Peace and Greetings Dr. Shabbir,
My name is Mohammad and God willing I am one whose submission God will accept. I was hoping that you could answer a question for me. First, let me state that I am one who believes that if one is to practice Islam, then the first and foremost authority is Qur'an. No matter what translation of Qur'an one reads, whether favored by so-called Quranists or Hadithists, everyone is in agreement that the Qur'an says that it is a complete book and that everything one needs to establish justice and practice their "religion" is within the book. However, I do not agree with the Hadithists that there needs to be clarification outside of the book. And I have read some of the history of Islam, especially in regard to the political turmoil and intrigue after Prophet Muhammad died, especially as it applies to Ali and his descendants and am aware that the hadiths and traditions are not trustworthy. It is very easy to understand when you understand that the nature of the human being is pretty much the same throughout all time and what the human being is capable of in the name of power and religion. So if I were to be classified among muslims, I suppose you could call me a person who would believe in Qur'an only.
Here is my dilemna though. Even among Quranists, the translations of Qur'an differ greatly. My main concern is regarding things such as salat and ramadan. I do not speak Arabic, I do not read Arabic, I do not think Arabic. I am not an Arab. I am a black American. I belong to a group of people who have only been around for roughly a little over 400 years or so. A creation of circumstance so to speak. I feel that if God is the God of all people, then I do not NEED to understand Arabic in order to understand HIM. However, you and many of those who translate Qur'an DO understand the Arabic. But again, the translations differ. My question to you is, in regards to salat and ramadan. Because, for instance, in the Reformist translation of Qur'an, salat is referred to as Contact Prayers. They are to be done 3 times a day, and Ramadan is to be observed by fasting, charity and prayer. Your translation appears to say differently. How is one who has know understanding of the Arabic suppose to decide which translation is the accurate one?
Another question. I understand that you learned the classical Arabic that the Prophet and his people, the Quraish, used in his time and that you learned this in The House of Saud. Why is it that the House of Saud then disseminate Qur'an translation and literature stating the opposite of what you have written? Do they do the 5 contact prayers a day as they advocate in their literature? Do they abstain during Ramadan? I would think that they would be in agreement with your translation of Qur'an since it is your understanding of the language that they taught you that you are using.
I would greatly appreciate any understanding and clarification that you could give me regarding these matters. I do understand that ultimately God will judge the intention moreso than the action. There are many who do not pray, or fast, and who are much better in piety and humility than many who do these things. So I agree that these things are unnecessary at their core. Also, if you could explain the concept of marriage in Islam as well I would greatly appreciate it. There is a muslima in Africa that I would like to marry and she has never read Qur'an. She has simply done what she was raised by her parents to do. I know that me being a Qur'anist will perhaps be an issue but I'm not worried about that so much as I am concerned that I am leading her in the right direction. I do not want to be a source of misinformation to her as her husband and friend.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
PS: And feel free to call me if you wish. My number is 503 380 1956. I am sincere in my questions and am not a troublemaker.