2-Horizontal reading of Quran

Once your head is cleared of all preconceived notions, the next step is a horizontal reading of the Quran. A horizontal reading, or a comparative reading, is a method of textual analysis used by Biblical scholars to compare multiple accounts of a similar event, side by side, cross-referencing for contradictions. /Horizontal_reading.

In other words, reading several different articles about the same robbery allows one to compare narratives and detect contradictions. This is exactly how to study the Quran. For example, Surah Hajj will not explain the Quran’s narrative of hajj. To conceptualize hajj one must study the diversified verses, side by side, that contain the root of hajj (حجج).

The root definition, and this is the key, must remain consistent in all the verses.

Arabic words are derived from their tri-lateral root. Lane’s Lexicon, an Arabic to English dictionary, is an invaluable reference for root word definitions. tyndalearchive.com

The crux of the matter is one cannot change the meaning of the word to fit a particular narrative.

The root word hajj is translated as debate or argument in some verses and a physical pilgrimage to Mecca in others. There cannot be two separate meanings. Studying the verses side by side, highlights the contradiction. This is how Allah guards and preserves His Word. He diversifies (root صرف) a word throughout the Quran to secure its meaning. For example, securing a portfolio by diversifying the funds. The Quran directs the reader with examples, spread throughout the text, to get a full picture, a thorough understanding of the word.

No one can alter the Words of Allah

In verses 6:34, 6:115, and 18:27, Quran states no one can alter (بدل) the words of Allah. Lanes’s Lexicon defines the root (بدل) as: the changing, or altering, the form, or fashion, or semblance, or the quality, or condition, of a thing to another form, while the substance remains the same.

In other words, homonyms (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings) do not apply in the Quran. One word can not hold different meanings.

When reading the following verses, keep in mind the definition of alter (بدل) .

6:34 And certainly were messengers denied before you, but they were patient over denial, and they were harmed until Our victory came to them, and none can alter the words of Allah. And there has certainly come to you some information about the messengers.

6:115 And the word of your Lord has been fulfilled in truth and in justice. None can alter His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing.

18:27 And recite what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. None can alter The Words of Allah, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.

Hence, by altering (بدل) the words, changing the meaning and leaving the original word intact, the original message has been tampered with.

Allah guards the Quran by diversifying (صرف) His Word: horizontal reading

The Quran Corpus site is a good reference to find verses with same the root word /corpus.quran.com

6:105 And thus do We diversify the verses so the deniers will say “you have studied” and so We make the Quran clear for a people who attain knowledge.

6:46 …look how We diversified the verses and they still turn away.

6:65 …look how We diversified the verses so they may attain understanding/knowledge/wisdom.

7:58 …thus do We diversify the verses for a people who are grateful.

17:41 And We have certainly diversified in this Quran so mankind may be reminded, but it does not increase the deniers except in aversion.

17:89 And We have certainly diversified for the people in this Quran from every example but most of the people refuse, disbelieve.

18:54 And We have diversified in this Quran for the people from every example, but man in many things disputes/quarrelsome.

20:113 And thus We have sent It down, an Arabic Quran, and have diversified therin the warnings for taqwa (God-consciousness) or remembrance.

25:50 And We have diversified It (Quran) among them so they may remember.

39:23 Allah has sent down The Best Hadith (Quran), a consistent Book wherein is reiteration. The skins shiver therefrom of those who are conscious of their Lord, then their skins and hearts relax at the remembrance of Allah…

I conclude with Quran verse 3:103: And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided… The rope is the Quran’s message, which is distinctly detailed, as well as instructions on how to study It through It’s own words, and not through the lens of tradition. Hence, not dividing into sects, since each sect has their own tradition, hadith. The Christians have the bible, Jews have the mishnah, all sects of Muslims have their own hadith.

For the Quran’s message to become clear, one must study a word, its consistent root definition, and how it is used in the verses diversified throughout the Book. This will give understanding, knowledge, and wisdom behind that word.

16 thoughts on “2-Horizontal reading of Quran

  1. Greetings of Peace! I disagree that same root word can only mean one meaning.

    In almost all language same word can mean different meanings based on context.

    Green can be a color, Green can be a Title (eg. Michael Green), green can also mean unripe, inexperienced.

    Same way, the word SALAT may have root meaning: To follow closely or Burnt offering (depends on whom you ask), based on context it can mean: Following God’s commands, Obeying God, Fulfilling one’s duty and covenant with God or to acknowledge God.

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  2. This was really important advice on how to get the true English translation.
    There should be consistecy when you are translating. The same Arabic word should have the same English translation in all the verses that Arabic word is used, and it should make sense in all the verses.

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    1. However, it should also be kept in mind that same word may have different meanings by the influence of context and collocates.

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      1. A root word by definition cannot change. Colloquial speech will change it, evolution of language. And juxtaposition is often a literary technique used in the Quran. The context will change when you read with roots, the root will not change with the context. You may read something which is completely foreign to what has been taught. You have to be willing to let go of indoctrination.

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  3. I think, for those who do not speak Arabic, we can use what seems like “Contradictions” to guide us to the truth. The purpose of reading the Qur’an, Psalms, Torah, Bible are to extract what God wills. I see the “rope of Allah” as the common thread(no pun intended) between all these religions. Allah. God. The One. It is the common thread, blatantly obvious to even the secular groups, that unite us.

    ——
    42:13
    He decreed for you the same religion decreed for Noah, and what we inspired to you, and what we decreed for Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: “You shall uphold this one religion, and do not divide it.”

    The idol worshipers will greatly resent what you invite them to do. GOD redeems to Himself whomever He wills; He guides to Himself only those who totally submit.

    Ironically, they broke up into sects only after the knowledge had come to them, due to jealousy and resentment among themselves. If it were not for a predetermined decision from your Lord to respite them for a definite interim, they would have been judged immediately. Indeed, the later generations who inherited the scripture are full of doubts.

    This is what you shall preach, and steadfastly maintain what you are commanded to do, and do not follow their wishes. And proclaim: “I believe in all the scriptures sent down by GOD. I was commanded to judge among you equitably. GOD is our Lord and your Lord. We have our deeds and you have your deeds. There is no argument between us and you. GOD will gather us all together; to Him is the ultimate destiny.”

    Those who argue about GOD, after receiving His message, their argument is nullified at their Lord. They have incurred condemnation, and have deserved a severe retribution.

    GOD is the One who sent down the scripture, to deliver the truth and the law. For all that you know, the Hour (Day of Judgment) may be very close.
    ——

    I have a strong feeling “Idol” is not a broad enough word. It’s a word that is supposed to encompass anything prioritized or adhered to above or in place of God. Idol is essentially a statue. That is the obvious definition given the people who the Qur’an was revealed to. Honestly, anything from our egos, children, celebrities or money can be revered above God. Even if we fear something more than God. Either way, this turns us away from God. The divisive elements are the messengers, as holy figures, that is not to say that we should not be grateful that God sent his messengers but we need to be wary to practice One God above all that we value. Wow, I went off on a tangent.

    There is a verse that God has guided me to and I am really interested in one word “Sincere.”

    I think it means purified… as in ascribing no partners or anything above God. In other words a true belief in: No god but The God.

    ———-
    56:75-79
    75. I swear by the positions of the stars.
    76. This is an oath, if you only knew, that is awesome.*
    77. This is an honorable Quran.
    78. In a protected book.
    79. None can grasp it except the sincere.*
    ———–
    Here are the “instructions” and, therefore, the logical place to start with understanding the Qur’an. Without being “sincere” if that is the word, then we cannot grasp the meaning of the Qur’an.

    Lastly, I have a note on how I have been using the diversified verses. You see when I find what seems erroneous or contradictory verses in translations I hold them up to other verses. If it stands alone I know the meaning has been altered. If it is in concordance with the majority of verses then it is sound. Like Follow the religion of Abraham. Every occurrence I have run across has been the same in meaning. Abraham was upright not an idolater and we are following his religion, we, including the Prophet Muhammad.

    Other times people elevate the Prophet to high status. In my mind there are two extremes of people, in theory. Good, meaning the most upright for lack of a better word we will call these saintly and bad people who we will call transgressors. The difference between the two is the belief in God. Those who firmly and truly believe live their life for God an in accordance with God’s will. Those who transgress either do not believe in God or, more likely, know God exists and still defy God. That is where the Devil falls into. He believes in God yet openly ignored God. People claim that the atheists are worse than the transgressors but that isn’t logically true. If you uncertain and do something wrong then there is an excuse but if you knowingly do something wrong it is malicious.

    In either extreme from Saint to Transgressor these are all people. People can be respected like your parents, prophets, messengers, teachers etc. That does not mean we place them next to God. We see time and time again that this is a great sin. So when I see a verse like:

    ————–
    Al-Ahzab 33:56
    Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [ Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [ Allah to grant him] peace.
    ————

    It contradicts 42:13 and all the verses pertaining creating division in religion(more detail below)
    It also contradicts the following verses:
    ————
    45:10
    Before them is Hell, and what they had earned will not avail them at all nor what they had taken besides Allah as allies. And they will have a great punishment.

    39:3
    Absolutely, the religion shall be devoted to GOD alone. Those who set up idols beside Him say, “We idolize them only to bring us closer to GOD; for they are in a better position!” GOD will judge them regarding their disputes. GOD does not guide such liars, disbelievers.

    72:18
    The places of worship belong to GOD; do not call on anyone else beside GOD.

    39:45
    When GOD ALONE is mentioned, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter shrink with aversion. But when others are mentioned beside Him, they become satisfied.
    ——–
    Logically if we are supposed to have one unified religion can the Jews or the Christians pray along side us? Not if we mention the Prophet in prayer. Not if we use his name in the Call to prayer. I won’t go to prayer that is called in Jesus or Moses’ name and they shouldn’t come to one that is in Muhammad’s name. So logic dictates that verse was in respect to when the Prophet was alive.

    If you read above/below those verses you will see verses that concur with this assessment. I don’t remember which but there was a verse regarding not lingering after having a meal at the Prophet’s home. There are a lot of reasons to no longer send the Salam on the Prophet after death but here are three logical ones.

    The Qur’an says the dead cannot hear us.
    God already send his Peace.
    We know that Muhammad is one of the Righteous so who are we to tell God “give him peace?”
    I believe he is already in peace. That he only tasted the first death as every person needs to. I have verses to back all of this up and have organized the information in a way that makes logical sense to me. Let me know if you need the references.

    So, if we believe then we have to follow God’s word as best as we can within the ability that He gave us. We do not know how long we will live so I am not waiting for my understanding to grow to a Master in Arabic. I will use what is in my mind to reason out and follow what I believe to be right. That is what we are told. I have made it this far with

    1. Belief in a single God who created everything that does not lack in resources, Is eternal, Omnipotent. The classical traits of God when we talk about God in general.

    2. Using the reason He has given me. Some of it was through the Qur’an, some through School, some through
    studying nature or reflecting on the relationship between a father and child, Podcasts, secular sources. All of it comes together to broaden my mind. So long as my focus is to be closer to God these all become tools to facilitate that purpose.

    I do see that I will logically be learning Arabic to help understand the verses that I find to be questionable. There is also a need in the world for such resources and a proper translation. I just don’t want to wait for that particular knowledge before I start purifying my religion. I have enough information to know that, first and foremost, religion is just for God. No matter the messenger.

    This is my particular method. Everyone has their own way of understanding and God can guide who He wills in understanding. I just wanted to point out an alternative that doesn’t involve a long study of Arabic before practicing the Qur’an, Insha Allah.

    Peace and thank you for writing this blog I keep learning and growing Alhumdullilah.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your insightful comment. Yes I completely agree you do not need to master Arabic. And you are absolutely right about using our reason and then contradictions guiding us to the truth. Peace to you also and again thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

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  4. //Yes “tasreef” is precisely horizontal reading to get all the angles, Thank you for sharing//

    Horizontal reading is in fact the key provided and mentioned in Qur’an.

    تَدَبُّرٌ: Critical thinking: Follow an inquiry based process: use prior and background information.

    The whole purpose of reading is comprehension. And the whole purpose of reading and comprehension is to know the ultimate truth; truth warped in time-space; the whole truth not effected by time-space. Man has discussed at length about truth and has propounded many theories; like substantive theories: correspondence theory; coherence theory. Logic is the tool for reasoning about the truth and falsity of statements. The correspondence theory of truth states that the truth or falsity of a statement is determined only by how it relates to the world and whether it accurately describes (i.e., corresponds with) that world. It states that true statements correspond to the actual state of affairs. For coherence theories in general, truth requires a proper fit of elements within a whole system. Very often, though, coherence is taken to imply something more than simple logical consistency; often there is a demand that the propositions in a coherent system lend mutual inferential support to each other. So, for example, the completeness and comprehensiveness of the underlying set of concepts is a critical factor in judging the validity and usefulness of a coherent system. A pervasive tenet of coherence theories is the idea that truth is primarily a property of whole systems of propositions, and can be ascribed to individual propositions only according to their coherence with the whole.

    [why do they behave as such] Is it because they do not personally study the Qur’ān critically, logically and coherently pursuing its text?

    And had it (Qur’ān) been authored by someone other than Allah the Exalted, they would certainly have found, what to say of one, many mutual variations – contradictions – conflicts within it. [4:82]

    The topic of the Ayah relates to academic rule of studying a book. The Grand Qur’ān has laid down an enquiry system and criterion to determine the veracity of a lengthy text. It is denoted by Arabic verbal Noun: تَدَبُّرٌ: Critical and logical thinking: an enquiry based process and pursuit: linking background information given before to determine cohesion and coherence. Lane’s Lexicon says that: تَدَبُّرٌ signifies the thinking, or meditating, upon a thing, and endeavouring to understand; he looked into it, considered it, examined it, or studied it, repeatedly, in order to know it, or until he knew it. Its Root is: د ب ر that signifies the tail end of a thing and of back – rear in contrast to front.

    Since the Verb choice is Form-V which has reflexive causative meanings, and the subject receives back the impact of action, the act is to be done personally. It generally depicts such actions where the subject honestly and sincerely performs it diligently.

    For detailed study

    http://haqeeqat.pk/FacilitatorTadabbarCriticalThinking.htm

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  5. //For the Quran’s message to become clear, one must study a word, its consistent root definition, and how it is used in the verses diversified throughout the Book. This will give understanding, knowledge, and wisdom behind that word.//

    Agreed.

    Semantics of Grand Qur’ān – Dictionary of Roots and Lexicon of Qur’ān

    1. Introduction

    2. Semantics of Qur’ān is like “semantics” of DNA—triplet schema

    3. Root [In reality, it is “seed”-an embryonic plant] +

    4. Morphology +

    5. Syntax

    This will give a near accurate understanding provided we follow the fundamental academic rules of studying a book.

    http://haqeeqat.pk/roots/intro.htm

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  6. Qur’ān is rendered facilitative for comprehension by use of figures of speech

    By unique device: تَصْرِيفٌ like coverage of an event by multiple cameras

    Allah the Exalted has used a unique device to render Qur’ān facilitative for complete understanding which no other author can employ because they suffer limitation of observation.

    Our vision becomes dynamic when we are able to recognize objects and concepts from multiple perspectives and from different viewing angles. It then assists explicit cognition. Visual perception faces difficulties with varying lighting conditions illuminating the environment and our inability to absorb/digest visual scene in a single glimpse.

    Real life experience will make the point lucid. A person watching a cricket or football match in the stadium and the Umpire/Referee cannot observe what a person can observe in the live telecast flashing each image of movements of the player and the ball from various angles seen by various cameras fixed all around the ground.

    One writing device for facilitating the reader to conclusively comprehend an object, topic and concept is to describe it with the help of dichotomous relations; and by showing it from different angles, dimensions, and aspects. Dichotomous relations and terms incorporate both closeness and distance and help human cognitive tendency in categorizing experiences with their help. This device portrays the varieties, or vicissitudes of affairs or events; scope, diametric properties; and possibilities the reader might not have given a thought. It illustrates how and why is it important to observe the other side of same or similar subject or concept and be mindful of possibilities that have not occurred but are probable.

    http://haqeeqat.pk/FacilitatibeByTasreef.htm

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