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post #41 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
Hi Phanta-
Wow! I forgot how confussing everything can seem! There is a ton of information and many different viewpoints, so be easy on yourself
You are right, with time and practice, God-willing, you will get the hang of it and it will seem a lot more straight forward.
Thank you for putting me at ease.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
Tafsir is an in-depth explanation of each verse of Qu'ran. There are several different scholars who have complied tafsir of the Qu'ran. Ibn Kathir (tafsir.com) is one of the most prominent.
How does Ibn Kathir fit into the timeline? Was he/she a contemporary of the Prophet?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
It is important that when "interpreting" the Qu'ran, that we interpret it/ try to understand it in the SAME WAY that the prophet and the early companions understood it. It would be very easy for one to take a verse and give it their own meaning, but part of our religion is that we follow the prophet, therefore, understanding and applying the Qu'ran according to the way HE understood it is essential.
I am most interested in approaching the Qu’ran (and the Bible) in the manner you outlined above. I imagine this approach may still yield a great variety of interpretations--after all, we cannot totally escape ourselves--but it is, at this time, the approach that most interests me. Are there many who call themselves Muslim who approach the Qur’an in a different way?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
I will give you an example... There is a verse in the Qu'ran talking about the disbelievers- and it states to kill them wherever you find them. Sounds harsh, but we can see that at NO TIME did the prophet or his companions ever go around just killing non-believers wherever they found them. So obviously, this was not how they understood the verse- you can see why it is important to rely on the understanding of the prophet and his companions.
That is an intriguing example. I look forward to future discussion on that verse using the approach you suggest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
The tafsir can feel complicated, and sometimes I feel gives too much info... but dont give up on it- play around with it a bit, and I think it will really help. And of course ASK ASK ASK
Thank you for the encouragement! I hope you don’t mind these additional questions, then:

Is it correct that "tafsir" is a general word for "commentary", not the title of a particular book? If so, is the word "tafsir" commonly applied to commentary on all sorts of books, or just the Qur'an? Like “tafsir”, “hadith” isn’t capitalized, and so seems not to be a title of a text. Is that correct? (I am applying English capitalization rules, and I don’t know if that is appropriate). If so, is “hadith” a general term used in day-to-day life, or one specific to matters regarding the Prophet? Proper understanding of language helps me tremendously in navigating text and ideas, and communicating my own thoughts and ideas effectively in discussion.


I also wish to make personal habit whatever rendering of names and words is most respectful to the largest group of followers. However, as I try to achieve this goal by picking up on the social norm of this group, I see differences in how titles/names are rendered, and am unsure how to proceed. For instance, I see the text we are discussing sometimes referred to as the Qu’ran and at other times Qur’an. Also, sometimes “prophet” is capitalized, sometimes not. Would someone be willing to guide me, keeping in mind my objective of greatest respect for the greatest number (and that I am not a believer, if that has bearing)?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
As far as the hadith, yes you are correct, they are basically "eye-witness" accounts of things the prophet did or said. These traditions have been recorded and authenticated and passed down since the time of the prophet. Some of the greatest hadith have been narrarated from his wife Aisha, or many of his companions. They are often written like, "I heard from so and so that the prophet said...." Like I said, the sources have all been verified and authenticated and classified as strong, good, weak or fabricated. They were passed verbally for some time and collected into a book by famous scholars such as al- Bukhari or Imam Muslim.
You said “they were passed down verbally for some time”, and also they were “recorded and authenticated and passed down since the time of the Prophet”. I’m a little unsure of the timeline regarding when some or all of the hadith were put into writing. Were any of the hadith written down at the time the Prophet was alive? What does the authentication process for hadith which were passed down verbally look like?


Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
Hope this helps clear some things up... I am not the most eloquent with words and I often find myself veering of topic so I hope i did not confuse you more
Your straightforward answers provide much illumination. It is my experience that beginner and expert are alike in their quest for deep understanding in that all illumination leads to further questions.

Thank you!
Phanta
post #42 of 141
Phanta,
I really need to figure out this multi qoute thing

I am going to respond, God willing, to all of your questions but it is "lunch time" at my house (hubby comes home and all family comes and we do lunch together every day), so gimme a few hours...

In the meantime, I found a few things on hadtith, hopefully will help to give you a better understanding of what they are and how they are used by the Muslims in understanding our religion:

It is from wikipedia, which i think does a pretty good job explaining it. Please please ask if it leads you to any more questions.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith

Take care

Faiza
post #43 of 141
gotta love wikipedia...

here is a pretty good explanation of tafsir too

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tafsir
post #44 of 141
Adding to what MuslimMama said ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantasmagoria View Post
Thank you. I'll check this out. It seems to be another commentary?
Yes. Different style ... like I said, REALLY bulky, but, just for looking for a clarifying perspective on passages here and there, maybe a little easier to grasp stylistically than Kathir. Though like I said, the second I linked to, for brevity's sake, is probably a better choice still ... found it here too, if the first link isn't working.

Quote:
What is the difference between the Maariful Qur'an and the abridged Kathir (is that the Qur'an I'm using, or the tasfir I am using?) What do these words, "tasfir", "Maariful", and "Kathir" signify?
Ibn Kathir was a man, so "Tafsir ibn Kathir" is the "commentary of ibn Kathir." Maariful Quran is more educated opinionating and reflecting on passages; Kathir is more quoting directly from the hadith things that are relevant to the contents of the passages.

"Maariful" ... erm, "maarif" is Urdu I think, so not really sure. Ditto for "tafhim." But they're going to just be something along the lines of commentary, knowledge, comprehension, etc. Ibn Kathir was around ... hmm, I think about six hundred years after the prophet's time? Could be wrong bout that.

Quote:
I am assuming there are many types of Qur'an commentary out there. Is that correct? There can be commentary from a spiritual perspective, historical, etc., commentary from modern people, contemporaries of Muhammad, eye-witnesses, etc. How can I tell the source/perspective of the tafsir?
Yeah ... most commentaries are sort of a blend of most of the above, but they are *just* commentaries ... regardless of how well educated the authors, they still reflect opinions, and can reflect areas of focus. A very politically oriented commentator, for example, might perceive things in a passage than a very spiritually oriented commentator might not. Knowing the perspective, though, I think is mostly just a matter of familiarity and knowing a bit about the bio of the author. Umsami mentioned Seyyid Qutb's commentary .. his is a great example of one that knowing his biography and the political events in his time and place is critical to understanding the biases likely to appear in his writings.

Quote:
Without judging my emotional reaction, or dwelling too much on it, I observe upon reading the first text feeling discomfort, stiffness, and a little...anxiety
Would listening along maybe help? I find the English pretty stiff too. If you're interested quranexplorer.com will let you select particular verse ranges, turn on/off the translation audio, etc.

Quote:
I also wish to make personal habit whatever rendering of names and words is most respectful to the largest group of followers. However, as I try to achieve this goal by picking up on the social norm of this group, I see differences in how titles/names are rendered, and am unsure how to proceed. For instance, I see the text we are discussing sometimes referred to as the Qu’ran and at other times Qur’an. Also, sometimes “prophet” is capitalized, sometimes not. Would someone be willing to guide me, keeping in mind my objective of greatest respect for the greatest number (and that I am not a believer, if that has bearing)?
Arabic does not have capitalization at all, so anything there is just English standards ... or lazy messageboard typist standards. Sorry if I'm the root of confusion, I know I tend to switch back and forth with such things. Likewise, "Qur'an" meets a modern transliteration between alphabets, but anything that relays pronunciation reasonably accurate is equally "right" ... Qur'an, Quran, Koran, in French usually Coran, etc ... no one is going to be offended by any of it, I promise.
post #45 of 141
argh, I really want to join...I soo need to read more Quraan but ahhh...lack of time.

Oh poo, nevermind, I will attempt to keep up!!! I'll let you all know my progress. I really ought to set more time aside every evening for Quraan reading.

en'shallah I can do so!
post #46 of 141
I wanted to let everyone know about a class that is starting on PALTALK through the Al-Huda Institute. And it is in ENGLISH!!! YAY!!!

It is a tafsir class- I think they will also to word to word translation of Qu'ran and tajweed. The entire class is suppossed to take 3 years. 2 days a week (tues and wed i believe) for 4 hours. 5:30-9:30 eastern.

The cost of the class is $25 per month.

I think this is an EXCELLENT opportuntiy for anyone looking to really study and understand the Qu'ran and offers a disiplined and guided approach.

A friend of mine just completed the course and it is absolutely amazing how much better she is able to understand and how familiar she has become with the Qu'ran. She highly recommends the course!

If anyone is interested, please let me know and i can send the details. The class will start, God willing, in February.

Phanta, this might be a great class for you too, since there is a teacher, she will be able to make things more simple and give better explaination than a self-study.
post #47 of 141
One more thing...

I wanted to recommend these classes... they are FREE and self-paced...

http://www.islamiconlineuniversity.com/moodle/

I highly recommend the "Foundations of Islamic Studies"

The instructor is a Jamaican convert.

If anyone wants to do one of these courses, please let me know and we can possibly do it together
post #48 of 141
This is a great thread.

DH and I have been reading from Marifuul Quraan every day now for a while. I don't know if I will be 100% committed to this study group but I will def lurk and pop in occasionally.

Peace to all!
post #49 of 141
Hi all! Mind if I join in? I can't say I'll be here all the way through, but I'm very interested in learning what Islam really says.

I have a couple questions from yesterday's reading. I'm finding the amount of reading is fine/easy, but the related tafsir is more than I can handle in a day. Maybe I'll look around at the other suggestions and see if something else works.

1) In the tafsir (tafsir.com), in regard to Al Fatiha, why do they draw attention to the number of ayat and the number of words and letters? Is there a significance, or is it more of a general education due to its importance? I noticed also the number of words and letters said to be significant (when reading about Alif, Lam, Mim at the top of Al-Baqarah).

2.) What is the significance of saying "scholars say"? Is that just because it is a compilation?

3.) In Al-Baqarah, 6 ayat (how to I site things? Is that 2:6 or something similar?) It says "Surely those who disbelieve, it being alike to them whether you warn them, or do not warn them, will not believe." Is this similar to the belief in predestination, or just a statement of fact? I was confused by the commentary on types of believers

I had a few more questions yesterday but now I can't remember. I'll post them if I think of them. Thanks for having this thread!
post #50 of 141
Thread Starter 
OK, I'm just going to put it out there that I am not reading tasfir.

For me, it's enough to just try and read the Qur'an as is.

If I come across some weird stuff, I may go looking at tasfir... but right now, I'm quite happy with trying to get my 20-25 verses in per day.

So, don't feel like you have to read tasfir.
post #51 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post
OK, I'm just going to put it out there that I am not reading tasfir.

For me, it's enough to just try and read the Qur'an as is.

If I come across some weird stuff, I may go looking at tasfir... but right now, I'm quite happy with trying to get my 20-25 verses in per day.

So, don't feel like you have to read tasfir.
I agree that the tafsir feels like a lot, but i really feel it is essential to read the tafsir to properly understand the meaning of the Qu'ran- maybe not the ENTIRE tafsir, but what is applicable to the verses.

I think just reading it on our own creates the danger of giving it our own interprettion, which like we were disscussing before, may or not be the way it was understood by the prophet or his companions.

Just my thoughts
post #52 of 141
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
I think just reading it on our own creates the danger of giving it our own interprettion, which like we were disscussing before, may or not be the way it was understood by the prophet or his companions.
See, I disagree with this.

The Qur'an is quite clear. God never needed footnotes... God never asked for anybody to interpret it. And to be honest, just because somebody lived at the time of the Prophet does not turn them into an instant scholar.

I actually think this is one of the big problems with Islam today... the "I have to ask a scholar, I can't think for myself phenomenon". The Qur'an is quite clear on say... don't commit suicide. Heck, suicide bombing didn't exist until 1981... over 1200 years after the death of the Prophet. Ali faced horrible odds...and died facing horrible odds... and never resorted to blowing up himself or anybody else. Yet there are plenty of scholars who try and explain away the "don't commit suicide" verses in the Qur'an. I know too many Muslims who check their brain at the door and refuse to make a decision unless they consult a scholar... preferably one who died long long ago.

I think Islam is a religion for people who think.... at least it was in the Golden Age of Islam. We've lost that as an ummah (community).

God himself said in 54:17 "And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? "

The Qur'an is pretty clear. The only thing I think people may need help in is knowing the background of when certain verses were revealed... or what was going on. But it's pretty clear, IMHO.
post #53 of 141
I'd like to join

Off to catch up....
post #54 of 141
Thread Starter 
Ok, the one thing that comes to mind when I read Tuesday's reading was in the story of Adam and Eve, how both mess up.. vs. the Bible's version where it's more of a Eve made me mess up type story.

It says "Satan tempted them..." Not just Eve. There's also nothing about pains of childbirth being a punishment that is in the Bible.

I also like how in verse 37... God is seen to be kind to Adam and Eve... even after all that happened. Kind of saying... don't worry, if you follow the guidance I send you, you'll be fine.


For those of you wondering who/what Iblis is.... it's the name of the Devil/Satan. He's a jinn, which is different than an angel, and refused to bow to Adam when God commanded him to.
post #55 of 141
Thread Starter 

Quran Audio with English... For Those Who Don't Like to Read

I also thought I'd add that you can choose to listen to the Qur'an. You'll hear the Arabic recitation... as well as the English. It may help you understand the poetic nature of the Qur'an... although I'm not sure if it comes across if one doesn't speak Arabic.

http://www.voiceofquran.com/english/english.shtml
post #56 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post
See, I disagree with this.

The Qur'an is quite clear. God never needed footnotes... God never asked for anybody to interpret it. And to be honest, just because somebody lived at the time of the Prophet does not turn them into an instant scholar.

I actually think this is one of the big problems with Islam today... the "I have to ask a scholar, I can't think for myself phenomenon". The Qur'an is quite clear on say... don't commit suicide. Heck, suicide bombing didn't exist until 1981... over 1200 years after the death of the Prophet. Ali faced horrible odds...and died facing horrible odds... and never resorted to blowing up himself or anybody else. Yet there are plenty of scholars who try and explain away the "don't commit suicide" verses in the Qur'an. I know too many Muslims who check their brain at the door and refuse to make a decision unless they consult a scholar... preferably one who died long long ago.

I think Islam is a religion for people who think.... at least it was in the Golden Age of Islam. We've lost that as an ummah (community).

God himself said in 54:17 "And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? "

The Qur'an is pretty clear. The only thing I think people may need help in is knowing the background of when certain verses were revealed... or what was going on. But it's pretty clear, IMHO.
I agree that it can be taken too far in people depending solely on scholars. However, the input that they offer is extremely valuable, and absolutely does help us to understand the Quran correctly. An example of this is in the verse of hijab. The verse tells believing woman to take their head covering and cover their bosoms. Some "progressive muslims", who do not rely on the scholars interpretation, will say that this means only the chest needs to be covered, and the head does not. When we read the hadith, we can clearly see that this was not what was intended by this revelation. We can not pick and choose which verses we need tafsir for and which ones we do not.

The Quran clearly states to follow the words of Allah and follow the Prophet. This pretty explicitly states that the way the Prophet understood things, is the way we should understand them. How can we say that we "follow the prophet" but interpret the Quran differently than he did? That just does not make sense.

As far as the one being a companion of the Prophet, not being an "instant scholar", this may be true, however, the traditions that they have narrated, help us to get a clear picture of the Prophet's life and his understanding. It also helps us to see how the Quran was implemented in the lives of those around him, and creates a model as to how we should implement it in our own lives. Abu Hurairah, a very prominent companion of the Prophet, who narrated the largest number of hadith, spent 10 years memorizing Surah Baqarah because he wanted to make sure that he understood it and implemented it correctly. Prophet Muhammad said that the best generation is his generation and the two generations that followed them (sometimes referred to as the Salaf). So what better example do we have than them?

Furthermore, the Prophet himself put great emphasis on the scholars. In a hadith, Abdullah ibn Amr narrated that the Prophet said:

“Allah will not snatch away knowledge abruptly from people but rather He will snatch knowledge by removing scholars. This will happen to the extent that when no scholar remains, people will take ignorant leaders as their guides. These leaders will be asked and they will give opinions (fatwas) without knowledge. So they will be misguided and they will misguide.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

There is a verse in Surah Nahl (Chapter 16, verse 43) which says, “Ask those who know well, if you know not".

May Allah guide us all to the correct understanding and application of this beautiful book...Ameen!
post #57 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
I agree that it can be taken too far in people depending solely on scholars. However, the input that they offer is extremely valuable, and absolutely does help us to understand the Quran correctly. An example of this is in the verse of hijab. The verse tells believing woman to take their head covering and cover their bosoms. Some "progressive muslims", who do not rely on the scholars interpretation, will say that this means only the chest needs to be covered, and the head does not. When we read the hadith, we can clearly see that this was not what was intended by this revelation. We can not pick and choose which verses we need tafsir for and which ones we do not.
I guess that makes me one of those dreaded "progressive Muslims," because I don't see a clear command for head covering. If we want to go by what was the norm in the Prophet's time, then consider that it was just his wives that were covered and not the rest of the female ummah. By covering our heads, are we setting ourselves to the station of a wife of the Prophet? There are scholars who do share that opinion, not all are hijab-happy. It's certainly not a cut-and-dried situation with so many different opinions swimming around out there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by MuslimMama View Post
Abu Hurairah, a very prominent companion of the Prophet, who narrated the largest number of hadith, spent 10 years memorizing Surah Baqarah because he wanted to make sure that he understood it and implemented it correctly. Prophet Muhammad said that the best generation is his generation and the two generations that followed them (sometimes referred to as the Salaf). So what better example do we have than them?
Don't get me started again on this guy. Although he only knew the Prophet for the last two years of his life, he contributed far more ahadith than any other companion. Kind of strange, if you consider that other companions knew the Prophet far, far better and certainly for much longer. And many of the ahadith that he contributed were directly against the Prophet's teachings, his way of life, and against the words of God in the Koran. He contributed, almost in entirety, the ahadith that have been used to oppress Muslim women and he was called on it by companions of the Prophet at the time. How his version of things ever made it into compilation is beyond me, except that it was more the norm for the time than the progressive way Islam was intended to be. That's not to say that all his ahadith conributions were bad, because someone who contributed that many surely had to get it right at least once in a while, but to use this guy as proof positive for anything is just not a good idea. And as a couple of other sisters have pointed out, Shi'a tradition has rejected his compilations in entirety (and that's almost enough to make me want to switch camps right there!).

And not to belabor a point, but since when does memorization equal understanding? I've managed to memorize several Turkish songs that I sing to my son, but that doesn't mean that I understand them. And I've known several people who could recite long passages from the Koran in Arabic, but they had no idea what the actual words meant.

I'm gonna show my Sufi roots here and say my piece about tasfir. It's like any other commentary, sometimes it's helpful, sometimes it just muddies the water. God has given each of us the ability to think for ourselves and we should use that to the best of our ability. Meditation, prayer, reading, it's all good, but when we let others lead us down a primrose path, we have no business of complaining when we get to the end.

Peace.
post #58 of 141
I forgot to read last night. I will read yesterday and today's this afternoon. I am very much enjoying the commentary from you all, for as a non-Muslim, I feel I have more questions than commentary to offer. If you all don't mind, though, I do have one main question from Monday's readings (well, actually two). I tried reading through the on-line commentary, but was confused by the lay-out. I may try again now that it has been explained a bit.

(1) Why is Allah sometimes refered to though either first-person or third person singular (I, he), and sometimes through the plural (we)? It reminded me of the book of Genesis in the Tanach, where it is written that G-d said to make man in "our image."

(2) When reading of Allah sealing the hearts of those not on the straight path, is there the idea of predestination within Islam? I guess it's kind of a chicken and an egg question: does someone choose to be completely unrepentant, and therefore, Allah seals their heart/eyes/mind against the truth, or are their first sealed, therefore preventing them from ever being repentant?

Thank you for hosting this discussion.
post #59 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyLittleWonders View Post
(1) Why is Allah sometimes refered to though either first-person or third person singular (I, he), and sometimes through the plural (we)? It reminded me of the book of Genesis in the Tanach, where it is written that G-d said to make man in "our image."
The Quran makes liberal use of majestic plurals in self-referential statements by god; the switching back and forth between pronouns is mostly just an accepted emphatic practice in the original language. Makes for a somewhat awkward read sometimes in English I think.

Quote:
(2) When reading of Allah sealing the hearts of those not on the straight path, is there the idea of predestination within Islam? I guess it's kind of a chicken and an egg question: does someone choose to be completely unrepentant, and therefore, Allah seals their heart/eyes/mind against the truth, or are their first sealed, therefore preventing them from ever being repentant?
There are different opinions. There is definitely an idea of predestination; there is also a definite idea of free choice. The boundaries of the two has been a matter of great debate among Muslims, leading to -- in this example -- varying opinions of what it really implies for god to seal the hearts of man.
post #60 of 141
Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post
I actually think this is one of the big problems with Islam today... the "I have to ask a scholar, I can't think for myself phenomenon".
I would just caution against considering laymen turning to scholars -- people trained in the language, the content, the history of, the philosophies surrounding, etc, the Qur'an, trained in the content and methodology of hadith, trained in fiqh -- as their saying "I can't think for myself."

I have a wiring problem. I have a manual of electrical repair. I don't find it hard to understand overall, but I still have some questions. I could try to suss it out for myself, sure ... but it would be silly for anyone to call me unthinking because I'd rather seek out the guidance of an electrician.
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