Divine Rule by the Valih-e-faqih – Is it Determinate in the Holy Qur'an or Indeterminate?
Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
March 23, 2015
This article exploring the question of whether or not Divine Rule by the jurist is Determinate in the Holy Qur'an, or is it an interpreted view based on its Indeterminates, is extracted from the larger case study begun in 2011: Why is the Holy Qur'an so easy to Hijack? Part-III. The article is a sequel to the exploration of the foundational question: What does the Holy Qur'an say about Taqlid - Blind Following the Non-Infallible?. This topic, which is a subset of the much larger topic of “wilayah” in the Holy Qur'an, as esoteric as it may first appear, is not a mere theoretical matter for torturing seminary students and keeping aging scholars in employment over them. Its import to current affairs and to the “manufactured” rise of “revolutionary Islam” is foundational. Today the latter is fast becoming part of the tortuous Hegelian Dialectic trifecta: “militant islam” vs “moderate islam” vs “revolutionary islam”, game-theorized to pragmatically manufacture “revolutionary times” worldwide by drawing upon Muslims' first and second capital, the religion of Islam, and the Muslim blood, respectively. See The Rise of Revolutionary Islam in Pakistan – A Report on Behavior Control. Most Muslims are of course just patiently Waiting for Allah. Those who refuse to wait out their blood loss in silence are invited to come under the protection of the valih-e-faqih. Is there a Divine mandate for Absolute Rule given to the jurist? For the definition of Determinate and Indeterminate, see Why is the Holy Qur'an so easy to Hijack? Part-II. Reference to Mr. Spock in the article to denote the logic mind is also explained therein.
A non hagiographic examination of the conception of vilayat-i faqih in both Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini's book: “Islam and Revolution” (translated by Hamid Algar, 1981), and how it has been enacted in post Revolutionary Iran, reveals that it is little different in terms of absolutist governance than what it replaced: both autocratic rules by those who ascribe to themselves the divine right of kings to rule and consequently, absolutely intolerant of dissenting ideology and dissenting politics. Both demonized their respective antagonists at home (never mind abroad) with the absolute righteousness of divine authority. Both asserting with unsurpassed oratory, and with the power of the state backing their oration, that the chosen elite, respectively themselves, is more entitled to govern the public than the public itself. And that, like the king's rule, the valih-e-faqih's rule too is absolute, with no limits, and no checks and balances, so long as he rules “justly”. The valih-e-faqih defines what is just and what isn't in all matters, including political matters of the state, as the imam (leader), and in theory can only be replaced if he leaves the bounds of Islamic Sharia. The absolute rule by the valih-e-faqih as the representative of the “hidden Imam”, is deemed by the jurist to be an obligatory religious duty as an integral part of the concept of “wilayah”, Divine Rule, prescribed by the religion of Islam for ruling the Islamic state.
Meaning, the Islamic state must be ruled by the jurist, and it is incumbent upon the jurist to create the Islamic state for Muslims and to rule it with absolute authority demanding absolute obedience just as the Prophet of Islam and his designated successor ruled with absolute authority.
In a 6 January 1988 letter to Iran's president and Friday prayer leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei on Determining the limitations of the authority of the Islamic government under the valih-e-faqih's rule, Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini addressing the president of Iran as “Hojjat al-Islam Mr. Khamenei” (and not as “Ayatollah Khamenei” as he is presently saluted and unquestioningly followed as the “marja taqlid”), and while paying elegant lip-service to accepting criticism as a “divine gift” in these pious words: “And of course we should not assume that whatever we say and do, no one has the right to criticize. Criticism, even condemnation, is a divine gift for the growth of humans.”, unequivocally asserted the principle of boundarylessness of “Absolute Divine Rule” vested in the ruler of the Islamic state:
“I must state that governance, which is a branch of the Absolute Rule of the Prophet (PBUH), is one of the primary laws of Islam; and it takes precedence over all secondary Laws, even prayer and fasting and the hajj pilgrimage. The ruler can destroy a mosque or a house that sits in the route for a road, and avoid the money to the owner. The ruler can shut down mosques in times of necessity; and destroy a mosque belonging to pretenders [zerar], if a resolution is not possible without destruction. The government may unilaterally void Sharia-based contracts that it itself has made with the people in situations where that contract is contrary to the good of the nation and Islam. And it can prevent any action – be it devotional or not – that is contrary to the interests of Islam - as long as it continues to be so. The government can temporarily prevent the hajj pilgrimage – which is one of the most important divine practices – in situations where it deems it to be contrary to the interests of the Islamic country.” --- Translation via the Iran Data Portal at Princeton University, http://tinyurl.com/khomeini-letter-govlimits-1988 (link to Original Persian Text)
While one cannot vouch for the accuracy of this translation as it is the habit of orientalists to deliberately mistranslate and misrepresent the Iranian leadership, it is presumed to be accurate enough for the purpose of this analysis as it is consistent with the ideas put forth in “Islam and Revolution”.
All the afore-stated determinations by Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini underline the principle of Absolute Rule being the purview of the valih-e-faqih. And evidently, it is made noble and legitimate because these absolute determinations are in the name of Islam as “divine guidance”. It begs the obvious question to the discerning mind of Mr. Spock, that how is that absoluteness qualitatively any different from the divine king's self-ascribed right to absolute rule, absolute powers, absolute opinions, absolute directives, and absolute wisdom as the vicegerent of his gods on earth? The king does it to preserve his monarchy and makes recourse to his god as having received a mandate. The valih-e-faqih does the same thing to preserve his rule by making arguable reference to mandate given to him by his God. Both employ the same means: absolute control of the public mind, and absolute control of the state, both demanding absolute obedience from the people. Absolute Rule is evidently more endearing to the philosopher jurist of Islam if it is in his God's name. Why is it philosophically, even if one ignores any self-interest – meaning, even if the valih-e-faqih is obviously making a case for acquiring state power of which he and his jurist class are the prima facie beneficiary.
Harken back to Plato and the “philosopher-king”. It is the primary axiom upon which valih-e-faqih is principally based – that the religious philosopher is closer to God than all the rest of mankind, and hence closest to truth and justice than all the rest of mankind, and consequently better able to (or more entitled to) govern the republic and its masses with truth and justice than anyone else among mankind!
Upon that priceless axiom which remains conveniently hidden in the prolific arguments made to dignify vilayat-i faqih, the verses of “wilayah” in the Holy Qur'an, namely those verses speaking of “wasilah”, “Imam”, and “obedience”, are interpreted by the jurist as being exemplary of Divine Rule set forth in the leadership of the Prophet of Islam as the first head of the Islamic state in Medina, and in the short tenure of Imam Ali, the fourth Caliph, as the only legitimate Divinely appointed successor head of the Islamic state after the Prophet's death. Because they are both exemplars of the Holy Qur'an and the system of governance espoused in the religion of Islam for all times, and not just for their own time, so argues the valih-e-faqih, how is the Divine Rule to continue in other times?
Specifically, under the Shia theology, during the absence of the “hidden Imam”? The earth cannot be deprived of Divine Rule argues the brilliant faqih, otherwise tyrants will rule by enslaving the masses, and God's Guidance to mankind will remain un implemented, constricted, “mahjoor” (see Surah Al-Furqaan 25:30). The core argument is brilliantly laid out by Plato in The Republic to dignify the state rulership by the virtuous “philosopher-king”. The responsibility for implementing Islam's Divine Rule must consequently fall to those philosophers and virtuous scholars of Islam who know and understand Islam the best. Well, who else but the pious jurist!
Thus, Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini deemed his own clergy class the latter day “philosopher-king” ruling class since they presume to know Islam the best. Therefore, they are closest to God, closest to truth and justice, and consequently make the best executors of His Divine Rule. The most capable jurist among this tiny coterie able to stand up to tyrants and falsehoods, able to exercise political and temporal leadership, is the “philosopher-king”. Ahem, the valih-e-faqih!
And since the Prophet of Islam and his designated successor implemented that Divine Rule with Absolute Authority, since they demanded absolute obedience from the public as per the verse of obedience: “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you.” (Surah an-Nisaa' 4:59), so must the valih-e-faqih who is only the heir to the third entity in the verse of obedience, ( وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ ), the “valih-e-amr”, to whom absolute obedience is also commanded by the Author of the Holy Qur'an! The valih-e-faqih is only implementing God's prescription on his side, and the governed must implement their part and obey the valih-e-faqih in absolute terms.
Once the mantle of Absolute Rule is claimed by assertion, it inevitably leads to demanding absolute obedience as a self-evident matter, which further leads to the inevitable corollary that no one may even disagree with the valih-e-faqih once he has made up his mind just as no one may disagree with, or disobey, the Prophet of Islam once he has made up his mind as per verse 33:36 of Surah Al-Ahzaab. To disagree or to disobey the commandments of the exponents of Divine Rule is to be “on a clearly wrong Path”. To disobey the valih-e-faqih is to become a sinner! That is the foundational basis of the fatwas issued by the valih-e-faqih which define the halal and haram status not just in spiritual matters but also in political matters. “God”, from time immemorial, has always entered the political realm through his proxy service providers. It is irrelevant that they can produce no “certificate” from God in their own name. Just making the claim is sufficient because there are always followers. And especially because of the doctrine of “taqlid” already in place for centuries, the valih-e-faqih's mandate for Absolute Rule is made practical political reality.
The brilliance of the argument for Absolute Rule by the valih-e-faqih is without question. It is even posited by Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini as being self-evident.
However, to Mr. Spock's experienced mind always searching for unstated axioms and implicit presuppositions in “self-evident” arguments and proofs, the problem is glaring. Apart from the despotism that absolute rule demanding absolute obedience can take even the best of ordinary mortals to, the problem is also just as straightforward as it is glaring.
While the Author of the Holy Qur'an explicitly vouched for the Prophet of Islam in that unequivocal verse of obedience as an obligatory religious command on Muslims, and the Prophet may have veritably vouched for the sole father of the source of his prolific progeny, Imam Ali, as history books have recorded thus establishing a chain of explicit vouching that directly connects to the Author of the Holy Qur'an (even though that fact is not explicitly recorded in the Holy Qur'an and has thus become a source of partisan interpretation throughout the short history of Muslim dominance of the world by its despotic rulers vying to establish their Islamic legitimacy by employing the same clergy class to serve their own imperial interests), who vouched for Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini as the Divinely designated Imam sanctioned for Divine Rule?
On what Qur'anic basis did Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini apply the verse of obedience to himself to legitimize his own Absolute Rule as the “valih-e-amr”? As a most learned jurist and scholar of Islam, was the revolutionary imam who altered the destiny of an entire nation, unaware of the logic of verse 4:59 which imparts certain implicit characteristics of unerringness as already analyzed above? How can he claim to be the “valih-e-amr” of verse 4:59 with any more intellectual integrity and spiritual honesty than the House of Saud, or any of the other claimants to absolute rule and absolute obedience throughout the imperial history of despotic Muslim rulers?
Is the concept of Absolute Rule by valih-e-faqih demanding absolute obedience from the governed supported or even condoned in the Holy Qur'an? See the examination of taqlid.
In the case of Revolutionary Iran in 1979, the Iranian people evidently did not think it necessary to ask for such a “certificate” of Divine sanction from Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini. Just being against the Shah of Iran, against the absolute tyrant working for the imperialist United States of America, was sufficient certificate for ushering in everlasting absolute rule by the valih-e-faqih in God's name; a divine provenance even gloriously fulfilled with the triumphant return of Ayatollah (imam) Khomeini to Iran on February 1, 1979, warming the hearts of the Persian masses to the miraculous divine intervention.
The Iranian people agreed to accept their new rebel imam's absolute rule as the “valih-e-amr” designate of verse 4:59 in an unprecedented public referendum which remains unsurpassed as a willing choice exercised by a fed-up people to be eagerly ruled by their clergy class brought to political power on an Air France jet airliner flying through America's NATO controlled skies, instead of continuing to live under the suzerainty of the most tyrannical and narcissistic King of kings who had previously been brought to political power by America's CIA.
Enemy of my enemy is my friend indeed, and more so when he claims an almost believable divine mandate for extracting absolute obedience from the masses consistent with the shared religious ethos of the people. The Catholic Pope and clergy draw on the same quality of shared ethos among the Catholic Christian flock to be accepted as their anointed spiritual leadership, and in not too distant a past, before the Reformation period tore their state powers asunder, also as their anointed political leadership. Shared ethos is a common denominator and without it, such a voluntary servitude of absolute obedience to the Popes of any religion cannot be implemented without brute force. This also means forcing valih-e-faqih upon non Shia Muslims who do not share that common ethos will only lead to more “revolutionary times”.
Revealingly, the public in post Revolutionary Iran, just like in America, comes out to vote periodically to elect from among its respective ruling class who will govern them under their pre-established structures of administrative power. These structures implement the sacred ideologies and pre-determined state polices crafted by the real power behind the scenes, the valih-e-faqih, making it quite irrelevant whom the public elects as president in the much touted elections no differently than it is in the United States of America where its oligarchy holds all the key controlling cards.
Irrespective of whether a public makes their political choice with their ballot, or a “choice” is foisted upon a public with the bullet, theology, or “democracy”, neither is “rule by kingdom” specified in the Holy Qur'an, nor is “rule by clergy” specified in the Holy Qur'an, and nor is “rule by parliament”, or “rule by Western power puppets and fabricated enemies of any flavor specified in the Holy Qur'an.
There is no method of governance commanded, specified, or even outlined in the Holy Qur'an, at least not any that Mr. Spock has been able to discover in its Determinate verses, except the platitudinous guidance to build a righteous and just society in which no one takes unfair advantage of another, and where people do not suffer tyrants, false gods, and exploitation. Mr. Spock notes that the key characteristics of a noble governance system for a just Islamic society are outlined as basic principles only, such as in waging wars to not transgress limits, to protect the weak and the infirm, to manage state treasury for public good instead of private gain, to abstain from usury, etc., whereas other matters like its inheritance laws, moral code of conduct, rights and responsibilities of parents, individuals, social and business interactions, marriage rules, are spelled out in minute detail. Corollaries and theorems are easily derived from these basic principles which form the basis of what's come to be known as Islamic Sharia. However, the implementation structures of governance, the form and shape of government, the method of government, is left unspecified in the religion of Islam.
It is of course self-evident that the learned intellectuals and scholars of Islam must have a leading role in crafting any just society that is based on the singular scripture of Islam, the Holy Qur'an, just as it is for any system whose intellectuals and scholars play important roles in defining their system. Scholars and intellectuals are the bedrock of any enlightened society that draws its foundation from intellectual and spiritual capital. Plato would of course have them be the rulers. But the Holy Qur'an has left it unspecified. Unarguably, the matter is left Indeterminate like many other matters. Ostensibly, one may reasonably surmise, so that the core principles of Divine Guidance remain timeless and people of all levels of talent and expertise in every epoch are able to implement these principles according to their own requirements and social genius. To therefore speciously assert that the religion of Islam has given a specific Divine mandate to rule solely to a particular class of people, namely to the faqih, is to mislead the public mind. Yes the capable faqih is just as entitled to rule, and to provide intellectual and spiritual capital, as any other capable person of his time.
The example of King David, Prophet Daud, an ordinary sheep herder who came to lead his people as their Imam because of his unmatched bravery in taking down “Jalut”, illustrates the point. Daud became the ruler of his nation as vouched in the Holy Qur'an, as a king no less, but he was hardly a theologian, or even an intellectual by his profession. He was surely very intelligent to have hit his enemy at his weakest point, and he ruled justly and with courage. Those qualities evidently were his qualifications to be anointed King of the Jews. This is quite contrary to Plato's philosopher-king and it is the Holy Qur'an that is making that assertion by retelling the story of Prophet Daud. As in all Qur'anic stories and parables, there is wisdom that is being conveyed.
The form of government is immaterial in the religion of Islam which lays a great deal of emphasis in its many verses on veritable principles as Divine Guidance to mankind. It is silent on what form the government should take, or who should become the rulers in future times.
The Holy Qur'an instead affirms the lovely beatitudinous (beatitude: supreme blessedness; exalted happiness) promise:
“And We desired to bestow a favor upon those who were deemed weak in the land, and to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs,” (Surah Al-Qasas 28:5)
وَنُرِيدُ أَن نَّمُنَّ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسْتُضْعِفُوا۟ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَنَجْعَلَهُمْ أَئِمَّةً وَنَجْعَلَهُمُ ٱلْوَٰرِثِينَ
“Allah has decreed: "It is I and My messengers who must prevail": For Allah is One full of strength, able to enforce His Will.” (Surah Al-Mujaadila 58:21)
كَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا۠ وَرُسُلِىٓ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَوِىٌّ عَزِيزٌ
Before this We wrote in the Psalms, after the Message (given to Moses): "My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth." (Surah Al-Anbiyaa 21:105)
وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِى ٱلزَّبُورِ مِنۢ بَعْدِ ٱلذِّكْرِ أَنَّ ٱلْأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِىَ ٱلصَّٰلِحُونَ
Caption The Holy Qur'an's equivalent of the Biblical Beatitude: “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 Holy Bible KJV). Is the Holy Qur'an proclaiming Divine Rule as the natural culmination of Islam? Or, are these verses proclaiming that the ordinary human beings among mankind will eventually prevail; they shall eventually establish justice among mankind and reach the highest station of creation in accordance with Divine Teachings that have been revealed to mankind by messengers and prophets throughout the ages? The twain are not the same propositions semantically – obviously – despite the pious pulpits insistence upon the former interpretation of these verses! If Divine Rule is to be implemented by God's own appointed Imams, it is a tacit admission of failure of Islam to transform man upon his own volition! Only a foolish human author would set his own guidance system up for such an abject failure by predicating that no matter what man will do, mankind will still need divine intervention to reach Islam's culmination! Then what was the point of Islam? God could just as well have created the perfect man with Adam and Eve rather than the imperfect man who is destined to reach perfection by seeking Divine Guidance revealed in Islam's sacred scripture.
These verses are Indeterminates. Like verse 4:59, verse 28:5 “who were deemed weak in the land,” is unknown. Perhaps it can be similarly qualitatively reasoned from other verses of the Holy Qur'an, but without context which is not in the Holy Qur'an, it would remain metaphorical and strictly Indeterminate. It can just as easily be argued by all oppressed to apply to themselves to encourage themselves with hope to continue in their perseverance! And it can also be argued by Machiavelli to apply to the oppressed to foment manufactured revolutions. However, a closer analytical examination also reveals that for the promise: “to make them the Imams, and to make them the heirs,” these heirs must logically also share common characteristics with the Imams the Holy Qur'an has referenced elsewhere. For instance, in Surah Al-Baqara, 2:124, where the Author proclaims that He alone makes Imams by divine appointment: “He said: Surely I will make you an Imam of men. Ibrahim said: And of my offspring? My covenant does not include the unjust, said He.” When the Author makes Imams as per his covenant with Prophet Ibrahim, the word is used in a specific sense from its common meaning. The Arabic-English dictionary of the Holy Qur'an defines the common meaning of the word “Imam” thusly: “Leader; President; Any object that is followed, whether a human being or a book or a highway”. That common meaning of the word “Imam” for instance is in verse 17:71: “One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams”.
Therefore, in the specific sense of Imam appointed by the Author in the context of 2:124, as opposed to just any ordinary leader that has a following in the context of 17:71, obedience is made obligatory for those for whom they are Imams, and the entire discussion of وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ of verse 4:59 also carries over wherever and whenever obedience is made obligatory to any man by the Author. As already reasoned out in preceding sections, the Author cannot make obedience obligatory towards anyone who can make an error and not make a mockery of His Own divine Guidance System as the right path. Imam, obedience to the Imam, and inerrancy sort of go together as a package – in order for it to make any logical sense to demand obedience to a man and still remain on the path of divine guidance which is proclaimed to be error free, infallible.
Therefore, if the word “Imam” is used in verse 28:5 in that specific sense of 2:124, the verse is still only a Beatitude, an uplifting promise of some future time. The brilliant ability to harvest that theological concept for self-interest by the superman among both: the Shia pulpit to orchestrate “Imammate by proxy” to seed IRAN: The Crescent of Crisis as the birth of the uncompromising “Revolutionary Islam”, and among the hectoring hegemons to orchestrate the fiction of “Armageddon”, not withstanding. A contorted “doctrinal motivation” on two opposing sides for synthesizing the fear of “Clash of Civilizations” in order to continually lend credence to the threat of “End Times”. It enables manufacturing a brilliant Hegelian Dialectic which cannot be disputed by those caught in its web – as it is already written in the sacred books that more than half the world's population believes in. It promotes the fiction of the existence of a global existential threat, putting the entire world on perpetual crisis footing. [a]
And if the word “Imam” represents the common meaning of 17:71 as an ordinary leader, it is exactly akin to the Biblical Beatitude: “the meek shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 Holy Bible KJV). Once again no reason to obey the meek when they inherit the earth – for they could become the next tyrants as was amply witnessed in the French Revolution.
Even whether verse 28:5 is speaking of the Messenger's own contemporary epoch when Prophet Muhammad finally prevailed over his own oppressors of twenty three long years and conquered Mecca just before he died, or of some future time, is Indeterminate. As is verse 58:21 affirming: "It is I and My messengers who must prevail"; and verse 21:105 similarly affirming: "My servants, the righteous, shall inherit the earth". All remarkably akin to the aforementioned uplifting promise in the Biblical Beatitude, and all recipient of the preceding analysis in toto.
When will such bliss transpire on earth is of course an ageless open question. It has been the source of speculation and anticipation from time immemorial, and the principal argument for Divine Rule since the adoption of Christianity by the Roman Empire. As far as the Holy Qur'an is concerned, it is Indeterminate.
It is of course also extraordinarily utilitarian for any believer or their chief to claim that inheritance for oneself in any era – mostly to survive with hope and dignity through dark periods of tyranny – for who can challenge that presumption? No certificates are required!
Especially if one succeeds in acquiring state powers and engages a thousand scribes and orators to extol one's divine rights to that inheritance as the vilayat-i faqih. Since it is an Indeterminate, it can be posited any which way one wishes to dignify it, limited only by the fertility of one's imagination and foundation of one's eruditeness. It cannot be disproved from the Holy Qur'an because it is anchored as an Indeterminate! And it can certainly be proved to one's own audience by drawing upon one's own historical narratives that are collectively subscribed by the group. It is the empirical principle which seeds both group-think as well as diversity of thoughts and beliefs in mankind.
"That which is left you by Allah is best for you, if ye (but) believed! but I am not set over you to keep watch!" (Surah Hud, 11:86)
بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ ۚ وَمَآ أَنَا۠ عَلَيْكُم بِحَفِيظٍ
Say: "Each one (of us) is waiting: wait ye, therefore, and soon shall ye know who it is that is on the straight and even way, and who it is that has received Guidance." (Surah Ta-Ha, 20:135)
قُلْ كُلٌّ مُّتَرَبِّصٌ فَتَرَبَّصُوا۟ ۖ فَسَتَعْلَمُونَ مَنْ أَصْحَٰبُ ٱلصِّرَٰطِ ٱلسَّوِىِّ وَمَنِ ٱهْتَدَىٰ
Caption Is the Holy Qur'an proclaiming a Savior?
Verses 11:86 and 20:135 of the Holy Qur'an are intriguing examples of Indeterminates along the same lines of allegorical Beatitudes, but which directly fall on the Shia-Sunni sectarian divide on how these are understood by the Muslim mind. One must in fact go to sources outside the Holy Qur'an to even get an inkling of who or what (the people in the past believed) is being spoken of by the Author: بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ . These exemplary verses, and a few more like these, are esoterically proclaimed by some of these outside sources to be about Imam Mahdi – the Awaited Savior of humanity who will rule in End Times --- that entire eschatology itself being only in pages outside of the Holy Qur'an. Why are these verses not categorical rather than metaphorical if the knowledge of eschatology is of pertinence to every people in every epoch? Speculation upon these verses is rife with absurdities.
Whereas, the prima facie meaning of verse 11:86 refers to some object ( بَقِيَّتُ ), a nominative feminine noun, which can mean anything including persons or thing or guidance, that Allah leaves for “you” ( لَّكُمْ , both male and female) as a gift or benefit or mercy ( خَيْرٌ ).
Straightforwardly, to the ordinary non doctrinaire mind, بَقِيَّتُ can represent the Holy Qur'an itself, which Allah has left those who believe ( مُّؤْمِنِينَ ), as being best for them. Or it could mean the أُولِي الْأَمْرِ of verse 4:59. Which one, if either, is not further disambiguated. The remaining part of the verse indicates Allah is not going to shepherd the believers beyond what He has already left them – it is entirely up to the believers to run with the remnant of Allah, بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ , and: “Surely We have shown him the way: he may be thankful or unthankful.” (see verse 76:3 quoted above)
The remnant of Allah, بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ , in this verse is just a common noun, a symbol, a placeholder variable waiting to take on the instance of the object, or objects it represents, and not the object itself. Surely the Messenger of Allah must have explained what it means – but that explanation is not contained in the Holy Qur'an itself.
Therefore, verse 11:86 is prima facie allegorical, metaphorical, and not categorical; it is آيَاتٌ مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ and therefore Indeterminate. This verse, like all the other مُتَشَابِهَاتٌ , as a cynic would surely surmise, evidently exist only to sow confusion and discord among the Believers, perhaps to separate those who think ( أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ ) from those who do not: “and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding.” In addition, to stochastically seed diversity of beliefs based on socialization, tribe and nation that one is born into – which it has also always succeeded in doing, in every era. That observation is empirical.
Notice that the Sunnis and the Shias each fill in the variable according to their respective sacred books. The Sunni Muslims are not remiss if they think بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ might mean the Holy Qur'an, or the Caliphate; and the Shia Muslims are not remiss if they think it is the أُولِي الْأَمْرِ of verse 4:59. Since the latter today is the twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi, according to the dogma found in Shia Ithna Ashari books of history, that's how that variable is fixed by them accordingly. Whereas the Shia Ismaili Muslim aren't remiss if some among them might believe بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ represents their Hazir Imam, the Aga Khan. However, unless it can be logically adduced from the Determinates alone who or what is being referenced by the Author in Surah Hud 11:86, it is categorically an Indeterminate. The Determinate verses at times provide an unequivocal rejection criterion for exclusion, even when these verses are silent on the acceptance criterion for the Indeterminates. This feature of the Holy Qur'an has now been amply demonstrated in the examination of several concepts in this report, including the examination of the question of “taqlid” that follows.
Similarly, in the case of Surah Ta-Ha 20:135 where the Author commands, Say: "Each one (of us) is waiting: wait ye,", the object noun for “wait ye” is noticeably absent, making the verse also an Indeterminate even on first reading. However, whatever that “wait ye,” might be for, the verse avers that it will unequivocally permit clear adjudication when that wait eventually does expire: “soon shall ye know who it is that is on the straight and even way, and who it is that has received Guidance." Once again we are immediately besieged by more imponderables. What does “soon” mean? How soon is soon? Is that the final Day of judgment? Or is that the arrival of the day of fulfillment of the promise made in the Qur'anic Beatitudes quoted above? Is that perhaps also what بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ refers to, the fulfillment of the divine promise which is the remnant of Allah: “That which is left you by Allah is best for you”?
Thus, whichever way one examines it, بَقِيَّتُ ٱللَّهِ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ is at best a metaphor whose semantics, never mind hidden meaning, is known only to Allah, (and as per the alternate parsing of verse 3:7) and to “Ar-Rasikhoon-fil-ilm” ( الرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ ).
All these inquiry questions are clearly Indeterminate, each one leading to more questions than answers, and thus entirely speculative to ponder upon. It is for this reason that these verses have been speciously speculated upon throughout the ages – an occupation of idle minds who perhaps never had to pursue a day's honest labor to earn their keep in their lifetime of paid employment from public funds as glorified theologians and scribes. The only function they ended up serving is causing needless differentiation to arise among Muslims based purely on speculative hearsay and verbal reportage centuries downstream – the “he said she said” which became known as the hadith literature – leading the foolish public mind deeper and deeper into the sectarian quagmire. Integrated over time and space, this socialized ethos has become a permanent and virtually unshakable part of religious beliefs of virtually all Muslims, in all sects.
Today, the same public mind will obey in voluntary servitude in the name of “Islam”, kill and die in the name of “Islam”, the virtuous of course only for the sake of “jihad” in “sacred defence”, in “truth”, in “justice”, and the “Islamic way” under the demand of absolute obedience to authority on matters entirely Indeterminate and drawn from pages outside of the Holy Qur'an. If its Author wanted the people in future times to know any matter of religion of Islam not already covered in the Holy Qur'an, He would have clearly stated it categorically in the foundational verses and made it clearly Determinate, Mr. Spock sensibly surmises, so that all peoples in all times would understand it straightforwardly without juristic (mis)interpretation and chance of being misled by what is erringly human, the pen of fallible man. The Holy Qur'an unequivocally prescribes the accumulating fortunes of such imams in Surah An-Nahl:
Let them bear, on the Day of Judgment, their own burdens in full, and also (something) of the burdens of those without knowledge, whom they misled. Alas, how grievous the burdens they will bear! (Surah An-Nahl 16:25)
لِيَحْمِلُوٓا۟ أَوْزَارَهُمْ كَامِلَةً يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَٰمَةِ ۙ وَمِنْ أَوْزَارِ ٱلَّذِينَ يُضِلُّونَهُم بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ ۗ أَلَا سَآءَ مَا يَزِرُونَ
To conclude this mini thread on the examination of Qur'anic Beatitudes and appeal to divinely sanctioned rule in its many different formulations, we can now appreciate that there are layers of meaning to these metaphorical verses not resolved by the Determinates, and hence are Indeterminate. And unless these do become resolved by Determinates, either by acquiring new understanding, or new knowledge that is discovered over time that makes comprehending the Indeterminates better, these categorically remain Indeterminate and open-ended! Perhaps the Messenger had explained their hidden meanings to his contemporaries. Those who believe they still retain these explanations accurately in their socialization context, can of course believe whatever they like – they are socialized into these beliefs anyway with little choice exercised by them.
However, the men and woman of understanding among them, ( أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ ), must also force their pulpits to publicly acknowledge to their own flock that their fixing of an Indeterminate is drawn from sources outside the pages of the Holy Qur'an, from their respective holy books and sectarian dogmas. If one is to stay within the pages of the Holy Qur'an, one is forced to leave these matters as the Author Himself counsels in verse 3:7, as metaphorical, and therefore, Indeterminate. Meaning, as unknowns, without feeling any inner compulsion to fix their meaning at all.
Observe that despite the arguable metaphorical allusions to divinely sanctioned rule in its Indeterminates, the Holy Qur'an does not categorically prescribe in its Determinate verses any kind of governance, never mind specify who must rule apart from أُولِي الْأَمْرِ of verse 4:59 previously analyzed, and which is itself left as an Indeterminate. It is arguably to transpire only in some unknown and unspecified epoch whence all the Qur'anic Beatitudes quoted above are finally realized: “It is I and My messengers who must prevail”. Thus far, that allegorical promise of both the Holy Bible and the Holy Qur'an have not been realized. We still live in a world of tyranny run by vile Hectoring Hegemons, now even more sophisticated than ever, employing diabolical instruments and philosophies to continually corral mankind from one misery to another under different Hegelian Dialectics. So who governs in the mean time? Sensibly, the people have to govern themselves! The Holy Qur'an has categorically prescribed its recipe that man must willingly stand up to these usurpers and exploiters of mankind among them (see http://tinyurl.com/Surah-Asr-Tafsir ). However, the Holy Qur'an has not prescribed in its Determinate verses what such governance must look like that stands up to tyranny, except for some desirable general characteristics of righteous collectivism which it categorically prescribes for realizing the good Islamic society that is the harbinger of justice for all mankind.
In fact, these Qur'anic platitudes are not that much different in principle from what Solon, the ancient Athenian law-giver, advocated for social responsibility. When asked which city he thought was well-governed, Solon said: “That city where those who have not been injured take up the cause of one who has, and prosecute the case as earnestly as if the wrong had been done to themselves.”
For that matter, even the United States Constitution and its famous American Bill of Rights are not inconsistent with the Holy Qur'an. There isn't anything in that manmade republican governance principle that is intrinsically in conflict with the Good Book. In fact, it can be cogently argued to be implementing some of the principles of Islam itself. Unlike others claiming the divine right to rule through 4:59, the American Constitution however does not claim itself to be divine – but Declares itself to be self-evident for the spelled out inalienable rights of the people.
It is a travesty that all these lofty platitudes on lovely parchment have been instrumented in society with the same inimical zest for justice and fairness as any other lovely words in any Sacred text from time immemorial, including the Ten Commandments, and the Holy Qur'an. This topic has been examined in depth in Islam and Knowledge vs. Socialization (see http://tinyurl.com/Islam-Socialization).
Rule in the name of divine went away during Christendom's reformation period. It was replaced by people choosing to govern themselves. Whereas, it has been the principal raison d'être of governance of all Muslim empires and Caliphates, including latter day Muslim oligarchic states. None of which is to be found in the Determinates of the Holy Qur'an itself; appeal is always made to its Indeterminates in every era to justify and sanction man's rule in the name of divine.
There is surely no name more abused for narrow self-interests than the name of Divine since the dawn of civilization. In the past it was to verse 4:59 that thirteen centuries of Muslim empires looked to justify their rule. In the contemporary present, the principle of vilayat-i faqih in the Islamic Republic of Iran has most imaginatively made that appeal inter alia to both 4:59 and 28:5, asserting that its clergy class are representatives of those inheritors of the promise made in 28:5, and therefore must be obeyed as per 4:59. The ubiquitous practice of “taqlid” (already examined above) helped secure that blind obedience to religious authority from the sheepish masses. While Iran today proudly boasts of being the only Eastern nation which disobediently stands up to the Western hegemons as the permanent enemy of the Great Satan, its majority public meekly bows their head in blind obedience to their popes in full conviction of eternal salvation.
One can see that the Indeterminates permit open interpretation – and that's the premeditated diversity engine of the religion of Islam. When diversity based on the Indeterminates does not sow discord, is in the spirit of Islam as categorically outlined by its Determinates, then it is theologically not deprecated in the religion of Islam as should be evident from all the preceding discussions. It is the sowing of discord by interpreting what is metaphorical and allegorical in the Holy Qur'an that is deprecated. If interpretation was in fact not expected by the Author despite His Counsel against it, arguably there'd be no Indeterminates in the Book which claims itself a Divine Guidance for all mankind. The ambiguity in its specification is prima facie evidence of its sophisticated and pragmatic engine to seed diversity because man, by the very nature of his construction (creation), will argue and dispute, be socialized and group-think: “If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute.” (Surah Al-Maeda 5:48). The Qur'anic guidance system endeavors to take man from that disputative warring state of nascent creation, to willingly rising to a stature in which he will come to excel the angels. Only the journey on the road of “fuss-tabi-qul-khairaat” ( فَاسْتَبِقُوا الْخَيْرَاتِ ), “so strive as in a race in all virtues”, can take a disputative, ethnocentric, tribalistic, nationalistic, and fiqhilistic people to the heights of that station. It is self-evident that part and parcel of striving “as in a race in all virtues” includes standing up to tyrants and creating social justice. All people are capable of doing that. What further Divine intervention is needed?
To even begin the process of transformation of coming together on the Determinates of the Holy Qur'an, since no Muslim sect is going to give up their emotional and theological attachments to their historical legacy any time soon, if ever, the realities of the matter and the dangers of fratricide facing Muslims, call for immediate co-existence of sects as they are. Arguably therefore, so long as the interpretations and fixing of the Indeterminates do not sow discord among Muslims as per verse 3:7, why should any particular fixing by one sect be deemed any more holier than any other sect's? All fixing make recourse to material outside the Holy Qur'an anyway --- whatever may be deemed to be its sacredness by the socialization in the respective sect. It is still not in the Holy Qur'an.
That is the singular recognition which must finally be truthfully admitted from every pulpit in order to form any kind of coherence among the disparate Muslim sects.
The abstractions Determinate and Indeterminate naturally permit such realization to first be articulated, and then percolated inwards, outwards, upwards, and downwards. A bold public admission of just this reality of the actual sources of their beliefs, driven from all Muslim pulpits, either voluntarily, or through state power according religious rights to Muslim sects, is the first step of coming together as one Muslim nation – without coercing anyone to change their emotional attachments to their respective heroes of history or come under the stewardship of any one sect's ideology.
Consequently, regardless of which Muslim sect or political group defines their nation's philosophical and national characteristics, if they employ the Determinate verse 5:48 of Surah Al-Maeda as the cornerstone of their state's constitution; if they espouse the fairness expressed in the Biblical Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you have others do unto you” and adopt the powerful corollary that naturally falls out of it as their force majeure to preempt exploitation: “no one shall take unfair advantage of another”; and make these worthy first principles of fairness the very foundation of their governance structure whereby all civil, political, and religious rights are accorded to its citizens irrespective of their own theological beliefs, with equality and without prejudice, both in theory and in practice, such a state would be sufficiently Islamic to legitimately call itself an “Islamic state” – even if it was entirely a secular state! It would be irrespective of the rest of its colorful artifacts, whether theologically drawn from the Indeterminates and therefore not something to be sown discord over as verse 3:7 clearly avers, or a separation of state and religion in terms of the philosophical outlook of the state itself! What does it matter to the ordinary man and woman what type of state it is if the state gives the public fairness, justice, is not exploitive, does not usurp, does not plunder, is not a vassal of foreign powers, and lends all its denizens the opportunity to believe and practice as a community what they each commonly hold sacred?
As one can immediately see, an almost infinite array of diverse governance systems are possible under that enlightened rubric – only limited by the creative energies of the people and their enlightened stewards. The stony silence of the Holy Qur'an on the governance structure, and its explicit categorical articulation of the general social principles to enact among Muslims in its Determinates, yields only this logical deduction, and no other!
This isn't a utopia. Many Muslims governments exist today – they can just as easily adopt the political recommendations noted above to eliminate fratricide and foster amity among Muslims in their own nations. That would of course only be possible if these states were themselves not part of this Machiavellian fratricide, state sponsored, both nationally and globally, as surrogate vassals of the hectoring hegemons.
Therefore, if any presumptuously “Islamic” state sheds the blood of Muslims in the name of Islam, sows discord, then it is clearly not an Islamic state by definition of the religion of Islam – but a tyrannical state no different than any other tyrannical state, Islam's lofty symbols proudly adorning its national flag notwithstanding.
What is perhaps of utmost most significance however, is the recognition that the Hectoring Hegemons not only perceptively understand these matters concerning the religion of Islam, they also understand the cracks, fissures, and lacunas among the Muslim sects, and how to both tickle these further, and how to harvest the subsequent fruits. They know how to invent new sects just as well as they know how to create revolutions by harnessing the indigenous discontent which they ab initio create in the first place.
As in recent past, internecine warfare is the unnatural destiny that has been planned for Muslims in the twenty-first century as well – and they had better wizen up before it is enacted on the scale which has been apportioned. To appreciate the urgency, and just how much of an existential necessity it is to immediately overcome sectarianism which continues to directly play into the hands of hectoring hegemons, see the excerpt from the political novel (or historical fiction) “Memoirs Of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy To The Middle East” ( http://tinyurl.com/excerpt-memoirs-of-mr-hempher ). It is sure to distress the naïve and the erudite mind alike to learn just how accurately the hectoring hegemons understand and exploit the cracks and lacunas among the two major sects of Islam comprising nearly 99 percent of the 1.6 to 2 billion Muslims on planet earth today.
Continue to the study of Taqlid: What does the Holy Qur'an say about Taqlid - Blind Following the Non-Infallible?
[a] David Ben-Gurion had lucidly explained the utility of crisis creation during the violent fabrication of the Jewish State in Palestine: “What is inconceivable in normal times is possible in revolutionary times; and if at this time the opportunity is missed and what is possible at such great hours is not carried out – a whole world is lost”. This diabolical political science principle was reiterated some three score years and ten later by Rahm Emanuel, American President Barack Obama's Jewish White House Chief of Staff (January 20, 2009 – October 1, 2010) whose father was part of the terrorist gang “Irgun” that had so successfully utilized the Ben-Gurion principle for the creation of Israel in Palestine: “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel's statement to the press, http://youtube.com/watch?v=tM5ZdO-IgEE (at time 1m 3s)
This article is extracted from the on-going case study that was begun in 2011, titled: Why is the Holy Qur'an so easy to Hijack?, to appear in the author's forthcoming 2015 Second Edition of the book: Hijacking The Holy Qur'an And Its Religion Islam - Muslims and Imperial Mobilization (see Preface of 2013 First Edition).
Articles in the series What does the Holy Qur'an Say
Arabic Qur'an recitation by Shaykh Mahmoud Khalil al-Husary, audio courtesy of Verse By Verse Quran, acquired 8/13/2011 from http://www.versebyversequran.com
Arabic verses courtesy of the open source Qur'an Tanzil Project, acquired 8/13/2011 from http://tanzil.net/download/
Most (not all) English translation of Qur'an verses are by Yusuf Ali, Shakir, and Pickthall, acquired 8/13/2011 from http://tanzil.net/trans/ (archived Yusufali, Shakir, Pickthall).
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First Published March 23, 2015 | Last Updated Tuesday, March 24, 2015 03:00 am 8586
What does the Holy Qur'an say about Vilayat-i Faqih? By Zahir Ebrahim 21/21