Random thoughts and notes: Days 164-260

o The first thing I have to mention, is that I have been taking something of a break from posting on this site. And even though I have posted now, I am not sure about the frequency of future posts. Perhaps it will be with a comparable to what occurred now, of one post after more than 3 months. Wa Allahu A’lam.

o Subhan Allah, the scholar who is teaching about proper Akhlaaq will not say that perhaps our parents may not have taught us proper Adab, proper manners when we were children, and that this is why we need to take classes in order to learn this subject. No, he will say that our parents were outside working and making a living, and when they came back home we were sleeping, so we did not have a chance to learn their lofty ways or their ways of interacting with other people.

o We know that knowledge has to be acted upon. But even if we consider those types of knowledge that are considered ‘abstract’ and do not seem to have a direct influence on our day-to-day actions (whether religious or otherwise), we see that they still have a large influence upon our lives: At the very least, they form the basis upon which we need to base our beliefs, and this base for our beliefs is what differentiates the Muslim from the non-Muslim. For example, someone might wonder as to the benefit that knowing Allah’s Transcendence over all Creation has on his daily prayers. However, this is a prerequisite for the prayer itself – if one is praying to something that he imagines literally exists in some dimension high up in a spatial coordinate, then his prayer is invalid, as he is an idolater.

o So this is one of the relevant points of this knowledge, and it is also important for us to pass on this knowledge to everyone – this is another way in which we act upon this knowledge.

o One indicator about the lowly situation we Muslims are facing nowadays is that, in the ancillary matters connected to Islamic culture, we hardly have any Muslim “experts” in such fields, but rather the expertise has been transferred somehow to non-Muslims. Here I am not talking about the main issues such as Aqeedah or Fiqh, where non-Muslims also claim to be scholars, but rather about matters such as the designing of Islamic clothes, the study of Islamic architecture, the formulation of “musk formulas”, and so forth. Of course, these are definitely not on the same level as the primary matters of Islam, but they do show to what an extent the interest of the Muslims in “native Islamic concerns” has actually fallen.

o We see a huge number of problems have come up in the Muslim Ummah due to the desire to oppose those governors and rulers who are deemed by us to have fallen off of the Islamic ideal. I will not comment on it from a proper Fiqhi point of view since I am not qualified to do so, but I think this has some connection with a new corollary doctrine that has surfaced with Twelver Shiaism of all places, which I call the “Bolshevikization of Imam Hussayn”. So it is a type of amalgamation between what occurred to Imam Hussayn (RAA) and his martyrdom, combined with the zeal to stage revolutions right and left, so as to bring forth a “new world order” in as many places as possible.

o However, from what I can see, this is obviously a rotten quasi-ideology as far as Islam is concerned, since it has many of the hallmarks of Khawaarijism – ironically the very antithesis of Shiaism. And what we see is that the proponents of revolutions and revolts amongst the Shia (or let us say, those Shias who have in recent history supported the overthrow of governments and the subversion of the status quo) have a very narrow set of goals and objectives, and this is laid out bare for all to see when we consider that many of the revolts currently taking place are to the detriment of the Twelver Shia ideology and are in fact directed against their allies.

o Thus, the irony is that even though the Twelver Shia centers called on the people (Sunnis and Shias) to rise against what they termed as “puppet governments”, yet the result of such uprisings and revolts may be a net negative for Shia interests. And it is clear that such was always a real possibility, since once an uprising is on its way, there is no telling how it will end, or rather, we can say that in most cases, only chaos and destruction are the guaranteed results of such uprisings.

o And besides, one has to really wonder what the Khomeinyst doctrine seeks to achieve by encouraging revolutions within lands where the percentage of Sunnis is very high, and where the stereotyping of Shias with negative qualities is very well entrenched within the psyche of the population (there are negatives to such caricature-type of thinking, but this is not tobe discussed in here). In such cases, whatever the “autocracies” may be doing to Shias or to the Khomeinyst doctrine is much more limited and contained than what would take place if the chaos of revolution is unleashed. And this is again, because of the simple fact that revolts bring forth destruction to one and to all, and unless the ‘revolt’ is truly engineered from certain sources, it is extremely difficult to contain its end results.

o Regarding those who say that the Qur’an has a style wherein Saj’ is visible at times, then it goes into other types of speech, and then comes back to Saj’ again, the reply is that this is still part of the normal manner in which the speech of humans was delivered: It cannot be imagined that any one person only spoke in Saj’ – rather, he might deliver a part of speech in Saj’, go out and speak in normal speech or in some other style, then come back to Saj’ again. Thus, if it is said that the Qur’an uses this same type of method, then there would be no difference between the two types of speech.

o There are a number of techniques mentioned by the author as general ways in which people tried to include embellishments in their speeches, poems, compositions, etc. I will just try to write what I can and what I understood from this, and I admit that there will be some missing points, but in brief we can at least begin to understand the matter and then the extensions may be covered later on if and when possible (one issue that will be seen below is that many of the types of techniques definitely overlap, but in order to differentiate them I guess a more thorough study has to be done, which is not mentioned in this work, and which in any case is best carried by someone who can properly understand and express the complexities of each genre):

o (1) Use of Isti’aarah (إستعارة) which is basically the use of similes and metaphors. Similar to this is the use of (2) Praiseworthy Tashbeeh (تشبيه) [‘Use of proper resemblances’].

o Related to these two is also what is called (3) Mumaathalah (مماثلة) which consists of inserting a word/phrase as a resemblance towards the real intended meaning which one wishes to convey, like mentioning the advancing or retreating of feet to allude to taking or refraining from taking the oath of allegiance to the ruler.

o (4) Mutaabaqah (مطابقة) which is to mention something and its opposite, like the mentioning of white and black, night and day, and so forth; but others said it signifies that there is one word used with divergent meanings. Thus, the same word may be repeated in each stanza or instance, but with a different meaning in each case.

o (5) Tajnees (تجنيس) which is a common feature, where different words have homogeneity (resemblance) in both their forms and their meanings; it is also said that this applies to when one word is a derivative of the other and this in Arabic is known after inspection of the corresponding root letters and their associated or derived meanings.

o (6) Muqaabalah (مقابلة) which is the collation between the expressed meanings, so that one word and its meaning is counterbalanced by another word and its associated meaning.

o (7) Muwaazanah (موازنة) which is the equivalence or equiponderance in the organization and format of the words used, whether the meanings match or not.

o (8) Musaawah (مساوة), when there is equivalence between the words used and the meaning that is to be conveyed, no more and no less.

o (9) Ishaarah [allusion or hint] (إشارة), wherein many meanings are hidden under a few words.

o (10) Mubaalaghah and Ghuluw (مبالغة و غلوّ) types of exaggeration in the conveyed quality or trait, in order to re-emphasize the desired meaning through a startling analogy, etc.

o (11) Iighal (إيغال) [lit. deep and intensive penetration] found more so in the poetic genres, where an extra rhyme may be placed in order to emphasize the desired meaning, even when the meaning would be understandable without it.

o (12) Tawsheeh (توشيح), a technique wherein the Qaafiya is accompanied by another rhyme within the same stanzas, lines, etc.

o (13) Returning the end of the phrase to its beginning [رد عجز الكلام على صدره], that is, using a word at the very end of the phrase in order to indicate or complete a meaning referenced in the beginning.

o (14) Correct Division (صحة التقسيم) related to the division of the phrase into contrasting parts in order to bring out the distinctions intended by the author.

o (15) Correctness of Interpretation (صحة التفسير), to write a statement which requires further elucidation, and later on to provide this explanation – with the condition that this explanation does not go beyond the sense of the original statement.

o (16) Full Completion (تكميل و تتميم), which is to come with a series of statements/declarations comprising all the possible meanings which complete the correct rendering of another initial, original statement as this is to be understood, without leaving out any of the potential meanings.

o (17) “Conformability” (ترصيع), which is to make the clauses or words of a rhyming text to be commensurable and agreeable in their respective (generally later) parts. Or at times it consists of the close repetition of one word/phrase or those words/phrases that have similar meaning to each other.

o (18) “Equivalence between Meanings” (تكافؤ), which is close to Mutaabaqah, that is, to put congruent objects and meanings besides one another. (19) ‘Redoubling’ (تعطف), which is the redoubling or repetition of a word in close succession within the stanza, sentence, etc. (20) Metonymy and allusions [كناية و تعريض], and related to this is Lahn al-Qawl (لحن القول – ambiguity in speech).

o (21) ‘Affirmation and Negation’ – (سلب و إيجاب) apparently, the refusal or affirmation is emphasized in the text itself by mentioning that it is a negation, etc. (but not much information is given by the author in here). (22) ‘Reversal and Reflection’ (عكس و تبديل), where the phrases contain clauses directly mirroring one another.

o (23) ‘Iltifaat’ (إلتفات) which is a type of digression, sometimes associated with a change in the subject matter, but more so associated with a shift in the person the speech/composition is being addressed to (i.e. changes between the first, second, and third persons within the same passage or phrase).

o (24) “Digression and Return” (إعتراض و رجوع), which consists of starting a statement without finishing its meaning, digressing from it into another topic, and then returning back to the first matter in order to complete its intended meaning/message.

o (25) Tadhyeel, (تذييل, lit. supplement or addition), which is the bringing of words synonymous or similar to one another over the length of the same passage until the meaning that may not have been clear to the reader at the beginning becomes obvious to the reader as the meaning is clarified with more synonyms, etc. (It is the opposite the techniques whereby hints and allusions are used, leaving open various possibilities without explicitly mentioning which ones are to be taken).

o (26) Istitraad (إستطراد , another type of digression), where one topic or meaning is started but there is an ulterior motive in bringing up this initial meaning, which becomes clear later on as the writer or speaker slides into the new meaning. (27) ‘Repetition’ (تكرار), repetition of words and phrases in the poem, but when it occurs in the Qur’an it has an additional dimension, that of informing about the unseen. (28) ‘Exceptions’ (إستثناء) – the mentioning of exceptions to the main clause within the stanzas, sentences, etc.

o It is from the very nature of how humans compose their literature and their speeches, that there will be high points and low points, that which is good, mediocre, and bad. It is through the examination of such differences that we can see what is possible for humans to compose, and then when we move on to the Qur’an, we see that such “low points” and “mediocre points” do not exist in the Qur’an at al.

o A point mentioned (again in the text) is that we have very flashy poetry (and by extension, prose, speeches, etc.), and this does show the prowess of the author or speaker, but it will definitely diminish the intensity and impact that the text can have on the hearts of people. So it would be more a matter of showing off what one can do, rather than of trying to establish anything that will truly impact the masses.

o And if we consider that even today, in the age of the information explosion, only half of all people are functionally literate, it is difficult to see how an extremely technical work (in the scientific sense of the term) would impact the hearts and minds of most people in the world. This is also why, as far as I can see, many of the scholars of Islam are against the aggressive use of the “scientific miracles in the Qur’an” narrative: It severely narrows down the area wherein the Qur’an can be used as a text for guidance, since such a narrative is very much inaccessible to the vast majority of the world’s population.

o As per the author, one reason why Arabic is a better language for the expression of the linguistic miracle is that most of its words are based on triliteral roots, which is a middle path between the extremes of biliteral roots, or roots with more than 3 letters: For example, had most words been derived from mostly biliteral roots, there would have been much repetition in the letters one pronounces, and if the roots would have been more, then the quantity of letters for each word would have become cumbersome. This is especially so when we consider the many added-on modes of a word, and how four or five letter roots would have unfolded in this context, if they had been the major component of the Arabic language.

o It is mentions that even in the Muqata’aat that begin some of the Chapters of the Qur’an, we see this matter: Most of these Muqata’aat are composed of three-letters, while those with four or five letters are two Suras each (while there is some differences with regards to the one-lettered Muqata’aat and what they might point towards in this context). [From my own side, I am not so sure about this point: Yes, the number of three-lettered Muqata’aat is more than the Muqata’aat consisting of 2, 4, or 5 letters, but not really in a proportion comparable to what we normally find in dictionaries/lexicons or in common speech, or in the Qur’an itself. Allah knows best].

o It is mentioned that the languages of other nations have certain natural difficulties when it comes to flexibility (such as in terms of too much repetition of letters or words, etc.), and this is one reason why the challenge of the Qur’an and concomitantly its miracle was best expressible in the Arabic idiom.

o With regards to purely written works in and of themselves, they require not only clarity in the message, but also beauty and elegance in the writing itself (I believe it refers to handwriting), until they can have a proper and strong effect.

o With regards to painters there is the issue that one can draw the image of a person who is showing something on the outside which is different than the inside, and there is difficulty in showing the difference in the internal versus the external state of the subject of the painting.

o Mention is made of how the expert knows the type of poems that a certain poet might compose, just as an expert in handwriting would know the handwriting of a given person after studying the case, and through this can detect forgeries, etc. It is obvious that mistakes can also be made by the experts in certain cases, but it would be difficult to consider that the mistakes would persist for an incredibly long period of time: This is why when the experts of Arabic prose and poetry at the dawn of Islam basically enunciated that they could not explain the Qur’an through the natural means of written composition, then this is something that cannot be discarded as being the conclusion of simpletons, etc.

o It is also seen that even in the case of a relatively obscure poet or writer (i.e. unknown to the masses), there will still be certain hints that make his work known to the experts, even though his personal style may be an amalgamation of the styles of previous writers, poets, or orators (and it is also known whether this new poet liked to take from one previous poet in particular, or from a collection of poets). Again, some confusion may be there in certain comparably small areas, but this would not extend to the extent of an entire large work.

o And the reason mentioned for this is that there is not such a great difference between the different eras and between the different writers and poets, so that one who studies the matter properly and seriously would be totally confused as to the probable origins of any piece of writing he might find.