Why Goliath and Hillary Clinton matter, but less than we may think (Quran 2:251, 1 Samuel 17:8-9)

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.'” (1 Samuel 17:8)

“By God’s will they defeated them, and David slew Goliath. And God gave him power and wisdom, and taught him whatever he wished. And if God did not check one set of people by way of another, the earth would indeed be full of chaos. But God is full of bounty to all the systems of knowledge.” (Quran 2:251)

Below is an excerpt from The Future of Freedom, the 2004 book by Fareed Zakaria. I think it helps explain why it was possible for Barack Obama to win in 2008 and why Rajiv Shah can win (assuming he runs) in 2016.

(All comments in parenthesis are mine).

In December 2000, a few days after the Florida recount battles had ended, I asked George Stephanopoulos, the broadcast journalist and former political strategist, whether he thought the Democratic Party would nominate former vice president Al Gore to run for president in 2004. The newspapers that week had been full of speculation that leading figures in the party wanted to dump Gore. Stephanopoulos’s answer was clarifying. There is no Democratic Party, he said. “If Gore wants to run he has to raise the money, get good publicity, and move up in the polls, which will get him more money and better press. What party elders think is irrelevant because there is no party anymore. Those who style themselves as elders are just old paws looking for something to do.

Political parties have no real significance in America today. Over the last generation the parties have become so open and decentralized that nobody controls them. The machines and their bosses, the party organization, the volunteer cadres, the party elders have all withered in insignificance. The party is at most a fund-raising vehicle for a telegenic candidate. If a candidate is popular and wins the nomination, the party become supportive. That candidate then benefits slightly by getting more resources, organizational support, and new lists of potential donors.

In fact primary candidates find it useful to run against the party establishment. It gives their campaigns freshness. And the appeal of the underdog battling the machine (this is the most obvious David and Goliath connection). An approach that worked for George McGovern, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. Today however, this strategy is more difficult because there is no longer an establishment to run against. Who was the Democratic establishment’s candidate in 1992; Bill Clinton, Bob Kerry or Paul Tsongas? None of the above.

note: the exception that prove this rule is Sen. Robert Dole who was granted the Republican nomination in 1996 almost as a gift for his years of service to the party.

The success of George W. Bush was due not to his being the candidate of the establishment but to his being the candidate of his family. He had the two things you need in a party-less system, name recognition and fundraising machine. Anyone who has both whether they have any experience in politics or not is now at huge advantage. (This is of course what makes Hillary a Goliath). Thus in this new more democratic system we have seen many more political dynasties, celebrity officials and billionaire politicians than before. And this is only beginning (I realize that this excerpt alone can make the case for either Hillary Clinton or Rajiv Shah, but along with the David and Goliath verses, I think it makes the case for Rajiv Shah).

Because this book was published in 2004, I am curious how Stephanopoulos and Zakaria might amend any of their comments. On his show CNN show, Fareed Zakaria GPS, I am sure the issue will arise once or twice.

Continue reading Why Goliath and Hillary Clinton matter, but less than we may think (Quran 2:251, 1 Samuel 17:8-9)

Those same Ayahs can also prevent extremism

“He is the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and His throne was over the waters, so that He would make clear which of you is best in conduct…” 11:7

The meaning of life, or at least one meaning, is to make clear which of us is best in conduct, and so deserve to re-enter Paradise. There is enough wisdom and guidance in the Quran for aid fair-minded people on the journey home.

But by inserting a few strange verses, readers are prevented from thinking that their book, that their religion, and by extension, that they, are perfect.

This effectively shields its readers from the unquestioning faith that breeds extremism, breaks the peace, and brings on hell earth.

I assume that those who actually try to follow those strange verses literally, are either hell-bent, and/or do not, or simply cannot read the Quran. 

“Those who listen to the word, and adhere to the best of it. Those are the ones who God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” 39:18

Continue reading Those same Ayahs can also prevent extremism

Al-Islam is the best of every religion, Islam is something else (5:3)

“…This day have I complemented* your way of life for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Al-Islam** as your way of life…” 5:3

Only Muslims follow Islam, but not all Muslims. A good definition of Islam(s) can be found in a dictionary, encyclopedia, or book on world religions.

However, the religion mentioned in verse 5:3, written in Arabic as الْإِسْلَامَ and transliterated as Al-Islam, does not translate well. Some translate Al-Islam as Peace, the peace, the religion of submission, or the religion of peace. But none of these translations are convincing. I think God purposefully made this word difficult to translate and define so that our understanding of it could never become stagnate, but would instead continue to evolve. Here’s my understanding of the word Al-Islam; at least as of today.

Many modern people, religious or not, choose to learn from all religions and all books of scripture. This makes sense. But if as far as we know, the Quran is the latest book from God, that makes it the best reference point for these sort of seekers. Meaning, if any idea in any religion is mentioned in the Quran, then we should explore it, learn from it, and adhere the best of it. I think that this way of living is that ideal way of life revealed in 5:3 as الْإِسْلَامَ and transliterated as Al-Islam, for lack of an English translation.

“For every people is a messenger, and when their messenger comes, the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged.” (Quran 10:47)

Continue reading Al-Islam is the best of every religion, Islam is something else (5:3)

Why is there science in the Quran (84:1)

I have often wondered what good there is in discovering science inside of the Quran, but only after it had already been discovered outside of the Quran.

Ideally believers would make a real world discovery after reading a verse. Or we would add to the science that comes from the discovery that the verse mentions. But gaining scientific literacy is also a good outcome from reading these scientific verses. As is increased faith in the Quran as being divinely inspired to Muhammad the Prophet.

But once we are thoroughly convinced that the Quran is from God and Muhammad is His messenger. And after we know which fields of science we should take an interest in, then what?

Well, again, contributing to that area of science would be great for those with the aptitude. But I also think relating the verse and the science to the meaning of life, or to everyday life, is something every believer can do. I have found, however, that this is easier to say than it is to do. Take Quran 84:1 for example. Steps 1 and 2 are pretty straight forward:

1st) The heavy lifting concerning the science behind the literal part of this verse is worked out by our scientists.

“The Big Rip is a cosmological hypothesis first published in 2003, about the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the matter of the universe, from stars and galaxies to atoms and subatomic particles, is progressively torn apart by the expansion of the universe at a certain time in the future.”

2nd) We read about the science, and write a better translation (as far as I know, the Quran 2015 translation, happened to be the first translation with the word rip in it, read other translations):

“When the universe is ripped apart.” 84:1

3rd) In this last step, we try to relate the verse to the meaning of life, or even everyday life. I sometimes wonder how the difficulty of the step compares to step 1 and the job of the scientist? In the A. Yusef Ali Commentary we can see that he was trying to get us started down this road. Concerning 84:1 he wrote:

“The passing away of this world of sense to make way for a new World of Reality is here indicated by two Facts, which are themselves Symbols for a complete revolution in our whole knowledge and experience. At the beginning of S. 82 and S. 81, other Symbols were used, to lead up to the arguments there advanced. Here the Symbols are: (1) the Sky being rent asunder and giving up its secrets, and (2) the Earth being flattened out from the globe it is, and giving up its secrets.”

Continue reading Why is there science in the Quran (84:1)

Hillary, Rajiv, David, and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:8-9)

“Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, ‘Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us.'” (1 Samuel 17:8)

According to tradition, a Goliath (Hillary Clinton) must first make her announcement for battle before a David (I’m expecting Rajiv Shah) can be expected to accept the challenge. But the longer a Goliath waits to announce, the longer a David has to prepare.

“By God’s will they defeated them, and David slew Goliath. And God gave him power and wisdom, and taught him whatever he wished. And if God did not check one set of people by way of another, the earth would indeed be full of chaos. But God is full of bounty to all the systems of knowledge.” (Quran 2:251)

How does one write a holy book for both religious and less religious believers (2:177)

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West. But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day…” 2:177

Verse 2:177 is about properly understanding the role rituals in religion. But the correct understanding of rituals and traditions is up to each unique worshiper.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but one way to effectively write a single unifying Holy Book for both religious and less religious people is tomake the question of precisely what their religion is, and exactly what adherents to that religion must do, so complex, as to make it virtually impossible to answer.

Below are a few examples of complexities concerning rituals, rites and traditions in the Quran:

1) Only a few traditions are actually advised by God, and He details how we are to practice them.

Examples: Ablution (wudu), Fasting during the month of Ramadan

2) Other traditions are advised by God for us to practice, but He does not exactly detail how we are to practice them.

Examples: Prayer (salat), Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj and umrah)

3) Some traditions are mentioned, but God does not tell us to practice them, nor does He explain how they are to be practiced.

For Example: The call to prayer (athan), Friday worship service (jumuah)

4) And still other traditions are detailed, yet God never in fact advises us to practice them.

Examples: Wearing a head-covering, Polygyny

So again, I think this complex delivery of religion effectively allows each believer to benefit from the exact number of rituals and traditions as he or she finds helpful.

Continue reading How does one write a holy book for both religious and less religious believers (2:177)

Nina Simone and Wudu (Ablution), 5:6

“O you who believe, when you prepare for prayer, wash your faces, hands and arms to the elbows, wipe your heads and feet to the ankles…” 5:6

The song Ain’t Got No… I’ve Got Life, by American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist, Nina Simone, reminds me of the Wudu ritual. In this song, Ms. Simone mentions things she ain’t got, in order for us focus on what she’s got. And some of the things she appreciates having are her smile, hands, toes, and head.

Imam W.D. Mohammed has taught extensively on Wudu and I will use some of his it here. By performing Wudu between working on challenging and ambitious projects, we have an opportunity to focus on overcoming the obstacles that we have inevitably come up against since the last time we performed Wudu.

Washing our face reminds us of our good character, which is why we have chosen to work on the issue at hand, whatever that issue may be. Washing our hands and arms reminds us that we have our abilities, skills, and strengths which can aid us in the process. Wiping our head reminds us that we have the foundational knowledge and the mind to find solutions. And wiping our feet reminds us that we have ability stand up to the challenge, climb over it, and to journey out to get help if we cannot do it alone.

During this month of celebrating Women’s History, and indeed in every month, let us remember the challenges women like Nina Simone have faced and overcome.

nina

Continue reading Nina Simone and Wudu (Ablution), 5:6

Should Parents Pray with Their Children in Their First Language? 29:45

“Recite what is sent of the Book by inspiration to you, and establish prayer, for prayer restrains from misconduct and harmful behavior, and the remembrance of God is the greatest thing without doubt, and God knows the deeds that you do.” 29:45

If Muslim women’s function in family and society was appreciated throughout history as it ought to be, then the question of whether parents should pray with their children in their first language would have never needed to be asked.

There is nothing better to give to a child than a healthy spiritual life. And there is no better spiritual practice than prayer. But how beneficial is a child’s prayer if he or she does not understand what they are saying?

I think that if parents pray with their children in their first language using verses like these, their children will surely thank them for it for years to come.

Continue reading Should Parents Pray with Their Children in Their First Language? 29:45

Sheba and the First Woman President in U.S. History, 27:23

“I found there a woman ruling them, she has everything, and she has a magnificent throne.” 27:23

“I found there (Sheba) a woman ruling (governing and leading) them, she has everything (qualifications and achievements), and she has a magnificent (respected) throne (seat of power).” 27:23

“… this (O Sheba) is a palace built smooth with glass…”  27:44

This month and this year, Women’s History Month 2015, is a good time for a woman to announce her campaign to break our nation’s presidential glass ceiling in which Hillary Clinton and her supporters in 2008 put “18 million cracks”.

And when looking for guidance as to whether this election cycle should be the one we choose our first woman president, I naturally turned to the story of Sheba in the Quran (27:20-44 below).

In this story the male leader (Solomon) and the female leader (Sheba) both have strengths and weaknesses. Some of us will interpret Sheba’s diplomacy as weakness and others will see it as a display of strength. Some will interpret Solomon’s strong words toward the bird as strength and others and weakness.

The main lesson I learned from the characters of the complex and perhaps opaque stories of Sheba (and Hillary Clinton) is that we should always support the leader (imam) with the best mind and character, whether or not that person is a woman.

Continue reading Sheba and the First Woman President in U.S. History, 27:23

Invite Women to Sit Wherever They like on Fridays Throughout Women’s History Month, 58:1

“O you who believe, when you are asked to make room in the assembly, make room. Ample room will God make for you. And when you are asked to rise up, rise up. God will raise up in ranks those of you who believe, and who have been granted knowledge. And God is well acquainted with all you do.” 58:11

Women’s History Month is an annual declared month that highlights the contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It is celebrated during March in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. So in honor of Women’s History Month, invite our guests, sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, and grandmothers to feel free to sit wherever they would like on Fridays throughout the month of March 2015.

Continue reading Invite Women to Sit Wherever They like on Fridays Throughout Women’s History Month, 58:1

Are Humans Reading the Quran Like Mere Computers? 2:121

“Those to whom We have sent the Book, read it as it should be read, they are the ones who believe. Those who do not believe, the loss is their own.” 2:121

One day (if not already) computers will be able to read and analyze the Quran on some level (see computational linguistics: comprehension approaches to computational linguistics). But if you are like me, and think that computers will never be able to comprehend the Quran the way humans do, then you should never read the Quran in a way that even the most advanced computer imaginable could read it.

Not only does that mean that we should not come up with interpretations that we can imagine a the most powerful computers coming up with. But we should also not have understandings of verses based only on the kind of history or science that a computer like the super computer Watson could manage to find on the internet.

And since computers should never be on our level, we should not get stuck on a verse, or skip over the type of verse that could bring up an error message, or irrelevant search results on a computer simply because it has no idea what the verse is talking about. Instead, we should use, and read with, that part of us which humans have but computers do not.

Continue reading Are Humans Reading the Quran Like Mere Computers? 2:121

So How Do You Know the Quran is from God? 4:82

“Do they not consider the Quran? Had it been from other than God, they would surely have found in it much discrepancy and contradiction.” 4:82

Some claim to have found many discrepancies and contradictions in the Quran, so they think that it must not be from God. Others claim to have found none, thus it must be from God. And still others read seemingly contradicting statements as literary paradox from God (see explanation below).

But no matter which opinion you have, if you can find beneficial interpretations and applications then it does not really matter if it turns out not to be from God. And if you cannot find beneficial interpretations and applications, then it does not matter if it in fact is from God.


In literature, the paradox is an anomalous juxtaposition of incongruous ideas for the sake of striking exposition or unexpected insight. It functions as a method of literary composition – and analysis – which involves examining apparently contradictory statements and drawing conclusions either to reconcile them or to explain their presence. (read more about paradox in literature)

Continue reading So How Do You Know the Quran is from God? 4:82

Why Would there be Just One, Easy to Follow Book for Creatures with Free Will? (9:111)

“Perhaps you may want to give up a part of what is revealed to you…” (11:12)

God gave humanity free will (2:30). But what good is free will without choices (38:26). And what good are choices if they are too easy?

Therefore God gave humanity more than one book to choose from (9:111). He may penalize us for hypocrisy, but not for the book we choose (2:62, 5:44, 30:62). And I think that anyone who has studied the books would have to admit that deciding how (or if) to follow and believe in all the verses, in any one of the books, is not an easy choice to make (11:12).

“Those who listen to the word, and adhere to the best of it. Those are the ones who God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” 39:18

And adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not. 39:55

Referenced Verses

Continue reading Why Would there be Just One, Easy to Follow Book for Creatures with Free Will? (9:111)

Does Allah Forgive All Sins or Not? (Quran 4:48 and 39:53)

“God does not forgive that partners be established with Him, but He forgives anything else, to whom He pleases. But to establish partners with God is to commit a sin most heinous indeed.” 4:48

*****

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِن رَّحْمَةِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ

“Say, ‘O my servants who have transgressed against their souls, do not despair of the mercy of God, for God forgives all sins, for He is Oft-Forgiving, Mercifully Redeeming.'” 39:53

What good is free will if we do not have choices? So for the question, “Does God forgive all sins or not?”, the Quran gives us options…

Option A: If you do not want to believe that God will forgive those who have a very imperfect, but sincere concept of God, then go with 4:48.

Option B: If you do want to believe that God will forgive His sincere servants for all of their sins, then verse 39:53 is for you.

Wondering if 39:53 indeed says all sins? Look at a word for word Quran and read other people’s translation of 39:53.

“Those who listen to the word, and adhere to the best of it. Those are the ones who God has guided, and those are the ones endowed with understanding.” 39:18

“And adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not.” 39:55

Continue reading Does Allah Forgive All Sins or Not? (Quran 4:48 and 39:53)

Why Is the Quran So Easy to Misinterpret and Misuse? (Quran 11:7)

“He is the One who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and His throne was over the waters, so that He would make clear which of you is best in conduct…” 11:7

I do not think that the Quran is especially easy to misinterpreted and misuse. I think the Quran, like everything else, was created to be used exactly the way we want to use it. 

Could the person who wants to be chaste and a person who does not, both use the Quran to help them be what they want? 

70:29. Those who guard their chastity, 

70:30. Except with their spouses and those who their right hands possess, for them there is no blamed.

24:30. Say to the believers that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty. That will make for greater refinement for them, and God is well acquainted with all that they do. 

Can the person who wants world peace and another who wants violence both find an interpretation in the Quran to support what they want? 

2:191. And slay them wherever you catch them. And drive them out from where they have driven you out, for oppression is worse than slaughter. But do not fight them at the Sacred Masjid, unless they attack you there, and if they attack you, slay them. Such is the punishment of those who suppress faith.

2:224. And do not make God an excuse in your promises against doing good, or acting right, or making peace between people. For God is the One who hears and knows all things. 

Can the person who wants to get drunk and the person who does not both use the Quran to get what they want? 

4:43. O you who believe, do not approach prayer with a confused mind, until you can understand all that you say…

2:219. They ask you about intoxicants and gambling. Say, “In both of them is great harm and benefit for humanity, but the harm outweighs the benefit.” They ask you how much they are to give. Say, “That which is beyond your needs.” Indeed God makes clear to you His signs in order that you may contemplate.

God created everything to test which of us will use our free will the best (so that we can earn paradise again). Why should the Quran be an exception?

“Adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not.” (39:55)

Continue reading Why Is the Quran So Easy to Misinterpret and Misuse? (Quran 11:7)

Who Should Be the next President of the United States of America?

“And there is the type of person who gives their life to earn the pleasure of God, and God is full of kindness to His servants.” 2:207

10Hillary_Clinton_swearing_in_Rajiv_Shah_2010

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No Labels was brilliant choice for his first interview on March 7, 2015. It is not a part of the democratic machine connected to Hillary Clinton. Rajiv Shah has earned the respect and friendship of not only Democrats in congress but also Republican and Independent alike.

Why should Rajiv Shah be the next president? In short: None of the Republicans will do. Joe Biden makes too many gaffes. And Hillary Clinton misspeaks and is difficult to trust. Rajiv Shah, on the other hand, is qualified, electable, and would make an exceptional president. Like our Rajiv Shah for President Facebook page to let him know that we think he should be the next president of the United States of America.

Visit the Rajiv Shah for President website

ISIL (Islamic Satire of Iraq and the Levant)

“Adhere to the best of what is revealed to you from your Guardian Evolver, before the penalty comes on you all of a sudden, while you perceive it not.” (39:55)

I think that satire (the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues) is found throughout the Quran (e.g. 4:15-4:16, 18:56-82, 24:33) because becoming aware of our stupidity and vices can be the first step to acquiring moral/ethical knowledge.

Those who cannot understand this (e.g. ISIL, Boko Haram, their supporters and sympathizers) become this satire; personified. But hopefully these expressions of satire in the news are helping the other Muslims see our stupidity and vices concerning how some of us view non-muslims, democracy, kingdoms, women and girls, etc. 

“Then must we not first know the nature of virtue? For how can we advise any one about the best mode of attaining something of which we are wholly ignorant?”

-Socrates (Laches)

Continue reading ISIL (Islamic Satire of Iraq and the Levant)

Why Isn’t the Origin of the Universe Story Scientifically Accurate? (Quran 25:59 and Genesis 31)

“He Who created the heavens and the earth, and all that is between, in six days, and is firmly established on the Throne of Authority, God the Merciful Benefactor. Then ask about Him, those who are acquainted with such things.” (Quran 25:59) 

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.” (Genesis 31)

God could have given us a scientific account of the creation of the universe. But by giving us a non-scientific account, God effectively answers the oldest, most stressful question of “Who” created the universe, while leaving the fun part of discovering “what” is the universe, to us.

(thoughts inspired by this Ashbury Bible Commentary)

Continue reading Why Isn’t the Origin of the Universe Story Scientifically Accurate? (Quran 25:59 and Genesis 31)

Should Muslims Criticize the Jewish or Christian Bible among and within Themselves? 2:174-176

“Those who conceal God’s revelation in the Book, and purchase them for a miserable profit, they swallow into themselves nothing but fire. God will not address them on the Day of Resurrection, nor redeem them, and terrible will be their penalty. 2:174

“They are the ones who buy error instead of guidance, and torment in place of forgiveness. What boldness they show for the fire. 2:175

“This is because God sent down the Book in truth. But those who seek causes of dispute in the Book are in disharmony.” 2:176

What book do you think 2:174 is referring to? According to 2:176, the book we believe 2:174 is referring to is the same book that we are not to criticize. Not among the believers of that book, not among other Muslims, not even within ourselves. Lest we neither be a people of peace, nor a person at peace (2:176). Instead, we should apply 16:125 by finding and sharing the wisest, most beautiful interpretations of the verses that we are most uncomfortable with.

See other people’s translations of 2:176.

“Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful teaching, and converse with them in ways that are best and most gracious, for your Lord knows best who have strayed from His path, and who have received guidance.” 16:125