Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Is the word “Allah” exclusive to Muslims?

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

A court in Malaysia ruled that non-Muslims cannot use the word “Allah”,
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/14/us-malaysia-court-allah-idUSBRE99D01J20131014

Is this proper?

No. To begin with, one cannot censor the use of words that other people use unless the usage is defamatory, slanderous, libelous or profane.

Secondly, the word “Allah” is simply the Arabic word for God. God uses it in the Quran to refer to Himself because the Quran is revealed in the Arabic language, not because that is His name. God does not have a name. He does not need one. You and I have names because there are many creatures that are just like us, so a name is necessary to distinguish us from others. But there is only one God.

Arab Christians and Jews call God “Allah.”

It is true that many Islamophobes have been abusing the word “Allah”, but these folks do not realize that, by doing so, they are abusing the same God they believe in!

When God says in the holy Quran that He has beautiful “names” that we should use when we call upon Him (7:180), He is referring to His attributes, such as Ar-Rahmaan (The Beneficent), Al-Ghafoor (The Much-Forgiving), At-Tawwaab (The Oft Accepting of repentance). One of those attributes is Allah, which means The God.

How can I become an Islamic scholar?

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Salam, there is something that I’ve wanted to know but couldn’t really find any defined information on.
1- What is an Islamic Scholar? 2- How does one become an Islamic Scholar? 3- How many years does it take to become one? (how long) 4- What are the necessary college classes/courses and degrees necessary to be qualified as one? (i.e., PhD?) 5-Are there different types of Islamic Scholars(specializations)? If there are, what are they?

Becoming an Islamic Scholar is something that I am really interested in in the near future. I hope this is not a lot, and I hope to hear from you soon. Thanks!

An Islamic scholar is one who can study an Islamic text, determine its credibility and then deduce intent from it. Like any other field of scholarship, this requires acquiring knowledge as well as skills of logical analysis and critical thinking honed by discipline and methodology.

Such scientific approach is crucial for weeding out whimsical opinions! If you have listened to some fatwas (religious edicts) issued by unknown, self-appointed Muslim scholars on satellite TV and YouTube, you know what I’m talking about.

Prior to modern times, Islamic scholars were not many and they all had to learn and be licensed (Ijaaza) by a recognized scholar. This approach carried over to modern times in the form of colleges and universities where Islamic disciplines are formally taught by teachers of high repute and earned licenses. If you want to be a formal Islamic scholar, this is the proper way to go about it. Such study takes about four years in reputable learning institutions such as Al-Azhar and Darul-Uloom universities in Egypt, for instance.

That said, one can attend these places of learning and graduate from them without actually becoming a scholar! Why? Because a student who simply memorized what he or she has been taught and echoes the rulings he or she has learned is a copy, not a scholar. Such a person cannot handle new, controversial or challenging issues. You will notice right away that they do not have what it takes and that they will end up giving their personal opinion, which is often based on their likes and dislikes.

God has honored scholars a number of times in the holy Quran. For instance,
“Verily, those who truly fear God out of all His worshipers are the scholars” (35:28) and
“But if they had referred the matter back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who can deduce from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of God upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.” (4:83)

Thus, true Islamic scholarship can save Muslims from falling prey to Satan. It can also sort out what is religion and what is tradition. So many people mix the two.

Finally, you asked about disciplines and specialties. Disciplines are many. There are disciplines centered on the Quran, such as its language and syntax, its interpretations, how to deduce rulings from it. There are disciplines centered on the Hadeeth, such as authenticating it, knowing the biographies and credibility of its narrators, how to deduce rulings from it, how it and the Sunna explain the Quran, etc. There is also the discipline of Usool-ul-Fiqh, which I personally think is near the top of disciplines, because it teaches the foundations of deduction. It disciplines the mind to be rational, logical and methodical. That way, the many pitfalls that some fall into can be systematically avoided.

There is also the discipline of law (Sharee`a), history, comparative religions and more. You can specialize in any of it. You can study with the aim of becoming a preacher, for instance, or a judge. Your academic advisor can help guide you in this endeavor. Best wishes.

Divorce: Who’s Guilty?

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

In all the divorce cases (may Allah save us from them), we always hear from the wife’s side that the husband was not a good person, was abusive, he did this and that. When you talk to the husband, he says that the wife was this and that.

I recently saw a marriage destroyed becase the husband lost his job. If you ask the wife, she says that the husband was lazy and didn’t want to earn a living… etc.

If you ask the husband, he says that on top of being unable to find a job, the wife was making his life hell by taunting him daily.

So my question is, how do you find out what the real problem is?

I like the fact that you see that the real problem could very well be something else completely!

That is why God’s advice is so valuable when a divorce is imminent. He says in the holy Quran,

“And if you fear dissension between the two [spouses], send an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both desire reconciliation, God will harmonize between them. Indeed, God is ever Knowing and Well Acquainted [with all things].” (4:35)

The word God uses for arbitrator is حكما which means “firmly rooted”, “balanced”, “judicious”. Thus, the two arbiters are not given to emotions, are not easily swayed or agitated, and can reach a sound judgement even if it was against their client.

This is how to know the real problem. When one is speaking out of emotion, one could be narrating all of one’s grievances instead of focusing on the question asked. Marriage counselors know this well. That’s why they are paid the big bucks 🙂

One very interesting aspect of this verse is its deliberate syntactic ambiguity! The phrase “if the two of them desire reconciliation” is ambiguous about who the two are: the two arbitrators or the two spouses! As always with syntactic ambiguity in the Quran, it is thusly stated in order to include both interpretations. That is, if the two spouses truly want to reconcile and save the marriage, God will help them save it. If the two arbitrators also want to do their job faithfully, God will make their effort successful.

Arabized words

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Why does the Quran use Isa for the name Jesus (as)? Why dosen’t it use Yeshua? Because in google translate, when you translate the english name Jesus to Arabic, it says Yeshua…but when you write Jesus son of Mary and translate that to Arabic, THEN it says Isa ibn Maryam. Why does the pronoucation of the name Jesus(as) change? Thanks!

His name was not Yeshua either. Jesus, peace be upon him, spoke Aramaic. His name, therefore, is what the word is in Aramaic, that is `Eesho`.

So, why is he referred to in the Quran as `Eesa? Because that is how the Christian Arabs referred to him. Ancient people did not keep foreign people’s names as they are pronounced in the foreign language. Instead, they transliterated the names, and sometimes even translated them, to their language.

Coptic Egyptian Christians refer to Jesus as Yasoo`. The Japanese refer to him as Yesu.

The translation of names is particularly interesting. Take for instance the disciple Peter. The name Peter is an English rendition of the Greek Petros, which means “a rock.” Why is that? Because Peter’s actual name was Sakhr, which in Semitic languages means a rock.

BTW, Google Translate is very good, but it has errors, and Google actually lets you suggest improvements to the translation it produces.