30 May 2005


Adam and the issue of creation come up again and again. This time through the censored book of Shahin, abi Adam. Out of Eden is an article discussing the history of this issue. Mainly the history of the author, Abd al-sabur Shahin.

Back to the issue of Adam and the creation. Sidi al-Shadhuli always says that Adam was the first insan and he was the father of all, and the picture of all the material world. He was the first in the body and he is a part of the Light of Allah, but the father of Adam, and of everything, in the spirit, is Mohammad. Why Mohammad? Because he is the complete face of Allah and from his Existence came the complete world. The prophet said, 'there are thousands of worlds like the world of Adam, and everyone of them knows me, and I know them, and I am the Mercy of them all.'

Well, I don't really know. I have no clue whether this is right or wrong. Maybe just another super prophet image that we tend to create and stapple to our prophet to just give him more power and appeal. Why? Many reasons.

But apart from exaggeration and huge hue around our prophets, we have to admit there are mysteries in this world. There are tons of stuff we couldn't capture. We just accept it now because we couldn't find a solution or a logical explanation to it. Do we need to? I think so. I think we need to pierce through and attempt to unravel these mysteries. It won't be through the mind for sure, but maybe through the heart. Maybe through nothing. Through surrendering and through acceptance. But which surrender and which acceptance? Again... which which?

There is a surrender that stems out of fear, another out of peace, another out of arrogance.... Lots and lots of faces to the same state. Lots and lots of fakeness to the same perfect picture. I am the only one who can discover the true face of anything I am doing or not doing.


Blogger Mohamed said...

Very interesting irony about Abu Zeid and Shahine. There is a slight difference between Abu Zeid's and Shahine's case however. Abu Zeid was a University professor who was teaching his writings to students and grading them fail or pass, which is a bit different than publishing a book in a neutral manner, which can be freely refuted by equals (or betters).

5/30/2005 11:03:00 am  
Anonymous Alaa said...

except Abu Zeid never graded according to how his students agree with his opinions.

the guy is an honest ethical scholar, and the twisted manner by which he was persecuted is proof.

the Irony is rather too thick for my taste, same as the ikhwan asking for censorship of the net while being stiffled.

5/30/2005 11:42:00 am  
Blogger haal said...

what about Shahin? Can we open the door to the 're-reading' of the coran, old religion convictions and stories? For instance, can anyone re-read the story of Noah'ark, the 'tayr ababeel' of abrah's when attempting to destroying the ka'ba...... lots of things.

5/30/2005 12:08:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Beautiful (the update). But when we don't understand, and work on trying to understand --until we do, shall we not believe? just because it is a mystery that is beyond us at this time.

Surprised that you call al-Shadhuli "Sidi"!

5/30/2005 01:44:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

Define 'believe'? Can you call it 'accept'! DOnt know, maybe there is no difference and it is all words.

Sidi? I liked the name. Felt like an awe to the name. Remember the movie Omar al-Mukhtar, they called him 'Sidi', at that time I loved how it sounded especially with the lovely face of Umar al-Mukhtar, the beautiful verse of Al-rahman.....

But why are you surprised!

5/30/2005 01:57:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

I guess it could be knowing that something is there and something is true, even though you can't see it and have no material proof of it.

Surprised 'cause it doesn't sound like you, no? You're questioning the super image of prophets, and you call another human sidi?

5/30/2005 02:02:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

Interesting point actually! Thank you!

Could be 1) that I didnt think it was a super image label. Sidi, didn't sound anything to me more than an age respect name thing. Not my master as usually translated.
2) could be that I like the man and this is out of respect
3)could be that I dont fully understand what he is saying but yet decided to respect what I couldnt understand.
4)maybe that I do question the super image of the prophet but doesnt want to rip him off of his respect...

but would like to know what you think, Mohamed??

5/30/2005 02:15:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

could be.. i'll take any of them :)

For me, at one point of my life, I kept consciously practicing very hard to remove the word "Sayedna" before Muhammad (PBUH) in my tashahod.

5/30/2005 02:24:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

Really!! What is the picture you carry around this word? Why?

5/30/2005 02:36:00 pm  
Anonymous zoss said...

I haven't read shahine's book nor elbadri's interviews mentioned in amira's article, but unless she's biased, seems like all elbadri can come up with is name-calling; no serious arguments at all.. which is always an interesting sign. (I would love to get my hands on this book or any of the rose elyouseef articles, if anyone has a lead)..

5/30/2005 02:39:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Haal, I don't get what you mean by picture? you mean if I attach a certain picture to the word. I don't actually, no pictures. But I don't recall God elevating prophets (PBUAOT) to be masters of other humans whom they were delivering the divine message to.

5/30/2005 02:45:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

Zoss, what do you consider as 'serious' arguments and 'not so serious' ones?

5/30/2005 02:46:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

What I mean with picture, is what does the word mean to you. Everything around us has a true side and a picture side, and it is that we get captured in the picture that we forget the essence of the thing and its thing-ness..

But you still use (PBUAOT)...what is this? I only know, (pbuh)? If you cant remove the (pbuh) thing, how can you remove the sayidna.

I personally dont use sayidna in the tashahud, but mainly because I learnt it this way. Even listening to Hizb allah chant, 'allahu masaly 'alla muhammad....' didnt put the sayidna. What can a label add to the real essence. Like you say Allah, and not Sayidna Allah or somehting :)

5/30/2005 02:50:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

I made that PBUAOT up (peace be upon all of them!). If you notice when I usually talk about prophet Muhammad I don't necessarily use PBUH all the time. But I used it this time (twice) intentionally to show that I mean no disrespect arguing against the usage of "sayedna".

Do words' meanings differ to each person?! Sayedna and sidi have a known meaning, don't they?

I learnt the tashahud with the "sayedna" (unlike you), and it takes time and effort to change something you learnt when you were very young, so that's why it took me some conscious effort every time I said my tashahud. And I remember hearing some sheikh arguing against the "sayedna" in the tashahud too.

5/30/2005 03:26:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

So pbuaot, when I die will I be included with the (them). Or them for the messengers only?

Sidi is not particular like sayidna. Sidi umar al-mukhtar? a respect thing. Sayedna maybe the initiator or the leader of the tariqa mohamadiya ...Islam.

but why still do you want to not say Sayidna. Would u say Mohammed, or al-nabi mohammed, or what? Will you with removing the 'sayedna', remove all the images associated with him. would you not do his sunna, why would you follow the sunna of a man that you see him as ordinary and of no sayyid to you. Maybe his 'siyyad' is in the very fact of him being chosen by God?

What did you feel after removing the sayyidna from the tashahud? did you feel better? Why??

5/30/2005 03:40:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

When you die? :( I'll pray for you Haal.

Mind you, I never said that by removing the Sayedna he's an ordinary man. Actually, he is, "wa ma ana ella basharon methlakom", just very special.

Difference between sidi and sayedna. The way I see it, is that sidi is a one-to-one thing, while sayedna is a one-to-many. So calling someone sidi might be less stronger than sayedna. But still why do so. We have one master only, don't we?

Can you imagine how I felt when my sister's maid called me 'sidi' once. I felt terrible.

I didn't feel anything when I removed the Sayedna from tashahod. I was saying it without focusing on its meaning. I felt I was doing the right thing actually.

Ok, here's another twist. How about dala3 sidi, "si essayed"?

5/30/2005 03:55:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

So I am not included in the 'them' :( But thanks for the prayers.

So Mohammed is still 'special', so special ordinary person. humm.. maybe. well, he must be special and different to have been chosen and followed...otherwise, why him in particular.

I like this sidi, sayedna contemplation. Interesting. But this means that you are pro calling everyone by the name. Your right.

si essayed :) Cute. I wont mind it actually, ya si mohamed!

In fact, my mother was saying to me that her father never called her mother by her name infront of them. He would always use 'hanem', 'sit' after her name, and she would use similar titles...
I actually like these old people and their traditions.

Respect is awesome!

5/30/2005 04:10:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Yeah, I'm not a fan of titles. I am a fan of respect though, that's for sure.

Many sources can provide better info on the status of Prophet Muhammad. So I won't go further ba'a.

Very cute this 'hanem' title. I like it. Haal Hanem.

5/30/2005 04:25:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

Si al-oustaz Mohamed,
'Many sources can provide better info on the status of Prophet Muhammad.' Well, they will tell you how he was the best in every single thing. But we can stop here.

Haal Hanem

5/30/2005 04:32:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Not all of them Madame Haal Hanem.

Elsayed Mohamed.

(hmm.. even "elsayed" is questionable, isn't it?)

5/30/2005 04:36:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

Most of them will, ya si al-oustaz Mohamed

Mazmazeel Haal Hanem

5/30/2005 04:56:00 pm  
Anonymous zoss said...

Haal; In my opinion, a serious counter-argument is one that is relevant, one that is credible, and preferably one that is within the same 'magisterium' (to borrow stephen gould's term) as the original argument.

Does that answer your question, or did I miss your point?

5/30/2005 05:01:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

Zoss, yes, you missed my point. I was hoping you would know some insight regarding Shahin's argument and the story of Adam and how far can we reinterpret the old stories in the koran... or even the idea of Shahin re/ adam and his father and mother.... stuff like that.

5/30/2005 05:32:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Haal (Hanem), remember H. Amin's book (I guess you read it), he reinterpreted suret Abu Lahab, and he wasn't attacked for it (as far as I know). It just depends on who does the re-reading.

5/30/2005 05:41:00 pm  
Anonymous Haal said...

true. But in the chapter talking about cutting the hand of the theirf, when they tried to reinterpret the verse to meaning, 'finding new ways to stop people from stealing', he called 'fahmy' pasha names and was anti rereading the verses.

Could be that these are 'tashree' verses' but still the principal.

SO, arent u going to comment on cutting the hands of the theif.

5/30/2005 06:21:00 pm  
Anonymous Haal said...

i like hanem gedan. Will let them call me so :)

Ya si-l-affendi

5/30/2005 06:25:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

But he was attacked all over for that second book. What I hear is that at the end of the day, they respect the guy, and consider what he wrote not for public consumption!!

I guess in general, its not really about reinterpretation, its about thinking differently that's not allowed in our society (takes us back to the same old point). So what do you imagine it would be when it comes to religion. Maho they turned on one of them 7atta (AbdelSabour Shahine), eh.

(If you ask them to call you Hanem, you'll have to call them "yasyady".)

5/30/2005 06:46:00 pm  
Anonymous zoss said...

I had a feeling that I was missing your point, but I thought I'd stick to the literal meaning of ur question; call it semantics-phobia, if there's such a thing, I guess.

At any rate... unfortunately, this is the first I hear of shahine's book; so I don't really have any insight into his arguments, other than the ones amira presented. What I can say though is that I've been thinking about this topic for a long time, and I was always missing the term "solalah" (which is a great insight from shahine, I think) so this is an epiphany of sorts for me.. (should come with the choir and the white light..)

As for my personal feel; I've long argued that God has given us snapshots of the creation account, but it was never described in full detail. That is to say, there is room for conjectures and theories; them being philosophical or linguistic, or -indeed- in the realm of natural sciences. However, this insatiable curiosity comes with the ultimate humility in the recognition that they're all, after all, conjectures. God says in surat elkahf (18:51), what could be loosely translated as: (I have not made them witness the creation of the heavens and the earth, nor themselves ...); the operative word here being "witness" (ashhaddtohom), which could also be interpreted as "shown them" as in (maybe) with signs or teachings. To that effect, these efforts might always remain as conjectures, but even then I don't think they should be abandoned nor silenced.

I have deviated from my original intent to make this a quick comment, but I don't dare make it any longer, so forgive the holes in the logic if you find any, and maybe ask about more details if you care.

5/30/2005 06:49:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Interesting Zoss. So can I argue that the snapshots are to help us believe (get closer), yet if the snapshots become complete pictures we don't really become believers anymore (because the evidence is right there).

I'd personally like to hear more.

5/30/2005 07:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Haal said...

Zoss, very interesting. I second si-mohamed. I want more. It is actually better that you didnt read Shahin book so that you can freely reflect. I love what you wrote. Please elaborate on 'efforts might always remain as conjectures, but even then I don't think they should be abandoned nor silenced. '. very interesting.

5/30/2005 07:10:00 pm  
Anonymous zoss said...

Even though we might claim -with the utmost diligence- some form of congruence between our knowledge of the seen world and its reality, we shall try to avoid the pitfalls of assuming knowledge of the intended wisdom, except for maybe that which is made explicit by the divine. I feel this needs to be stressed always; if we are careful one fold with interpretation of the signs, we should be a hundred fold with extrapolating for the cause or the reason.

That being said, Mohamed; yes, maybe you have an argument; maybe in this instance you can invoke this more general argument about the essence of faith: the logic chain seems to be intentionally linked at some point via a belief in the unseen, the non-manifest -- guided by the verse (26:4), which would be loosely translated like (if We will, We would send down from the sky a sign, to which their necks would remain (stooped) in compliance). Again, is this the reason why we are only give snapshots? I highly doubt we can make any verifiable argument to that. We can also think of some other things that might be parallel conjectures to yours. For instance, and very breifly, maybe the essence of the creation is in the snapshots we are given; that is to say, the parts that have not been explicitly mentioned are somewhat less relevant. Or, maybe the idea is that some of these bits are being revealed on daily basis; verse (41:53) (We shall show them Our portents on the horizon and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth); remember 'show'? it has come up before. But, will some ultimately remain partially hidden?

(Haal; you wanted me to elaborate.)

This brings me to the heart of my argument, and I believe, to the heart of the philosophy of science in islam. It should come as no surprise to you that the motivation for science (natural science in particular) varies with the varying principles of the scientist, overlapping as they maybe. For example, Einstein is famously quoted as saying: "I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts; the rest are details." This might overlap quite a bit with what the average muslim philosopher of science would consider as the driving force behind science. Knowing God's creation; Knowing God. From this starting point, spew out all your wonderment and curiosity; these are tools to help you know. Are you going to be stopped by somebody telling you that there are limits to what you could know? even if you know that God, the All-Knowing, (provides whom he wills with no measure) (2:212)? Ah.. at this point, I cannot make any intelligible comments about the philosophy of science in islam that has not been dissected by scholars (like Seyyed Hossein Nasr in the past thirty-some years; e.g. here), but isa maybe soon.

I am not sure if this is obviously coherent with the previous post, or if it addresses yours, so if I've jumped any links, let me know.

Mohamed and Haal; thanks.

I have a comment about 'sayeedna', but I guess I will post separately.

5/31/2005 06:25:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Thank you Zoss.

Regarding knowing God, and if we should search into everything. There is a good example about how there are things about the qualities of God that cannot be questioned (and some argue must not be questioned since it adds no value, while might 'shake' the faith). The example is when God says "yabseto kaffayh" or "estawa 3ala el3arsh", people might start to imagine how God's "kaff" looks like, or how He can "yabsetoha" or how he can "yastawy 3ala el3arsh" or how His "3arsh" looks like, but these are all characteristics to be left mysterious and not to be looked further into, no?

I second you in always searching for the reasons, but never really being sure of them, or of the signs themselves for that matter. Isn't the Quran itself one of the great signs. Interesting that I was looking for the tafseer of the two of the aya's (26:4 and 41:53) you provided, and alTabary in both ayas says "ekhtalafa ahl elta'aweel", deliberately unclear by God I believe.

5/31/2005 07:32:00 pm  
Anonymous zoss said...

Mohamed; I have to disagree about the "example about how there are things about the qualities of God that cannot be questioned".

I feel you are using 'imagine' and 'question' interchangeably. I beg to differ; and, while this might be a marginal disagreement, I had to point it out to make the rest of this comment more sensible.

The meat of it is: I believe this matter is not mysterious at all; it has been affirmatively resolved with the utmost clarity in the quran: ليس كمثله شيء (Naught is as His likeness 42:11); i interpret: in essence, in attributes, and in actions. Naught is as His likeness. Whatever you can imagine, is naught. So, i say, if you believe this verse, then imagine away if you will, for there's plenty of room for your imagination. I could be wrong. what do you think?

On to a general comment: there is a subtle (nontheless, crucial) difference between the 'how' and the 'why' type questioning that might skip some. That was one of the things I tried to squeeze in my previous comment, but maybe not in so many words. If it was missed, I would suggest re-reading the previous comment; to highlight the difference, notice which of the two was used by Einstein.

5/31/2005 09:33:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

I think you're right Zoss. If I get you right, I totally agree, and that's my point. Some people try to imagine how God can "yastawy 3ala el3arsh" for example, but they can imagine all they want, it is naught. What some argue, is that we shouldn't imagine such things in the first place, as when one starts to imagine, then He becomes "kamethlehee sahy'a", that shay'a is your imagination, eh.

I think I might be using imagine and question interchangeably indeed. Sometimes I find them to be the same thing when it comes to this stuff.

The "how" vs. "why" did indeed skip me, and it is a very crucial difference indeed. Good to point it out.

5/31/2005 10:39:00 pm  
Blogger ألِف said...

Thank you very much, lady and gentlemen :-)
You amused me and inspired some good thoughts that I would love to try to explore more.

Three short notions:
_The title Sidi: this west Arabian title was absorbed into the Andalusian and later Christian Iberian folk. See El Cid

_I also was taught alTashahhud without 'sayidna'. Including a respect title before the prophet's name sounds more folk oriented to me. I wonder how many Egyptians were taught it.

_Your discussion of H. Amin's book and how it was regarded as not being for public consumption makes me think that a 'batiny' undercurrent exists in every religion, no matter how public and equivocal it may try to promote itself, like Sunni Islam.

I tend to respect AboZaid more than Shahin.

By the way, who is the H in H. Amin?

6/04/2005 05:16:00 pm  

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