The Quran – Polysemous or Duplicitous?

I’d like to address the bull shit that is passed off as reasons for thinking the Quran is a fine book, that it represents a religion of peace, that it’s all for freeing slaves, that blah blah blah … you know the score.

As an example, I’ll use a recent comment made to excuse Islam and the Quran. I’ll use only the bits relevant to this post, and I’ll paraphrase it to make it readable, and the emphasis will be mine. You can see the full comment and the context here if you wish.

All language is polysemous to one degree on another (which is why words like polysemous exist), not just the language of the Quran.

It doesn’t take great scholarship [to understand the apparent contradiction of taking the peaceful bits literally and not the nasty bits]; it just takes commonsense to understand the Quran. The Quran itself mentions the polysemous nature of some verses and how some people will try to extract a dubious interpretation from them.

That isn’t a good quality of the Quran but the very root of the problem, along with it’s own claim to its truth. ISIS can use that very same principle to claim that those Muslims that tell us, “Islam is a religion of peace and there is no requirement for violent Jihad,” are the ones extracting a dubious interpretation.

[Quran 3:7] He sent down to you this scripture, containing straightforward verses – which constitute the essence of the scripture – as well as multiple-meaning or allegorical verses – Those who harbor doubts in their hearts will pursue the multiple-meaning verses to create confusion, and to extricate a certain meaning. None knows the true meaning thereof except GOD and those well founded in knowledge. They say, ‘We believe in this – all of it comes from our Lord.’ Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.

This of course is bull shit.

  • He sent down the scripture – An assertion with no proof or evidence
  • Those who harbor doubts in their hearts will pursue the multiple-meaning verses to create confusion – A self contradictory paradoxical piece if ever there was one, because that very passage could be literally true, or might be one of the elements with multiple meaning, such that to take it’s literal meaning as true is to take it incorrectly, so causing confusion, which you should not. And, of course, it’s then up to each Muslim t decide which are the multiple meaning verses and which are literal, and what the multiple meanig versus actually mean, and … what a fucking mess.
  • Only those who possess intelligence will take heed – A popular refrain from idiots who want to pass off confused and meaningless language as wise and pious. A thinly disguised ad hominem use to shame and embarrass dissenters.

One scholar, Edip Yuksel, noted the irony surrounding these types of Quranic verses:

“It is ironic and curious that those who claim that the Quran is difficult to understand do not understand the very verses about the understanding of the Quran. Verses 7:3; 17:46; 41:44; 56:79 are extraordinary works of linguistic art containing both the thesis and its proof simultaneously, since their multiple-meaning language contains a guide to understand the Quran and an excuse for not understanding the Quran. Those who understand the language of these verses experience the fulfillment of a miracle when they witness people unable to understand and glorify their lack of understanding the very verses that condemn those who lack understanding.”

If people have trouble understanding the very verses about the understanding of the Quran, and if such verses are “extraordinary works of linguistic art”, with “multiple-meaning language”, then it’s not surprising the Quran is not understood. But, the real irony is that it is not understood for the bullshit that it is, for this very reason.

Let’s just break that down:

  • Those who understand the language of these verses
  • experience the fulfillment of a miracle when they witness people unable to understand
  • and glorify their lack of understanding the very verses that condemn those who lack understanding

This is a well know marketing trick. Big up those that get it, so that those that don’t get it will want to claim they do, and will pretend they do, in order to not feel stupid. And those that still don’t get it, but don’t want to dishonestly claim they don’t, won’t speak up, because they will look stupid if they do – or will be lynched by the mob that claim to get it.

And, when the marketing magic has done its trick, idiots will convince themselves they get it and will feel part of the in-group, and can laugh at (and kill, in Bangladesh) the dumb fuckers that still don’t get it.

This neat little trick avoids the need to actually demonstrate that any of the claims are true. Nobody wants to look dumb (or get hacked to death) by challenging them – except from some fucking outrageously brave souls, the atheists (and Christians and other believers, to be fair) living in Islamic countries.

Here’s a another quote from Edip Yuksel along the same lines …

“Your Majesty, this is a magic suit.” Well, the truth of the matter is, there was no suit there at all. But the swindlers, Mo and Co, were very smart, and they said, “Your Majesty, to a wise man this is a beautiful raiment but to a fool it is absolutely invisible.” Naturally, the King not wanting to appear a fool, said: “Isn’t it grand! Isn’t it fine! Look at the cut, the style, the line! The suit of clothes is all together But all together it’s all together … “

Oh, sorry, that might have been a misquote from Danny Kaye:

FFS, does anyone really truly buy this Quran crap?

Moving on to the duplicitous (sorry, polysemous) excusing of slavery …

When Muslims do harm in the name of Islam, they’re not doing what Islamic scripture requires. For example, ISIS justifies slavery, but the Quran doesn’t:

Well, that would mean jack shit, if it were true. The Quran doesn’t tell you to drive cars, so car drivers are un-Islamic? Well, at least Saudi has been encouraging women to be Islamic on that score.

But I digress .. the Quran on slavery …

“Righteousness is. . . . to free the slaves. . . .” [Quran 2:177]

“It is not for a human that God would give him the book, the authority, and the prophethood, then he would say to the people: ‘Be servants to me rather than to God!’ . . . .” [Quran 3:79]

“No believer shall kill another believer, unless it is an accident. If one kills a believer by accident, he shall atone by freeing a believing slave. . . .” [Quran 4:92]

Quran 4:92 isn’t interested in non-believers. In fact this is an example of the duplicitous nature of Islam.

Here’s another example: Q 5:32 is often quoted “whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely” – but the rest of the verse and the surrounding versus are left out. “Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul …

This is and other passages around it demonise Jews and Christians and 5:32 is basically a threat: kill Muslims and you’ll regret it. This isn’t the wholesome religion of peace at work but a political war-like religion stating terms for the conquered.

You don’t think that’s right? Well, you’re simply not using the correct interpretation. You do “not understand the very verses about the understanding of the Quran”. See how easy this game is?

Sorry, I digress again … slavery …

“. . . .If you violate an oath, you shall atone by. . . . freeing a slave. . . .” [Quran 5:89]

“Charities shall go to. . . . free the slaves. . . .” [Quran 9:60]

“Those who estrange their wives. . . . shall atone by freeing a slave. . . .” [Quran 58:3]

“He should choose the difficult path. Which one is the difficult path? The freeing of slaves.” [Quran 90:11-13]

Taken as a whole, slavery isn’t condemned but approved of. For example, 23:5-6 “And who guard their modesty – Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess.” – There’s no specific demand that Muslims give up slavery.

In fact, freeing slaves [Quran 58:3] is often a punishment for the wayward Muslim, rather than something that’s the right thing to do for the benefit of the slave.

Another digression: I’ve seen this sort of rhetoric before. In an exchange with a Muslim that thought having multiple wives was very liberal I pointed out that a wife can’t have multiple husbands. It’s then that the true misogyny came out: How would she satisfy all her husbands? Who wants to dip their nib into a shared ink well? Yes, seriously, that was the line of reasoning.

We’re enlightened Muslims, with four wives, and we fuck women; not only literally, up to four of them, but also figuratively, with regard to multiple husbands? See, I do unsertand the polysemous nature polygamous Islam.

The duplicitous language is used here too, on slavery. A behaviour is passed off as something enlightened, compassionate and modern, but it’s skin deep – the concern here isn’t for the slave but for the virtue of the Muslim that owns the slave. Islam likes to punish – and what could be worse than having to give up a slave? (I know, death for apostasy, blasphemy, homosexuality, adultery, … but another time.)

And as for 4:92 and “a believing slave,” it’s not only fine to keep slaves, but even slaves that are believers. That’s just what ISIS need when the use the Quran’s ‘polysemous nature’ to justify having slaves at all. Non-believer slaves are just fine, by thee way.

ISIS can get this right from the Quran – with hardly any polysemous understanding at all. They may also have help from the Hadith, where someone else has done the handy work of interpreting the ‘polysemous nature’ of the Quran, but the Quran has all the information they need right there – if only they could understand it, which of course they do.

But Quran 90:11-13 seems to be pretty nice, doesn’t it – until you move on in that Surrah …

“But they who disbelieved in Our signs – those are the companions of the left.”

Yeah, not so charitable after all, is it. A bit of charitable piety to wash down the medicine of hell fire. Can you do your duplicitous nature, sorry, your polysemous nature trick on that for me and tell me which bits have multiple meanings and which are the right meanings?

Love how Muslims and regressives cherry pick the ‘polysemous nature’ of the Quran to take from it just what you want it to mean – oh, yeah, that’s what it’s for. In which case ISIS are just as entitled to do their interpreting.

Of course, as well as all this BS we have to add in the complexity of abrogation, the sequence in which the parts were ‘conveniently’ revealed, blah, blah.

What else did Edip Yuksel say? Something about the thesis and the proof?

“extraordinary works of linguistic art containing both the thesis and its proof simultaneously”

Really? This is about as stupid as stupid gets. This is why: The Liar’s Holy Book.

What’s hilarious about all this is that philosophy has for millennia been trying to parse words to extract meaning, to clarify writing, to express explicit meaning, to reduce confusion.

There are occasions where groups of humans have enjoyed the chaos caused by flowery language with vague and often meaningless content. It’s amazing to watch the Arch Bishop of Cantabury (both present and previous) perform mental gymnastics to salvage goodness out of a holy vile mess. Islam, I have to say, is a master at this, and even cons people that simultaneously declare a love of logic and wisdom. (An honorary mention goes to French postmodernist philosophers and Sokal exposed Social Science departments around the world).

The polysemous nature of the Quran? I think this duplicitous excuser of Islam really means the duplicitous nature of the Quran.

Irony: ‘polysemous’ means ‘duplicitous’ in this context, because in this case it’s not about exploring multiple meanings but about using multiple meanings as part of an agenda to make the words mean exactly what you want them to mean, nothing more, nothing less.

humptydumpty

Here’s John Searle, on Derrida:

With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking in French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying. That’s the obscurantism part. And then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” And I like that. So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted that passage, and he said yes.

And so we have the terrorism of Quranic obscurantism. Welcome to Islam.

Here’s an exposé of the duplicitous, sorry, polymenous, nature of Islam, as swallowed whole by regressives and scared politicians:

StupidIslam

You should follow @JihadistJoe if you want to understand the one true multiple Islam.

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