A similar comment was made on Facebook by Paigham Mustafa:
DOES THE QURAN DECREE RITUAL FASTING?
The Black Swan approach.
We have all heard of the Black Swan theory. As you may know that it's about verification or falsification of a statment.
It can be a quite a complex scientific experiment, but to explain it simply it means that if I make a statement to say that 'ALL SWANS ARE WHITE' it means that this statement is true. Well, true unless you show up with a black swan, then the statement is false. My statement will have been shown to be untrue because of the evidence you have provided.
This simple experiment can work for many such statements, for example the general belief amongst Muslims is that the word 'SAUM means ritual fasting, that is not eating or drinking from dawn to dusk for one month each year.'
This is a common belief and yet there is no explicit instruction in the Quran which details this fasting ritual.
So we have to look at this word SAUM throughout the Quran to check if this is what God has instructed believers to do.
For the sake of the argument let's go with the statement that says SAUM MEANS RITUAL FASTING THAT IS NOT EAT OR DRINK FROM DAWN TO DUSK.
If this is a true decree then there should be no statement in the Quran that negates it - in other words no black swan!
So now let's move to Sura 19:26 and see what it says. I checked 8 translations and all but one has translated the word SAUM as FAST. I have shown Yousaf Ali's translation, the others are much the same.
So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, "I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into not talk with any human being." 19:26 Yusuf Ali.
Now the immediate question that comes to mind is if SAUM means FASTING and Mary eats and drinks to her satisfaction then says 'I am fasting', and she adds, strangely to say the least, that this day she will not enter into any talk with any human being.
In the Quran, Mary is said to have an exemplary character and she would not go against any of God's decree, so we must conclude that this pious woman is true and that the word SAUM means something other than ritual fasting. Otherwise we will malign the character of a great woman who is above such reproach.
My response seeking clarifications:
Dear Brother, I am having difficulty in understanding "Those who witness such times shall undertake self-discipline.Those who are ill or on unavoidable duties may substitute the same number of other days..."
So, as an example, let us say there is a intense conflict going on in the city. Those in the city who witness such a situation are asked to exercise self-discipline in response. Fine.
Those who are not in the city or are sick are asked to substitute the same number of days when they are able to. What if the conflict is over when these exempted people are able to respond properly?
Referring to 2:184, if one is going through intense times, why only a few specific days are to be observed in self-discipline? What if these intense times last for months?
My second point is if I am observing abstinence which does not include eating and drinking, how are people supposed to know? One advantage of staying away from food and drink during abstinence is that besides being a sign to other people, it creates a heightened sense of awareness and makes us wonder what is the purpose behind staying away from food [although we are hungry].
Another point is that when it comes to Maryam, she was told what to abstain from ( discussing a particular issue). As for abstinence decreed elsewhere, believers are told to eat and drink till dawn and then......observe abstinence (from food) till night !
Kindly comment. Thanks.
Still waiting for a response.