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Offline Reader Questions

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How Do Birds Do Salat?
« on: July 12, 2012, 08:35:40 AM »
Salam brother Joseph

A question has been asked on another forum, part of which I quote below. It is an argument against salat referring to ritual salat. Any views on this would be appreciated. Thank you for your time.

My understanding is that everything that acts according to their Allah given “programming” is doing salat; for human beings this means a conscious choice and involves following the guidance in the Quran in everything we do. Prove me wrong.

I repeat my SIMPLE question: How do birds do the ritualised namaz prayer if your meaning of salat is this?

For those who do the ritual namaz, here is the one verse in multiple versions{!!!} that I have had only a single response to [and that said we do not know how the birds do salat so we should not comment!!!!].

24:41 Alam tara anna Allaha yusabbihu lahu man fee alssamawati waal-ardi waalttayru saffatin kullun qad AAalima salatahu watasbeehahu waAllahu AAaleemun bima yafAAaloona

24:41 [RK] Do you not realize that everyone in the heavens and the earth glorifies GOD, even the birds as they fly in a column? Each knows its prayer and its glorification. GOD is fully aware of everything they do.

24:41 [YA] Seest thou not that it is God Whose praises all beings in the heavens and on earth do celebrate, and the birds (of the air) with wings outspread? Each one knows its own (mode of) prayer and praise. And God knows well all that they do.

24:41 [MMP] Hast thou not seen that Allah, He it is Whom all who are in the heavens and the earth praise, and the birds in their flight ? Of each He knoweth verily the worship and the praise; and Allah is Aware of what they do.

24:41 [MA] ART THOU NOT aware that it is God whose limitless glory all [creatures] that are in the heavens and on earth extol, even the birds as they spread out their wings? [C62] Each [of them] knows indeed how to pray unto Him and to glorify Him; and God has full knowledge of all that they do:

24:41 (S) Do you not see that Allah is He Whom do glorify all those who are in the heavens and the earth, and the (very) birds with expanded wings? He knows the prayer of each one and its glorification, and Allah is Cognizant of what they do.

24:41 (GAP) (Despite the availability of this light which illuminates the world, man alone is wasting his life in the deepest depths of darkness. This is not the case with other things in the universe.) If you ponder it seriously, you will conclude that everything that exists in the universe is very seriously and fervently active, throughout the day and night, performing its destined functions. (Just see the birds which with their wings outspread fly thousands of miles across the sky to reach their destination, doing so without any outside guidance or sign post. They never get lost because) Everything in the universe knows its destined functions (Salat) and also knows how to perform it (Tasbeeh).

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: How Do Birds Do Salat?
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2012, 08:50:09 AM »
Salamun Alaikum,

With respect, the question inherently makes the following false assumptions.

(1) The salat for human beings has to have the same form for different living creatures.

This assumption is patently false in light of the Quran as God clearly says that His creatures have a manner to glorify Him which we do not understand. This does not mean that they have no form of their own. Please remember this is a Quranic statement and not a personal interpretation.  "The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory: there is not a thing but celebrates His praise; And yet you understand not how they declare His glory! Verily He is Oft-Forbear, Most Forgiving!" (17:44). Both verses 17:44 and 24:41, should arguably be read together to gain a better understanding.

(2) The same salat for humans must be imposed on other creatures.

Again this assumption is false. The salat for humans is a specific salat which makes use of their psychological and physiological make-up in a manner that befits them. A different creature in the Universe may have a salat form which befits them. This does not mean we should try to understand another creature’s salat in the way we understand our own.

(3) One word must have exactly the same meaning in all contexts.

This is clearly false and any elucidation would be deemed unnecessary as many if not all languages have nuanced interpretations of some words at least in different contexts.

The premises above are highly contestable and in my humble opinion, patently false.  If the whole argument against salat as being a ritual is based on the above premise underlying the interpretation of verse 24:41, then the whole argumentation against ritual salat is highly dubious.

A small false assumption can wreak havoc on one's interpretation of the Quran. We must be careful not to assume the formula that if A is not equal to B, then it must be C. (especially when there are other viable alternatives). Please see 'fallacy of exhaustive hypothesis' also known as 'black and white thinking'.

Now it is up to the questioner to sincerely scrutinise the challenges above to the underlying assumptions and truly consider whether their premises have actually been faulty on which they have built up a false understanding of 'salat'.

I hope this helps, God willing.

'During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act' 
George Orwell