a reply to: TheRedneck
The last couple of posts have been to point out inconsistencies between popular belief and what was written in the Bible. If someone wishes to call
themselves Christian and ignore some of the tenets of actual defined Christianity, that is their right and their prerogative. That does not change the
I am no scholar on Islam, but I would not be surprised if the same phenomenon were not the cause behind the Islamophobia (correct term; there is an
actual fear of the religion among many in the US) presently existing. If I am correct, the proper way to combat that fear is to understand the
differences between those who practice the various sects.
You're completely right about this. There are many different interpretations of Islam, with most picking and choosing what they want to believe to
some extent. For example, in theory, all Muslims should follow the entire Qur'an. But in practice, many entire denominations minimize the Qur'an and
focus on specific Sunnah and/or Hadith. And many Salafis (particularly Wahhabis) even consider the Qur'an incomplete and use their own additional
works to define what Islam "really is" (though to admit that out loud is basically blasphemy, so they spin it by saying "there are lost verses that
confirm our stuff" and "the people we're quoting were among those who there each time the Prophet Muhammad received a new Qur'anic verse, so they're
And even the Muslims who want to follow the Qur'an directly will have a hard time doing it. It's hard for me to explain this accurately, but I'll try
with this set of convoluted points
1. The Qur'an is written in a complex and highly detailed form of ancient/original Arabic. It's like writing the concept of "two" by writing "Numeral
2. The different dialects of modern Arabic are like shorthand versions of Quranic Arabic, with new words and meanings included over the last 1400
years. So it's like writing the concept of "two" as "2", or "II" if they had extensive contact with Latin cultures.
Technically, the examples in #1 & #2 are saying the same things: "two". But if a regional dialect doesn't have or use the word "Numeral" and you don't
use symbols like the plus sign or the period, it would be confusing. As in, does it mean "two, to, or too"? (Just think of trying to translate
Shakespearean English into shorthand, modern English.)
3. Because of these differences, even native Arabic speakers have to learn Quranic Arabic before learning to read the Qur'an. But who would they learn
it from? That's where many of the issues come in.
4. Each denomination and "school of thought" typically has its own schools and lessons on how to interpret/understand each word in the Qur'an. The
differences may be slight at first, but the accumulation of these differences can change the meanings of entire passages and Surahs. (An individual
can also just learn each word and phrase on their own, but other Muslims may not accept this.)
Just think about the English word "fight". Does the phrase "You must fight" mean "you must wage war" or "you must oppose"? And was the word "you" in
that phrase singular or plural, feminine or masculine? Depending on your cultural and personal beliefs, "You must fight" can mean "Your men must wage
war" or "You as an individual must speak up against what you disbelieve in". And the "must" implies that is mandatory. So what happens to those who
disobey your interpretation of that phrase, since it seems mandatory?
5. Because of these kinds of differences, each denomination and "school of thought" can have vastly different interpretations of the same Qur'anic
verses (or very similar interpretations. it's weird). The more credible schools will teach a variety of interpretations and dialects for each word,
but others will also warn that no one but those who know every possible interpretation that they accept should have a say in Islamic rules or
leadership. For example, clearly the groups like Salafis and Shiites have reached vastly different conclusions on different passages.
6. These different interpretations can be small or vast. This is why even 2 Sunni sects may pray slightly differently, prohibit different things, etc.
Yet a Sunni sect and a Shiite sect may agree on those same things. And each denomination or school of thought will also conveniently interpret Quranic
passages in ways that confirm the non-Qur'an teachings that they follow. For example, gender segregation, circumcision, the Dajjal/Antichrist, and
stoning to death for crimes are not mentioned in the Qur'an. But some of its passages are interpreted differently by specific sects in order to
justify Hadith or Sunnah that promote them.
This is also why it's important for people to mention the Qur'an translation they're using when referencing the Qur'an. Because many of those same
sects have their own "translations" of the Qur'an, which can differ greatly. As a rule, anything in parenthesis in a Qur'an translation is added by
the editor for "clarification". But not all translations have "clarifications" at the same places, and some (like the Sahih International translation)
may add things without putting them in parenthesis
. So the only way to know for sure is to look at multiple translations and/or look up the
exact words in Qur'anic Arabic for yourself (though many people will simply look for an explanation from a scholar they accept/acknowledge).
It actually gets even deeper than this, but I think this gets the point across. And this is just from the scholarly/religious leadership side. Most
normal Muslims don't go into this much detail and don't argue over the semantics like the leaders do. Many typically start with their local
interpretation of Islam (while ignoring the stuff they don't accept), and then start learning more over time (including switching denominations or
sects, becoming non-practicing or rejecting it altogether).