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Quranist Terminology: The Quranic Term (Walking) between the Direct, Declarative Style and the Metaphoric Style

 

Quranist Terminology: The Quranic Term (Walking) between the Direct, Declarative Style and the Metaphoric Style

Published in September 21, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

Introduction:

1-In the Quranic text, we find in some verses the direct, declarative style that is adopted to mention facts without any metaphors, similes, metonymy, imagery, parables, allegory, etc. typical of the metaphoric style adopted in other Quranic verses. The direct, declarative mode or style is used within the idea of walking in this verse whose meaning is clear and without symbolism at all: "God created every living creature from water. Some of them walk on their bellies, and some walk on two feet, and others walk on four. God creates whatever He wills. God is Capable of everything. " (24:45).   

2- we focus within this article on the term (walking) and its derivations, as it is used in the Quranic text within topics of preaching and warning, sharia legislation's, and Quranic stories, and while adopting the figurative mode or style in some verses, and the direct, declarative mode or style in other verses. 

 

Firstly: (walking) within the topic of preaching and warning and within figurative and declarative styles:

1- Within the figurative style, God says the following in this verse: "Is he who walks bent on his own face better guided, or he who walks upright on a straight path?" (67:22). Of course, no one literally walks while bending on one's face or walk in one direction within a straight path all one's life. This figurative, symbolic style is a parable indicating those who are misguided as they follow falsehoods and those guided ones who follow the Truth from the Lord God.

2- Another figurative style using the term (walking) is used in a verse about the pious ones who fear the Lord God and follow only God's Word, i.e., the Quranic Light given to humanity, as they are given light of guidance when they deal with other people; they were figuratively ''dead'' by misguidance and the Quranic Light gives them Light to live in piety, unlike those who continue walking in the darkness of misguidance: "Is he who was dead, then We gave him life, and made for him a light by which he walks among the people, like he who is in total darkness, and cannot get out of it? Thus the doings of disbelievers are made to appear good to them." (6:122). This is shown in this verse as well: "What about someone whose heart God has opened to Islam, so that he follows a light from His Lord?..." (39:22).

3- This figurative Light will be real, physical Light on the Last Day to enter into Paradise by virtue of God's mercy. The Quranic Light and guidance are described in these verses: "O people! A proof has come to you from your Lord, and We sent down to you a Clear Light." (4:174); "...A Light from God has come to you, and a Clear Book." (5:15). This Quranic guidance in this life will turn into Light on the Last Day, linked to walking the straight path into Heaven and God's mercy: "O you who believe! Fear God, and believe in His messenger: He will give you a double portion of His mercy, and will give you  Light by which you walk, and will forgive you. God is Forgiving and Merciful." (57:28). Thus, pious people will enjoy the bliss of this Light while they walk on the Last Day, while feeling happy to be spared Hell as they enter into Paradise. "On the Day when you see the believing men and believing women - their Light radiating ahead of them, and to their right: "Good news for you today: gardens beneath which rivers flow, dwelling therein forever. That is the great triumph."" (57:12). Real, pious believers must work to earn this honor and triumph: "O you who believe! Repent to God with sincere repentance. Perhaps your Lord will remit your sins, and admit you into gardens beneath which rivers flow, on the Day when God will not disappoint the Prophet and those who believed with him. Their Light streaming before them, and to their right, they will say, "Our Lord, complete our Light for us, and forgive us; You are capable of all things."" (66:8).

4- (Walking) in the literal sense of the term comes in the direct, declarative style when talking about preaching and warning; for instance, as polytheists/disbelievers of all eras worship, sanctify, and deify mausoleums and dead bodies of saints/deities assumed to be 'immortal' who control the lives of living people and must be revered and honored so that they aid their worshippers. This was also the case of Arabs in Arabia during the lifetime of Muhammad, and this went on after his death (and after the completion of revelation of the Quranic text) as Sunnites, Shiites, and Sufis worship many mausoleums in mosques. Muhammad strove to make mosques dedicated only to God: "The places of worship are for God. So do not call, besides God, upon anyone else. And when the servant of God got up calling on Him, they almost fell on him in a mass. Say, "I pray only to my Lord, and I never associate anyone with Him."" (72:18-20). In contrast, the Muhammadans who have reject the Quran worship now a mausoleum dedicated to Muhammad in the Yathreb mosque, and they perform pilgrimage to it, while assuming that Muhammad were 'alive' inside this tomb to intercede on their behalf and ask pardon for their sins, as he reviews their deeds till the end of days (!), and as they glorify him and he responds to them! Such myths were embraced by polytheistic Arabs about entombed deities/saints, and the Quran has addressed in this way using the literal meaning of walking in a declarative style not figuratively: "Those they invoke besides God create nothing, but are themselves created.They are dead, not alive; and they do not know when they will be resurrected." (16:20-21). The same applies to entombed deities/saints revered by Shiites, Sufis, and Sunnites; they are dead and cannot walk or move, and no one might argue against these scientific facts: "Those you call upon besides God are servants like you. So call upon them, and let them answer you, if you are truthful. Do they have feet with which they walk? Or do they have hands with which they strike? Or do they have eyes with which they see? Or do they have ears with which they hear? Say, "Call upon your partners, then plot against me, and do not wait." "My Master is God, He Who sent down the Book, and He takes care of the righteous."" (7:194-196).        

5- Arab polytheists demanded from Muhammad to perform miracles for them to see and touch instead of the Quran; such demands included to see angels descending upon them. God responds and refutes them while mentioning a metaphysical fact: "Say, "If there were angels on Earth, walking around in peace, We would have sent down to them from heaven an angel messenger."" (17:95). This means that speeds or angels cannot be imagined by human beings; if they were to have physical bodies like human beings, they would walk like us on Earth. Of course, the direct, declarative style is used here in 17:95, though in most cases, Quranic verses that talk about angels adopt mainly the figurative style.

 

Secondly: (walking) within Quranic stories and within figurative and declarative styles:

1- The term (walking) is sometimes used figuratively within Quranic stories: "And they marveled that a warner has come to them from among them. The disbelievers said, "This is a lying magician." "Did he turn all the gods into one God? This is something strange." The retinue members among them announced: "Go on walking on your ways, and hold fast to your gods. This is something planned." (38:4-6). This means that (walking) here refers figuratively to going on following the footsteps of their polytheistic ancestors and forefathers.  

2- The term (walking) is used literally within the declarative style within the Quranic story of Moses: "When your sister walked along, and said, 'Shall I tell you about someone who will take care of him?'..." (20:40); this verse is explained further by this one: "She said to his sister, "Trail him." So she watched him from afar, and they were unaware." (28:11). Walking is mentioned also in the literal sense in this verse about the woman of Madian coming to Moses: "Then, one of the two women approached him, walking bashfully..." (28:25).

3- The term (walking) is used literally within the declarative style within the Quranic story of Muhammad; disbelievers mocked the fact that he ate food and walked through markets (Muhammad worked as a merchant; see our article in English proving this fact using the Quran: http://www.ahl-alquran.com/English/show_article.php?main_id=17124), and God responded to them that all prophets/messengers ate food and walked through markets, and this means that this applies also to prophets who were kings like David and Solomon: "And they say, "What sort of messenger is this, who eats food, and walks in the marketplaces? If only an angel was sent down with him, to be alongside him a warner."" (25:7); "We never sent before you any messengers except those who ate food and walked in the marketplaces..." (25:20). 

 

Thirdly: (walking) within Quranic legislations within the declarative style only:

1- Quranic commands and prohibitions are found within the direct, literal, declarative style only, and violating or disobeying them is deemed a sin. Let us quote legislative verses that contain the idea of (walking): "And do not walk proudly on Earth. You can neither pierce the Earth, nor can you match the mountains in height." (17:37); Luqman had advised his son in that way: "And do not treat people with arrogance, nor walk proudly on Earth. God does not love the arrogant showoffs. And moderate your walking, and lower your voice..." (31:18-19). God describes the best way to walk by His pious servants: "The servants of the Dominant Lord are those who walk the Earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace."" (25:63). In contrast, disbelievers walk arrogantly walk to endeavor in spreading corruption and evil: "And do not obey any vile swearer. Backbiter, who walks to spread slander." (68:10-11). 

2- This verse contains the command to walk/roam the Earth, but it is not sinful to never apply it, as this is guiding and advising style addressing all human beings, and NOT obligatory command or religious duty ordained on us; those who stay in their homelands working within piety are not sinful or disobedient persons, of course: "It is He who made the Earth manageable for you, so walk through its regions, and eat of His provisions..." (67:15). 

 

Fourthly: (walking) within the declarative style (and NOT the figurative one):

1- The Quranic command to walk/roan the Earth literally is repeated concerning to take heed and to be warned by ancient nations smitten and destroyed by God; let us quote only few verses about this topic: "Have they not walked through the Earth, and seen the consequences for those before them? They were stronger than them, and they left more impact on Earth. But God seized them for their sins, and they had no defender against God. That is because their messengers used to come to them with clear proofs, but they disbelieved, so God seized them. He is Strong, Severe in retribution." (40:21-22); "Have they not walked through the Earth, and seen the outcome for those before them? They were more numerous than they, and had greater power and influence in the land. But what they had achieved availed them nothing." (40:82); "Have they not walked through the Earth and seen how those before them ended up? They were more powerful than them, and they cultivated the land and developed it more than they developed it, and their messengers came to them with clear signs. God would never wrong them, but they used to wrong themselves." (30:9); "Say, "Walk through the Earth, and observe the fate of those who came before. Most of them were polytheists."" (30:42); "Many societies have passed away before you. So walk through the Earth and note the fate of the deniers." (3:137).

2- Some other verses tackle the fact that Arabs used to walk through locations and sites where ancient nations were smitten and destroyed by God: "Is it not instructive to them, how many generations before them We destroyed, in whose settlements they walk? Surely in that are signs for people of understanding." (20:128); "Is it not a lesson for them, how many generations We have destroyed before them, in whose habitations they walk? Surely in that are signs. Do they not hear?" (32:26).


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