Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Superior Logic of the Qur’an …

وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ رَمَى

“And you threw not when you threw, but it was God who threw”
[Qur’an, 8:17]

The verse of the Qur’an quoted above refers to the incident(s) when the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) threw gravels or pebbles at the pagans in war and miraculously hit them individually in the eyes. The traditional exegesis of the verse is that since it is humanly impossible to achieve such a feat, Almighty God attributed this feat to Himself.

However, the sacred verse puts the logicians in a quandary since it could be broken into three statements that are apparently not mutually consistent:

(1) The Prophet (pbuh) threw the pebbles
(2) The Prophet (pbuh) did not throw the pebbles
(3) God threw the pebbles

The problem seems to lie with the fact that statement (1) and (2) are contradictory, and yet the Qur’an is acknowledging both statements within the same breath – “and you threw not when you threw”! While on the one hand, this apparent contradiction serves to detract the hard-hearted disbelievers, it also gives us a glimpse into the superior logic of the Qur’an.

The conflict can be easily resolved if one realizes that, broadly speaking, every object and every event has two realities: an apparent reality and a hidden reality. The apparent and the hidden realities are different and could seem to be contradictory, but this apparent contradiction is only because of change of perspective. The case in study – the event of throwing of the pebbles - also had two realities: an apparent one, namely throwing of the pebbles by the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), and a hidden one, namely throwing of the pebbles by Almighty God (glorified be He). Both realities are true in their own perspective, and denial of any one is tantamount to kufr (disbelief). Thus, statements (1) and (3) quoted above are both true, while the conjunctive statement (2) prevents the literal equating of (1) with (3), an act that would be tantamount to shirk (associating partners with God).

But logic aside, this sacred verse is one of the most endearing expressions of love you would come across. They say that Love leaves Logic in its wake, so it is not surprising that the blessed Sufis, who immerse themselves in the hidden reality, have a way of understanding this verse that leaves the blind logicians in the proverbial dust. At the supreme height of Love, the Lover equates the action of the Beloved with his own, and says by way of explanation, “That action that you did, you know, I am the one who did it, not you”.

God bless the Sufis.

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