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Offline Peaceful

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Re: Original Sanctuary, Masjid al-Haram and the Qibla Change
« Reply #60 on: January 20, 2013, 04:54:39 PM »
Dear Joseph,

Using all 5 points I referred to, and the fact that this City was Um-Ul-Qura, it must have been recognized by other nations and the jewel of Arabia. Modern Mecca was never mentioned in any pre-islamic literature, nor was it's geographic location referred to by the early Greek and Roman historians. They went up and down the Hejaz coast, wrote about hundreds of Arab tribes and cities, but Mecca(nor it's location) was never given any importance/notation. How could it then possibly be the Um-Ul-Qura? Yathrib, on the other hand, has been mentioned since the first century(which was supposedly LESS important).   

In regards your bold points:
- All 3 cities had a vibrant past and were well documented.
- Al-Ula was occupied since at least up to the Abbasid Era. As for Petra, it had an earthquake soon after Islam's spread across Asia(Qaryatayn?). All document's stopped after this period(was after Quran).
-"Verily, Ṣafa and Marwah are among the symbols of Allāh."
The Ka'ba stands exactly between the two mountains. (These mountains are so small that they are included INSIDE the mosque) They are at the ends of the long walkway on the right side, where pilgrims can walk inside between the two rocks that are known today as Ṣafa and Marwa. This description fits Petra perfectly.

You are right to say they passed by those remnants. But, they should have been able to do this 'Day and Night.' This is physically impossible on camels with the modern Mecca, and Yathrib would be hard enough. The Hejaz has some of the world's toughest terrain(Desert, Volcanoes). The Quran tells us they had 2 covenants, which Allah changes to only the Ka'ba. Could this be Al-Ula and Petra? They are close enough and have biblical documentation.

Crone states: “Mecca was a barren place, and barren places do not make natural halts, and least of all when they are found at a short distance from famously green environments. Why should caravans have made a steep descent to the barren lands of  Mecca when they could have stopped at Ta’if?" Taif is well documented.

I said the Quraish are successors to these nations because each chronological story tells the Quraish to look around them and they can see the clear signs of Allah's wrath. It is the strongest argument the Quran makes, and compares with Sodom and Gomorrah.






Offline Wakas

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Re: Original Sanctuary, Masjid al-Haram and the Qibla Change
« Reply #61 on: January 20, 2013, 07:13:40 PM »
Dear Joseph,
w/salaam,

Thank you for the reply, it is very much appreciated. And I agree that we share many views in common, more so than where we differ.

I accept most of what you said, but I wish to clarify a few points:

You said, Re: 18:21:
Quote
Therefore, your appeal to something being incongruent with the Quran’s message is respectfully, non sequitur.
My statement was clearly referring to the traditional translations/tafsirs/view, wherein a majority of them see nothing wrong with building a shrine/building in someone's memory, and try to justify it. Please see the link I share in my article wherein you can read some traditional tafsirs/etc.

You said:
Quote
‘yattakhidhu’ simply means to take something which does not need to imply a pre-existing thing. It can imply taking something after it has been 'created'. For example, in the following verse, the intoxicants are a derivative product that is created afterwards which did not 'pre-exist'.

‘Wamin thamarati-nakhili wal-a’nabi tattakhiduna min’hu sakaran wariz’qan hasanan’ or loosely translated, “And from fruits (and) the date-palm and the grapes, you take intoxicants and a provision. (16:67).

The examples I gave of verb form 8 usage were all the ones I could find to do with some sort of building. I never analysed the non-building occurrences. Interestingly, on a provisional checking of all occurrences just now, I only found 16:67 as a reasonable candidate, out of 128. I find 16:67 interesting in the sense that it says "from/min it" implying a part/component of it.
Upon reading the occurrences I noted that the connotation of building/creating is not present. Perhaps in a handful of cases one could slot it in and make it work.

In any case, it is a FACT the vast majority of usage is to do with a pre-existing thing.

I said:
Thus, the evidence is weighted in favour of a pre-existing thing.
You said:
With respect, I find your conclusion non-sequitur, in at least what has been presented hitherto.

The "weight" of each side is simple to show: out of 128 occurrences how many occurrences show a newly created/built usage, and how many show a pre-existent thing usage?


Quote from: Joseph Islam
Dear brother Wakas, with respect, for me to even consider an alternative rendition of a well established word of a language, or any theological concept, I have to be absolutely, unambiguously and unequivocally convinced / certain that a problem exists in the first place. I am sure you will at least, appreciate this sentiment. This is long before I embark upon an intricate journey of surveying possible alternative meanings and theological positions.

Hence why I have, with respect sought direct input from you to show me where the problem even exists. I really would like to be convinced so that I may assess the matter for myself with sincerity. At the moment, I humbly find that there is no justification in conducting a study to survey possible alternative meanings as the difficulties you have with the verses you cite are based on your problematic assumptions which are not allowing you to reconcile the verses appropriately.

Let us be very clear, in this instance, you only tackled my comments on 18:21 and 2:187. These two verses are by no means the ones I found to be most problematic overall. This can be seen from the language I use in my articles. The more problematic ones were to do with "al masjid al haram", quote:

Quote
'The Sacred Mosque' fares most poorly in 17:1, 2:142-150, 2:217, 9:28, and relatively poorly in 2:196, 22:25, 9:19. Also, please note that traditional commentators (e.g. Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, Al-Jalalayn, Ibn Abbas) frequently switch their understanding of AMAH depending on verse, e.g. it can mean 'the sacred site/area of prostration' in 17:1, 'kaaba (cuboid)' in 2:144/2:149/2:150, 'the sanctuary / Mecca' in 2:196, 2:217, 22:25, 9:28. Usually, when one forces an incorrect understanding into AQ it will  result in inconsistency/variance/contradiction, see the important test of 4:82. If the problems discussed in this work can be answered then it recommended for those advocating such a view to put forth their answers.

However, if one were to disregard the mainstream traditional view, or modify it, then some of the above occurrences may not be so problematic. As you have shown with 18:21 and 2:187 - please note, your view on these two occurrences is NOT the mainstream traditional view, which is fine, but what I want to highlight is that they are different and the problems I highlight in my articles are helpful in one's Quran studies.

If/when you have time, feel free to consider the issues I raise with some of the "al masjid al haram" occurrences. I always appreciate your feedback.


With mutual respect and warm regards,
Wakas.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Original Sanctuary, Masjid al-Haram and the Qibla Change
« Reply #62 on: January 20, 2013, 07:21:12 PM »
Dear Peaceful,

May peace be with you.

Thanks once again for your comments.

With respect to your comment:

Quote
Modern Mecca was never mentioned in any pre-islamic literature, nor was it's geographic location referred to by the early Greek and Roman historians. They went up and down the Hejaz coast, wrote about hundreds of Arab tribes and cities, but Mecca(nor it's location) was never given any importance/notation. How could it then possibly be the Um-Ul-Qura?

With respect, your views seem to be influenced, informed and underpinned by selective critical scholarship in this area. I also assume this as you cited Patricia Crone. (Please do correct me if I am mistaken dear brother). With all humility and as a pretext to my contention, can I respectfully share that given my own humble efforts of ardent research and background work in this area, I am very familiar with the musings of certain areas of Western scholarship and in particular, Patricia Crone, whose assertions at times,  I still remain quite critical of. 

As I am sure you will appreciate, if we are going to posit certain areas of Western 'critical' scholarship as evidence, we should be willing to critique it (to ascertain credibility) and scrutinise the underlying assumptions that such scholars make. This is no different for traditional scholarship as it is for western scholarship.

In my humble view, they can at times be found to be quite presumptuous, arguments at times from silence / absence of evidence, swept with generalisations and despite being buried with supporting scholarly notes, the basis of their arguments can often be reliably contested. There are well known western scholars that still remain highly critical of scholars of the ilk you have cited.

As you have noted, this is why I have predominantly made my arguments from a 'Quranic perspective' and not like quite a few critical scholars do, from silence or a dearth of corroborating evidence.

I highly recommend reading pages 51-59 of Neil Robinson's scholarly book below which in my view, quite convincingly critiques some of the underlying assumptions that scholars such as Crone and Cook often make [1] . It is really worth a read. An external link to the whole book in PDF can be found below [2], but I highly recommend purchase of this book.

http://www.youquran.com/DISCOVERING-QURAN-Robinson.PDF


You shared:

Quote
All 3 cities had a vibrant past and were well documented.

As you have made an assertion appealing to extraneous sources, please can I kindly request that you direct me to any unequivocal supporting evidence / scholarly sources of evidence which categorically prove that either sites at Petra, Mad'ain Saleh or Al-Ula (all places I have visited for academic scrutiny in person [3],[4]), had a vibrant Islamic community at the time of Prophet Muhammad's life, ministry and immediately before.

With respect, to satisfy my humble enquiry, such evidence would be required to corroborate the Quranic need for an existing vibrant Arab community in established dwellings cradling the onset of the Prophetic ministry.

My own research through literary academic sources and on the ground does not yield to such an unequivocal conclusion.

You state:

Quote
The Ka'ba stands exactly between the two mountains. (These mountains are so small that they are included INSIDE the mosque) They are at the ends of the long walkway on the right side, where pilgrims can walk inside between the two rocks that are known today as Ṣafa and Marwa. This description fits Petra perfectly.

With respect, I do not follow your argument to the conclusion you have offered “This description fits Petra perfectly”. Please can you kindly clarify. Today the Kaaba does not sit in-between Safa and Marwa, but adjacent to it.

In the end of course, we can always agree to disagree as brethren in faith  :)

With utmost respect,

Your brother in faith,
Joseph.


REFERENCES:

[1] ROBINSON, N, Discovering the Quran, A Contemporary Approach to a Veiled Text, Second Edition, SCM Press, Part Three: Morphology, Structure and Coherence, 6: The Formal Elements of the ‘Early Meccan’ Surahs, 6.10 Messenger sections, Pages 51-59
[2] External Link: http://www.youquran.com/DISCOVERING-QURAN-Robinson.PDF, Accessed [20th January 2013]
Disclaimer - This is an external link in the public domain uploaded by someone unknown to me. Therefore, no copyright infringement is intended. I highly recommend the purchase of the book.
[3] PETRA, JORDON
http://quransmessage.com/travelogues/petra-jordan%20FM3.htm
[4] MADA'IN SALEH - THE QURANIC ZIYARAH (VISIT) OF PETRA'S SISTER SITE
http://quransmessage.com/travelogues/ziyarah%20FM3.htm

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

Offline Peaceful

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Re: Original Sanctuary, Masjid al-Haram and the Qibla Change
« Reply #63 on: January 21, 2013, 06:36:41 PM »
I understand your sentiments with P. Crone. From a Quranic perspective, I can only offer the following evidence:

1. Sūra 5:90
O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gamblingstone alters, and divining arrows are but defilement from the work of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful.

Gambling
-There are no records of Games of Chance recorded as being used in or around the modern city of Mecca. However, in Petra there are many ancient game boards carved in the rocks all around the city.
-At the Second Conference on Nabataean Studies held in Petra, Jordan, October 2002, Dr. Bilāl Khrīsat and Ṭalāl ’Akasheh presented a paper called Gaming Boards from the Nabataean Capital City of Petra: Documentation and Study.
-"Arrows that the Arabs used, and dice that the Persians and Romans used in gambling.” (The Meaning and Explanation of the Glorious Qur'ān, Volume 2, Muḥammad Saed ’Abdul-Raḥmān, MSA Publication Ltd., 2007 page 362)

Stone Alters
-Today, in Mecca there is no evidence of idols, neither idol bases nor inscriptions.
-There is, however, the bases of ancient idols and high-place altars on 2 mountains in Petra.

2. Pilgrimage (Hajj and Umrah)
Sura 2:158
Indeed, as-Safa and al-Marwah are among the symbols of Allah . So whoever makes Hajj to the House or performs 'umrah - there is no blame upon him for walking between them. And whoever volunteers good - then indeed, Allah is appreciative and Knowing.

-"Beside the tombs ...gather twice a year to eat a memorial meal. This twice yearly event is born out by a 2nd century AD Nabataean zodiac which portrays Allat, the female goddess of fertility among other Nabataean deities."

Doctor Avraham Negev of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey suggests that much of the Arab graffiti found throughout the Negev and southern Jordan was written by people on pilgrimage to Petra. In his detailed study he notes the variety of names that occur in Thamudic, Safaitic, and other early Arabian dialects. (Negev, 1991)

3. Churches
The Quran speaks of protecting Churches, Synagouges and Temples in the Area. Mecca has no evidence of any of these. The cities do have a Christian history.

Offline Joseph Islam

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Re: Original Sanctuary, Masjid al-Haram and the Qibla Change
« Reply #64 on: January 21, 2013, 08:32:21 PM »
Dear Peaceful,

May peace be with you.

I must thank you for your citation of supporting verses in request for Quranic evidence. I do sense we are now drawing to a respectful conclusion of our theological positions on this matter.

Not withstanding the many areas we potentially agree with as brethren in faith, may I therefore respectfully summarise our discussion to reach an agreeable understanding where we possibly differ on this particular matter.

I kindly asked for Quranic evidence. You respectfully shared verse 5:90 with the following elucidation:

Gambling
-There are no records of Games of Chance recorded as being used in or around the modern city of Mecca. However, in Petra there are many ancient game boards carved in the rocks all around the city.
-At the Second Conference on Nabataean Studies held in Petra, Jordan, October 2002, Dr. Bilāl Khrīsat and Ṭalāl ’Akasheh presented a paper called Gaming Boards from the Nabataean Capital City of Petra: Documentation and Study.
-"Arrows that the Arabs used, and dice that the Persians and Romans used in gambling.” (The Meaning and Explanation of the Glorious Qur'ān, Volume 2, Muḥammad Saed ’Abdul-Raḥmān, MSA Publication Ltd., 2007 page 362)

Stone Alters
-Today, in Mecca there is no evidence of idols, neither idol bases nor inscriptions.
-There is, however, the bases of ancient idols and high-place altars on 2 mountains in Petra.

I therefore understand that the main gist of your argument is asserting evidence for a position from silence. I respectfully would feel that this does not satisfy my request for unequivocal proof and I would question the validity of a position formed from 'argumentum a silentio'.

After all, for it simply may be plausible, that after the conquest of Makkah (48:1-3, 24, 27) and the establishment of the Holy sanctity of the locale, such evidence was intentionally removed from the main city of Makkah. After all, the Holy sanctuary and its locale was to become the centre of monotheistic activity for the new believing community.

One only has to see the modern day approach of those governing the Haram today and their oft eagerness to remove historical relics. Wider still, it is not unusual to see conquering people to remove / deface former relics.

Therefore, I would have to humbly conclude that absence of evidence does not amount to evidence of absence.

This is also my contention with the approach of those critical scholars such as P. Crone that often argue from silence.


You further kindly cite verse 2:158 as evidence.

In my humble opinion, your citation of Dr. Negev's observation of Arab graffiti in Southern Jordan et al does not unequivocally preclude the assertion that today's Safa and Marwah in Makkah are not the same Safa and Marwah of the Quran. Once again, this is an argument from silence and a dearth of evidence could have many causes, a possible example of which was cited above.

It is also well known to the Quran that a contingent of the Arabs were also avid travellers. In my humble academic opinion, such evidence is circumstantial and inconclusive.


You kindly mention with regards Churches that:

The Quran speaks of protecting Churches, Synagouges and Temples in the Area. Mecca has no evidence of any of these. The cities do have a Christian history.

With respect, from an academic perspective, I feel that this is the strongest Quranic support you have cited hitherto. However, I would still feel that the gist of the argument still argues from ‘silence’. Lack of evidence of such oratories does not mean that these oratories did not once exist or were not later converted (even if not pulled down as per 22:40).

Furthermore, the Quran does not unequivocally claim that these cities had such oratories within them either. It is in the backdrop of a possible altercation and strife against a people that the Quran simply recalls conditions in the past where He has often (in the histories of a people) had to restrain the hands of those that intended to bring such oratories to ruin. It was a lesson to be learnt for the immediate audience and general wisdom to be extracted for posterity.

No particular people of a particular locale or time can be unequivocally derived from the general sentiment in the verse. This verse also does not imply that no such buildings will ever be destroyed or be converted. Many ancient mosques known today were once churches.

022:040
"...for had it not been for God to check some people by means of others, surely would have been demolished monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques..."


I also understand that given my request for evidence in the post above, that there may be no evidence to satisfy the following:

You shared:

Quote
All 3 cities had a vibrant past and were well documented.

As you have made an assertion appealing to extraneous sources, please can I kindly request that you direct me to any unequivocal supporting evidence / scholarly sources of evidence which categorically prove that either sites at Petra, Mad'ain Saleh or Al-Ula (all places I have visited for academic scrutiny in person [3],[4]), had a vibrant Islamic community at the time of Prophet Muhammad's life, ministry and immediately before.

With respect, to satisfy my humble enquiry, such evidence would be required to corroborate the Quranic need for an existing vibrant Arab community in established dwellings cradling the onset of the Prophetic ministry.

My own research through literary academic sources and on the ground does not yield to such an unequivocal conclusion.


Even though we may retain differences of an opinion on this particular matter, I trust that you will note my academic contentions with respect and take anything good from it as I will from yours.

As I feel we have exhausted our perspectives with mutual brotherly respect, please accept my post as conclusion of this discussion with you. I trust that you will concur.

Your brother in faith,
Joseph.

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

Offline Peaceful

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Re: Original Sanctuary, Masjid al-Haram and the Qibla Change
« Reply #65 on: January 21, 2013, 10:15:13 PM »
Yes, thank you for respectfully debating me on this issue.  :) I don't have any more supporting evidence for my claim, May God give us both more knowledge on this subject.