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Islam: Meaning or Wording?

Nowadays, most Muslims do not know the meaning of the Quran, and also, they do not know the wording of the Quran. Most Muslims do not respect Quran, and they reject Quran because they feel and show indifference to and ignorance of the Quran. The enemies of the Quran at least try to refute it, and in order to refute it, they study and research Quran, but pseudo- friends and quasi-followers of the Quran who call themselves “Muslims” do not study and research Quran. Muslims are worse than enemies of the Quran; Muslims are the first and foremost enemies and betrayers of the Quran.

A spear thrust in the chest is better than a dagger stabbed in the back, and Quran was stabbed in the back many times and on numerous occasions by Muslims and by Muslims only. Muslims betrayed Quran, and Muslims are betraying Quran every day because they do not seek and search for the meaning of the Quran.

Let us think about a person who peels a skin of potato or apple, then she throws away peeled potato or apple, and she starts to eat that peeled skin. Then she opens a bar of chocolate, throws away chocolate, and starts to eat the paper wrap of chocolate. Then she opens a bottle of water, pours away water, and starts to eat that plastic or glass bottle. After that, she opens the box of the new iPhone, throws away iPhone, and starts to play with the box. Now, is this person sane or insane? Are her actions logical or absurd? Is her behavior constructive or destructive?

In this metaphor, skin, paper, bottle, and box are wording, and apple, chocolate, water, and iPhone are meaning. Skin, paper, bottle, and box are used to protect and preserve the energy and information of apple, candy, water, and iPhone. In the same way, the wording is used to protect and preserve the meaning.

The package is not content. Skin is not fruit. Paper is not candy. The bottle is not water.

The box is not iPhone. Eggshell is not an egg. Shell is not walnut. Skull is not the brain. The wording is not the meaning.

Skull protects and preserves the brain, but the skull does not replace the brain. Skull is fixed, rigid, and solid, but the brain is flexible, flowing, and fluid. Those who demote the brain from thinking position and promote skull to thinking level become brainless.

Similarly, the wording of the Quran protects and preserves meaning, but the wording does not replace meaning. The wording of the Quran is fixed, rigid, and solid, but the meaning is flexible, flowing, and fluid. Those who demote the meaning of the Quran from their lives and promote wording to being the center of their lives become meaningless.

Eggshell does not produce energy, but the egg does provide energy. Those who feed themselves with eggshells, and throw away eggs, become hungry for energy. Similarly, the wording of the Quran does not produce energy, but the meaning of the Quran does provide energy. Those who feed themselves with the wording of the Quran, and throw away the meaning of the Quran, become hungry for meaning. Do you ask for evidence? Look at current Muslims and compare them with Muslims who knew the meaning of the Quran in 610-632. Early Muslims were not perfect; early Muslims made mistakes and worked on their mistakes to improve, but the last thing that anyone can tell about them is being energy-less and life-less.

They were overflowing with energy, passion, and strength, and this energy came from meaning.

Eat the egg, not the eggshell. Think by using the brain, not by using the skull. Search for meaning, not the wording.

Meaning is fluid, flowing, and flexible because meaning is produced in the interaction of consciousness and reality. The same reality can produce different meanings because the consciousness of each person is different from other persons, and consciousness is changing with the flow of time. For example, art expert and prole get different qualitative and quantitative meanings from looking at Mona Lisa (La Gioconda). The first one may burst in tears of joy, and the second one may smirk in disgust.

Similarly, some Muslims smirk in disgust when they hear or read Quran, or they put on their faces masks of ostentatious false respect. In my opinion, honest and open rejection is much better than ostentatious false respect. Many Muslims pay lip service to the respect of Quran; they are unable to pay heart service to the respect of Quran. They allow the wording of the Quran to be the residue on their lips, but they disallow the meaning of the Quran to reside in their hearts. They are “lip Muslims,” not “heart Muslims.”

Let us think about the person who swallows walnut without cracking the shell. What does happen next? Walnut enters from the mouth into the alimentary canal, then it passes through it and exits from the anus without providing energy and pleasure but inflicting pain and problems. Similarly, reading Quranic verses without cracking the shell of wording does not provide energy and pleasure because meaning provides energy and pleasure. A person can eat uncracked walnuts for decades, but nothing will change. A person can read Quran without understanding it for decades, but nothing will change. Muslims read Quran without understanding for five hundred years, and nothing changed.

Meaning is primary, and wording is secondary. Meaning is the goal, and wording is the tool. Meaning is God’s message, and wording is the medium of the message. Meaning is the brain, and wording is a skull.

Let us do another thought experiment. For the next fifty years, every day, I am going to listen to the one-hour-long audio recording in the Australian Aboriginal language. How is my life going to change and improve? It is not going to change and improve because the Aboriginal Australian language is meaningless for me; I don’t know it. I may try to guess the meaning from the inflections of voice and emotions of the speaker, but this guess is going to be wrong because I don’t know the words and connections between the words. I don’t know the speaker, audience, context, background, prologue, epilogue, etc.

Similarly, most Muslims do not know Arabic; Aboriginal Australian and Arabic languages are the same in their eyes and ears. Most Muslims do not know the speaker, audience, context, background, prologue, epilogue, etc., of Quranic verses. Most Muslims do not know the words of the Quran and the connections between them. Then, they claim that they follow Quran; they assert they are devout followers of the Quran. And the scariest thing is that they believe their claims. Most Muslims really believe they are followers of the Quran, and at the same time, they do not get the meaning of the Quran.

Most Muslims think that the paper and ink of the Quran are sacred, and at the same time, they desecrate and denigrate the meaning of the Quran. Most Muslims are “cargo cult” followers when objects are sacred, but the meaning is desecrated. However, the main goal and primary focus of Islam is to stop objectification and guide minds to abstractions. Idolaters petrified their whims in their idols, and idolaters worshipped them (idols and whims) because idols are dumb and manipulable.

Muslims cannot and should not petrify their whims because God is talking to them through Quran, and Quran is not manipulable. Alas, Muslims want God to become dumb, mute, and speechless like idols because they do not want the meaning of the Quran. Muslims are attacking God, and they are trying to gag God. Muslims are persevering and persisting in choking and strangulation of the Quran because they do not search for meaning. After doing that, they have impudence and ignorance to ask for Paradise and salvation. Woe to them! Woe to them! Woe to them!

The goal of recitation of the Quran is not recitation. The goal of recitation is apprehension. The goal of memorization of the Quran is not memorization. The goal of memorization is application. Recitation and memorization of the Quran are tools; apprehension and application of the Quran are goals.

Recitation without apprehension is an insult to Quran. Memorization without application is an injury to Quran. Muslims are insulting and injuring Quran every day.

Muslims rebel and rampage when the paper and ink of the Quran are burned by provocateurs, but Muslims themselves burn and destroy the meaning of the Quran by indifference and ignorance to the meaning. Muslims look at the face and in the eyes of the Quran and shout: “Get out! Go away! We don’t want you!”

Rituals of religion and wording are like the user interface (UI) of a computer program.

Understanding the meaning of the Quran is like seeing the logic, structure, architecture, algorithms, data flow, loops, inputs, outputs of a computer program. The user interface is not a program; it is a small part of a program. Similarly, the wording is only a small part of the Quran, and meaning is a large part of the Quran.

There are two types of translation: gloss translation and dynamic translation.[i] Gloss translation is translating word by word; it is about wording. The dynamic translation is about translating the meaning. Gloss translation, in most cases, produces absurd texts and illogical meanings. That is why dynamic translation must be used to access and assess the meaning.

 Wording and meaning are like body and spirit. When we remove spirit, the body does not grow and develop; it becomes the seat of decay and death. Similarly, when we remove and ignore the meaning, the wording becomes like a dead and decaying body.

Quran is not dead because its meaning is growing, developing, opening, blossoming, discovering, and becoming younger and stronger.[ii] However, Muslims want to bury Quran alive in the quicksand of their own indifference and ignorance. May God stop them by any means.

“And, indeed, We have made the Quran easy for remembrance [and understanding]. Then is there any that remembers [and understands] and takes heed? (54:17, 54:22, 54:32, 54:40)”[iii]

God Almighty, You hear what I am not saying and what I am saying. You see what I am not doing and what I am doing. You talk to me and with me when I am not listening and when I am listening. Your Quran is a miracle both in its wording and meaning. Let me learn, understand, and enact both of them. Do not let me see the Quran as a lifeless and dead photo and picture of the tree, but let me see Quran as a growing and flowering Tree of Paradise that presents me fruits every day. Amen.

I chose, and I am choosing meaning, not wording.

2:111 … Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful!” [iv]

25:30. And the Messenger says: “My Lord! Surely my people have made this Qur’an something worthy of no attention.” [v]

-İman isteyen münafık 


[i] C. S. Keyes, K. Puzio, and R. T. Jimenez, “Collaborative Translations: Designing Bilingual

Instructional Tools,” The Journal of Education 194, no. 2 (2014): 17–24.

[ii] Said Bediuzzaman Nursi, The Words: On the Nature and Purposes of Man, Life, and All

Things, trans. Şükran Vahide, vol. 1, Risale-i Nur Collection, 2008, http://www.sozler.com.tr.

[iii] Ali Ünal, The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, n.d.,

www.mquran.org www.theholybook.org.

[iv] Ünal.

[v] Ünal.


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