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Messages - Mehedi

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Salams Aijaz,

Thanks for clarifying, and sorry for the late reply. For 2:100, it is not the idea of throwing aside the covenant that is being negated. It is the amount that is being negated and then clarified. It clarified that it is not just "a party of them" but rather "most" of them.

As for the "bal" in 21:24, this is more indirect contrast being shown, where a thing is given symbolic distance from another, in order to illustrate a contrast found in the second entry for Bal provided by Lane. When this type of bal is used in the Quran, it often pairs something good with something bad, something expected with something unexpected, or a description that is underwhelming versus one that is appropriate.

21:24 (part): Say, [O Muhammad], "Produce your proof. This [Qur'an] is the message for those with me and the message of those before me."

With this, the logical conclusion one would take is that people will believe once they are given proof. Also, the Quran is mentioned as proof, and is symbolically a good thing. But then the verse ends with:

"But most of them do not know the truth, so they are turning away."

This clarifies that despite "proof" being provided, you should not expect them to believe as a reasonable person would expect. Moreover, its a "bad" thing and symbolically distant from what was mentioned previously. Another example of this can be seen in the beginning of Surah 50. I put (+) for positive and (-) for negative:

(+) 1: "Qaf. By the honored Qur'an."
Now we start with one object, a positive one, the honored Quran. Now we go to:
a) a different object of discourse, which…
b) also happens to be a negative party.

(-) 2: "But (Arabic: bal) they wonder that there has come to them a Warner from among themselves. So the Unbelievers say: "This is a wonderful thing!”

And as we go a bit further down….

(+) 4: "We know what the earth diminishes of them, and with Us is a retaining record
Again, we start with a topic, and here is Allah’s superior knowledge, and the record coming with Allah. But on the other hand…."

(-) 5: "But (Arabic: bal) they denied the truth when it came to them, so they are in a confused condition."

Although Allah Knows, the disbelievers are confused. Not only is there an immeasurable gap in knowledge between the two (superior to inferior, showing symbolic distance), Allah is with the truth of the record, whereas disbelievers reject it (hence their confused state).

Grammatically, this form of bal doesn't really fit with the structure of 7:80-81, 26:165-166, and and 27:54-55 where Lut a.s. asks about approaching men besides women, which is why the primary definition provided by Lane is used. If you have a lexicon or dictionary entry that fits to what you are suggesting, it would be nice to take a look at it if provided. As with the 24:21 example provided, it should be noted that it is not "approaching men" that is being negated, it is the "besides women" (i.e. being gay) that is negated and clarified as not so, but rather something that transgresses beyond what was explicitly mentioned. Some translators include "transgressing [beyond Allah's bounds]" in brackets, because they are assuming homosexuality is being referred to and insert that bit in there, even though it refers back to what was stated in the text already.

Please see some of many examples from Quran for usage of 'Bal' where the concept introduced in the first part of the sentence is rather complemented:

2:100   أَوَكُلَّمَا عَاهَدُوا عَهْدًا نَّبَذَهُ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْهُم ۚ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ
4:155    فَبِمَا نَقْضِهِم مِّيثَاقَهُمْ وَكُفْرِهِم بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَقَتْلِهِمُ الْأَنبِيَاءَ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ وَقَوْلِهِمْ قُلُوبُنَا غُلْفٌ ۚ بَلْ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهَا بِكُفْرِهِمْ فَلَا يُؤْمِنُونَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا
5:18      وَقَالَتِ الْيَهُودُ وَالنَّصَارَىٰ نَحْنُ أَبْنَاءُ اللَّهِ وَأَحِبَّاؤُهُ ۚ قُلْ فَلِمَ يُعَذِّبُكُم بِذُنُوبِكُم ۖ بَلْ أَنتُم بَشَرٌ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقَ ۚ يَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَلِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ وَإِلَيْهِ الْمَصِيرُ
13:33  أَفَمَنْ هُوَ قَائِمٌ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ ۗ وَجَعَلُوا لِلَّهِ شُرَكَاءَ قُلْ سَمُّوهُمْ ۚ أَمْ تُنَبِّئُونَهُ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَم بِظَاهِرٍ مِّنَ الْقَوْلِ ۗ بَلْ زُيِّنَ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مَكْرُهُمْ وَصُدُّوا عَنِ السَّبِيلِ ۗ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ
24:21   أَمِ اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ آلِهَةً ۖ قُلْ هَاتُوا بُرْهَانَكُمْ ۖ هَٰذَا ذِكْرُ مَن مَّعِيَ وَذِكْرُ مَن قَبْلِي ۗ بَلْ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ الْحَقَّ ۖ فَهُم مُّعْرِضُونَ

Sallams Aijaz,

The examples you provided with the exception of 24:21 correct a misdirection to provide clarification, just like the Lut a.s. verses -- so I'm not sure what you're seeing? As for 24:21, I do not see any "bal" there? Can you clarify?

General Discussions / Re: Lut a.s. claifies homosexuality was NOT the sin.
« on: December 29, 2020, 04:56:58 PM »
Salam alaikum Br. Wakas,

Thanks for sharing the link. Unless I'm mistaken, the arguments posed are addressed in the link I shared. I'll write a follow up on "bal" and its usages as folks seem to be missing the contrasting characteristics of phrases like "in fact".

General Discussions / Re: Lut a.s. claifies homosexuality was NOT the sin.
« on: December 29, 2020, 04:48:09 PM »
Salam alaikum Hamzeh,

Thanks for your reply. I did note "bala" means "yes" in the link provided. However, that is only used to answer *negative* questions, such as "Am I NOT your Lord?" "Bala (yes), you are."

Bal's overall purpose is to change discourse, with its primary role being negation, to affirming the clarification; those English synonyms you listed do not exist in a vacuum.  Words like "in fact" or "actually" steer the argument in a new direction from what was previously thought. When you say "further clarify" or "elucidate", it negates the singularity of what was previously expressed. In other words it creates *inequality* between comparisons, especially seen in the verse you listed 7:179. The comparison to cattle is rejected because it is not suitable for the disbelievers. A more appropriate, superior description is then used. This is why pairing whole, entire sentences in context is more helpful than listing English synonyms absent of context in my humble opinion.

Even then, the cattle example of 7:179 doesn't match because it already has a negative connotation attached to it. Whereas Lut a.s. poses a question to determine if they are actually doing this "besides women" in a neutral manner. Then he mentions they are "transgressing" or "exceeding" past the realm of homosexuality. Take the comparison of rape and adultery. Both can be done out of wedlock. But are they the same? Rape goes beyond the realm of adultery. Many Muslims nations fail to realize this which is why rape victims are also unlawfully punished. Lut a.s. also clarifies that in 26:166 when he mentioned abandoning the spouse to clarify that their gang-rape cannot be called adultery. Adultery however is explicitly listed as a sin, and has a halal alternative (marriage) for an outlet. Homosexuality has not been listed as a general sin outside of the story of Lut a.s.

As for Brother Joseph's take, Lut a.s. does not know his guests are angels, ready to destroy the town. He finds that out only *after* his last stand to stop the mob (after the daughters are mentioned). Also, the fact they he sacrifices his few daughters to multiple men in a mob (?) does not fit at all with the character of a Prophet, nor does it logistically seem feasible as polyandry seems far fetched. All of these points are addressed in the original link I shared. Definitely worth a read!

General Discussions / Re: Lut a.s. claifies homosexuality was NOT the sin.
« on: December 17, 2020, 03:24:04 AM »
Might I also add that many people also falsely think that Lut a.s. is offering up his daughters for marriage as a heterosexual alternative.

However, that would violate Quran in two places:

1. “…and give not your daughters/women in marriage to idolaters…” (Qur’an 2:221)

2. Also: “Let no man guilty of adultery or fornication marry but a woman similarly guilty…” (Qur’an 24:3) His daughters were not similarly guilty.

General Discussions / Lut a.s. claifies homosexuality was NOT the sin.
« on: December 13, 2020, 12:20:58 PM »
Salam alaikum dear QM Forum readers,

In the dialog of Prophet Lut a.s., the Arabic word بل "bal" is used to clarify that homosexuality was not the sin of his people. "Bal" is a retractive particle of digression; traditional scholars have glossed over it when interpreting the three pairs of verses (26:165-166), (27:54-55) and (7:80-81),which are included as solid proof that homosexuality is a sin. The role of this word is extremely crucial and its significance cannot be understated in those three pairs, and throughout the Quran in other verses beyond Prophet Lut (a.s).

Edward Lane defines بل "bal" as a particle of digression in great length. We see it is used in the Quran for pairs of opposing verses, or a verse with two opposing thoughts, to negate or amend the preceding misconception or false idea presented in the first part, and then correcting it in the second part. The Book is replete with numerous examples that follow this basic structure:

1) The first part features a misconception, or an incorrect thought, or idea.
2) It is then followed with a contrasting statement, affirmed by بل "bal", which disavows and amends the preceding erroneous idea.

The dictionaries of Penrise, Omar, Wright, Wehr, Wortabet, Haywood, Steingass, and the Al-Mawrid also describe this word or defines it the same way. Here are some examples in the Quran outside of Lut a.s.:

"they say, "You, [O Muhammad], are but an inventor [of lies]." But (Arabic: بل bal) most of them do not know.  Sahih International 16:101 (part)"

"Or do they say, "In him is madness?" Rather (Arabic: بل  bal), he brought them the truth, but most of them, to the truth, are averse". Sahih International (23:70)

بل "bal" is used here to negate the preceding idea by saying the disbelieving accusers are not aware of the truth, rectifying the false notion of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ being a liar. “But on the contrary” is the English phrase that best encompasses the meaning of the word "bal. Now for Prophet Lut a.s.:

Sahih International: And [mention] Lot, when he said to his people, "Do you commit immorality while you are seeing?

The misconception is paired with ↓↓ clarification.
Sahih International: Do you indeed approach men with desire instead of women? Rather, (Arabic: bal) you are a people behaving ignorantly.

This is done in all verses where Lut a.s. clarifies that "approaching men besides women is not their sin". He has to clarify this due to the optics of the situation. It is only in 29:29 that Lut a.s. clarifies what his people are doing, and this time there is no retractive "bal":

Indeed, you approach men and obstruct the road and commit in your meetings [every] evil." And the answer of his people was not but they said, "Bring us the punishment of Allah , if you should be of the truthful."

The acts being described here are sequential and associated with each other as a larger collective crime, and not totally isolated actions that are separated by time or intent. It becomes clear that his people ambush the traveling males, which would in fact quite literally interrupt the path they travel on, and subjugation would have to be done in large numbers (a gathering of the town) to project superior force required to dominate. These are being carried out in quick succession. This is orchestrated gang rape. To compare this to homosexuality would be extremely crude and reductive (like comparing rape to adultery), which is why Lut a.s. negates the notion with "bal".

The complete PDF (in rough draft form) detailing this argument can be found here:

General Discussions / Re: "Violent" Verse?
« on: March 04, 2016, 01:10:37 PM »
Salam alaikum Mia,

This is just me taking a stab at it, I'm not completely sure. It seems that this verse is saying taking of war captives is only permissble if you're in a situation where you have to in other words, a conflict. A defensive conflict where you have no choice. You can't just go out and get yourself some captives, because you want yourself some "commodities" (sell some slaves?), so don't go invading people so you can be rich. Remember the hereafter. That's my best guess. Not sure what the context is because I havent read the whole chapter or surrounding verses.

 By the way I am in no way an Arabic language expert, but my basic knowledge in Islam tells me that the Sahih International translation is absolutely atrocious. We can't transgress bounds, nor harm a people that never harmed us, so "infllicting a massacre" is a very terrible choice of words that violates other parts of the Quran. Not sure about the free-minds one though.

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