Search This Blog

Thursday, July 9, 2009

M.A.L.I.’s Qur’anic Conference Raises the Bar

M.A.L.I.’s Qur’anic Conference Raises the Bar
by Q. Daawud Greym

In holding its first Qur’anic Conference from June 19th – 21st, the Muslim American Logic Institute (M.A.L.I.) set a new standard for conferences, whose focus is the study of the Qur’an.

With such presentations as “The Qur’an as User-Friendly” and a “Conceptual Analysis of the Qur’an,” as well as a number of public exercises displaying the grammatical expertise of the M.A.L.I. students, the bar for Qur’anic conferences was raised to the next level for the supporters of Imam W. D. Mohammed (IWDM).

According to its website, M.A.L.I. is “an institution devoted to the study and preservation of Imam W. Deen Mohammed’s Qur’anic logic and teachings of Al-Islam in America.”

The three-day conference, held at Masjid Ash-Shaheed in Charlotte NC, featured four main addresses, all presented on Saturday, June 20th. A fifth address by Imam Abdullah Yahya of Dallas, TX was cancelled because of his inability to attend. The topics of the four addresses, which were presented in this order, were: (1) “The Impact of the Usage and the Loss of the Classical Arabic Language on the Muslim World;” (2) “Consonantal Connections in the Qur’an;” (3) “The Qur’an as User-Friendly;” and (4) a “Conceptual Analysis of the Qur’an.”

(Unfortunately, this reporter was unable to attend the shorter presentations on education, business, health and the prison system, scheduled for Sunday.)

In the June 19th Jumah khutbah, Imam Qasim Ahmed, founder and director of the traveling Islamic Learning Institute, Inc and the Mercy Community Center in Tampa FL, set the tone for the conference. “Are you going to learn to read the Qur’an (in Arabic) this weekend? No!” he emphasized. But what he hoped the conference would achieve, was to “build an appetite” for reading it.

And this “appetite for the Qur’an” is natural and inborn. He related a conversation with an estranged Muslim relative who recently died and had “a different mindset.” Imam Qasim said the uncle told him that his own written material reminded the uncle of stories about his “great-grandfather” who used to sit in circles with other slaves and write Arabic in the ground. “There is an innate nature in the souls of our people (African-Americans) for Qur’anic Arabic,” Imam Qasim declared.

A stronger proof of this “innate” connection was given in the fact that the Qur’an was revealed upon Prophet Muhammad’s heart. “And surely this is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. The Faithful Spirit has descended with it upon your heart…” 26:192 -194. Imam Qasim stressed to the audience that Allah has not created two hearts in anyone’s body (33:4). “The heart was created by Allah to love him,” and therefore, the Glorious Qur’an, he concluded.

But he asked the rhetorical question: “Why is it that you don’t have a strong appetite for this Qur’an, where you are knocking down the doors (to learn the Qur’anic Arabic)? Who has destroyed that appetite?” The explanation for the African-American’s motivational coma was given in a quote from IWDM: “We live in an oppressive word-environment.”

Then, Imam Qasim reminded the Muslims about the first commercial book that IWDM recommended to the community,“Subliminal Seduction,” in 1975. The book described the subtle techniques used by the advertising industry “to cause havoc in your subconscious and create an appetite for the unG-dly,” he said. “The designers (of this society) arrested our innate nature to love and respect G-d,” he added.

In his Saturday lecture, Imam Qasim proposed a “powerful” strategy to counteract this motivational coma for
reading the Qur’an. He proposed that the Believer read the Qur’an with just her/his subconscious mind.
HOW? By speed-reading a portion of the Qur’an every day. “Don’t worry about trying to understand the Arabic. Just go as fast as you can, because the subconscious is taking an automatic picture of every word,” he said. He pointed out that 90 % of the power of the mind is in the subconscious which controls all of the vital systems in the body, i.e. circulatory, respiratory, nervous, etc. The consistent activity of speed-reading the Qur’an will enter the subconscious and provide a protection - “hafeez” - against the corrupt words and negative influences that enter the mind from society.

But, Imam Faheem Shuaibe of Masjudul-Waritheen in Oakland CA, who is also founder and director of Muslim American Research Institute Advocating Marriage, gave the first major address on Saturday. However, he approached the Qur’an from a different perspective. His topic - “The Impact of the Usage and the Loss of the Classical Arabic Language on the Muslim World,” offered a more panoramic view. Reading mostly from an 11-page prepared text, Imam Faheem covered a lot of ground, starting with Adam and the origins of language and ending with the language of the Qur’an.

Many references to the Qur’an and the commentary of IWDM were made in his presentation, too. His first quote from IWDM was: “Human beings were on the earth a long time before Adam was on the earth…it was not until man became conscious of himself as a creation of G-d…that the biological person became Adam,” according to IWDM.

Then, Imam Faheem referred the audience to 30:30: “(Establish) Allah’s handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind.” The “pattern on which He has made mankind” is Al-Insaan, the “completed” human form, Imam Faheem explained.

In order to build, maintain and restore this “human form” he made reference to 55:1- 4 (Allah) Most Gracious! It is He Who has taught the Qur’an. He has created man. He has taught him speech (and intelligence).
Imam Faheem said it’s the technical language that really makes the professional. “Take them before they acquired the (technical) language and you don’t have the named professional,” he said. Likewise, “the language that constructs Al-Insaan (the complete human) is the language of Al-Qur’an.”

As he began to explain the origins of language and grammar, reference was made again to the commentary of IWDM. “People in the beginning used animals as a model for language, then the intellect took over,” Imam Faheem quoted IWDM as having said.

“When the intelligence took over, they started to refine that language. But as they had to face the job of refining their language, they had to use their intellect to study matter – the language in G-d’s creation. Then…they took words from G-d’s creation and built their language up...Not only did they take words and concepts from G-d’s creation, they took the logic for those concepts and used them for connecting. From the connection of the concepts, they gave the logic to their language and call it grammar…” according to Imam Faheem’s quote of IWDM.

In referring to the role of classical Arabic, Imam Faheem said that it was designed for the Qur’an. “The original Arabic language was grown specifically to be the vessel for the last revelation of Allah,” he said.
He compared the process Allah used to produce classical Arabic to the methodology that scientists employ “to culture” or grow certain micro-organisms in the laboratory for experimental purposes. “Allah used the Arab people as the soil out of which a special language was grown. Allah created Arabic for containing divine ideas, concepts and logic. It was His plan.” Imam Faheem concluded.

While Imam Faheem had a broad, comprehensive approach to Qur’anic Arabic, the second presenter, Imam Benjamin Bilal of the Human Restoration Center of Queens NY, took a minimalist and elementary approach to the language.

Imam Benjamin’s topic was the “Consonantal Connections in the Qur’an. However, even with the study of just the letters of the Arabic alphabet, he was still able to arrive at the same conclusion as Imam Faheem – the completed human form is Al-Insaan or “the social man.”

English is known to be a “bastard language,” Imam Benjamin said. It is “an extracted language from the Germanic tribes and it was invented by the Benedictine monks for the purpose of satire,” he explained
For this type of understanding of language and words, he encouraged the audience to start using an etymological dictionary which traces the origins and development of words.

“Every letter has its own meaning; therefore every letter is a word. And every word is a sentence,” Imam Benjamin declared.

He also mentioned that every letter has “a phonetic value” and “a pictograph” associated with it. For example, the letter “alif” means “strong or to protect ,” while the letter “baa” means “house.” Thus, the Arabic word “abu” means “the strength or protector of the house,” which “is really the father,” Imam Benjamin revealed..

Another example was the letter “lam,” whose pictograph is a “shepherd’s staff or hook.” Its meaning, according to Imam Benjamin, is “to teach,” which is seen when the shepherd points the sheep in the right direction with the staff (a form of teaching) and when he holds them back from danger with the hook (another form of teaching that protects the animal).

Imam Benjamin apologized for the lack of a “power-point” projector for his presentation, as was originally planned. But he more than made up for it when he emphasized to the audience that the real “power” was in “the point” that was being made during his lecture.

Last, but not least, was the presentation by Muslim Journal columnist and the director of M.A.L.I., Imam Salim MuMin of Detroit, MI. It was entitled “Conceptual Analysis of the Qur’an.”

For his presentation, Imam Salim used an overhead-projector to display five groups of words on the masjid’s side wall. Each group formed an imaginary-square with a “focus-word” in the center and four “key-words” at the corners of the square.

“What I did, was take a word from the Qur‘an and find other verses that contain the same word. Then, I took key words that surrounded it and looked at their contextual meanings,” Imam Salim told the audience. As he positioned the key-words around the focus-word, a “conceptual field” of meanings emerged from them, he said.

In the last word-group, Imam Salim took the focus-words of the first four groups and used them as key-words for his last focus-word – “furqaan.” These converted key-words (with Imam Salim’s definitions) were: “futuur (original pattern) tafaawut (surface, passing, perishable); mutashaabihaat (facsimile) muhkamaat (plain, everyday logic without interpretation). Their collective effect on “furqaan” pushed its meaning from “to split, separate or divide” to a conceptual-meaning of “having the ability to tell the difference between a facsimile and the original,” Imam Salim said.

In a private interview, he explained the object of his “conceptual analysis” approach. “The object is to develop a conceptual wholeness or world view. It allows you to go beyond the dictionary meanings and use the Qur’an to define itself. This is the key to studying the logic of Imam Mohammed.” Imam Salim concluded.

Co-facilitator, Sr. Hafeeza Muhammad of host Masjid Ash-Shaheed, who also composed a splendid dua for her son to read on Saturday, cited a conference-attendance of 220 Muslims. She said that the figure was “beyond” their expectations.



Anonymous said...


Post a Comment