Does the Qur’an have an Overriding Principle?

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After hearing so much horrific news about happenings in the Muslim world, particularly the oppressive actions of dictators who torture Innocent citizens— men, women, and children — and prevent Muslims from worshipping in mosques, as well as the slaughter of innocent civilians and destruction of their homes and lives by armies, police, and whole governments, I paced for hours in a state of unbearable rage, until the time came for salat al-asr (afternoon worship). Continue reading

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Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem: The Dynamic Pair of Names

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Here we come to a crucial element of the Qur’an: the significance of these two names, Al-Rahman — The Almighty — and Al-Raheem — The All-Merciful, two names that are in a sense opposite in meaning, but dynamically interrelated in the context of the One who alone fits these names altogether, Allah. Continue reading

Structure as Metaphor in the Qur’an

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The Qur’an is usually interpreted and studied based directly on the meanings of the ayat, just as one interprets any other book. Style, appearance, frequency of occurrence of specific phrases and words, the appearance of individual letters at the beginning of some Suras (“Quranic Initials”), and even the more symbolic meaning of certain narratives, such as the lives of prophets, and “graphic” elements such as the physical appearance of letters or size of Suras, are rarely studied with an eye to discover their importance or meaning in the Qur’an. Continue reading