Quran – Foundational Concepts: Deen (Religion) Pt 3

This series is a study of concepts that feature prominently in The Quran. The words representing these concepts appear tens, if not hundreds, of times and form the backbone of its philosophy. This study is based on my own personal method of study called ‘Qira’ah Wujudiyyah’ (QiWu) or ‘An Existential Reading’. It does not necessarily represent any other Quranist although our methods may overlap. The point of QiWu is to transcend any religious or historical connotation but rather to find a meaning that fits our experience of life

In this and the few forthcoming essays, we will be analysing the word ‘deen’. Deen is a foundational concept in The Quran. Not only that, it is commonly used in Islamic circles as well. However, the connotations which it acquires in those circles may not be what is implied by Quran. As this is a central concept, it is important that we explore fully its meaning.

Chapter 2 is the longest chapter of The Quran. Its underlying theme is about the establishment of the garden on earth. This is evident from its very first story which is of adam (2/30-39), the prototype of man and how he and his spouse fell from the garden. Bani israil, which is mentioned next after adam in its longest exposition in the tire text (2/40-103) tells us how to return to that adamic state.

In this essay, we will analyse three occurences of the word ‘ad-deen’ in Chapter 2. We will not include ‘their deen’ (deenahum) because we would like to study the word as a concept and not, for now, as a human interactive idea.

The first occurrence of ‘ad-deen’ is in 2/132:

2:132  And this was the exhortation that ibrahim gave his sons, and so did ya’qoob; “Oh my sons! Allah hath chosen the ad-deen/the religion for you; then die not except you are muslimeen.”   

This verse comes after a long exposition to bani israil in 2/122-130 which tells us what to do order to become preferred by Allah over the worlds. In summary, it is to:
1. Be aware of the day where the soul will have to answer for its deeds (2/123)
2. Ibrahim was tested by Lord by words and fulfilled them. He was made imam of the people (2/124)
3. God placed for Ibrahim the house as a rewarding place for the people and safety (2/125)
4. Ibrahim sought to nourish the members with fruits (2/126)
5. Ibrahim raised the foundations of the house, meaning he built was necessary to keep it operating (2/127)
6. Ibrahim sough to be an agent of wholeness and soundness (muslim) and asked for a similar ummah (2/128)
7. Ibrahim asked Allah to resurrect a messenger who reflects signs, and teaches people the book and the wisdom and grows them (2/129).

These principles are then summarised in 2/131 as to be ‘making whole’ (aslim). In order to do that, one must be at peace (aslam).In 2/131, Allah tells Ibrahim to make whole, thus be a muslim. Ibrahim then declares his peace with that command for the sake of the lord of the worlds (rabb al-‘alameen)

We now come to the first occurrence of ‘ad-deen’ in 2/132 as per above. This is what ad-deen is in its first exposition. A transaction between us and Allah. We fulfil His words and He fulfils His promise to give us a peaceful and rewarding space. This is the first implication of religion.

Next: A bilateral transaction

About Farouk Peru 24 Articles
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