Commentary we can see that he was trying to get us started down this road. Concerning 84:1 he wrote:

“The passing away of this world of sense to make way for a new World of Reality is here indicated by two Facts, which are themselves Symbols for a complete revolution in our whole knowledge and experience. At the beginning of S. 82 and S. 81, other Symbols were used, to lead up to the arguments there advanced. Here the Symbols are: (1) the Sky being rent asunder and giving up its secrets, and (2) the Earth being flattened out from the globe it is, and giving up its secrets.”

Continue reading Why Is There Science in the Quran? 84:1

Hillary, Rajiv, David, and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:8-9)

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.'” (1 Samuel 17:8)

According to tradition, a Goliath (Hillary Clinton) must first make her announcement for battle before a David (I’m expecting Rajiv Shah) can be expected to accept the challenge. But the longer a Goliath waits to announce, the longer a David has to prepare.

“By God’s will they defeated them, and David slew Goliath. And God gave him power and wisdom, and taught him whatever he wished. And if God did not check one set of people by way of another, the earth would indeed be full of chaos. But God is full of bounty to all the systems of knowledge.” (Quran 2:251)

How Does One Write a Holy Book for Both Religious and Less Religious Believers? 2:177

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day…” 2:177

Verse 2:177 is about properly understanding the role rituals in religion. But the correct understanding of rituals and traditions is up to each unique worshiper.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but one way to effectively write a single unifying Holy Book for both religious and less religious people is tomake the question of precisely what their religion is, and exactly what adherents to that religion must do, so complex, as to make it virtually impossible to answer.

Below are a few examples of complexities concerning rituals, rites and traditions in the Quran:

1) Only a few traditions are actually advised by God, and He details how we are to practice them.

Examples: Ablution (wudu), Fasting during the month of Ramadan

2) Other traditions are advised by God for us to practice, but He does not exactly detail how we are to practice them.

Examples: Prayer (salat), Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj and umrah)

3) Some traditions are mentioned, but God does not tell us to practice them, nor does He explain how they are to be practiced.

For Example: The call to prayer (athan), Friday worship service (jumuah)

4) And still other traditions are detailed, yet God never in fact advises us to practice them.

Examples: Wearing a head-covering, Polygyny

So again, I think this complex delivery of religion effectively allows each believer to benefit from the exact number of rituals and traditions as he or she finds helpful.

Continue reading How Does One Write a Holy Book for Both Religious and Less Religious Believers? 2:177

Nina Simone and Wudu (Ablution), 5:6

“O you who believe, when you prepare for prayer, wash your faces, hands and arms to the elbows, wipe your heads and feet to the ankles…” 5:6

The song Ain’t Got No… I’ve Got Life, by American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist, Nina Simone, reminds me of the Wudu ritual. In this song, Ms. Simone mentions things she ain’t got, in order for us focus on what she’s got. And some of the things she appreciates having are her smile, hands, toes, and head.

Imam W.D. Mohammed has taught extensively on Wudu and I will use some of his it here. By performing Wudu between working on challenging and ambitious projects, we have an opportunity to focus on overcoming the obstacles that we have inevitably come up against since the last time we performed Wudu.

Washing our face reminds us of our good character, which is why we have chosen to work on the issue at hand, whatever that issue may be. Washing our hands and arms reminds us that we have our abilities, skills, and strengths which can aid us in the process. Wiping our head reminds us that we have the foundational knowledge and the mind to find solutions. And wiping our feet reminds us that we have ability stand up to the challenge, climb over it, and to journey out to get help if we cannot do it alone.

During this month of celebrating Women’s History, and indeed in every month, let us remember the challenges women like Nina Simone have faced and overcome.

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Continue reading Nina Simone and Wudu (Ablution), 5:6

Should Parents Pray with Their Children in Their First Language? 29:45

“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to you, and establish prayer, for prayer restrains from misconduct and harmful behavior, and the remembrance of God is the greatest thing without doubt, and God knows the deeds that you do.” 29:45

If Muslim women’s function in family and society was appreciated throughout history as it ought to be, then the question of whether parents should pray with their children in their first language would have never needed to be asked.

There is nothing better to give to a child than a healthy spiritual life. And there is no better spiritual practice than prayer. But how beneficial is a child’s prayer if he or she does not understand what they are saying?

I think that if parents pray with their children in their first language using verses like these, their children will surely thank them for it for years to come.

Continue reading Should Parents Pray with Their Children in Their First Language? 29:45

Sheba and the First Woman President in U.S. History, 27:23

“I found there a woman ruling them, she has everything, and she has a magnificent throne.” 27:23

“I found there (Sheba) a woman ruling (governing and leading) them, she has everything (qualifications and achievements), and she has a magnificent (respected) throne (seat of power).” 27:23

“… this (O Sheba) is a palace built smooth with glass…”  27:44

This month and this year, Women’s History Month 2015, is a good time for a woman to announce her campaign to break our nation’s presidential glass ceiling in which Hillary Clinton and her supporters in 2008 put “18 million cracks”.

And when looking for guidance as to whether this election cycle should be the one we choose our first woman president, I naturally turned to the story of Sheba in the Quran (27:20-44 below).

In this story the male leader (Solomon) and the female leader (Sheba) both have strengths and weaknesses. Some of us will interpret Sheba’s diplomacy as weakness and others will see it as a display of strength. Some will interpret Solomon’s strong words toward the bird as strength and others and weakness.

The main lesson I learned from the characters of the complex and perhaps opaque stories of Sheba (and Hillary Clinton) is that we should always support the leader (imam) with the best mind and character, whether or not that person is a woman.

Continue reading Sheba and the First Woman President in U.S. History, 27:23

Invite Women to Sit Wherever They like on Fridays Throughout Women’s History Month, 58:1

“O you who believe, when you are asked to make room in the assembly, make room. Ample room will God make for you. And when you are asked to rise up, rise up. God will raise up in ranks those of you who believe, and who have been granted knowledge. And God is well acquainted with all you do.” 58:11

Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. So in honor of Women’s History Month, invite our guests, sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, and grandmothers to feel free to sit wherever they would like on Fridays throughout the month of March 2015.

Continue reading Invite Women to Sit Wherever They like on Fridays Throughout Women’s History Month, 58:1

Are Humans Reading the Quran Like Mere Computers? 2:121

“Those to whom We have sent the Book, read it as it should be read, they are the ones who believe. Those who do not believe, the loss is their own.” 2:121

One day (if not already) computers will be able to read and analyze the Quran on some level (see computational linguistics: comprehension approaches to computational linguistics). But if you are like me, and think that computers will never be able to comprehend the Quran the way humans do, then you should never read the Quran in a way that even the most advanced computer imaginable could read it.

Not only does that mean that we should not come up with interpretations that we can imagine a the most powerful computers coming up with. But we should also not have understandings of verses based only on the kind of history or science that a computer like the super computer Watson could manage to find on the internet.

And since computers should never be on our level, we should not get stuck on a verse, or skip over the type of verse that could bring up an error message, or irrelevant search results on a computer simply because it has no idea what the verse is talking about. Instead, we should use, and read with, that part of us which humans have but computers do not.

Continue reading Are Humans Reading the Quran Like Mere Computers? 2:121

So How Do You Know the Quran is from God? 4:82

“Do they not consider the Quran? Had it been from other than God, they would surely have found in it much discrepancy and contradiction.” 4:82

Some claim to have found many discrepancies and contradictions in the Quran, so they think that it must not be from God. Others claim to have found none, thus it must be from God. And still others read seemingly contradicting statements as literary paradox from God (see explanation below).

But no matter which opinion you have, if you can find beneficial interpretations and applications then it does not really matter if it turns out not to be from God. And if you cannot find beneficial interpretations and applications, then it does not matter if it in fact is from God.


In literature, the paradox is an anomalous juxtaposition of incongruous ideas for the sake of striking exposition or unexpected insight. It functions as a method of literary composition – and analysis – which involves examining apparently contradictory statements and drawing conclusions either to reconcile them or to explain their presence. (read more about paradox in literature)

Continue reading So How Do You Know the Quran is from God? 4:82

Why Would there be Just One, Easy to Follow Book for Creatures with Free Will? (9:111)

“Perhaps you may want to give up a part of what is revealed to you…” (11:12)

God gave humanity free will (2:30). But what good is free will without choices (38:26). And what good are choices if they are too easy?

Therefore God gave humanity more than one book to choose from (9:111). He may penalize us for hypocrisy, but not for the book we choose (2:62, 5:44, 30:62). And I think that anyone who has studied the books would have to admit that deciding how (or if) to follow and believe in all the verses, in any one of the books, is not an easy choice to make (11:12).

“Those who listen to the word, and adhere to the best of it. Those are the ones who God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” 39:18

And adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not. 39:55

Referenced Verses

Continue reading Why Would there be Just One, Easy to Follow Book for Creatures with Free Will? (9:111)

Does Allah Forgive All Sins or Not? (Quran 4:48 and 39:53)

“God does not forgive that partners be established with Him, but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases. But to establish partners with God is to commit a sin most heinous indeed.” 4:48

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قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

“Say, ‘O my servants who have transgressed against their souls, do not despair of the mercy of God, for God forgives all sins, for He is Oft-Forgiving, Mercifully Redeeming.'” 39:53

What good is free will if we do not have choices? So for the question, “Does God forgive all sins or not?”, the Quran gives us options…

Option A: If you do not want to believe that God will forgive those who have a very imperfect, but sincere concept of God, then go with 4:48.

Option B: If you do want to believe that God will forgive His sincere servants for all of their sins, then verse 39:53 is for you.

Wondering if 39:53 indeed says all sins? Look at a word for word Quran and read other people’s translation of 39:53.

“Those who listen to the word, and adhere to the best of it. Those are the ones who God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” 39:18

“And adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not.” 39:55

Continue reading Does Allah Forgive All Sins or Not? (Quran 4:48 and 39:53)

Why Is the Quran So Easy to Misinterpret and Misuse? (Quran 11:7)

“He is the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and His throne was over the waters, so that He would make clear which of you is best in conduct…” 11:7

I do not think that the Quran is especially easy to misinterpreted and misuse. I think the Quran, like everything else, was created to be used exactly the way we want to use it. 

Could the person who wants to be chaste and a person who does not, both use the Quran to help them be what they want? 

70:29. Those who guard their chastity, 

70:30. Except with their spouses and those who their right hands possess, for them there is no blamed.

24:30. Say to the believers that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty. That will make for greater refinement for them, and God is well acquainted with all that they do. 

Can the person who wants world peace and another who wants violence both find an interpretation in the Quran to support what they want? 

2:191. And slay them wherever you catch them. And drive them out from where they have driven you out, for oppression is worse than slaughter. But do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you there, and if they attack you, slay them. Such is the punishment of those who suppress faith.

2:224. And do not make God an excuse in your promises against doing good, or acting right, or making peace between people. For God is the One who hears and knows all things. 

Can the person who wants to get drunk and the person who does not both use the Quran to get what they want? 

4:43. O you who believe, do not approach prayer with a confused mind, until you can understand all that you say…

2:219. They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say, “In both of them is great harm and benefit for humanity, but the harm outweighs the benefit.” They ask you how much they are to give. Say, “That which is beyond your needs.” Indeed God makes clear to you His signs in order that you may contemplate.

God created everything to test which of us will use our free will the best (so that we can earn paradise again). Why should the Quran be an exception?

“Adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not.” (39:55)

Continue reading Why Is the Quran So Easy to Misinterpret and Misuse? (Quran 11:7)

Who Should Be the next President of the United States of America?

“And there is the type of person who gives their life to earn the pleasure of God, and God is full of kindness to His servants.” 2:207

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No Labels was brilliant choice for his first interview on March 7, 2015. It is not a part of the democratic machine connected to Hillary Clinton. Rajiv Shah has earned the respect and friendship of not only Democrats in congress but also Republican and Independent alike.

Why should Rajiv Shah be the next president? In short: None of the Republicans will do. Joe Biden makes too many gaffes. And Hillary Clinton misspeaks and is difficult to trust. Rajiv Shah, on the other hand, is qualified, electable, and would make an exceptional president. Like our Rajiv Shah for President Facebook page to let him know that we think he should be the next president of the United States of America.

Visit the Rajiv Shah for President website

ISIL (Islamic Satire of Iraq and the Levant)

“Adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not.” (39:55)

I think that satire (the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues) is found throughout the Quran (e.g. 4:15-4:16, 18:56-82, 24:33) because becoming aware of our stupidity and vices can be the first step to acquiring moral/ethical knowledge.

Those who cannot understand this (e.g. ISIL, Boko Haram, their supporters and sympathizers) become this satire; personified. But hopefully these expressions of satire in the news are helping the other Muslims see our stupidity and vices concerning how some of us view non-muslims, democracy, kingdoms, women and girls, etc. 

“Then must we not first know the nature of virtue? For how can we advise any one about the best mode of attaining something of which we are wholly ignorant?”

-Socrates (Laches)

Continue reading ISIL (Islamic Satire of Iraq and the Levant)

Why Isn’t the Origin of the Universe Story Scientifically Accurate? (Quran 25:59 and Genesis 31)

“He Who created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between, in six days, and is firmly established on the Throne of Authority, God the Merciful Benefactor. Then ask about Him, those who are acquainted with such things.” (Quran 25:59) 

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (Genesis 31)

God could have given us a scientific account of the creation of the universe. But by giving us a non-scientific account, God effectively answers the oldest, most stressful question of “Who” created the universe, while leaving the fun part of discovering “what” is the universe, to us.

(thoughts inspired by this Ashbury Bible Commentary)

Continue reading Why Isn’t the Origin of the Universe Story Scientifically Accurate? (Quran 25:59 and Genesis 31)

Should Muslims Criticize the Jewish or Christian Bible among and within Themselves? 2:174-176

“Those who conceal God’s revelation in the Book, and purchase them for a miserable profit, they swallow into themselves nothing but fire. God will not address them on the Day of Resurrection, nor redeem them, and terrible will be their penalty. 2:174

“They are the ones who buy error instead of guidance, and torment in place of forgiveness. What boldness they show for the fire. 2:175

“This is because God sent down the Book in truth. But those who seek causes of dispute in the Book are in disharmony.” 2:176

What book do you think 2:174 is referring to? According to 2:176, the book we believe 2:174 is referring to is the same book that we are not to criticize. Not among the believers of that book, not among other Muslims, not even within ourselves. Lest we neither be a people of peace, nor a person at peace (2:176). Instead, we should apply 16:125 by finding and sharing the wisest, most beautiful interpretations of the verses that we are most uncomfortable with.

See other people’s translations of 2:176.

“Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful teaching, and converse with them in ways that are best and most gracious, for your Lord knows best who have strayed from His path, and who have received guidance.” 16:125

 

How Do You Know Allah Exist?

“Do the unbelievers fail to see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, before we split them apart? We made every living thing from water. Will they not then believe?” (21:30)

“With power and skill did We construct the firmament, for it is We Who create the vastness of space.” (51:47)

 The Kalām Cosmological Argument (for the Existence of God, read entire article)

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause;
  2. The universe began to exist;
    Therefore:
  3. The universe has a cause.
  4. If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful;
  5. An uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, whosans the universe, is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless and enormously powerful.
    Therefore:
This, is what we are calling ‘God’
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Are Those Disturbing Your Nation’s and the World’s Peace are Part of God’s Plan? (33:48 and 52:42)

“And do not follow the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and ignore their annoyances, and put your trust in God, for enough is God as a manager of affairs.” (33:48)

“Or do they plot and scheme? But those who defy God are themselves the subject of a plan.” (52:42)

We can find unbelievers and hypocrites, as well as people of faith and integrity, in all religions, including Islam. But wherever you find people doing harm to themselves and others, “ignore their annoyances”, meaning, do not let them disturb your inner peace. But rather, focus on understanding how they are being used for God’s plan. This will help us focus on managing them and the problems they create.

Should Muslims and Their Children Believe in Modern Bibles? 29:46

“And do not dispute with the people of the Book, except with what is best, unless it is with those of them who inflict wrong. Instead say, “We believe in the revelation which has come down to us, and in that which came down to you. Our God and your God is one, and it is to Him we bow.” 29:46

“Those who listen to the word, and adhere to the best of it. Those are the ones who God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” 39:18 

According to verse 29:46, Muslims believe in the books revealed to Jews and Christians, or at the very least, the books of those Jews and Christians who were living during the time of Muhammad the Prophet. Today, much if not most, of the Hebrew and Christian Bible is the same as it was when verse 29:46 was revealed.

Verse 39:18 is saying that we should read the the Bible and Quran religiously, but that we should only adhere to the best of it. So should Muslims teach our children:

We should NOT read the Hebrew and Christian Bibles religiously because we do not know which verses are from God.

Or

We should read the Hebrew and Christian Bibles religiously because we do not know which verses are from God.

Finally, it is hard to find verses in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles that are more beautiful and insightful, or more uncomfortable and controversial than verses in the Quran. So if we are teaching our children to believe in the Quran and adhere to the best of it, then why should we not also teach them to believe in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles and adhere the best of it?

“And adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not.” 39:55