I am not an Islamist. I see myself as an ardent secularist. I am replying to Aidid Safar's twisting of the religion of Islam not because I love Islam so much, but I love truth. What Safar is doing is actually twisting the truth. I have written against the twisting of other religions as well.
My question to Aidid Safar: If you are so distrustful of the Arabs, what makes you think that the Qur'an, has been preserved? The Qur'an was said to not have been revealed as a "book that fell from the sky", it came down to the Prophet in a period of 23 years and was compiled as a book after the death of the Prophet, by ARABS, during the time of Abu Bakr. Since the Qur'an was transmitted and compiled by the Arabs, don't you think the Arab Companions would have distorted the message of the Qur'an, like you claimed happened to the hadiths?
Aidid Safar claims he has found something that billions of others Muslims, tens of thousands of Islamic scholars has been missing out all this 1400 years. The great Syaikh states that the word "solaa" in the Qur'an, means commitment. I have not found any Arabic dictionaries that show this to be the case. This is Aidid creating his own religion.
He has himself failed to provide any proofs from any Arabic dictionaries. Also, not only has he claimed one particular fictitious meaning for a word, he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the different shades of meanings attached to it. This has made him come out with a list of words with "solaa" as their root and claims that the Arabs twist their meanings as it suits them, as "the solaa shuffle". This is simply untrue, no matter how you look at it. One wonders how he could garner so many followers with such a false argument.
I guess that's how all cult leaders gain followers. Their followers are sadly kept in the dark about the subject matter and just follow their leader blindly.
You can visit his website for his wonderful eye openers. (Aidid Safar)
The great syaikh thinks he got it right after all these hundreds of years. Needless to say, even other Qur'an alone groups like that of Rashad Khalifa's, don't deny ritual prayers in Islam. Safar has taken it up a notch and changed the entire system by presenting a new religion, or philosophy, devoid of scriptural backing and only achieved this by changing the scriptural meanings.
As I have asked before, what is the difference between Islamic scholars and Aidid Safar? The latter is an anonymous author, whose qualifications is in question, fails to cite any other scholars in his book, and has ideas that runs counter to thousands of other established scholars. If he were to submit a thesis in a university, that thesis would be graded F and thrown right in front of his face.
Meaning of the word Solaa
Solat: literally means "du'a". God said in (9:103)
"Of their goods, take alms, that so thou mightest purify and sanctify them; and pray on their behalf. Verily thy prayers are a source of security for them (9:103)"
The word has gain its technical meaning to refer to the ritual prayers that we are so familiar with.
The word solaa, bear in mind, is not exclusively used by Muslims. Christians use them as well, and so does Arabic speakers of other religions. For example, if we were to translate "Christians pray in a church" into Arabic, it would be "مسيحيون يصلون في كنيسة" or "Maseehiyoon yusalloon fi kanisah". Here the root word of yusalloon is solaa.
Simply put, Aidid has no grounds whatsoever to justify, that his translation of solaa into "commitment" is a valid one. I have searched various Arabic dictionaries, including Lane's Lexicon, and none provide this meaning.
I have initially given Aidid the benefit of the doubt, probably there is a dictionary out there somewhere, or an ancient one, that mentions this. But Aidid has failed to show this. He failed miserably to cite any dictionaries and expect people to believe him instead. Is he being another mullah? His "solaa shuffle" can easily be rebutted because the word has many different shades of meaning, literal and technical. Regardless, it would be illogical to force one translation, and disregarding other meanings of it, illogical.
Concerning the Aidid Safar's "Solaa shuffle":
A word might have different meanings when applied in different context. This applies to the word "solaa" as Ahmed Shehu Abdussalam explains:
“Polysemy is a semantic state of a word in which it indicates two or more meanings. A word is polysemous when it looks the same as others and has more than one meaning…These varied meanings are known as “senses” (al-wujuh in the sciences of the Qur’an), and can be interrelated, shared in certain attributes or slightly different, indicating multiplicity of meaning, while varied forms of the same word, if any, are the “uses” (al-naza’ir in the sciences of the Qur’an). The word al-akhirah, with only one form (i.e. a use) has five senses: resurrection, paradise, hell, grave and the latter (Qur’an 92:13, 2:102, 39:9, 14:27 and 38:7 respectively).” (Abdussalam, Concordance of the Qur’an. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: International Islamic University of Malaysia Press. p. 23)
For instance, when the word "solluu" is used in 33:56 to apply to God and His angels, it refers here to mean "bless", not "pray" because it is applying to God,and Abdussalam's explanation should be taken to mind. I give here translations of the verse by Arthur J. Arberry and John Meddows Rodwell, both of whom are Non-Muslim Non-Arab orientalists:
“Verily, God and His Angels bless the Prophet! Bless ye Him, O Believers, and salute Him with salutations of Peace.” (John Medows Rodwell, 1861)
“God and His angels bless the Prophet. O believers, do you also bless him, and pray him peace.” (Arthur J. Arberry)
Is Safar going to say that these two are in cahoots with the Arabs as well? Are they interested with the shuffle, or are they translating them as such because that's how it is supposed to be translated. This applies to other verses as well, and I have given the literal and technical meaning of solaa, and that should be enough for people to understand.
Questions that the ulema cannot answer?
Aidid has given several questions that he claims can never be answered by ulemas. I am far from being an ulema, but honestly speaking, his questions are easy enough for me to answer:
1)How do you pardon the idol-worshippers when they continue to remain as idol-worshippers even though they have performed the ritual prayer? (9:4-6)
Answer: The question itself shows that Safar is confused and this is the trend that he shows throughout, unfortunately. Verse 9:5 and 9:6 talks about different circumstances. Verse 5 talks about pagans who have repent (meaning embraced Islam) and the next verse talks about how we should treat those yet to repent.
2) How are idol-worshippers to perform the ritual prayer?
Answer: They don't have to.
3)How did the Prophet lead the ritual prayers for the non-believers according to (your reading of) 4:101-102?
Here is where Safar is either mistaken, or intentionally trying to mislead his readers. He chopped of verse 101 and took it out of context. The verses are talking about how to pray during wartime.
4)How can the ritual prayer of the Prophet console people or make them happy? (9:103)
As the definition of "solaa" is to make supplications to God, the verse is pretty straightforward. Muslims would feel secured knowing that the Prophet, someone dear to God, is praying for them, thus feel a sense of security. God said:
Take alms of their wealth, wherewith thou mayst purify them and mayst make them grow, and pray for them. Lo! thy prayer is an assuagement for them. Allah is Hearer, Knower. [9:103]
5) How did all the people of a town and those living in the surrounding areas preserve their ritual prayer (wa hum alaa Sol-laa-tihim haafizuun) as soon as they heard the message of the Reading (6:92)? It may have included non-believers, Christians or Jews.
Answer: The verse simply means that those who believe in God and the last Day, believe in the Qur'an. Hence, it follows from this that they establish their five daily prayers.
6) Why is it that yuSollu means ritual prayer in 4:102 but in 33:56 it means honour and support?
Answer: On top of my explanation above, I want to add some more references.
Ibn Mazur al-Afriqi, in his book Lisan al-Arab, which is one of the major reference materials for anyone persuing academic studies in Arabic, says:
“Al-Salah is supplication and seeking forgiveness…and the Salah of Allah upon his messenger is His blessing/mercy for him and magnification/praises upon him. In the narration of Ibn Abi Awfa verily he said: “My father gave charity from his own wealth. Thereafter I went to the messenger of Allah with it whereby the Prophet s.a.w. said, “Oh Allah send Salah on the family of Abi Awfa.” Azhari said that this Salah in his sight means al-Rahmah(the blessing/mercy). And Allah s.w.t. says,”Verily, Allah and His angels send Salah(blessings) upon the Prophet. O you who believe, do pray Allah to bless him, and send your Salam to him in abundance.” Thus the Salah of the angels are supplication(du’a) and seeking forgiveness(for the messenger) and from Allah it is His blessing(rahmah). And it is called Salah within which is supplication and seeking for forgiveness. And in the narration on the greetings and salawat(plural of salah), Abu Bakr said, “Al-salawat means conferring blessing” and Allah said, “Verily, Allah and His angels send Salah(blessings) upon the Prophet” which means they bless him. (Ibn Manzur al-Afriqi (2003). Lisan al-Arab, Vol. 18. Saudi Arabia: Dar ‘Alim Al-Kutub. p. 198)
Richard Bell, an orientalist who has no business being in cahoots with the "Arab conspiracy", translates the word "yusollu" into "blessings":
“Verily Allah and His angels pronounce blessings upon the prophet; O ye who believed, pronounce blessings upon him, and give (him) the salutations of Peace.” (Bell, R. (1939). The Qur’an: Translated, with a Critical Re-arrangement of the Surahs, Vol. 2. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. p. 418)
Anglican priest and academic Rev. Kenneth Cragg (Again not an Arab nor Muslim) translates the verse as follows:
“God and His angels call blessing upon the prophet. O you who have believed, you also call blessing upon him and greet him with a greeting of peace. (Cragg, K. (1988). Readings in the Qur’an: Selected and Translated with an Introductory Essay. London: Collins Religious Publishing. p. 288)
So obviously, context is very important. Is Aidid prepared to say that both Bell and Rev. Craff are in on it with the Arabs? Again, what Aidid is saying is "Listen to me, not those mullahs and orientalists, I am right because I am a greater mullah!".
6)Likewise, how does the word yuSollee in 3:39 turn into ritual prayer while in 33:43 it is said to mean honour?
Answer: Same as above
7)Solluu in 33:56 and Sollee in 9:103 have come to mean honour and supplication. In 75: 31 and in 96:10 the word Sol-laa is said to mean ritual prayer. Why is that?
8)How do the birds in the sky and everything between the heavens and the earth (including frogs, termites and trees, for example) perform their ritual prayer? (24:41)
Answer: The word solaah means prayer or making supplication. God has guided every creature to its own way of worshiping Him. If Aidid thinks this is a funny point, that animals has their own way of praying, then he must also think it is funny that even mountains and birds praise God, and God actually talked to them (34:10). Also Aidid must think it is funny that ants and birds could speak (27:18-19 and 27:22) and a human being (Prophet Solomon) actually understood them.
9)How could the ritual prayer (Sol-laa-tuka) of Shuaib in 11:87 have changed the economic system of the people?
Answer: Ibn Kathir explained that the famous tabi'in al-Hasan said concerning this verse "By Allah, this means that his prayer commanded them to abandon what their fathers used to worship." In any case, this is a statement of mocking from the disbelievers, since Shuaib always prays to God, they are saying to the effect "Does your prayers, teach you that we should abandon what our forefathers used to worship (idols and statues) ? Don't do this, come let us continue our forefathers' practices."
10) Why are the same Sol-laa-waatee in 2:238 (‘guard your ‘Sol-laa-waatee’) and 9: 99 (the Messenger’s Sol-laa-waatee) understood differently?
Answer: Look at the context.