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Monday, May 18, 2009


Recently, I have been reflecting on an arabic word: (umiya) أمي
"Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper." -Holy Qur'an 7:157

Umiya, according to many arabic dictionaries, is translated as "illiterate" or "uneducated". Yusuf Ali uses the translation: "unlettered" (which I think is a better translation, but still insufficient).

This translation has to be placed in the correct context. Our Prophet Muhammad (saw) was not illiterate or uneducated in the general sense, he was unlettered in scripture. Meaning he had not been taught any of the previous revelations nor did he come from a people who had previously received scripture.
"In the Qur'an, G-d said that Muhammed is the Unlettered Prophet, meaning he was never schooled or taught by any religious teachers. He was a businessman working for his wife, Lady Khadijah, may G-d be pleased with her. He was not acquainted with the Bible or any scriptures – unlettered or unlearned in scripture." -Imam W. D. Mohammed
So, this debunks any argument saying that the revelation of the Qur'an through Prophet Muhammad was not authentic. It is illogical to believe that a man (prayers and peace be upon him) with no training or knowledge of previous scripture, or formal, wordly, education could create a book as remarkable as the Holy Qur'an.

But the word Umiya...what is the connection with "Um" (Mother). Why use a word to mean uneducated or illiterate with a word that means mother? In what way is a mother illiterate?
"There are some among the religious groups of people who use to believe that women do not have to be educated. There are actually some who still believe like that. Do you see how that inference can easily be drawn? If “ummiy” is translated as “unlettered” which basically means “untaught” or “unschooled” then one can easily assume that women do not have to be educated. This then leads to the idea that women do not have the same capacity for learning as men do. This idea stretched so far to the point where it was eventually accepted by certain members within the hierarchy of several major religions that women did not have souls. The words “mother” and “matter” come from the same root. Therefore, women were seen as merely materialistic beings put here to service the man’s needs and pleasures." -Imam Benjamin Bilal

It is very important to have the correct perception, especially when studying scripture. The Ummi or the unlettered are those who do not have knowledge of scripture. They only have that which the common people have when they come from the womb of their mother, mother wit !

Look how the tone changes from something harsh and degrading to something innocent and innate! An innate knowledge, free from wordly or outside influence, a motherly knowledge. This is what the Prophet had.

Look at how words can influence our perception and understanding things!

"When Imam Mohammed told us that “words make people” he was bringing us back to the origin of language. He could have said that sentences make people or paragraphs make people, but instead, he went to the root of the problem and said that “words make people” and he said that a word is “anything that brings a picture or message to your mind”. Now, let me show you something about this word “word”.

The Bible says that, Jesus is the word and the Quran calls Jesus a “kalimatan min Allah” which means a word from Allah. Do you see how simple this is? This is not something that you need to go get a PhD in Islamic Studies in order to figure out. All you have to have is a free-thinking brain and a pure heart. And you have to stop allowing the culture to influence your understanding. Learn to think naturally.

In the Bible Jesus says that, “I am the word”. Separate that from what you have been told concerning Jesus being the “son of G-d”. In the Qur’an, Allah addresses what has been said in the Bible by stating that Jesus is a “word from Allah”. Do you see the correction? He is a word, but from Allah. He is not Allah. And Allah is not “the word”. Some Muslims have made the mistake in believing that, Allah is the Qur’an or that the Qur’an represents the totality of what it is Allah knows. Allah is not limited by His Word. The Qur’an is everything that you need to know. Allah’s knowledge is infinite. In fact, it is much more than you will ever need to know.

By Allah saying that Jesus is a word from Allah, look at the help that this gives the Christian in the Qur’an. The Qur’an is here for the Christian as much as it is here for the Muslim. The Qur’an is here to correct Jewish understanding as much as it is here to shape mold and establish Muslim understanding. “Muslim” is simply the nature that Allah put in us, in the Christian, Jew and everybody else. It is our original nature. “Muslim” is our human makeup. It is that which is related to the “fitrah” and the fitrah is the natural pattern upon which Allah created, not just everybody, but everything. As a consequence, everything in creation has Muslim nature.

The key for Muslim success in this day and time is to return back to the study of the sciences. We will not be successful, in my opinion, until we turn our attention away from seeing Islam as ethnicity. That is the trap. The trick is to make us think that “Muslim” means Muslim country or that it is relegated to certain Arabic speaking ethnic groups.

If the Christians say: “Jesus was crucified on a cross.” And then Allah says that, Jesus was a word from Allah, then what is that suggesting? First of all, “kalimatan” does not mean just one word. “Kalimatan” actually means a “group of words”. It can mean “sentences”. It is given as a singular word but it has plural significance and application. Therefore, we are now talking about the crucifixion of language. This is explained in our Muslim “Bible” (Qur’an) as a help for those who follow the Christian Bible. The Christian may ask: “You mean to tell me that, this is not talking about the crucifixion of my Lord?” No indeed, not as a flesh and blood person. It is referring to the crucifixion of Christ Jesus as a principle representing what the schemers have done to the Word of G-d. Right now, the process is afoot to try and do the same thing to the Qur’an. Putting the word on the cross means that they situate your scripture so that you can’t make progress with it. The Bible actually conveys the blueprint for how language itself is crucified and revived or resurrected over and over again. Those who can read the blueprint also have the knowledge of how to bring the people back to scriptural understanding."
-Imam Benjamin Bilal


rhali786 said...

I heard brother bilal speak on this on saturday. I apologize for not giving you a heads up. Imam Bilal is very enlightening for two reasons. He didn't sugar coat or spoon feed the information and secondly, he enunciates the best that I have EVER seen! Which makes his presentation soooo interesting. That was the first time I met or heard of him. Brother Muubashir was there too and he is also equally impressive in his own right.

Did this exceprt come from StudentsofIMWD?

thelegacymaker said...

Wa ASA, bro! Sorry I missed that one. I know them through the other group: We-are-with-Imam WDM

Anonymous said...

is it a good name for a muslim girl???

Anonymous said...

UMIYA is a good name for a muslim girl??? PLZ REPLY soon

thelegacymaker said...

Islam emphasizes that Muslims should have good names and give good names to their children. "Unlettered or illiterate" is not a good name.

Ummayyah (She was a narrator of Hadith) or Sumayyah (high, lofty) are good names.

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