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Offline Reader Questions

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Verses and their Relevance Today
« on: May 10, 2013, 04:36:30 AM »
Question asked of Joseph Islam in response to a post on Facebook:

"I am having trouble believing that the ayats in the examples you listed ( from ayat 024:051 to 008:001) lost their relevance due to the death of the prophet...what are your thoughts about this - I am stuck here especially ayats 33:50 -58. Also if I may add and I heard it from somewhere else but it makes sense to me that every time in the Quran God says "Say" that is something Prophet said so if we follow what comes after it we are obeying him too." [1]


Offline Joseph Islam

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    • The Quran and its Message
Re: Verses and their Relevance Today
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2013, 04:48:49 AM »
May peace be with you.

The determination of context in which a verse(s) is narrated is imperative when interpreting the Quran.

For example, allowing for scrutiny of verse 24:51 that you kindly cite, one would question as to how a Prophet not alive today could possibly judge between believers scattered across the world in a modern setting, who are a product of their own sectarian milieu, cultures, social contexts, conditions, languages and time?

Therefore arguably, the relevance of 24:51 is primarily concerned with the audience contemporaneous with the Prophetic ministry.

The verse provided general appeal for the Prophetic contemporaries to refer matters of judgment to the Prophet. The prophet in turn would have applied the Quran's guidance to his particular circumstances to resolve their matters.

To insinuate from this verse that his judgments were final and binding on the rest of humanity and then preserved for all believers irrespective of time and circumstances would be respectfully, untenable from a Quran's perspective.

The Islamic secondary source corpus compiled by later fallible men often centuries removed from the Prophetic ministry, is not to be equated with a living, breathing 'Prophet' of God addressing his contemporaneous issues.

Similarly in verses 33:51-58 that you cite, there is context specific guidance for the Prophet's circumstances and general guidance for believers, irrespective of time.

You say:

"...every time in the Quran God says "Say" that is something Prophet said so if we follow what comes after it we are obeying him too..."

Yes indeed, but by proxy and by first appreciating the context of the narrative. The Quran is a guidance presented on multifaceted levels. I humbly feel it is important to appreciate that at first, the Quran had to convince the primary Arab audience of its Divine authenticity as it was they who had to become the message bearers for the rest of humanity (22:78). It had to first address their circumstances.

Therefore, there will be specific responses dealing with the conditions of the immediate Arabs and also general guidance for the rest of humanity both by inference and explicit reference.

At times, the Quran even deals with factions within the Arab audience. (intra-gruidance)

For example, please note below a specific narrative for the Children of Israel:   

002:091 (part)
"...Say: 'Why then did you kill the Prophets of God in former time, if you were believers?..."

This narrative would arguably have had little relevance for the new Muslims of Pagan Quraishi origin of the Prophet's time. However, this verse can still serve as an argument for the Children of Israel today as it did at the time it was revealed.

In contrast, the verse below is construed as general advice for all believers irrespective of time and place.

002:215 (part)
"...Say: 'Whatsoever good you expend is for parents and kinsmen and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer..."

Therefore, context is key to determine applicability.

There is a whole Surah in the Quran which arguably has no relevance to anyone today (106). Please see below.

"For the covenants (of security and safeguard enjoyed) by the Quraish (Arabic: Lilafi Qurayshin) , Their covenants (covering) journeys by winter and summer, Let them adore the Lord of this House, Who provides them with food against hunger, and with security against fear (of danger)"

I trust this addresses the gist of the sentiments presented in your post, God willing

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