‘And the Messenger cried out: O my Lord! surely my people have treated this Quran as a forsaken thing’ – Surah 25 verse 30 as translated by Shakir
If you have read Mahaguru58’s posting entitled ‘Answering rest of Fatt Monk’s questions on Islam’, you will see first-hand the above verse being played out.
Fatt Monk’s question, apparently, was ‘if a person is born into a Muslim family, does the person have the choice of quitting Islam and join another religion?’
Mahaguru58 replied with an emphatic ‘No’.
Not, ‘No, I don’t think so’ or ‘In my view, no’ or ‘ In my view, it is a big sin’.
His ‘No’, in the context of that question, means a person born into a Muslim family does not have the choice of quitting Islam and join another religion.
Born a Muslim, die a Muslim!
Many unsuspecting readers would be forgiven for thinking that Mahaguru58 had just restated the position in Islam as laid down in the Holy Qur’an, and not his own view on the matter.
See, though, what the Holy Qur’an says.
‘How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after their believing and (after) they had borne witness that the Messenger was true and clear arguments had come to them; and Allah does not guide the unjust people. (As for) these, their reward is that upon them is the curse of Allah and the angels and of men, all together. Abiding in it; their chastisement shall not be lightened nor shall they be respited. Except those who repent after that and amend, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Surely, those who disbelieve after their believing, then increase in unbelief, their repentance shall not be accepted, and these are they that go astray. Surely, those who disbelieve and die while they are unbelievers, the earth full of gold shall not be accepted from one of them, though he should offer to ransom himself with it, these it is who shall have a painful chastisement, and they shall have no helpers’ – Surah 3 verses 86 – 91 as translated by Shakir.
‘Surely (as for) those who believe then disbelieve, again believe and again disbelieve, then increase in disbelief, Allah will not forgive them nor guide them in the (right) path’ – Surah 4 verse 137 as translated by Shakir.
The answer in the Holy Qur’an to Fatt Monk’s question is yes, but you will face God’s wrath.
Mahaguru58 says no. Cannot.
‘And for what your tongues describe, do not utter the lie, (saying) This is lawful and this is unlawful, in order to forge a lie against Allah; surely those who forge a lie against Allah shall not prosper’ – Surah 16 verse 116 as translated by Shakir.
Few who profess Islam, though, will question or challenge Mahaguru58 and the likes of him in respect of such stated views.
‘They have taken their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah, and (also) the Messiah son of Marium and they were enjoined that they should serve one Allah only, there is no god but He; far from His glory be what they set up (with Him). They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse. He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions, though the polytheists may be averse. O you who believe! most surely many of the doctors of law and the monks eat away the property of men falsely, and turn (them) from Allah’s way; and (as for) those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in Allah’s way, announce to them a painful chastisement, ’ – Surah 9 verses 31-34 as translated by Shakir
Year : 1997
Place : KL High Court Canteen
Present : Lawyer H ( Indian Muslim ) and myself
Me : This is for you
H : What’s that?
Me : Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Qur’an.
H : For what?
Me : To read, lah. Try and understand God’s verses.
H : Oh, I have the Arabic Qur’an.
Me : Oh, didn’t know you understood Arabic.
H : I don’t
Me : Well take this, lah and try to understand
H : No thanks. I tak layak to try and understand on my own tanpa berguru.
Me : Ok, read the translation and then ask your guru a lot of questions.
H : No, lah. The ustaz says its dangerous to baca terjemahan. May get confused.
Me : Is it not dangerous to believe everything the ustaz says without verifying from the Qur’an?
H : That’s the trouble with you, lah. Iman tak cukup kuat.
Me : Iman terhadap siapa? Tuhan ke Ustaz?
By year 2000, I had grown restless with most of the translations.
One verse in particular was causing me immense trouble.
‘O our Lord! surely I have settled a part of my offspring in a valley unproductive of fruit near Thy Sacred House, our Lord! that they may keep up prayer; therefore make the hearts of some people yearn towards them and provide them with fruits; haply they may be grateful’ –Surah 14 verse 37 as translated by Shakir.
This is supposed to be the supplication of Abraham.
I’ve checked this verse with every translation I have. They all have Abraham saying the same : that he has despatched some of his progeny to a barren land to ‘keep up prayer’.
My late father said we could pray in any place that was clean. Yet this verse has it that Abraham despatched his offspring to an unproductive valley for the sole purpose of performing prayer.
If my late father was right that one could pray anywhere, why was Abraham sending his children to what appears to be ‘no man’s land’ to ‘keep up prayer’?
‘Prayer’ in Surah 14 verse 37 is translated from the Arabic ‘salata’.
My difficulty with Surah 14 verse 37 drove me to the conclusion that if I was going to get anywhere at trying to understand the Qur’an, I would have to try and do my own translation and interpretation.
How? I could not read or understand Arabic.
Hannah E. Kassis’s Concordance of the Qur’an in conjunction with Othman Ali’s ‘Al Qur’an Terjemahan cara Lafzhiyah’ have been invaluable aids, together with scores of dictionaries.
I examined every verse in the Qur’an where the Arabic ‘salata’ or words that shared the same root therewith appeared.
Surah 11 verses 84 – 87 left me convinced that salata and the other words that shared the same root had been wrongly translated to mean ‘pray’ or ‘prayer’.
‘And to Madyan (We sent) their brother Shu’aib. He said: O my people! serve Allah, you have no god other than He, and do not give short measure and weight: surely I see you in prosperity and surely I fear for you the punishment of an all-encompassing day. And, O my people! give full measure and weight fairly, and defraud not men their things, and do not act corruptly in the land, making mischief: What remains with Allah is better for you if you are believers, and I am not a keeper over you. They said: O Shu’aib! does your prayer ( translated from ‘asalatuka’ ) enjoin you that we should forsake what our fathers worshipped or that we should not do what we please with regard to our property? Forsooth you are the forbearing, the right-directing one’
If the translation of ‘salata’ to prayer in the context of Surah 14 verse 37 seemed at odds with an understanding that prayer could be performed anywhere, the translation of ‘asalatuka’ to prayer in Surah 11 verse 87 raised, for me, at least, the following curiosity.
Can prayer enjoin?
If ‘way of life ordained’ or something similar was substituted for ‘prayer’ in Surah 14 verse 37 and Surah 11 verse 87, would the verses tend to make more sense?
If ‘prayer’ in the two verses were substituted with ‘covenants with God’ or something of similar meaning, would this, too, not make more sense?
Today, I am convinced that ‘salata’ and other words that share the same root do not mean ‘prayer’ or some ritual.
I am still searching for answers.
Am I not entitled to search?
Am I not entitled to try and understand the Qur’an for myself?
My effort to translate and understand the Qur’an for myself is ongoing.
And if I err in this effort, it is only to my Lord alone that I must answer to.
Are those who profess Islam, then, entitled to stop me?
‘Those who listen to the word, then follow the best of it; those are they whom Allah has guided, and those it is who are the men of understanding’ – Surah 39 verse 18 as translated by Shakir
Aidid Safar ( not his real name ), too, tried to translate and understand the Holy Qur’an for himself.
He authored a book entitled ‘Arab Conspiracies against Islam’ which, I understand, has since been edited, re-titled ‘Mental Bondage In The Name of God’ and is available online through Amazon.
At his website, he says : Yes, they do say ‘Islam’ is peace, but what many do not realise is the obscurity surrounding this word, which has fooled the people for ages and that the conspirators have successfully turned it into a brand name for a religion not ordained by the God.