Quran’s Foundational Concepts: Deen (Religion) Pt 4
By Farouk Peru
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 95 is one the smallest chapters in The Quran and has a single occourence of the word ‘deen’. Analysing this chapter, therefore, can help us understand the function of deen as a bilateral transation between God and man.
وَالتِّينِ وَالزَّيْتُونِ (التين: 1).
And the fig and the olive.
This refers to verse zero, the basmalah formula which produces figs and olives in a metaphorical sense. The fig represents sweetness, energy and nutrition while the olive represents relish as well energy.
وَطُورِ سِينِينَ (التين: 2).
And the destiny which courses.
This refers to man’s destiny which he keeps achieving time and time again. A lifetime of achievement
وَهَذَا الْبَلَدِ الأَمِينِ (التين: 3).
And this secure land.
The entire range of the aforementioned experiences makes this entire secure. The first three verses indicate mankind’s ideal state.
لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الإِنسَانَ فِي أَحْسَنِ تَقْوِيمٍ (التين: 4).
Verily we created man in the best of moulds
Potentially, the human is able to achieve this ideal state because he was created in the best forms.
ثُمَّ رَدَدْنَاهُ أَسْفَلَ سَافِلِينَ (التين: 5).
Then we returned him to the lowest of the low.
Unfortunately, man also has the potential of degeneration of decadence.
إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَلَهُمْ أَجْرٌ غَيْرُ مَمْنُونٍ (التين: 6)
Except those who believe and act correctively. So for them are rewards without end.
In order to escape this fate, man has believe and constantly correct himself and reach the state mentioned in 95/1-3
فَمَا يُكَذِّبُكَ بَعْدُ بِالدِّينِ (التين: 7)
So what will belie you, the Reader, after with regards to ad-deen?
This is our key verse. It effectively links 95/1-3 and 95/4-6. We act according to God’s command and thus He rewards us
أَلَيْسَ اللَّهُ بِأَحْكَمِ الْحَاكِمِينَ (التين: 8)
Is Allah not the most judicious of judges?
This is referring to the entire formula of the chapter. The religion here is something bilateral. The transaction is fair and just.