Background to The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation

Background

This article is from The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation.

The values men ascribe to words are a means to govern how they may interpret the world and, therefore, limit what they will do in it. This fact is understood by ruling elites in all ages, and they employ clever men trained in the sciences of how we work to ensure that this reality serves their interests. They have had millennia to practice their craft; they keep records, and are continually learning more.

When I was a child gay meant happy. Today gay is the sanctioned nomenclature for what my father’s generation called homosexual, my grandfather’s generation called queer, and my great-grandfather’s generation called sodomite. The day may come when any connection between gay and happy will be expunged from the lexicons and popular memory altogether.

Unthinking adoption of the new word value I am using to illustrate my point is become almost universal. Potty-training the herd in the use of this new, fluffy euphemism was a necessary though minor line-item in a larger plan; one of many such plans which have as their combined object political and cultural goals which the population not only had no part in deciding, it will never be apprised of their existence.

The masses think of their lives as individually significant, and they plan in hours, days, weeks and months. The ruling elite regards the masses as a herd with no individual significance at all, one which needs to be managed by its betters; and it plans in decades and centuries.

The transition from sodomite to gay took a few decades. That is a long time for the man in the street; but not for those who rule him.

The Qur’an is 1,400 years old. It is natural that key Qur’anic word values should have attracted the attention of previous ruling elites and that such elites should have assigned intellectual capital under their direction to the task of making those values work for them. It is equally as predictable that this should have been achieved by stealth and have gone largely unnoticed by – and with the unthinking complicity of – the masses.

It was interesting to me as I began to apply myself to the Qur’an in earnest that the Qur’an contains – as part of its DNA as it were – a number of inbuilt defences against the imposition of arbitrary values upon its components, by means of which the original values of key terms can be recovered should they be corrupted.

Among these is what is simply a feature of that system of roots which underpins the Arabic language. This system is useful in that it allows words to be analysed and assessed on the basis of predictable and consistent criteria.

I will give the reader without access to Arabic a taste of what I am referring to by means of an illustration – albeit an imperfect one – by taking what I will call for these purposes the English root h-s-p. From this root we get hospital, hospice, hospitable, and hospitalise. Because we are speakers of English we recognise that these words are connected. But let’s say everyone in the world starts to agree that to hospitalise means to give money to the priesthood. We can go along to get along, which is what most people do when the world agrees upon something. But we can also choose to demonstrate – even decades or centuries later – on the basis of the broader milieu of the language why to hospitalise does not and cannot mean to give money to the priesthood. And more than that, we can provide a strong case for what it does mean.

Arabic allows one retrospectively both to expose and to clarify cases where values have been twisted, and it allows one to do so to an extent far greater than is possible in English. And the interlocking root structure of Arabic I have just mentioned is but one of the mechanisms we have now at our disposal. There are others, and I will touch upon those in due course.

A few words about my background are in order. I did not begin as a disaffected Muslim. I began as a disaffected Christian. I became a disaffected Christian through admitting the fallacies inherent in Trinitarian Christianity and the obvious contradictions in – and historical weaknesses of – Christianity’s foundational texts. I had also seen through the usurpation of what remains of the message of Jesus by the self-appointed Paul.

Clearly, there is some veracity in the Christian accounts – and I accept that within those accounts exist teachings sufficient for one who obeys them to gain access to Paradise – but I could not escape the fact that the Trinitarian Christianity in which I was schooled is based in subjective mysticism. I have nothing against subjective mysticism per se. However, I take issue with subjective mysticism when it parades itself about as objective truth.

This, then, was the context in which I became interested in the Qur’an. I wanted to know, in particular, what it had to say about Jesus and the nature of God. It was due only to my close study of the Qur’an coming from this perspective – and subsequent acceptance of the Qur’an’s veracity – that I felt a need to acquaint myself with brand Islam.

I was not predisposed toward rejection of the Traditionalist’s arguments, but nor did I have a pre-existing allegiance to them. I listened to them. I studied them. And then I rejected them.

The Traditionalist’s claim is that his secondary (in fact, supplanting) literature explains the Qur’an. The truth is that his religion has been decided upon on the basis of the aforementioned literature – one entirely removed from the Qur’an – and that the Qur’an serves only as a wall at which he throws those extracts of this supplanting literature which form the sum and substance of his religion in the hopes that some of them will stick – which some of them seem to do if the reader accepts assertions on a generalised or piecemeal basis and puts his faith in authorities and cultural conventions.

A key feature of the Traditionalist’s method is the arbitrary assignment of specialised values to ambiguous or general statements. He claims that such statements mean whatever he likes in order to achieve his predetermined ends, and the laity assumes he is right. Should anyone challenge the merits of his assertions, that person’s motives are called into question, or he is accused of impiety or heresy.

The Traditionalist’s intellectual process – if one can call it that – features such logical fallacies as the contention that since his preferred literature says that a particular word means x, the fact that his externally derived expectations of x are not met in the Qur’an constitutes proof that his preferred literature is necessary in order to understand the Qur’an.

This is the logic of children.

When I have questioned the Traditionalist’s assumption that x necessarily has the value his extra-Qur’anic stories claim for it – especially in the context of a revelation he himself acknowledges as both consistent and complete – he has typically either flown into a rage or denied the premise of my point by reference to nebulous, superior knowledge held by wise specialists, one to which he himself has no access and about which he knows nothing.

In one sense, of course, the Traditionalist is right. His religion can only be understood by reference to this other literature. He is right to such an extent that one can remove the Qur’an entirely from the construct within which he operates to no measurable effect.

My position is not that the Traditionalist should not follow his religion – he can follow what he likes no matter how little sense it makes to me; it is that he should cease conflating his religion with the Qur’an and claiming monopoly rights over a book for which he demonstrably has so little use.

My thoughts on the ḥadīth literature, in a nutshell, are as follows:

  • The Qur’an itself claims to be from God and complete. If this is true, there is no good reason to follow anything else. And if it is not true, there is no good reason to follow the Qur’an.
  • The ḥadīth literature is, by universal consent, hearsay. And hearsay has no place – to my mind at least – in the business of establishing the facts concerning God.
  • At the root of what divides the two major sects of what is today called Islam lies conflict between their competing bodies of ḥadīth literature. If they cannot agree among themselves on what they accept, I see no reason why I should accept any of it.
  • The so-called science of ḥadīth (that system by which a particular chain of narrators is established and assessed) is predicated on obvious foolishness and a sophistic method; there is no such thing as reliable hearsay. All hearsay is unreliable.
  • The Qur’an says that God sent down the best ḥadīth in the Qur’an. If that is the case, I can see no scenario in which one would look to ḥadīth other than that which is best.

The Traditionalist’s proselytising efforts are an amalgam of two related deceits: the first is the common bait-and-switch method (using the Qur’an primarily as a means to shoehorn a religion entirely of his own contrivance into the mind), and the second is the conflation of the Qur’anic revelation with another literature. Such a presentation leverages revelation rather than rests upon it, and insinuates a cultural mythology into the space created by an individual’s engagement with that revelation – a revelation over which he, the Traditionalist, then claims expert, exclusive and exhaustive knowledge.

The religion the Traditionalist is so attached to has an emotional appeal – especially for those tired of both the tyranny of moral relativism and the undeclared religion of fraudulent science (among which number I certainly count myself) – yet it is, when viewed dispassionately, a cultural construct and mythical narrative, one with no direct foundation in revelation.

I am a white northern European. If it is simply a matter of finding an old mythology as a bulwark against the advancing nihilism and utilitarianism of a scorched-earth cultural policy agreed upon by the current ruling elite, there are better traditions to choose from than what brand Islam has to offer, ones much closer to my own cultural heritage and racial memory.

The question, then, for me is not about electing to believe something I like in order to fight a rear-guard action against something I do not. It is about responding appropriately to a preserved revelation from the creator of the universe.

I disregard the Traditionalist’s understanding of the Qur’an not only because I am highly sceptical of his preferred sources, but also because I am not much impressed with his results. Nor am I much impressed with the rest of what he has done. Of course there have been some generative thinkers within the cultures in which the Traditionalist has prevailed, but that fact does nothing to mitigate for me the dominant tendency towards intellectual osteoarthritis in all places where the Traditionalist gains the ascendency. Those vigorous boosts which cultures today called Islamic received in the past were due to the influence of the Qur’an, and intellectual and cultural progress was made despite the Traditionalist and his stock of fictions, not because of them.

While many people are afraid of criticising the religion of Islam, I regard such concerns in a broader context. For me, brand Islam is just one among many streams of human energy being directed towards confluence and useful conflict by those who understand realpolitik. If it were not required as an agenda item, Islam would not have been given its present form or imported into the West. I do not regard brand Islam as a cause, but almost entirely an effect. It is an effect like feminism, the cult of sexual license and perversion, the destruction of the family, the institution of dumbed-down education, mediocrity as the new excellence, the degeneration of cultural standards, or the promotion of distractions such as Hollywood and sports. If there is one thing of which I am completely sure as concerns the Traditionalist, it is that when it comes to the larger game he is a pawn and not a player. And I have greater concerns than how one particular group of unthinking people allows itself to be manipulated given a world in which there are so many such groups of pawns that we are drowning in them. I am not looking to reform or influence Islam; but neither will I be intimidated out of using my mind by people who cannot or will not use theirs. The strategists who have given brand Islam some time on the playing field run many, many projects, some of which seem contradictory but enough of which have the extermination of the majority of the world population as a mid-term goal for a sensible man to consider it a credible threat. And if I do not fear such people or their plans more than I do God, the Traditionalist may rest assured that being individually killed by him and his intellectually mediocre co-religionist pawns is no more intimidating to me than is the prospect of being caught up in a planned mass cull at the hands of the highly organised, interlocking cabals of those extremely intelligent men who do control strategy.

In short, there is a queue of people with murderous agendas which have me in their sights, as they do billions of others, and the Traditionalist – if he wants a piece of me – should join the back of the queue.

Much of the Traditionalist’s difficulty with others like himself lies in the fact that interpretive efforts are assessed, in the final analysis, on perception of the authority of the personality behind them. When it comes right down to it, it is simply a question of who has the longest beard. And the question of who has the longest beard is nothing if not a reliable source of frustration and conflict. And while such a dynamic provides intelligent men with a reliable constant for evolving strategies of realpolitik, it does nothing to provide other intelligent men with a reliable constant for evolving questions of hermeneutics. And it is for this reason that the majority of the intellectual overhead in the present work was spent on the creation and testing of an intrinsically Qur’anic system of hermeneutics – one larger and, I hope, more enduring and interesting than the question of the length of my particular beard.

I wanted to achieve several goals: firstly, to prove whether it is possible to demonstrate the Qur’an as complete and sufficient for the business of knowing how to serve God – contrary to the Traditionalist’s claims; secondly, to aid those for whom I am primarily writing, a goal which necessitates providing comprehensive proof against the Traditionalist’s specialist claims for – and over – the Qur’an; thirdly, to present a working mechanism which permits assessment of its results on the basis of verifiable data – thus precluding the insinuation of nebulous and far-removed authorities; fourthly, to provide demonstration of a system which itself can be extended or improved upon without implying rift or schism; and lastly, to force any Traditionalist who may wish to attack me to understand at least something about my work before he does so.

We do not have to guess at what the Traditionalist thinks the Qur’an means. He is quite open about it. His exegesis is implicit in his translation. His process is, in the main, eclectic, erratic, and unblushingly outcome-based; that is, he knows what he wants the text to mean and, by God, he intends to bludgeon it into the required shape no matter what problems are created in the process – and there are many. I have read many translations and refer in this work to common Traditionalist assertions and assumptions as a part of the process of exposing and dismantling them.

For my part, I did not begin with a fixed idea of what the text means. I began with a number of precepts, certainly – such as the precept that the Qur’an is from God, complete and preserved – but I have treated the text itself as a perfect structure, something the mechanics of which may be learnt, applied and tested; I sought to understand what it means rather than to tell it what it means. And the process of rendering the Arabic into English – while demanding high levels of attention – was, in the end, largely a technical one, a function of that hermeneutical method which grew out of my extensive preliminary investigations.

There were two breakthroughs which informed my process which deserve mention, both derived – although by different routes – through unconnected reading on the Hittite civilisation.

The first came about when I became interested in the brilliant Czech linguist Bedřich Hrozný. It was Hrozný who translated the Hittite libraries which were discovered early in the twentieth century.

The texts were written in cuneiform which, of course, was known to scholars. However, the Hittite language itself was not. Hrozný, undaunted, undertook the translation of these works from an unknown language with no dictionaries and no source materials other than his knowledge of languages in general and a lively intelligence. He first went through the entire body of texts and found the most commonly occurring word. He reasoned that this word must mean bread (which it did). And working on this basis he pieced the entire language together like a giant jigsaw puzzle.

I reasoned that it must be possible to apply something of Hrozný’s approach to the Qur’an in at least some of those cases where the Traditionalist’s claims for word values are neither consistent nor in harmony with the totality of the language or available contexts. And this insight informed part of my eventual method.

My task was far easier than that which Hrozný faced since the meaning of the broader context is known. But where the Traditionalist’s treatment of a word causes a disconnect for any reason, or he claims a value which he imports from elsewhere, I searched the entire text for every instance or form of that word, and it was only when I had both investigated that word and its root and identified a meaning which was acceptable in the totality of contexts (that is, one which brings all instances into alignment) that I allowed that value. And not only did I allow such a value, I insisted that its feet be held to the fire in terms of consistency. And on that basis I translated the text; not in linear fashion but iteratively, traversing the entire text to determine each value before allowing it, a process which I repeated many thousands of times.

My second breakthrough connected with the Hittites came by reading an article on Hittite history. The Hittites were a successful civilisation, I was interested to learn, less by force of arms than by the wisdom of their treatises. As I studied the format of a Hittite suzerainty treaty it dawned on me that al fātiḥah (the first chapter of the Qur’an) comprises a contract between lord and vassal, one with much in common with the conventions found in the Hittites’ suzerainty treaty.

Having had some experience of contracts in my working life, I knew that contracts typically define their terms in the preamble. I approached the opening pages of al baqarah (the second chapter) with this awareness in mind and found that they indeed contain exact definitions for some of the most common key terms found in the Qur’an. I then took those values and applied them across the entire text and found that not only do they make consistent sense, they make full and illuminating sense in many places where the Traditionalist’s current values are redundant or at odds with the context, or both.

The other methods by which meaning is demonstrated are outlined in situ or in the Appendix.

There are a few things I wish to say in closing.

Firstly, I would be remiss in my duty not to say that over the course of my extensive analysis of and work with the Qur’an I have acquired a professional respect for the men who constructed the religion known as Islam.

As I have unpicked what they contrived so long ago (as they – quite clearly – set out to neutralise and emasculate what they must have seen as the threat of a nascent, burgeoning Qur’an-fuelled movement), I have grown sincerely impressed at their ingenuity, knowledge of human foibles and mastery of subtlety. The fact that I do not like or condone what these men did does not prevent me from respecting the dexterity of their minds. These were men of insight and genius, used to planning over centuries, and accustomed never to fight head on what they could direct towards other purposes.

They had to be both vigilant and subtle. They knew that the Qur’an was universally read – and had been committed to memory – by sincere and careful students. Their influence had to be at once minimal and devastating.

Yet, now that I have finished my process of reverse-engineering the influence of their work, I am even more impressed – overwhelmed, in fact – by the integrity native to the Qur’anic text. This inherent quality has proven sufficient to preserve the original sense against later cultural interference, and to allow the deciphering and unpicking of that later barrage of misdirection, and the recovery of much, if not all, of the original sense, even after so many centuries.

Secondly, I should be clear that this project is not the product of a desire to engage academics, theory tourists or novelty seekers; nor is it formatted to cater to the predilections of such people. My principle motivation was to do my own due diligence on the Qur’an, to satisfy my own desire to understand it, and to do so free of brand Islam, a Weltanschauung born of a literature both extraneous to the Qur’an and obviously – to me at least – with origins in competing medieval cointelpro operations.

And lastly, I wish to say that – having completed that process of due diligence to my own satisfaction – it is my hope that the result will provide a comprehensive, intellectually robust, and accessible resource to sincere people who – like myself – feel the impetus to do something meaningful with their lives.

About the Author Sam Gerrans

Sam Gerrans is an English writer and speaker with professional backgrounds in media, strategic communications, and technologies. He is driven by commitment to ultimate meaning, and focused on authentic approaches to revelation and Realpolitik. He is founder of Quranite.com and author of The Qur’an: A Complete Revelation where his consistent, Qur'an-centric hermeneutical methodology is applied to the text of the Qur’an in its entirety. Read more...

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