What does the Holy Qur'an say about The Mahdi - The Awaited Savior of Mankind?

Letter to a fantastic young Muslim scholar in the United States
To: Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani anakhjavani@ hartsem.edu, info@ sayedammar.com
Faculty Associate/Imam Ali Chair for Shi’a Studies and Dialogue among Islamic Legal Schools
Hartford Seminary, Hartford, CT
From: Zahir Ebrahim, Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
Dated December 9, 2015 at 10:03 PM
Dear Dr. Sayed Ammar Nakshawani,
as-salamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh; I have had the immense pleasure of listening to your speeches on youtube in recent weeks. This letter inquires into the intellectual question of Mahdi in the Holy Qur'an. You took on this topic in a most holistic manner in your lecture titled: The Mahdi - World Religions - Ramadan 2015 - Sayed Ammar Nakshawani, link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE1y1lOtbx4

I have been interested in this topic for many years and have compiled my own research in this area but which has led me to a different conclusion on this topic: that this matter is manifestly Indeterminate in the Holy Qur'an. Before I delve into this inquiry, I would like to introduce this topic and also introduce myself in order to holistically define the context for this inquiry and hope that you will most generously engage me and benefit me in this inquiry.
This is a topic that spiritually interests every Muslim, and as you rightly pointed out in your lecture, all mankind. It is of particular interest to me from at least two axes: theology, and social engineering. The latter term simply means mass behavior control by any means to better control human beings, an exercise which has been on-going from time immemorial. The notion of Mahdi as it appears in World's religions is not divorced from some aspect of social engineering. Therefore, its examination directly in the Scriptures, specifically the Holy Qur'an which Muslims believe is the word of God, untampered by the hand or the mind of man, is most crucial. Meaning, its intellectual examination directly in the Scripture and not in its exegesis, hadith literature, and history. It is not just an academic interest, but rather of utmost existential import as well. While no Muslim scholarship entertains the idea of 'tahreef' in the Holy Qur'an for its pristine textual content, it is a sad tragedy of the religion of Islam that 'tahreef' has indeed transpired in the meaning and interpretation of the pristine text of the Holy Qur'an. Just the state of Muslims and the myriad sects and interpretations or schools of thought Muslims have become divided into, is self-evident evidence of the veracity of that statement. Therefore, we would like to separate from the mind of man, and the pen of man, and use the Word of God, so to speak, to understand the Mind of God. At least to the first order. That is only sensible, no?
I am not a scholar for your information, thanks God, and only a student, a most ordinary one at that. But also a peculiar student. I say thanks God for not being a scholar because the scholar as you know carries a mighty burden. Mightier the scholar, heavier the load. That burden is most aptly described in Surah An-Nahl verse 16:25 of the Holy Qur'an. I am a peculiar student I say because I am a student not of “ilm” per se, as in “talib-e-ilm” which is what is often understood from the word “student”, but a student of reality as in “talib-e-reality”, meaning, seeking to uncover reality, “haqeeqat”, the way it actually is, and not by way of socialization by birth or culture or civilization, or by perception management, or by whim and fancy of the uncontrollable immanent spaces in the philosopher's mind. Meaning, unlike Plato the philosopher seeking his immanent Forms or Shapes in his mighty imagination to understand and explain creation, a student such as myself seeks to discover and uncover what is, the way it actually is. This is the principal foundation for uncovering truth, and haq, which are themselves prerequisites for establishing justice. All obvious of course to those with any ma'rifat of reality. What is not often obvious though is that the self always stands in its way. That self is both cognitive, as well as subconscious and instinctual. I do not speak here of the soul which is of course part of the self in virtually every theology. I am mostly concerned with the intellect, and the empirical, and what is discoverable, and to what extent, using the mind which is itself under influence of forces that it neither easily perceives nor controls. That is why mankind has been given “aqal” - to reflect, and is called upon to come to the Holy Qur'an with a “cleansed heart”, i.e., without prejudices and agendas, preconceptions and presuppositions, and specifically without socialization and confirmation biases --- for each shall only find in the Scripture what one is looking for. We often don't use the “aqal” and the “cleansed heart” sufficiently, and in fact, we use it rarely, but continue to labor under the delusion of great thought and great spiritual enlightenment. We sometimes confuse memory and oratory, knighthood and academic or theological degrees, and at times the length of beard and style of imama and gown, with reflection and understanding. The mark of piety stamped upon one's forehead is directly equated with “those who know” or understand. The humble ones don't do it for themselves, but followers seeing these signs in their scholars often bow before their authority. The truth of these words leave no room for doubt, for the matter is self-evident. And Qur'anic verses 2:166-167 further proclaim and reaffirm that empirical truth.
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
(On the day) when those who were followed disown those who followed (them), and they behold the doom, and all their aims collapse with them.
إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُوا مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوا وَرَأَوُا الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الْأَسْبَابُ
And those who were but followers will say: If a return were possible for us, we would disown them even as they have disowned us. Thus will Allah show them their own deeds as anguish for them, and they will not emerge from the Fire.” (Surah Al-Baqara, 2:166-2:167)
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوا لَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَتَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُمْ كَمَا تَبَرَّءُوا مِنَّا ۗ كَذَٰلِكَ يُرِيهِمُ اللَّهُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ حَسَرَاتٍ عَلَيْهِمْ ۖ وَمَا هُمْ بِخَارِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ
Caption Verses of the Holy Qur'an referenced in this letter
A rigorous intellectual journey of discovery of reality therefore, requires separating the observed from the observer, obviously, in order to lend both objectivity and rationality to uncovering the underlying reality, “haqeeqat”, in every domain, or, uncovering what is empirical in the words of scientists, such that the reality can be uncovered and understood by anyone who treads that path and adopts that approach. If there is only one underlying reality beneath everything, every conception, every existence, every phenomenon, meaning one base “haqeeqat”, then all seekers can eventually reach it objectively such that all can then agree upon that “haqeeqat”! That is the principal foundation of unity --- for there isn't another; no?
Meaning, common ground or consensus or unity on “haqeeqat” can only be reached, not via unfalsifiable axioms of faith, but on pursuing falsifiable axioms, leaving subjective faith based axioms at home or in one's heart or for one's prayers or as one's motivation as the prime-mover for the journey of the mind. This is obviously the fundamental method of science which relies on axioms that are all falsifiable. I have employed that scientific approach, both as a trained engineer, and as an amateur social scientist with deep interest in sociology and psychology, to parsing social science. And specifically, to the study of religion to better uncover spiritual reality to the extent that it is cognitively and intellectually uncoverable using the head, albeit with ma'rifat and deep understanding, and only to the extent that one has the “zarf” and the “taufiq”. Some of this understanding is transcendental of course, and many a savant stand at the perch of “irfan” that is denied to ordinary mortals. I do not speak to that latter model of the Saints and the Sufis, nor to perennial philosophers and their immanent thesis, but to the model where one applies reason and logical analysis to data to deduce lessons and deeper understanding. What data? Today, in this inquiry letter, that data is what is stated in the verses of the Holy Qur'an on the question of Mahdi: What does the Holy Qur'an say if anything at all? The question, once again, is NOT: what does the pen of man says what it says. In other words, when studying Shakespeare for example, to understand the playwright's sense of divine tragedies and human weaknesses using his own words rather than using Cliff Notes and “darsi” commentaries of what others say it says.
I apologize for the length of the preceding passages but I found it minimally necessary to set the ambiance correctly under which I would like to solicit your erudite analysis on my student-ish discoveries on the question of Mahdi in the Holy Qur'an which could be of direct benefit to me rather than just waste your time by you rehearsing formulaic prescriptions and pat formulations that you have already conceived as part of your belief system. I am not interested in your faith or your belief system or your understanding of Shia Islam. I am interested in intellectual rigor applied to a Scripture on a specific question as posed by your interlocutor. That means, what does the Holy Qur'an say about the imammate of Imam Mahdi, and not what other books written by historians, scholars, exegesis writers, and hadith compilers, allamas and ayatollahs, etc., say about it. It is a constrained formulation, and its purpose is to come to grips with what precisely does the Holy Qur'an itself convey on the topic, and more importantly, what it does not say, or employs “mutashabihaat” to which interpretation and “tawil” have been imputed by the fertile imagination of man and penned by the hand of man. This is only the compartmentalized part of a larger study of understanding the Scripture which of course cannot be separated from the sociological context of the historical times in which it was revealed, compiled, and its interpretation handed down to posterity. The sociological and historical dimensions are foundationally rooted in epistemology and its discussion and analysis and conclusions are not a topic for today. As are the supposed teachings and “tawil” of the Imams of the Ahlul-Bayt in the Shia understanding of the religion of Islam, all of which are subject to the same epistemological considerations as well as being sourced from texts outside of the Holy Qur'an.
To get a further handle on the verses of the Holy Qur'an for intellectual study and reflection, without making recourse to the mind and pen of man for assistance, I have introduced two classifications to assist my study, Determinate and Indeterminate. These abstractions are defined on pg. 120 in Chapter I Part-II of of my book Hijacking Holy Qur'an and Islam, which, at best, despite its depth, only superficially examines the question apparent in the title based on my own limited acumen, and, not unsurprisingly, comes away with a completely different conclusion than what you concluded in your lecture on the topic of Mahdi. I spent a whole hour listening to your learned discourse, and several hours on each of your other most articulate lectures. Since I found myself in apparent agreement with many conclusions you relate based on my own humble study if not with its every detail, I humbly invite you to spend at least one hour reviewing what I concluded differently from you. I invite you to offer your sharp insights on what I have tentatively arrived at which does not rely on what the pen of man has stated, but what the Holy Qur'an itself has stated and not stated. The matter is discussed in depth on pgs. 212 - 273, and specifically in the subsection Fixing Qur'anic Beatitudes starting pg. 243.
Click to Download PDF: Hijacking the Holy Qur'an and Islam  By Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org Revised 2nd Edition, September 11, 2015
Most people don't read others' writings and thoughts to help or benefit their authors; they mostly read and reflect only for themselves. This humble invitation is for you to read to assist me in my reaching a better understanding at uncovering what the Holy Qur'an itself has said on the topic in its own verses in contrast to what learned scholars, the man of cloth from antiquity to modernity, have imposed meaning on to those verses from outside sources --- which include all the “wasael-e-shia” and “wasael-e-sunni” added together. Regardless of their worthiness, the question before us is only this: What does the Holy Qur'an itself say, and does not say, on the topic of Divine Rule of which the question of Mahdi is an integral eschatological component, just like valih-e-faqih is the contemporary component. Both topics are addressed in these cited pages based on what I have uncovered and understood. As a student of reality, I endeavor my best to go where my research and reflection takes me and I have no gratuitous preconceptions and predispositions (apart from the aspects of the self noted above which requires a perpetual struggle, “jihad-un-nafs”, unto itself to separate the observer from the observed).
In précis of my discovery, it appears to me that imam Mahdi abstraction is an interpreted viewpoint and falls in the classification of Indeterminates of the Holy Qur'an. Please do read the cited pages to comprehend the complete depth of that analysis. It is neither superficial nor shallow. But is of course limited by the fact that I am only a humble student of reality, harboring only a limited natural acumen. I invite you, the one with far greater ma'rifat and natural acumen who sits on the 'takt-e-salooni' to give public lectures, to offer some Qur'anic evidence-based counter-analysis if you are not convinced by the logic of the matter in my own humble reflections, so that, I may, InshaAllah, benefit from your ma'rifat, and for which only God shall give you your rewards. For me, the journey alone is the reward!
The intellectual rationale for trying to understand what the Holy Qur'an says and does not say by using the verses of the Holy Qur'an to interpret each other, is on pgs. 51 onwards of my book, specifically pg. 115 under the subheading Adopting a Systematic Systems Approach. The rationale is spread out in all of Chapter I Part-II however by way of examples, which automatically beg this approach to anyone with any degree of intelligence. The rationale of permitting the Holy Qur'an to be its own “tafsir” and “ta'wil”, to decipher and explain its own verses, is similar to what Allama Tabatabai and Ayatollah Murtada Mutahhari have related on how to study the Holy Qur'an (see footnote [5] on pg. 124, and Endnote [38] on pg. 346). However, why I arrived at this same method of study quite independently from sheer commonsense, and of course with a modicum of intellectual energy, is in the preceding referenced pages.
So, did I get it wrong? Show me. But if I got it right and you cannot refute it to your own good conscience and intellectual integrity, then you might consider accepting what comes directly out of the Holy Qur'an – that Eschatological matters of which the construct of Imam Mahdi is the core component, is entirely Indeterminate in that Holy Book which its own Author proclaims, is “without doubt”, “completed”, “perfected”, and therefore, without room for any further addition and subtraction of meaning, words, and semantic constructs. It is what it is, a Divine Guidance to mankind on how to live, and why to live – the goals for humanity and the methods by which to attain them. See my essay Waiting for Allah in Chapter 6 of my book which points out how this Eschatological construct of Imam Mahdi is logically counter to the lofty Qur'anic goals of self-empowerment, for both “muttaqi” man and woman to endeavor to fashion himself and herself into the “ashraf-ul-maklooqaat” - the purpose of mankind's creation explained in the Holy Qur'an. Which is perhaps why such dystopic Eschatology in every religion has only benefited the tyrants and the taghoots since time immemorial, putting mankind farther and farther away from the goals of achieving social justice and Solonic activism in its every generation. Why bother challenging tyrants and unjust social norms and usurpative ruling systems in the first place if all such efforts are destined to fail until the divine rule of Imam Mahdi?
The spirit of Islam as a religion to transform man and society irrespective of their civilization is patently reduced to an absurdity by such semantic constructs by way of reductio ad absurdum. My essay Waiting for Allah goes into depth of what happens if this premise is taken to be true and compares it with empirical data.
In conclusion, either I have misperceived grossly to shockingly argue against the grain of popular wisdom of the popes and laity alike, that the semantics attributed to this eschatology is entirely manmade and drawn from pages outside of the Holy Qur'an composed by the mind of man. Or, I have got it right. Use the criterion of al-Furqaan, the Holy Qur'an itself, to adjudicate, just as it is meant to adjudicate upon all matters that pertain to Divine Guidance by its own Noble Declaration. That is the challenge sir. And common understanding, common ground, unity, on comprehending reality, “haqeeqat”, can only be reached as per all the preamble earlier, when we understand the singular underlying reality that the Good Book has indeed made some matters “mutashabihaat” and some patently Indeterminate. There is a reason for it. Had God wanted to clearly instruct mankind on matters of Eschatology, ordain Imam Mahdi to be a part of the Musalman's faith, He would have made the construct of Imam Mahdi Determinate and among His “ayat-e-mukahmaats”, the foundational verses of the Holy Qur'an, just as He has done other matters of faith such as the Day of Judgment, etceteras.
I look forward to benefiting from your profound ma'rifat and sharp acumen in this domain which is amply on display in your excellent lectures on Islam, MashaAllah.
I would also love to read your Ph.D. Thesis noted in your short bio: Examining the Caliphate of Muawiya b Abi Sufyan, if you send me a link to its PDF. A quick search did not uncover it on the web. There is the idea that Machiavelli must have studied Muawiya before writing the Prince. Do you think that is plausible?
If you wish to know more about your humble interlocutor before replying, try Google, and see my website http://humanbeingsfirst.org . A short bio is in my book as well.
Thank you, May God reward you generously for your efforts and give more power and ma'rifat to you to uncover and promulgate truth. To do so one has to of course uncover it first and not presuppose it, and I pray that this realization becomes ingrained in your intellectual journey just as tenaciously as your faith appears to have become ingrained in your life's journey. God bless you.
Zahir Ebrahim
Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

Letter first emailed on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 10:03 PM | Published on Friday, December 11, 2015 12:20 pm | Last Updated Wed, December 16, 2015 10:00 am 3409
Video link fix August 09, 2018

Imam Mahdi The Awaited Savior of mankind - Is it in the Holy Qur'an? Letter to a young Muslim scholar

Introducing The Study Quran of Seyyed Hossein Nasr by Zahir Ebrahim

Authored by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E.B. Lumbard, Mohammed Rustom
Introduction By Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
November 30, 2015 | Last Updated December 1, 2015
The publisher, harpercollins.com, states in its introduction of the new translation of the Holy Qur'an:
The Study Quran - A New Translation and Commentary by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Caner K. Dagli, Maria Massi Dakake, Joseph E.B. Lumbard, Mohammed Rustom Source http://i.harperapps.com/covers/9780062227621/y648.png
Caption book cover The Study Quran, Harper Collins, Nov 2015
An accessible and accurate translation of the Quran that offers a rigorous analysis of its theological, metaphysical, historical, and geographical teachings and backgrounds, and includes extensive study notes, special introductions by experts in the field, and is edited by a top modern Islamic scholar, respected in both the West and the Islamic world.
Drawn from a wide range of traditional Islamic commentaries, including Sunni and Shia sources, and from legal, theological, and mystical texts, The Study Quran conveys the enduring spiritual power of the Quran and offers a thorough scholarly understanding of this holy text.
Beautifully packaged with a rich, attractive two-color layout, this magnificent volume includes essays by 15 contributors, maps, useful notes and annotations in an easy-to-read two-column format, a timeline of historical events, and helpful indices. With The Study Quran, both scholars and lay readers can explore the deeper spiritual meaning of the Quran, examine the grammar of difficult sections, and explore legal and ritual teachings, ethics, theology, sacred history, and the importance of various passages in Muslim life.
With an introduction by its general editor, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, here is a nearly 2,000-page, continuous discussion of the entire Quran that provides a comprehensive picture of how this sacred work has been read by Muslims for over 1,400 years.”
Just reading that lovely advert and the name of its distinguished first author got me to order this new English translation of the Holy Qur'an. I invite you to do so as well. The link for Amazon is below.
The quality of Holy Qur'an translations is a perennial issue. Like this scholar had so simply stated in his talk at Harvard University in 2010: the Holy Qur'an is fundamentally untranslatable – into any language (http://thecrimson.com/article/2010/10/29/wild-quran-translate-arabic/ ).
Nevertheless, translating the Holy Qur'an is often a labor of love, bordering on obsession in selfless service for those who undertake it. And sometimes, despite all their best intentions, they do miss by a mile. A few years ago, Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr's self-proclaimed protégé, the Iranian-American psychologist and translator of many books into English, Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar, prepared a translation titled 'The Sublime Quran' which was prominently billed by its publisher as the first English translation by an American woman. It was greeted with glee in The Times UK of March 31, 2007 with the eye-catching headline: Wife-beating rejected in ‘new’ Koran”. This much heralded work in the Western press unfortunately suffered from many obvious weaknesses which were cleverly camouflaged in irrelevant fancy academic jargon by the translator. Quickly returning that lame translation to the bookstore, I wrote a critique of that beautifully bound work and sent it to its author with this précis:
'In other words, in order to “religiously” maintain your academic notion of “internal consistency” and “formal equivalence”, you deliberately sacrificed Semantic Equivalence!!' --- Zahir's letter to Laleh Bakhtiar, 2011
I hope that her notable teacher's new translation on the block now being billed as the best English translation for the modern Western English speaking audience, which CNN of course readily headlined on November 25, 2015 as “Could this Quran curb extremism?”, has not only rectified the egregious error of failing to meet “semantic equivalence” even by a long shot as it was never the principal goal in 'The Sublime Quran' translation – the gold standard for any good translation into any target language – but suffers from no weaknesses that can at all be overcome in any translation of the Holy Qur'an into English by any human endeavor.
My two straws' worth of analysis of Laleh Bakhtiar's translation which explains “semantic equivalence” – a layman's critique at best, and if the translation could not pass the superficial scrutiny of even this layman, the silence of latter day scholars of Islam, like Dr. Nasr himself, on that translation so egregiously attempting to “bring reform to Islam” as repeatedly proclaimed by the translator to the Western news media, is not at all comprehensible – is here:
Strangely, Dr. Nasr never responded to my letter on his protégé's handiwork which I had hastily pegged as a politically motivated agendist translation, and for which, unfortunately, I never found any compelling evidence to revise that conclusion:
The proof of the pudding for this new entrée by Nasr et. al. will be in its eating of course. Not in its beautiful binding and book cover, or its imposing number of pages (the advert says 2048 pages in the hardcover), and nor in how many brilliant man-hours were spent in preparing it for what lofty purposes.
The accuracy and fidelity of any translation is gauged by semantic equivalence of the Qur'anic Arabic text translated and reframed into English such that the diligent English speaking audience get the same (or close to the same) understanding of the Qur'an from the translated English text as the diligent native Arabic speaking audience get from the Arabic text. That is the gold standard for any translation in general, and more so for a religious text being brought to a non-native speaking Western audience in an atmosphere such as the one we have today – of rising Islamofascism, and the political mileage being derived by bashing the religion of Islam on the one hand by setting up the strawman of “militant Islam”, and its apologists sanitizing away the accurate meaning of the import of the religion of Islam to denying “taghoot” (villainy) its privileges of primacy on the other hand, as the “moderate Islam”. In that synthetic discourse space artificially carved out by the “militant Islam” vs. “moderate Islam” dichotomy and so propagandistically introduced into the American and Western narrative since 9/11, the study of Islam and the Holy Qur'an has made a resurgence in the West, especially among its youth.
The interest in Islam is so overwhelming in the West that even the incumbent Iranian leader of Islamic Revolution, valih-e-faqih Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, seized upon this opportunity in his two open letters to the youth of America and Europe (see 21st Jan. 2015 and 29th of Nov, 2015), inviting them to study Islam on their own by going directly to the Holy Qur'an translation in the language they best understand, instead of learning about Islam and Muslims from their propagandistic news media. These two remarkably honest open letters the likes of which have not been witnessed from the pen of any modern statesman of recent history, straightforwardly state the global reality the way it actually is, in a style and candor that is reminiscent of prophetic wisdom sorely missing from global statesmanship today.
Well, all recognize that this oppressive atmosphere against Islam and Muslims in the West is also an opportunity to teach the religion of Islam as it is explained in its own singular scripture, the Holy Qur'an, to let the Holy Qur'an speak for itself. One hopes therefore, that this yet another new English translation of the Holy Qur'an by Nasr et. al. speaks to that opportunity, bringing both accuracy and fidelity to break the choke hold of this synthetic and wholly propagandistic narrative upon the Western mind. Revealingly to some, and one would be remiss for not commenting on it, many of the exponents heralding this new Nasr translation are themselves participants in that synthetic discourse of “Militant Islam” vs “moderate Islam” and “good Muslim” vs “bad Muslim”. It would surely be interesting to see how Nasr et. al. respond to the support of their biggest champions for their new translation who have also encouraged the bombing of Muslim nations “United we Stand” with the standard propaganda narratives of empire. The support and funding of this translation are from imperial players, the least of whom is King Abdullah II of Jordan according to CNN report.
Beyond that metric of fidelity of translation however, understanding the deeper meanings of the Qur'anic text and of the religion of Islam often requires recourse to exegesis for context and explanation, and far deeper personal study and reflection for comprehension of a text that was revealed 1400 years ago in the language, and the time and space, of a backward Beduin people of a tribal society that no longer exists in the modern world. None of the Qur'anic allusions and metaphors, similes, rich and dense vocabulary in which the same word or phrase can express a multiplicity of meanings based on its context and style of usage, make sense in its original literal translated form in today's epoch. How are these to be reframed or translated for today's audience? These have to be interpreted --- and that means the authors' subconscious biases and prejudices, his and her knowledge and expertise in the Qur'anic base which include many disciplines, and his and her propensity and psychological and religious persuasion, come into play, even unwittingly.
These are burdens which every student of the Holy Qur'an has to face, not just the translators, whether working with its original Arabic, or in translation, and no single translation or compilation or exegesis, even when written by a bipartisan committee as Nasr's work proclaims to be, can be a substitute or compensate for the requirement of that due diligence and struggle for comprehension with a cleansed heart (without prejudice or presuppositions) as advocated in the Holy Qur'an itself. Sort of obvious to many Muslims, but better to state this for completeness because modern marketing can sell anything today, and can make the public mind on any matter any which way.
When a translation, or an approach, paves the way towards that aforementioned due diligence with fidelity and honesty of purpose, it is to be recommended. The limitations put on the study and translations just have to be understood so as neither to fool oneself nor deceive others. Just the good name of Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr invites that first look without even reading the book. His lofty goal and aspiration makes it even more inviting: “We hope this will be a small contribution to unity in the Islamic world.” (Ibid.) The eating of the pudding of course will soon dispel any hasty illusions on its exaggerated baking. Make up your own mind by competently acquiring at least some understanding first on the monumental task which any translation of the Holy Qur'an presents, and what these good authors, notable Muslims, must have gone through even if they had the requisite skills for the monumental undertaking.
Here is a link to its purchase at Amazon for the sale price of $39.99 - $60 off the list price I am told.
The difficulties in parsing and understanding the Holy Qur'an, in any language, including its own native Arabic, is outlined in the case study on Hijacking the Holy Qur'an which forms chapter one of my book: Hijacking the Holy Qur'an and its religion Islam. This humble endeavor by an ordinary seeker of truth sketches out, with examples, why the Holy Qur'an is hard to parse, both syntactically as well as semantically, let alone comprehend in its full and exacting richness, even for native Arabic speakers, and why it is essential, nay necessary, not to interpret it by whim and fancy of one's own imagination, but to extract the exact meaning intended to be conveyed by its Author to mankind:

Zahir Ebrahim
Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

First published November 30, 2015 | Last updated Tuesday, December 1, 2015 01:08 pm 2045

Introducing The Study Quran of Seyyed Hossein Nasr by Zahir Ebrahim

Letter to Islamic Centers, Churches, Synagogues, and Temples of All Faiths

To: Islamic Centers, Churches, Synagogues, and temples of all faiths including the new religion of Secular Humanism,
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ ; as-salamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh; in English that just means Hi. Every generation from time immemorial has faced its own challenges. However, from the primitive hunter-gatherers of antiquity to the sophisticated predators of modernity, only one singular common challenge runs through mankind's histories and civilizations, all the way to the current affairs of today. That is primacy. We are no more close to grappling with our predators today than was yesterday's man. Nevertheless, rising to that challenge has been the existential burden of many in every generation. This burden is a funny sort of burden. For it is its own reward. Those who recognize this challenge carry that burden willingly; just like a moth is drawn to a flame and being incinerated by the flame no longer appears to be a burden to it, but rather its destiny which is finally fulfilled. Imagine that a sweet smelling rose forgot its innate purpose, or its destiny to spread its own fragrance was snatched from it by the superman gardener. One could perhaps philosophically argue that the burden of the rose until the end of time would solely be to regain its stolen identity, its lost purpose, its manifest destiny. A mere pebble in that ocean of endeavor is thrown by the following books by this humble scribe, whose tiny ripples, he hopes, will reach some shores someday. The PDF can be downloaded by clicking on book covers below. Please do save a copy today for future reference before these books disappear even if you have no particular interest at this time in what an ordinary person has figured out about the age he lives in.

Click to Download PDF: The Poor-Man's Guide to Modernity  By Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org Revised and Expanded 9th Edition, September 11, 2015 Click to Download PDF: Pamphlet Undoing The Theft Of Palestine - From Genocide to Genesis in Zero Compromise (printable Pamphlet 8.5x11) By Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org Click to Download PDF: Hijacking the Holy Qur'an and Islam  By Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org Revised 2nd Edition, September 11, 2015

Thank you
Zahir Ebrahim
Project Humanbeingsfirst.org
February 13, 2013
Updated November 19, 2015 with links to revised editions

Letter to Islamic Centers, Churches, Synagogues, and Temples of All Faiths From Zahir Ebrahim, Project Humanbeingsfirst.org

Understanding ISIS BY Zahir Ebrahim

This is also Part IX of Raahe-Nijaat (the way out) series on Pakistan
First, one must comprehend the theory behind fomenting controlled chaos of “revolutionary times” by supporting both sides of the conflict. The concept of Insurgency and counter-insurgency as a war paradigm for sustaining “imperial mobilization” under the cover of controlled chaos is explained in: “Insurgency vs. Counter Insurgency” (http://tinyurl.com/Insurgency-Counterinsurgency). Fomenting and harvesting “revolutionary times” with self-inflicted or manufactured terror is explained in the tutorial “Understanding Self-Inflicted Terror” (http://tinyurl.com/Manufacturing-Terror).
The new militant “Islamic State” with “caliphate” galore is only the manufactured progression of going from empire's own stateless antediluvian actors playing their scripted “Taliban - Al Qaeda terrorist” role as public enemy number one of the United States and the civilized world, to stateful antediluvian actors playing their scripted “ISIS - terrorists' expansionist” role as public enemy number one of the United States and the civilized world. Twenty-first century barbarians being brought to power to foment not just the “Clash of Civilizations”, as the erstwhile Jewish political theorist Samuel Huntington at Harvard University, and still ever present “foremost Western scholar of Islam”, Jewish prof. Bernard Lewis at Princeton University, had formulated it in the 1990s, but the “Clash between the Civilized World and Barbarians” as Daniel Pipes, the Jewish Islamophobe drum beater of “radical Islam”, more accurately couched the empirical manifestations of “militant Islam” after 9/11.
The nemesis is similar to the manufacture of Christian NAZI socialism and godless Soviet Communism in the twentieth century. Both similarly characterized upon their fabrication. Both secretly supported and funded by Wall Street to fabricate potent stateful enemies to wage World Wars against in order to force the creation of a new oligarchic world order from the ashes of the old world left behind.
That clash of the opposites is necessary to raise the phoenix from the ashes, so to speak --- a greater and greater combine which eventually encompasses the entire earth as the natural culmination of an expansionist state.
That clash is political theory based modus operandi most vociferously pursued by the German political philosopher Friedrich Hegel. A one-world global state systematically fashioned out of back to back Hegelian Dialectic seeded deadly conflicts of opposing forces that last multiple generations, but which piece-meal result in the advocacy and adoption of predefined solutions that achieve the predesired outcome of world government.
Hegelian Dialectic has now been empirically shown to be not just a political theory, but the most effective and fastest format for engineering consent for a new world order of world government – the singular dream of all world conquering despots that has hitherto remained unfulfilled. The wholly Jewish concoction of “militant Islam” vs “moderate Islam” as a Hegelian Dialectic has previously been examined in the seminal study “Report on the Mighty Wurlitzer - Architecture of Modern Propaganda for Psychological Warfare” (http://tinyurl.com/MightyWurlitzer). Hegelian Dialectic is explained in “Hegelian Dialectic - What is it?” (http://tinyurl.com/Hegelian-Dialectic-What-is-it).
Our golden scientific era, which Zbigniew Brzezinski called the Technetronic Era, has created the means to rule the whole world as never before, and the ubermensch oligarchic forces that run the sole superpower on earth along with its vassal states, have seized that opportunity for primacy; an outcome that is inevitable when primacy defines imperatives and nations ruled by men who make laws to legalize their primacy. Since the exercise of primacy requires the existence of a persistent and continuous threat to the well-being of the masses, thus the headlines announcing the new phantasmal terror threat to Western civilization: “Islamic State 'beyond anything we've seen'”
'Washington: The Islamic State poses a greater danger than conventional “terrorist group” and is pursuing a vision that could radically alter the face of the Middle East, US Defence Leader said Thursday [August 21, 2014].
The IS jihadists could be contained and eventually defeated by local forces backed by the United States, but the Sunni population in both Syria and Iraq would need to reject the group, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey told reporters.
Hagel warned that the Islamic State is better armed, trained and funded than any recent militant threat.
“They marry ideology and a sophistication of strategy and tactical military prowess. They are tremendously well funded. This is beyond anything we've seen,” Hagel told a news conference.
Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the group adheres to a fanatical ideology and has “a long term vision” to take over Lebanon, Israel, and Kuwait. If they achieve that vision, it would fundamentally alter the face of the Middle East and create a security environment that would certainly threaten us in many ways,” he said.
... The bombing runs and humanitarian aid to the local population [Zahir's note: the guns and butter again] have stalled the Islamic State's “momentum and enabled Iraqi and Kurdish forces to regain their footing and take the initiative”.
Asked if the US would hit the militants in neighboring Syria, Hagel did not rule out the option but did not indicate strikes there were imminent.' --- AFP, Friday August 22, 2014, via Dawn.com
Now the “ISIS” will finally begin to make rational sense. It is a wholly manufactured enemy, created for a specific purpose: continued “imperial mobilization” in the pretext of countering this nemesis. “ISIS” is just another armored division of the US-UK-NATO military nexus comprising both useful idiots, and trained mercenaries, both wearing barbarian uniforms and being carefully choreographed by the same high command that sets up military invasions in the sole superpower's collaborative but highly compartmentalized nexus. American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives have been cunningly transformed from the primacy of the national flag to the primacy for world government of the oligarchy riding the national flag.
Listen to Michel Chossudovsky on Guns and Butter with Bonnie Faulkner deconstruct: “ISIS: An Instrument of the Western Military Alliance (or click here to stream):
“ISIS rampage through northern Iraq a staged event; special forces integrated within the terror brigades; U.S. supporting both sides; transformation of countries into territories: Sunni Caliphate, Independent Kurdistan, Shia Arab Republic; Iran being sucked into conflict; water wars; long-term U.S. geopolitical objectives.” ---
What Michel Chossudovsky did not address in that interview, is the overarching agenda behind the piece-meal “transformation of countries into territories” out of once sovereign nation-states; states which were themselves carved out of long running empires in the last century. But none as smart as Michel Chossudovsky and Bonnie Faulkner are ever unaware of the hidden motivations which give rise to facts and events that are recorded by historians and rewarded for their labors. Those seeking out the covert motivations and the covert forces that drive these facts and events over time and space and often made to appear disjoint and unconnected, if their discoveries fall on the wrong side of empire's standard model for sanctioned narratives, are of course only the “conspiracy theorists” (sic)! But beleaguered nations seeking self-defence cannot do so effectively using the standard model of the empire. It is like having the fox guard the hen house and daily preaching to the hens how to protect themselves!
Now contrast this forensic dismantling of the diabolical Hegelian Dialectic with the virtuous officialdom's pious version, the standard model for all mainstream narratives: “US Offers Iraq 'Intense And Sustained' Support” (Sky news, June 23, 2014) and “Kerry confronts threat of new war in Iraq” (AP, June 23, 2014).
'BAGHDAD — Confronting the threat of civil war in Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Baghdad on Monday to personally urge the Shiite-led government to give more power to political opponents before a Sunni insurgency seizes more control across the country and sweeps away hopes for lasting peace.
The meeting scheduled between Kerry and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was not expected to be friendly, given that officials in Washington have floated suggestions that the Iraqi premier should resign as a necessary first step toward quelling the vicious uprising. Nor will it likely bring any immediate, tangible results, as al-Maliki has shown no sign of leaving and Iraqi officials have long listened to — but ultimately ignored — U.S. advice to avoid appearing controlled by the decade-old specter of an American occupation in Baghdad.
“This is a critical moment where, together, we must urge Iraq's leaders to rise above sectarian motivations and form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people,” Kerry said a day earlier in Cairo. He was there in part to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to and discuss a regional solution to end the bloodshed by the insurgent Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
“No country is safe from that kind of spread of terror, and none of us can afford to leave that entity with a safe haven which would become a base for terror against anyone and all, not only in the region but outside of the region as well,” Kerry said in Cairo.' AP, June 23, 2014, https://web.archive.org/web/20140623115827/http://news.yahoo.com/kerry-confronts-threat-war-iraq-065105238--politics.html
While keeping the Hegelian Dialectic of threat from “militant Islam” wielding insurgents intact, US retired Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, former head of the US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and JSOC, lends some left-handed (diluted) confirmation from the horse's mouth of the arming, and aiding and abetting, of ISIS (ISIL, Daesh). In his interview to Al-Jazeera English (watch here) in Washington D.C. on July 29, 2015, titled: Is the US to blame for ISIL?, ret'd. General Michael T. Flynn stated:
General Flynn: We are at war with a radical component of Islam. In a way I believe is that Islam is a political ideology based on a religion. [correcting himself at the prompting of the interviewer] Islamism. Islamism is an ideology based on a religion. So when I say I have been at war with Islam, I mean I have sat down with members of the al Qaeda, members of the Taliban, that are my age, very well educated, and I have asked them: WHY, what is it that's going wrong somewhere that we are fighting each other. What is your excuse? And if the excuse is that the West is bad, you know, the Jews of Israel are bad, that's not a good excuse.
Interviewer: [prompting the General to differentiate the political group using the religion of Islam as cover from people who believe in the religion]
General Flynn: I don't agree, I don't agree, the serious leaders of these groups absolutely believe that their version of Islam is the right version, the correct version.
Interviewer: [again prompting the General with more known facts] We are now seeing reports that the top ranks of ISIL are filled with Baathist ex-army officers from Sadaam's regime, they are not all religious fanatics. ... [MI-5 says that:] “far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practice their faith regularly, and could actually be regarded as religious novices”
General Flynn: I don't disagree with that. But I will tell you that there is a sufficient number of leaders in, still in, al Qaeda, and definitely in this group we call ISIL, their religious beliefs are very strong.
Interviewer: and therefore it's a religious war in your view?
General Flynn: I think that it's a political war. It's a political war. But I think they use the excuses that they have. It's a political ideology based on a religion. We have to come to grips with that.
Interviewer: [prompting the General to admit America's own role in the rise of ISIS] In 2012, three years ago, let's just be clear here for the sake of our viewers, in 2012 your agency was saying, quote: [reading from a previously classified August 2012 DIA document made public through FOIA] “the Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al Qaeda in Iraq, are the major forces driving insurgency in Syria.” In 2012, the US was helping coordinate arms transfers to those same groups. Why did you not stop that? If you are worried about the rise of Islamic extremism? ... The administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?
General Flynn: I don't know if they turned a blind eye. I think it was a decision. It was a willful decision.
Interviewer: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, al Qaeda, ...
General Flynn: The decision to do what they are doing.
(https://web.archive.org/web/20150802045749/http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/headtohead/2015/07/blame-isil-150728080342288.html ,
video https://web.archive.org/web/20150810005309/https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG3j8OYKgn4 ,
snippet from time 05:20 to 12:30, transcribed by Project Humanbeingsfirst, parenthesis are transcriber's summary of the Interviewer's prompts)
As one can see, the confession of the General is not the usual “blowback” or “oops” theory, as both the domestic antagonists of the American administration and the dissent con-artists in the United States and elsewhere have pitched of ISIS. Indeed in much the same manner that they had previously pitched “al Qaeda” and “OBL” attack on the United States on September 11, 2001. The American General, confirming the support and arming of ISIS by the American government, carefully characterized it as deliberate, and not some miscalculated blowback of a policy gone awry: “I think it was a decision. It was a willful decision.”
Observe how the well-rehearsed Al Jazeera interviewer was cleverly used as the foil to lend continuous legitimacy to the official propaganda line of threat from “militant Islam” via narrative control within strict confines of the establishment's party line, and its repetition ad nauseam. Only under the careful aegis of that old core lie, which was first conveniently reestablished very early on in the interview with the help of the willing useful idiot who spoke perfect British English, was this new confession of it being “a willful decision” of the American government, carefully made by the newly retired American General.
This lauded half-truth telling, characterized more by what it did not say than what it said, is along the same template that Zbigniew Brzezinski had previously established in his testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 01, 2007 (read the fascinating testimony PDF), as the self-serving trend for confirming what many astute “conspiracy theorists” already perceive or easily surmise, those able to call a spade a spade, able to add two plus two correctly in public, of the on-going covert warfare wrapped in “plausible deniability” being waged amidst propaganda cover of some Big Lie. It is at times confirmed ex post facto in some diluted form that Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon termed “Limited Hangout” (recorded on the Nixon tapes), or for bragging rights as Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Gates revealed a decade after the end of the Cold War (see Imperial Surrogates and 'Terror Central' in Operation Gladio Redux, http://tinyurl.com/Imperial-Surrogates), or directly under the aegis of the Big Lie when it suits the powers that be to introduce new assertions, or confirmation of what's already obvious, into their own party line narratives (through official leaks or belated and diluted admissions) which are to be further spinned for new mileage or damage control while keeping the Big Lie securely intact. They are the masters of narrative control (see Masters of Dissent, http://tinyurl.com/Dying-Songbird) who have wisely retaken their own leaf back from Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf on the basic elements of a successful propaganda campaign to corral “the crowd of simpletons and the credulous” (see Preamble of Manufacturing Dissent, http://tinyurl.com/Manufacturing-Dissent-2008).
The signal in Flynn's statements, carefully wrapped in the sea of propaganda noise and half truths, is: “I don't know if they turned a blind eye. I think it was a decision. It was a willful decision.” That the rise of ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, whatever its name, is not short-sighted policy gone awry, but the rise of insurgency is the government policy itself.
So what's up Doc? Why even confirm what is already known? Is it merely the pre-election WWF posturing to speciously show that the Republicans are different from the Democrats, to make the public mind in favor of the new team slated to come into the White House after eight years of the “change” mantra of the incumbent president which saw more and more of the same as the team it had previously replaced (see Mr. Obama – The Post Modern Coup, http://tinyurl.com/Obama-Postmodern-Coup-2008)?
This history of Machiavellianly making the public mind is important for the American voters to comprehend as they get all excited about electioneering in their famed democracy every four years. This next time in 2016, the American voters shall be re-ushering in the same Republicans who had previously given them the George Bush presidency from which they had voted for escape for the “change” presidency of the Democratic Obama. The “change” this time will be back to the Republicans. There is really no change in the policy of primacy and its geostrategic imperatives. There is no escape for the American public from American Primacy on the Grand Chessboard because it is not controlled by who they vote into the White House. It is controlled by the hidden from public view National Security State, which in turn is controlled by the iron fist of the hidden from public view ruling oligarchy, the bosses behind the scenes seeking world government. Only the tactics may differ slightly by the visible occupants of the White House, if at all, to keep the lip service to the American constitution and its tradition of democracy going on paper for a while longer. The specious elections also sustain America's pious preaching to the world.
The fact that America is a hard police-state both at home and abroad is not a point of differentiation to exercise between the two dominant parties in any election since 9/11. The mantra that America is at war with “militant Islam” and/or rogue states is a sacred presupposition common among both parties and the establishment. Now the bizarre and most barbaric ISIS/ISIL flying the false flag of Islam has been added to the mix with a hammerhead.
An aware and self-respecting public might instead hold a legal referendum on the corrupted system which merely obliges them to alternately choose between the left and the right smelly sock worn by the oligarchy, by withholding their vote entirely. The people don't have to do any politicking, take out protest marches, or risk their livelihood and safety by taking a bold stand in public. All they have to do in America to be effective is to simply not vote! It is their legal right, both to vote when the system is not corrupt, and to not vote when it is corrupted ab initio. A low voter turnout on election day legally strips away the facade of legitimacy from the corrupt system (see Not-Voting is a 'YES' vote to Reject a Corrupt System which thrives on the facade of Elections and Democracy!, http://tinyurl.com/Referendum-by-Not-Voting). A completely co-opted system which is perniciously destroying their nation piece-meal, in every new fabricated crisis and manufactured terror threat, to create a world government of the oligarchy using America's military might as both the hammer and the anvil.
What the half-truth telling brave American General, retired but still bound by all the official state secrets acts for his lifetime, intentionally left out in his “modified limited hangout” candor is how ISIL, ISIS, Daesh, and whatever new name it may be given in the future, is really a well financed covert division of the US military itself, staffed with a variegated coterie of private contractors, mercenaries, useful idiots, and other well trained and behavior controlled dupes and patsies playing the scripted insurgency vs. counter-insurgency con game to keep “revolutionary times” fomented for as long as it is needed to achieve the predefined policy objectives. General Flynn must have been given permission, and well rehearsed, to make even that “limited hangout” admission within the confines of the core lies of imperial mobilization.

First published August 03, 2015 | Last updated Thursday, September 3, 2015 07:00 pm 3507
Links fixed October 07, 2018

Understanding ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria BY Zahir Ebrahim | Project Humanbeingsfirst.org