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The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (3):
A Response to Comments on the Previous Article

 

The Debate between the Might and the Truth within a Quranist Vision (3):

A Response to Comments on the Previous Article

Published in December 17, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

Introduction:

 Within his comments on our previous article, our fellow Quranist Mr. Osama Qafisha writes the following: (... and we can imagine the civilized society with its megacities in Egypt during the lifetime of Moses; it seems that the Egyptian population was a great number. The Quran focuses on the elements and tools of the rule of Pharaoh and on the Israelites with their race and their sense of being one nation, but not on the original Egyptians as the biggest element at the time; it seems that the Israelites were a minority in comparison to the rest of Egyptians: "These are a small gang." (26:54). I tend to think that very few among the Israelites trusted Moses and believed in him, not all the 12 tribes of the Israelites: "But none believed in Moses except some children of his people..." (10:83). I know that Moses and those who followed him were saved by God when they fled from Egypt, whereas Pharaoh and his troops drowned in the Red Sea; yet, nothing in the Quran shows that Moses and those believing followers returned back to the River Nile Valley once Pharaoh died; we read that they remained in Sinai for a while. Thus, I infer that the majority among the Israelites did not believe in Moses and never followed him, and they stayed behind among the Egyptian peasants and inherited the stretches of land once they knew that Pharaoh and his troops were dead; this is my understanding of these verses: "So We drove them out of gardens and springs. And treasures and noble dwellings. So it was. And We made the Israelites inherit them." (26:57-59). By the way, within my understanding of the Arabic tongue and the Quranic tongue, I tend to think that 26:60 shows that Pharaoh and his troops followed the fleeing Israelites and Moses at sunrise, and not eastward as you have assumed in your article; my conclusion is based on another verse, about the torment inflicted on the people of Lot, that mentions sunrise using the same Arabic word: "So the Blast struck them at sunrise." (15:73) ... Thank you.).

 

OUR REPLY:

 

Firstly:

  We are to approach the Quran seeking guidance and knowledge by pondering it without prior views or prejudices, and, of course, without personal whims linked to race, nationalism, or religion. Thus, we are to adhere to objectivity as much as we can, following the contexts of Quranic verses and letting them guide us. In fact, after four decades of our research within the Quranic, we still assert that the Quran increases one's knowledge and one feels that we are still bordering only the shores of Quranic knowledge that have many layers of depths still undiscovered. The Quran is a great book never read before by 'Muslims' within scientific research methodology – except by our person within our Quranist research. This is why our Quranist research findings based on our Quranist research shock the 'Muslims'/Muhammadans; they feel shocked by the fact that they have never pondered the Quran properly, though they read it all the time, but never in light of the Quranist thought and trend. The only difference is that we, as a Quranist researcher and thinker, ponder God's Book while seeking guidance only from it and nothing else. The Muhammadans read the Quran while following their whims; they focus only on the faulty notions tackled within the intellectual life of the Muhammadans for centuries until now, which are deemed as 'truths'. It is very wrong to attempt pondering the Quran using dictionaries of the Arabic tongue and sets of terminology of heritage books of traditions; the Muhammadans never thought about reading the Quran as per its own terminology. Hence, the Muhammadans of the Middle-Ages made the fatal mistake in their books of picking and choosing the Quranic verses whose superficial reading might seem to agree with their own terminologies, prejudices, and whims and they intentionally misinterpreted the Quranic verses that prove how wrong their views and stances are; this wretched business goes on until now by the Muhammadans of today.                

 

Secondly:

  (...I tend to think that very few among the Israelites trusted Moses and believed in him, not all the 12 tribes of the Israelites: "But none believed in Moses except some children of his people..." (10:83)...).

 There is an error here; we show the correction in the following points.

1- Within the Quranic terminology of the Quranic tongue, the verb (to believe in) refers to faith in one's heart to believe in God and His Book, whereas the verb (to believe to) means to trust someone. We provide some examples from the Quran in the points below.

1/1: Typically, the affluent retinue members and notables who monopolize might, power, wealth, and authority never believe in the divine revelation or Scripture; their fear of losing their status and stature makes them never trust, or believe to, messengers and their weak followers who believed in the divine messages carried by those messengers. This is exemplified in the people of Noah, who never trusted Noah who was followed by the impecunious, weak believers: "...Shall we believe to you, when it is the lowliest who follow you?" (26:111). 

1/2: Lot trusted and believed to Abraham, and they immigrated to leave the lands controlled by the unjust ones: "Then Lot believed to him, and said, "I am emigrating to my Lord. He is the Noble, the Wise." " (29:26). It is wrong to assume that Lot 'believed in'  Abraham; real belief in one's heart is never in prophets as persons, but in God and His message; the Quranic phrase "believed to him" simply means to trust him.

1/3: Some disbelievers among the People of the Book told one another never to trust anyone except those who followed their religion: "And do not believe to anyone except those who follow your religion..." (3:73).

1/4: God has told the early believers never to trust disbelievers as the latter never trusted them: "Do you hope that they will believe to you..." (2:75).

1/5: God has said the following to the early believers about never to trust hypocrites in Yathreb: "They present excuses to you when you return to them. Say, "Do not offer excuses; we do not believe to you; God has informed us of you..." (9:94).

1/6: The Qorayish disbelievers disbelieved in the message conveyed by Muhammad, the Quran, and they never believed to Muhammad; i.e., they never trusted him, because they saw him as an ordinary man eating and walking through markets, without treasures or gardens to spend lavishly and without angels serving him and guarding him in processions wherever he went. They even told Muhammad that they will never trust him unless such miracles would appear before their eyes: "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." Or, "If only a treasure was dropped on him." Or, "If only he had a garden from which he eats..." (25:7-8); "And they said, "We will not believe to you unless you make a spring burst from the ground for us. Or you have a garden of palms and vines; then cause rivers to gush pouring through them. Or make the sky fall on us in pieces, as you claim, or bring God and the angels before us. Or you possess a house of gold. Or you ascend into heaven. Even then, we will not believe your ascension, unless you bring down for us a book that we can read." Say, "Glory be to my Lord. Am I anything but a human messenger?"" (17:90-93).   

2- The Quranic verb (to believe in) means to hold a belief/faith inside one's heart and mind, and this verb is used frequently in the Quranic text; let us quote some verses to exemplify this. "The messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, as did the believers. They all have believed in God, and His angels, and His scriptures, and His messengers: "We make no distinction between any of His messengers." And they say, "We hear and we obey. Your forgiveness, our Lord. To you is the destiny."" (2:285); "Say, "We believe in God; and in what was revealed to us; and in what was revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Tribes; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus; and in what was given to the prophets - from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we submit." If they believe in the same as you have believed in, then they have been guided. But if they turn away, then they are in schism. God will protect you against them; for He is the Hearer, the Knower." (2:136-137).

3- Both verbs (to believe to) & (to believe in) are combined in one verse: "...He believes in God and believes to the believers..." (9:61). This means that Muhammad believed in Allah as the Only True God without other deities beside Him and he trusted/believed to believers who were around him. 

 

Thirdly: the verbs (to believe in) and (to believe to) within the story of Moses, Pharaoh, and the Israelites:

1- Moses' Pharaoh and his people never trusted/believed to Moses and Aaron; both prophets were among the tribes of the Israelites that worshipped Pharaoh and his people: "They said, "Are we to believe to two mortals like us, and their people are worshipping us?"" (23:47). Thus, Pharaoh and the Pharaonic affluent retinue members and courtiers, viziers, etc. never trusted Moses and Aaron because they never belonged to such hypocritical group or retinue. This reminds us of the affluent retinue members among the people of Noah.

2- The Egyptians magicians did not believe in Moses and Aaron; rather, they believed in the God of Moses and Aaron, a belief that made them endure a violent death in patience: "And the magicians fell down prostrating. They said, "We have believed in the Lord of the Worlds. The Lord of Moses and Aaron."" (26:46-48).

3- Pharaoh was surprised to see the magicians who followed him prostate in humility and declare their belief in the God of Moses and Aaron; he was indignant that he accused the magicians of believing in and to Moses, as he expected that they should have believed in and to the self-deified Pharaoh as their only deity; Pharaoh used both verbs: "Pharaoh said, "Did you believe in him before I have given you permission?..." (7:123); "He said, "Did you believe to him before I have given you permission?..." (26:49); " He said, "Did you believe to him before I have given you permission?..." (20:71). 

4- After the plagues were inflicted on Pharaoh and his people (flood, blood, locusts, lice, frogs, etc.), they offered to trust Moses (i.e., to believe to him) and to let him to lead Israelites out of Egypt if he would invoke his Lord to deliver them: "Whenever a plague befell them, they would say, "O Moses, pray to your Lord for us, according to the covenant He made with you. If you lift the plague from us, we will believe to you, and let the Israelites go with you."" (7:134).

5- Before this event, Pharaoh increased the persecution inflicted on the Israelites and threatened to massacre their children, and he increased the number of spies who watched them closely. Thus, the Israelites did not trust or believe to Moses as they felt he could not protect them, as they feared Pharaoh and his severe religious persecution very much: "But none believed to Moses except some children of his people, for fear that Pharaoh and his chiefs would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. He was a tyrant." (10:83). In this verse, ''believe to'' refers to trust and never to faith/belief in the heart. Moses advised his people, the Israelites, and they obeyed him: "Moses said, "O my people, if you have believed in God, then put your trust in Him, if you have submitted." They said, "In God we have put our trust. Our Lord, do not make us victims of the oppressive people." "And deliver us, by Your mercy, from the disbelieving people."" (10:84-86).   

6- It is noteworthy that most of the Israelites were not monotheists; they did not devote their worship to God. Proof: once they passed the Red Sea to Sinai during the exodus, found a Pharaonic temple and they felt a nostalgia for the Pharaonic religion within which they were brought up: "And We delivered the Israelites across the sea. And when they came upon a people who were devoted to some statues of theirs, they said, "O Moses, make for us a god, as they have gods." He said, "You are truly an ignorant people." "What these people are concerned with is perdition, and their deeds are based on falsehoods." He said, "Shall I seek for you a deity other than God, when He has favored you over all other people?" Remember how We saved you from Pharaoh's people, who subjected you to the worst of sufferings-killing your sons and sparing your women. In that was a tremendous trial from your Lord." (7:138-141).     

7- The Israelites were influenced very much by the Pharaonic religion; a sinful man made for them a calf of gold as a deity worshipped by them; this calf was reminiscent of the Pharaonic god Apis. This means they were polytheists who never worshipped God unless along with other partners. They never trusted/believed to Moses despite the miracles they witnessed and asked for more miracles and were punished by God: "And recall that you said, "O Moses, we will not believe to you unless we see God plainly." Thereupon the thunderbolt struck you, as you looked on." (2:55).

 

Fourthly:

  (...nothing in the Quran shows that Moses and those believing followers returned back to the River Nile Valley once Pharaoh died; we read that they remained in Sinai for a while. Thus, I infer that the majority among the Israelites did not believe in Moses and never followed him, and they stayed behind among the Egyptian peasants and inherited the stretches of land once they knew that Pharaoh and his troops were dead; this is my understanding of these verses: "So We drove them out of gardens and springs. And treasures and noble dwellings. So it was. And We made the Israelites inherit them." (26:57-59)...).

 We will tackle this point in detail in the next article; we briefly assert here that when the Israelites complained to Moses, he reminded them that God has promised to destroy their enemies and make them replace them in the land as its inheritors: "Moses said to his people, "Seek help in God, and be patient. The earth belongs to God. He gives it in inheritance to whomever He wills of His servants, and the future belongs to the righteous." They said, "We were persecuted before you came to us, and after you came to us." He said, "Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy, and make you successors in the land; then He will see how you behave."" (7:128-129). These words of Moses include all the Israelites as inheritors and NOT some of them, and this occurred indeed, as they inherited temporarily the land of Egypt until commanded to move toward the Promised Land: " And We made the oppressed people inherit the eastern and western parts of the land, which We had blessed. Thus the fair promise of your Lord to the Israelites was fulfilled, because of their endurance. And We destroyed what Pharaoh and his people had built, and what they had harvested." (7:137); "So We drove them out of gardens and springs. And treasures and noble dwellings. So it was. And We made the Israelites inherit them." (26:57-59). Thus, these Quranic verses about the Israelites are the Absolute Truth that must be believed by Quran-believing Muslims, and such Quranic facts match the details in other Quranic contexts in the Quranic Chapters 7, 26, and 44. 

 

Fifthly:

 (...I tend to think that 26:60 shows that Pharaoh and his troops followed the fleeing Israelites and Moses at sunrise, and not eastward as you have assumed in your article; my conclusion is based on another verse, about the torment inflicted on the people of Lot, that mentions sunrise using the same Arabic word: "So the Blast struck them at sunrise." (15:73)...).

We assert the following points.

1- The context of 26:60 is about location and not about time; Moses led the Israelites eastward to the Red Sea (or the Suez Canal now) as they fled from Pharaoh. This is the location where Pharaoh and his troops drowned. More about this topic is tackled in a coming article. When the Israelites were in Sinai, East of Egypt, each of the twelve tribes had a water spring provided by God: "And recall when Moses prayed for water for his people. We said, "Strike the rock with your staff." Thereupon twelve springs gushed out from it, and each tribe recognized its drinking-place. "Eat and drink from God's provision, and do not corrupt the earth with disobedience."" (5:60). In Sinai, God has given Moses the Torah at the Mount Al-Tur and the covenant was made with Israelites, among other events, until they refused to enter into the Promised Land.  

2- As for the story of Lot and his people, (sunrise) is mentioned as the timing of the destruction of the sinful ones among the people of Lot, and NOT the geographical direction of the (east); evidence is found in the Quran, as its verses explain one another; the angels told Lot and his family (except his sinful, disbelieving wife) to move away during the night as the torment will be inflict on the sinful ones in the morning: "They said, "O Lot, we are the envoys of your Lord; they will not reach you. So set out with your family during the cover of the night, and let none of you look back, except for your wife. She will be struck by what will strike them. Their appointed time is the morning. Is not the morning near?"" (11:81); ""Travel with your family at the dead of the night, and follow up behind them, and let none of you look back, and proceed as commanded." And We informed him of Our decree: the last remnant of these will be uprooted by early morning. And the people of the town came joyfully. He said, "These are my guests, so do not embarrass me." "And fear God, and do not disgrace me." They said, "Did we not forbid you from strangers?" He said, "These are my daughters, if you must." By your life, they were blundering in their drunkenness. So the Blast struck them at sunrise." (15:65-73).


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