Kendal Q. Binmore: A cacophony of silence: ground of the Triumvirate: _10. Trespass into Islam

         10. Trespass into Islam

I think God knows all about translations. I think he expects them.  I think he wants the story to drift into something new.

Suzuki to Senator Mary Talbot

Confirmation Hearings, Fifth Session


Was not the earth of God spacious enough for you to fly to refuge?

Qur’an 4:97 (Dawood translation)


Trapped in the world

only breath of words


Benjamin Suzuki

           10.1 God of separate breaths

           I write incessantly of Micah 4:5 (Section 9, ante), verse contorted into handhold, rung of trapeze, looking for another–and there it is, among the bones of 9-11. Allah speaks, messages to Mohammed repeated a capella, a cacophony of purposes hoping for notice each moment. So many voices cannot be from one man. Allah is we, no royal prerogative but reality, not wailing because in different mouths, each reciting a different verse, different sutra sura, one solution to Mitland’s wailing God. Let reciters move apart, their verses charged with incompatibility, God Absolute where each goes, message filling each terrain, awe awful in each locale. The Book is not the Message, Message limited to what breath will hold, controlled dispenser of God’s potency. The Book comes after Mohammed’s death, when war threatened to erase the collective memory of Recital. No command of Allah made it be; Recital is mute on its written codification. I hold as rung the unfathomable potency of Absolute, Singularity stretched thin into words too vast for trial by consistency: Qur’an. Terrible blasphemy to call this finite thing All. The Recital meandered, traveled by foot and animal, piece encountered piece, creating a mix of the moment, Recitals made harmonious by the listeners, then departing on their ways. Made to be unmade, Allah moving in so many directions as to deny any forward. Oh Believers, do you not see that Qur’an, Recital, is not the Recital? That the gift of Recital is its incompleteness in breath, in the impossibility of complete recitation? Recital is fractured God. Qur’an is canon, a quite different thing.

It was We that revealed the Qur’an, and shall Ourselves preserve it. (Dawood translation, 15:9)

Revelation is recital; preservation is recital. God the uncounted mouths unbounded by any single world of knowing. Such is God.

           From this Book which should not be I take this to sustain my flight:

We have ordained a law and assigned a path for each of you. Had God pleased, He could have made of you one nation: but it is His wish to prove you by that which He has bestowed upon you. Vie with each other in good works, for to God you shall all return and He will resolve for you your differences. (Dawood, 5:48)

Deut 32:8, 9 to Micah 4:1-5 (Section 9, ante) to Qur’an 5:48–an easy path, building on what comes before. A Dios, to God, for a new recital, for a new mix of what is. A path for each of you, no path for all. This Dawood translation, often vilified by Believers, has “nation” as what not is, in singularity. Yusuf Ali has “no single people”; Allamah Nooruddin (rendered into English by Rahman ‘Omar and Mannan ‘Omar), “community.” These Believing translations are more on point: there is no single way, no single Recital, individualism rampant. Against clan the messengers of Mohammed come. Against gods they come, dissolving all in the desert isolation of the One God. No one Recital, a path for each. A God who unifies through Recitals various, potential for fusion in encounter, no doctrine to freeze time.

           Mohammad’s denial of the daughters of God is not so radical as portrayed. Communion is expanded through Recital, a daughter of God of the moment. Recitation replaces label, clan, inheritance. The universalism of Ka’ba, where all the daughters gathered in peace, in mutual recognition, becomes Recital encountered. As long as the Message roamed, freedom followed. Perhaps not freedom from violence; perhaps not release from the social brutality which seemingly ever travels just before our steps. But freedom from prior constriction on the sparse possibilities of desert.

           And so freedom from Allah just past. Recitation fills the mind, performance of the moment dislodging commands past. The art of the reciter, his choice of verse, determine Allah manifest.

We have prescribed a Law and an Open way. (Yusuf Ali, 5:48)

Open, not just available to all, but undefined until performance comes. Or do you prefer

We prescribe a spiritual law and a well-defined way. (Nooruddin, 5:48)

Two Believers, tearing at words ambiguous, translation itself measuring the terrible potency of God. Into this an Unbeliever comes, claiming reverence for enduring text, making ambiguity the direct voice of Allah:

To every one

of you We have appointed a right way

and open road.

(Arberry, 5:53; Arberry rearranges some verse order, producing divergent numbering )

Arberry as Unbeliever is reviled, yet contaminates some Belief, so this Egyptian resident of Britain:

We have assigned a law and path to each of you. If God had so willed, He would have made you one community, but He wanted to test through that which He has given you, so race to do good: you will return to God and He will make clear to you the matters you differed about. (Abdel Haleen, 5:48)

A law and path to each of you: paths are not in common, or need not be. Here the gift of bastard English; having no clear parent, it hesitates over any claim of monopoly. Ambiguity is our gift to God, if we may fight ourselves sufficiently to give it.

It is ambiguity which lets us hand our faith to others. It is ambiguity which births a next generation of hope. (Benjamin Suzuki to Associate Justice Takahashi Yoshimatsu of the Hawaiian Supreme Court)

If we are contested, is there not defeat of God as well? Difference is of God, the Recital We difference itself, Voice localized by audience, difference not to be ignored, but clarity deferred until return, return a concept of travel. Recital is travel, travel the inherent differentiation of space. Space everywhere finite, God everywhere finite, yet not contained.

           To every one of you We have appointed a right way and an open road: imagine recitation at night before a well traveled audience of day, cantor making God, relieving God from the terrible choices perhaps just past. Verses traveling, contending with one another for placement in mouths. It is the responsibility of God to confront Itself, says Anthony Pau Cabrales: transmission of the Message was exactly this. Choice of text does this today in all congregations. But the thick book, canon, wailing, multi-mouthed God reified to place, weighs us down against travel. And without travel the crushing Singularity comes. The words of God cannot form a single voice.

Whatever Message We abrogate or abandon, We bring a better than that or the like of it. (Nooruddin, 2:106)

Better the hapless Egyptian transplanted to the West:

Any revelation We cause to be superceded or forgotten, We replace with something better or similar. Do you not know that God has power over everything? Do you not know that control of the heavens and earth belongs to Him? You have no protector or helper but God. (Abdel Haleem, 2:106-7)

Abandoned becomes forgetting, Recital moves finitely by remaining finite, not even promise of accumulating series, infinity in its walk, yet memory of words of night, a night, fevered joy erasure of something else, memory mayhap recovered when two Recitals meet, overlap, but recovery perhaps incomplete. We are the royal plurality of Recital, we are the sanity of God against Its own too full mind. Present everywhere, at every hard necessity plurality best forgotten in the cause of hope, God needs fracturing.

           Mohammed was not the final Messenger. A message is made through its transmission, Mohammed but the first step, shaking on the ground, man made camel of impossible burden, arms, legs flaying, white froth on lips, braying at the touch of God. Later he speaks because he cannot contain himself. He speaks to unburden himself though others.

From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

During the Lebanon War, summer of 2006

They come and are offered food, diminishing plenty, false abundance, little parcels of hope, of surety that humanity is not yet barbaric, surety to prod them forward in their travels, anywhere but here. The residents watch them leave, turn to see others coming, go to rummage for more food, send their children to announce more is needed, it’s harder to yell at children, innocent need in their eyes. Rummaging in their houses, fear propelling hands, searching eyes–what if we have no more? What will they do to themselves, to us? They stop, frozen by the sight of Qur’an, their Qur’an. Angry at Allah–why did He have to speak? Angry at Allah for collecting unending interest on this Book, on Belief, something He denies his yoked. Angry at Mohammad, unable to contain the burden, the touch which trembles the universe. Beyond scream, from his mouth came the lashing power, sinuous Absolute branding all it touches to this day modern. Blessed be the Prophet, peace be upon him, peace, no perch from which power bounds, peace to keep his mouth shut. Prophet, were there others before you who, sacrificing for the unending born yet to be, kept their mouths closed, let the Absolute touching within dissolve their world into insanity? Prophet, could it be that the insane of today are our greatest defenders, heroes untold, protecting us from the Absolute, keeping the Touch, isolating the Touch, in themselves? Prophet, were you the weak one, should we cry for you in common weakness as we throw our burdens on others?

Footsteps come, crushing nothing as all has been crushed, each step offbeat of the others, a wall of sound, drowning all else. Cars stop, honk, children jumping off, out, women slaved to their loves following, men selected to battle coming after that, wandering about, communing in plight, nothing left to fight over but themselves. Will their houses be there if they return? Will they be empty? What of the true world, that of obligation, of memory? Obligation which gets us up, obligation which props others up, obligation which keeps all going–will it return with them?

The residents gather their parcels of hope, go outside to greet the wandering mass again, hoping eyes linger not overlong on their own homes.

In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful, the power behind all powers.

Mohammed, let us revere you not as Messenger, but as impossible burden, burden flowing out of you onto others, the only solution humanity has, cantors absorbing a strand of Message, strands no longer in single mind, now repelling each other, cantors moving apart, desperate to relieve themselves of even this shard of Absolute. This the Message ever present: perpetual relief, burden offered to others, taken, terrible compassion which sees a world other than one’s own. This is God ever diffuse; where then the locus of Truth?

And if there is a party among you who believes in the Message with which I have been sent, and a party which does not believe, hold yourselves in patience until Allah decides between us, for He is the best to decide. (Yusuf Ali, 7:87)

The Message is not the Message complete. What has been sent is indeterminate. Diffusion resolves, the mixing of recital decides, God encountering Itself.

You need not move your tongue too fast to learn this revelation. We Ourself shall see to its collection and recital. When We read it, follow its words attentively; We shall Ourself explain its meaning. (Dawood75:15-20)

It is for Us to collect and promulgate it;

But when We have promulgated it,

you follow its recital.

Nay, more, it is for Us to explain it. (Yusuf Ali, 75:17-9)

Move not thy tongue with it

to hasten it

Ours it is to gather it, and to recite it.

So, when We recite it, follow thou its recitation

Then Ours it is to explain it. (Arberry, 75:15-9)

[D]o not rush your tongue in an attempt to hasten the Revelation: We shall make sure of its safe collection and recitation. When We have recited it, repeat the recitation and We shall make it clear. (Abdel Haleem, 75:16-8)

We Ourself shall see to its collection and recital. Ours it is to gather …and recite: we are not God, yet God is unknown without us. We shall make sure of its safe collection and recitation: Recital is God among us, an “open made way” (ante) delineated by no one, yet made by many. Mohammed no master of the Message, the Message without master, let alone a printed book to enslave it. Incalculable hubris to make the Book a thing in print. Qur’an is recital: choice of verses, this in this now, not that, the finite time of breath God’s cure against the incompatibility of lives. Leave something out, unsaid, to stop the wail. To hold book in hand as enough is to deny the responsibility of God. Audience, look about: you collect, you fuel Recitation, no protector or helper but God (Abdel Haleen, 75:107, ante)

           7:87 (ante) is quoted not of Mohammed but Shu`aib, prophet to the vanished Midian. The Qur’an combines prophets across peoples, denying Deuteronomic exclusivity, an acceptance beyond the tolerance of Micah 4:5 (Section 9, ante).

Each apostle We have sent has spoken in the language of his own people. (Dawood, 14:4)

The Books of the various peoples, no longer zero sum, may be combined. No longer zero sum because often written in complete ignorance of one another. There is a sense in which Islam sprouts the promise of Micah 4:5, if only it abandon its revelatory exclusivity. Yet the very omnipotence attributed to Allah suggests exclusivity may be arrogance.

God leads astray whomsoever He will, and He guides whomsoever he will. (Arberry, 14:4)

God leaves in error whom He will

and guides whom he pleases. (Dawood, 14:4)

So say Nonbelievers. Belief bridles at involuntary loss. So Yusuf Ali makes error active,

Now Allah leaves straying those whom He pleases and guides whom He pleases.

Leaves, not leads: Allah does not impose. Nooruddin glosses omnipotence entirely:

Allah leaves in error those who wish to remain in error and guides him who wishes to be guided.

In translation, puppeteer becomes helpmeet. Belief may condemn the callousness in Arberry, but Yusuf Ali cannot deny the tenor is there–Allah leaves whom He pleases, guides whom He pleases. In fractured monotheism there is no callousness, as there is no single place to go. 14:4 becomes a neutral description of process, straying a relative attribute from one focal path making some of God.

           10.2 God of the world

           Some of God: God transcends any world lived, but abides through those worlds. Touched intimately, yet forever beyond complete holding. Made of people, yet beyond any single community. The power of God comes from importation of the alien. So too recitation relying on memory alone. God’s intimacy comes from an incomplete Book; It’s power, It’s threat, from the ever present possibility of imported verses, careening us down paths unforseen. Only by accepting this possibility does the heard recital have power–thus it is not of us. But it is from us, from strangers made fellows in the hearing and saying. That there is no single us preserves the awe of God. Strange that Associate Justice Anne Clare Young’s secular rendering of ancient common law will derive an identical principle in her analysis of juries:

Truth is a patchwork, a tapestry only partially coordinated in its pieces. The jury speaks in yes and no; the details of their patch, the trial in all its particulars, fades with their pronouncement. A single color remains, path to that color gone. We are left with an abstract quilt of solid shapes, anonymous, aloof. Shapes soon forgotten. We are left with a quilt of vanishing patches, patches meticulously made, yet without warmth; without warmth, but our only protection from the cold we bring.

Hard to trust a vacuum. Hard to trust a promise that strangers will look at us and know what to do. Oh, but when it happens, when it happens, we know we are not alone. When the verdict comes, when we are recognized as embedded in our lives, then we know there are others. Our life is held briefly elsewhere, in others. A terrible price, the trial, to find that out. (From the journal of Anne Clare Young)

Perhaps not so strange to find commonality in Young and Recital. Submission in both cases, audience unplanned in both, coercion social in both, perhaps not so far removed in tools when common law was ancient; and both there to hear pleas for life. Perhaps there are but few ways to manifest human freedom, freedom rarely as individual as we paint. Perhaps the processes of sacred and secular are not so different as many, of diverse views, would like. So, I have argued herein, thought the Triumvirate.

           Islam’s arrogance of exclusivity through the printed word, no recital in that, is yet tempered from within. The Book is not singular.

Those who believe, those who follow the Jewish, and the Sabians and the Christians,–and who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness,–on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Yusuf Ali, 5:69)

Say: “People of the Book, you do not stand on anything until you perform the Torah and the Gospel, and what was sent down to you from the Lord.” (Arberry, 5:72)

Say: “People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion, other than the truth, and follow not the caprices of people who went astray before, and led astray many, and now again have gone astray from the right way.” (Arberry, 5:80)

Nooruddin is less tolerant:

Say: “O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion falsely and unjustly…” (5:77)

Another Believer, Ahmed Ali, knows error can be externally judged, not an internal matter for the People of a Book:

Tell them: “Oh People of the Book, do not overstep the bounds of truth in your beliefs, and follow not the wishes of a people who had erred before, and led many others astray, and wandered away from the right path. (5:77)

To wander is not to exaggerate; the bounds of truth in belief may be error unseen. Justice (Nooruddin) penetrates the other Peoples of the Book; the truth (Arberry) can expand the bounds of prior Books. In either case, the prophetic traditions of Judaism and Christianity insure variance in performance. Qur’anic excoriation to fidelity sanctions contention, resolvable only through various emphases on verse.

           External excoriation to fidelity within a foreign community fractures monotheism. Islam can adjudicate neither Gospel nor Torah without breaking the boundaries of these Books; only by approving, perhaps enabling, internal strife toward truth, as in its own recital, can Islam influence implementation of prior revelation, revelation diverse among peoples.

let those who follow the Gospel judge according to what God has revealed therein. Evil-doers are those that do not base their judgements on God’s revelations. (Dawood, 5:47)

Evil will change clothes. Judgement by revelation will change. But some use of the Book will remain. Those of the Gospel judge by that Book. Islam cannot castigate those of a protected Book. Yet it does:

they have disbelieved who say, “Allah–He is the Messiah, son of Mary,”…Surely whoso associates partners with Allah, him has Allah forbidden Paradise, and his resort will be the Fire and there transgressors shall have no helpers. (Nooruddin, 5:72)

The Qur’an wails, lacerates itself with its own words, no more so than in the decapitation of the living body of Christ on earth, Church, guardian of canon. The Qur’an wails, no more so than at Nooruddin 5:48.

And we have revealed to you this perfect Book comprising truth and wisdom, fulfilling the Scripture which was present before it and stands as a guardian over it, then judge between them [Christians] according to that which Allah has revealed, and do not deviate from the truth that has come to you in order to follow their low desires.

I complete the verse with the Unbeliever Arberry:

                                              To every one

of you We have appointed a right way and an open road.

If God had willed, He would have made you one nation;

but that He may try you in what has come to you. So be

you formed in good works; unto God shall you return,

all together; and He will tell you of that whereon you

were at variance. (5:54)

The text breaks with inconsistency. Arberry is an unbeliever. But the breakage is as clear in Believing translation:

We have revealed to you the Book in truth, confirming the scriputures that preceded it and superceding it. Judge between them, then, according to what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their illusory desires, diverging from what came to you of the Truth. To each of you We have laid down an ordinance and a clear path; and had Allah pleased, He would have made you one nation, but [He wanted] to test you concerning what He gave to you. Be, then, forward in good deeds. To Allah is the ultimate return of all of you, that He may instruct you regarding that in which you differed. (Majid Fakhay, 5:48)

One verse, two recitals, spliced. The Trinity is irreversible condemnation (5:72, ante), not to be used in judgement (5:48, ante); yet we are to vie in good works, God to resolve differences later. The practical solution is to leave the Trinity to Christianity, making its denial a badge of Islam. But this is not what the text says.

           To preserve sense, we must break the Book, for the Book, falsely complete, is not the Book.

If We sent down to you a Book inscribed on real parchment and they touched it with their own hands, the unbelievers would still assert: “this is but plain sorcery.”

They ask: “Why has no angel been sent down to [Mohammed]?” If We had sent down an angel, their fate would have been sealed and they would have never been reprieved. (Dawood, 6:7, 8)

Arberry has

had We sent down an angel, the matter would have been determined, and then no respite would be given them. (6:8)

Yusuf Ali has “settled at once”; Nooruddin, “would have been decided”; Abdel Haleem, “judgement would have come at once.” I prefer the Unbeliever Arberry: “determined.” In all five translations, human finitude gives respite, reprieve–I would add, hope. Recital shapes the Message, determines it, not settled, not decided, not sealed (Dawood, ante) at promulgation. Recital, and error; recital, and choice of text. The inconsistencies in the Qur’an are the incompatibilities of livelihood, of distance, of audiences formed. Recital migrates from itself to provide salvations, solace, good works, migrates from itself because salvation is often, please not always, condemnation elsewhere.

The angels will ask those whom they carry off while steeped in sin: “What were you doing?” “We were oppressed in our land,” they will reply. They [the angels] will say: “Was not the earth of God spacious enough for you to fly for refuge?” (Dawood, 4:97)

We are as birds, flocks dividing, combining, reforming:

All the beasts that roam the earth and all the birds that wing their flight are but communities like your own. We have left out nothing in the Book. They shall all be gathered before their Lord. (Dawood, 6:38)

Recital is to be protected, even if not one’s own:

Do not drive away those that call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking only to gain His favor. You are in no way accountable for them, nor are they in any way accountable for you. If you dismiss them, you shall yourself become an evil-doer.

Thus have We made some among them a means for testing others, so that they should say: “Are these the men whom God favors among us?” (Dawood, 6:52-3)

Hear the wail in Believing translations:

Do not drive away those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, seeking nothing but His Face. You are in no way accountable for them, nor they for you; if you drove the believers away, you would become one of the evildoers. We have made some of them a test for others, to make the disbelievers say, “Is it these men that God has favoured among us?” (Abdel Haleem, 6:52-3)

Do not turn away those who supplicate their Lord morning and evening, seeking His magnificence. You are not accountable for them in the least, nor they for you at all. If you drive them away you will only be unjust. Thus do We try men through one another so that they may ask: “are these the ones of all of us who have been favoured by God?” (Ahmed Ali, 6:52-3)

Haleem, as Dawood, has intolerance “evil,” although Haleem restricts tolerance to the ambiguity of “believers”; Ali uses the weaker “unjust” while not restricting tolerance. Better to be unjust than punishable evil. Haleem ventures evil while employing the dodge of acceptable belief; Ali is honest and prudent: we are all unjust, but not all evil.

           In the lesser fallibility (Ali) fracture grows. Men, generically, are tried among themselves, for the benefit of third parties; the favor of God is ever under dispute. But the greater fallibility, Haleem’s “evil,” limits contention to sowing doubt among disbelievers. Certainty is antithetical to fracture.

           Tolerance, doubt, generic contention, spread Recital. Ambiguous profanation spreads the word of God. The works of humanity are temporary, even Recital, the divisions which make them transitory as well:

We have our own works and you have yours; let there be no argument between us. God will bring us all together, for to Him we shall return. (Dawood, 42:15)

God is humanity absent division (ante), an impossibility. We approach God as our links dissolve; but humanity is only of the living, stillness of death never known, each approach becoming flight to refuge, A Dios, to God, from what we were, but flight in space, to space, another embedding, a new association among people, so a new severance from God. Recital is potential through audience formation, yet ever a severance from God, from undifferentiated humanity, our closest approximation to potential unfettered, that the terror of God; the act of travel after recital, after hearing, is our A Dios. Content must preserve this unending recombination (e.g., 5:54; 6:7,8; 6:53; 4:97) but, otherwise, is secondary:

To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as in a race) toward all that is good. Wheresoever you are, Allah will bring you together. (Yusuf Ali, 2:148)

Whosoever you are. This sense of complete inclusion through competition is lost in Arberry:

Every man has his direction to which he turns;

so be you forward in good works. (Arberry, 2:143)

Nooruddin frames the process of recital well:

And everyone has an ideal for which he bears up, so vie one with another in doing all good deeds. (Nooruddin, 2:148)

Recital is a deed, to be made and left, trace of memory, complete only in acknowledging steps to come.  The world is not ours; there God is.

           10.3 Recital complete

           Individual turning fuels Recital, measure of good deeds crossing the consequent fractures, primary universal faith that such measure may ever jump crevasse. One Believer fears the unending tremors:

Each community has its own direction to which it turns; race to do good deeds and wherever you are, God will bring you together. (Abdel Haleem 2:148)

Haleem, who would limit punishment to harming Believers (6:53, ante), contours fracturing to competition among communities, not individual turnings, communities pre-defined as within the People of the Book. A Believer turning from terror of Qur’an, Book too complete for simple life, perhaps Book of civilization complete, multiple mirror to Itself in horrid reflection. Recital complete is

humanity, abstraction misplaced in concreteness…humanity which tears apart the human, all lives present in a single point bullet, Darwin’s grandeur of life fused with the failures which let grandeur be.

Civilization come in a bullet, made of minds gone, delivered by a God of minds gone, in an economy of minds gone to hidden. Civilization war of dead minds, the living not even their receptacle, only the dead and dying adequate storage for their being.

These words, dying in this ink–are they too civilization, my enemy in greater completeness, words made of minds gone, combining disparity into latent atrocity? Bullets of other kind, civilization the bursting of the human …Is the purpose of Word to burst the carrying vessel, jumping to fresh transport in the act? Are we more than not Islamists in other guise, their role not simply to be vanquished, but to be understood as they depart, confession of civilization, pleading with Itself for release from the atrocious hand? Can Word defend Itself against Itself, this the battle that snuffs such men as Gandhi?

…Perhaps words never end because Word is terrified of Itself. The Pen asks for release by writing (From the journal of Benjamin Suzuki, shortly after the Bombay attacks of Nov. 2008)

                      Recital complete wars Itself, only space of breaths for truce. During Ramadan, Recital is traveled whole, audience frozen, unable to act till memory dislodges It’s totopotency through forgetting. The Qur’an implores It’s own severance, to view Itself a threat to human sanity, for our sanity rests on a stopping of sight. At 4:86 we are enjoined to provide a better greeting than received. At 4:88-9 “hypocrites” (having forsaken the One God) are to be killed “wherever you find them,” once renegade, in any case otherwise ostracized (Nooruddin and Yusuf Ali translations). We are to respect the Peoples of the Book, yet take neither Jew nor Christian as friend, under pain of becoming labeled as them (5:48-51). At 9:5 we are told to slay idolaters wherever found, save in the sacred months; at 9:6 we are to grant them asylum when sought, instruct them, then convey them to safety. These contrasts are not of different Suras, but nigh adjacent in single Sura. Qur’an, Recital, was of the tongue, not pen. Verses were said, as needed–and ignored, as needed. More, the traveling recital could alter content:

When We substitute one revelation for another,–and Allah knows best what He reveals,–they say, “You are but a forger”: but most of them do not understand. (Yusuf Ali, 16:101)

None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar. (Yusuf Ali, 2:106; cf Nooruddin’s version ante)

Or cause to be forgotten. Arberry has “cast into oblivion.” This the process of transmission: choice, recital, contention, choice. God is as much this process as promulgation. Perhaps in our quiet, dark rooms we can risk whisper that transmission and promulgation elide into one another.

           The penned Qur’an is no record of life lived. It is an attempt to grasp the impossible, the divine plurality which speaks beyond any social community, speaks to incompatible needs of the day, articulates needs some we’s would have unsaid. Within it awaits your enemy as well as helpmeet. The Qur’an written is more monstrous than biography, biography reifying a life into a person, life weaving in, out of social structures, these moments of transcendence, of between, the ultimate ontology called individual.

Because [religious consciousness] is universal, it introduces the note of solitariness. Religion is what the individual does with his solitariness.

The reason of this connection between universality and solitariness is that universality is a disconnection from immediate surroundings. (Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the making, p. 47)

In its solitariness, the spirit asks, what, in the way of value, is the attainment of life? And it can find no such value till it has merged its individual claim with that of the objective universe. Religion is world loyalty. (Ibid, p. 60)

The world is a scene of solitariness in community.

The individuality of entities is just as important as their community. The topic of religion is individuality in community. (Ibid, p. 88)

           Consider those who ride cusp to world once or more in their lives, able to make outside fulcrum to cascade the social worlds of others to new forms. This Mohammed was. Now consider worlds dividing, later engaging one another in challenge of difference, that which leaves, not that which approaches. When this happens, when there is not an overwhelming drowning but fusion ever unsatisfactory to the prior, when this happens there is Recital. The Qur’an written is an amalgamation of worlds frozen, of men made skeleton midstep between worlds, gone the uncertainty of recollection which gifts constrained innovation, gone the choice of verses which fills the world of night, which makes an all from which we may later depart. Now if I speak a verse some incompatibility in the Book written may come to stay my moment. In night recitation we need make a common evening. In Book written I must retreat and await assault.

           When Mohammed entered Ka’ba to break the daughters of God, he made a brutality of moments worshiped. God is One in my presence, to be with me is to be with my God. My God, the only God, come to mine. Gone a coalition of faiths in respite, the commonality of faith beyond doctrine making a place of mutual reverence. That was God afar, a commonality beyond the demands of specific worship, nonexclusive, a reason for breaching the constraints of the Daughters. Mohammed made God immediate, brutal necessity, exclusive in command, an islam, a submission. The power of immediate Presence is resolved action at every place and moment, a power consequent only upon the brutality of perfect exclusion. There is no mercy in submission consequent of completeness.

had We sent down an angel, the matter would have been determined (Arberry, 6:8)

           10.4 Mercy of finitude

           All but one Sura is prefaced with In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, his mercy the incompleteness of each Recital. God’s compassion lies in using our error for perpetual creation; what would crush us if realized becomes our hope, salvation.

Allah originates creation then He keeps on repeating and reproducing it, then to Him shall you be brought back. (Nooruddin 30:11)

Brought back, undifferentiated humanity, unrealized, so not yet impossible to bear, amorphus possibility. Some want not creation among them, so Ahmed Ali:

God originates creation, and then will revert it, then you will go back to Him (30:11)

Revert, not reproduce, so great the fear of God among us, yet not of us, but in an elsewhere. Fear of the verse rests in dodging Haleem (ante) as well:

God brings creation into being; in the end He will reproduce it and it is to Him you will be recalled. (30:11)

In the end–not the now history ever makes. Yet Recital ever breaks, two orthodox Believers here this critic’s closest allies:

Allah originates creation and then brings it back into being. (Fakhry, 30:11)

It is Allah Who begins (the process of) creation; then repeats it… (Yusuf Ali, 30:11)

Recital ever a choice, even to what Recital is.

           Ka’ba is made at each Recital, the daughters of God, the verses uttered, again smashed into single divinity, submission made to be later remade in different mix. The daughters of God, previously creating exclusive paths of trade for each, meeting in the trade hub of Ka’ba, become Recital, connecting now exclusive to submission, not fixed daughter, not fixed clan, so more adroit to the opportune moment. Yet exclusion recurs in favored verse, favored by individual circumstance, history–and so doctrine evolves.

Observe the Faith and do not divide yourselves into factions. (Dawood, 42:13)

Factions: refusal to remix the Recital, verse lost not to oblivion, forgetting (ante), but to willful exclusion. There is marvelous ambiguity at this juncture of Recital. Faction is consequent of the Book. Whether because of refusal of the Word or human process depends on the translation–perhaps process helpmeet to process.

They scattered not, save after knowledge had come to them, being insolent one to another; and but for a Word that preceded from the Lord until a stated term, it had been decided between them. (Arberry, 42:14)

God perpetuates faction by suspending judgement; so says the Unbeliever. Better for this critic: decision is never absolute; the stay of finality is God on earth (cf Section 5, ante). The End of Days finishes “the stated term,” and then comes Singularity, no God on earth. Insolence, audacity–Yusuf Ali has “selfish envy” at 42:14–human creation, checked by the greater humanity beyond community from which comes God’s Word. Audacity is remixing Recital, an unavoidable consequence of human frailty, memory inexact, breath limited in the saying night, audacity of hope made of human frailty. Choice is inevitable; this is human insolence in its necessity of shortcoming. Faction need be no more than slow remix.

           The Believer Nooruddin will have none of this. Faction is rejection of the truth, of Qur’an as scribed by human hand:

And these (rejecters of the faith) split themselves into factions only after (true) knowledge (of the fundamental principles of faith) had come to them (and that too) out of jealousy among themselves and to spite one another. But for the word (of promise) already gone forth from your Lord, (that they would be given respite) for a fixed term, the judgement upon these (disbelievers) would surely have long been passed (by their complete annihilation). (Nooruddin, 42:14)

Parenthetical material is translator’s gloss to control the text. Remove it:

And these split themselves into factions only after knowledge had come to them out of jealousy among themselves and to spite one another.

Marvelous ambiguity, that jealousy and spite might have spurred knowledge, much as in the scientific pilgrimages of our day, faction formed as knowledge forms. Nooruddin writes not of verse, but Book as text, that which could not exist during piecemeal revelation, reciters traveling with Message heard. The words of Qur’an, it is said, are too potent to be considered in isolation; the Power, the text, must regulate itself, entirety restraining each verse. Yes, but false power, consequent of removal of true Recital. Recital, the infirmity of men, was the original regulating mechanism.

           42:15 continues the original theme of diversity, embedding faction in tolerance:

                       But those to whom the Book

has been given as an inheritance

after them, behold, they are in doubt of it disquieting.

Therefore call thou, and go straight as

thou hast been commanded; do not follow

their caprices. And say: “I believe

in whatever Book God has sent down; I

have been commanded to be just between

you. 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 shall bring us together, and unto Him

is the homecoming.”

And those who argue concerning God

after that answer has been made to Him,

their argument is null and void in the

sight of their Lord….

God it is who has sent down the Book

with the truth, and also the Balance.

(Arberry, 42:14-7)

Here the genius of Islam. Faith is no argument, but deed. Divisions are transitory, people of faith gathering and dividing, God both homecoming and wandering Recital. Talk of God is no crime; monotheism of the moment covers all. I believe in whatever Book God has sent down: sent in Recital, heard among the illiterate. Condemnation is reserved for those refusing coexistence.

           Arberry is unique in this last. The Unbeliever Dawood reads 42:16 as

As for those who argue about God after pledging obedience to Him, their arguments have no weight with the Lord…

Unusually, Yusuf Ali may be slightly closer to Arberry:

But those who dispute concerning Allah after he has been accepted–futile is their dispute in the sight of their Lord.

Nooruddin remains most orthodox to a written Book:

And as for those who dispute about Allah after His call has generally been responded, futile and void will be their argument…

Only Arberry links “the answer” to God to coexistence. Both Yusuf Ali and Dawood use an uncontingent “obedience” or “acceptance,” reconcilable with Arberry only if God transcends any community, making coexistence part of Itself. To accept coexistence is to accept God, apostasy from this incurring “a terrible penalty” (42:16, concluding, Yusuf Ali). Recital within Islam is no different than coexistence among the prior people of the Book (e.g., 5:47, ante).

But those to whom the Book has been given as an inheritance after them, behold, they are in doubt of it, disquieting. (Arberry, 42:14, ante)

Recital incurs doubt, as have revelations of the past. Coexistence in Recital shunts conflict from violence to social choice, the mix of verse, those saying, those staying to hear. Recital stays violence, the process of Recital God’s work on earth. What Cabrales says of Jesus is equally true of Recital–which is, I think, Recital’s point:

Oh, the populations of faith your son has made! These faiths compete for heaven to make. (From the journal of Anthony Pau Cabrales; cf Sections 3, 5, ante)

So this verse thought early, before the Meccan exhile:

Say: You who reject the faith

I do not worship what you worship

and you do not worship what I worship.

I am not a worshiper of what you worship

You are not a worshiper of what I worship.

A reckoning for you and a reckoning for me

(Sells, 109, entire)

Reckoning, which levels us all in our faiths, cemetery for all things finite, where our decomposition births the foreign.

           10.5 Recital nonviolent

           I spy nonviolence in early Recital. In parched land where trade and its support are life–small trade, not grand–clan and God monopolize connection. Only in Ka’ba were the daughters of God at peace; only on days of immunity were travelers safe absent allies. Trade and violence walked together. Mohammed was stripped of his clan protection in early revelation; he could be killed with impunity. In a desert of distrust and violence, without the social protections of his era, he Recites. Recital a nonviolent assault on the faith and obligations of clan, on the trade network known as the capping source of power, on the social structure which effectively condemned him to death. Being dead, he speaks.

None feels secure from God’s cunning except the losers (Dawood, 7:99)

None feels secure from Allah’s Scheming save the losing people (Fakhry, 7:99)

Only they feel secure against the plan of God who are certain of being ruined (Ahmed Ali, 7:99)

None feels secure against God’s devising but

the people of the lost (Arberry, 7:97)

Loss is protection, save for two translating Believers who would ascribe loss as a derived, earned trait:

No one at all feels secure from Allah’s design, except the people who are (doomed to be) losers (Nooruddin, 7:99)

no one can feel secure from the Plan of Allah except those (doomed) to ruin! (Yusuf Ali, 7:99)

Doom interpolated, ruin earned punishment, security vacuous. For the others, loss is merely a state, umbrella of God, no against, for the core of Recital, Recital God’s Scheming.

           Mohammad’s call to direct monotheism sunders the social paths of trade. New connections, more opportune, efficient of the moment, allow escape from long term debt accrued to prior, local dominating trade hubs; release the marginal, become dead, these dead, already dead, suppressed to insure the relative wealth dominance of others.

Surely those who recite

the Book of Allah, perform

the prayer and spend of what

we provided for them, secretly

and publicly, may hope for

a trade which does not


(Fakhry, 35:29)

A universal call to monotheism invites simultaneous rebellion among the marginal; connecting themselves through Recital, they chance success before violence comes.

Be not deceived by the comings and goings of unbelievers in the land.

Their commerce is but short-lived, and then their abode shall be Hell.

(Ahmed Al, 3:196-7)

Present dominance is trumped by future state:

Surely those who disbelieve,

and die disbelieving, there shall

not be accepted from any one of

them the whole earth full of

gold, if he would ransom

himself thereby; for them awaits

a painful chastisement, and

they shall have no helpers.

(Arberry, 3:85)

No helpers: ostracism, a warning that the afterlife may come present in weaker sign as dominance shifts to others.

           This no monotheism of Constantine made Emperor, but plea of the weak to aid the distant weak, solace of night stay, refuge for goods, deceit upon foreign inquiry, reputation to third parties, trace of name sometimes the only way to save a man. In this distant appeal into uncertainty doctrine cannot control. God distant is most powerful ambiguous. Denial of others’ faith direct is hope unmade, coalition never made.

           Here punishment takes a different tone, not loss of something but denial of possibility, continuance of what is, where fall is ever most immanent.

We will surely punish the schismatics, who have broken up their scriptures into separate parts, believing some and denying others. (Dawood, 15:90)

This sense I find in no other examined translation. Even the Unbeliever Arberry, reviled of Believers, fails to make scripture generic:

the partitioners who have broken

the Qur’an

into fragments (15:90)

much as Believer Nooruddin

Since We (have decided to) send down (this revelation full of warnings) to those who have formed themselves into factions by taking oaths (against you) (15:90)

But remove Nooruddin’s admitted interpolations:

Since We send down to those who have formed themselves into factions by taking oaths

clarified at 15:91 by

And who have pronounced the Qur’an to be a pack of lies

This last not in Dawood (ante) at all.  Oath of faction should not be.

           Perhaps not clarified. The Message is revealed over 20+ years, transmitted by wandering reciters, some perhaps poets, deaf to Revelation while distant from Messenger.

Poets are followed by erring men. Behold how aimlessly they rove in every valley, preaching what they never practice. Not so the true believers, who do good works and remember God with fervor and defend themselves only when wronged. The wrongdoers will see what a come-back they shall have. (Dawood, 26:227)

Poets are followed: Recital is a social variant of prior process, coupled with good works. Recital nascent is network formation grounded in charity, good works, seeding hubs of minor trade and solace. Precisely because trade/contact is among the present weak, ostracism is unnecessary. As said, Qur’an, during the Messenger’s life, was perforce transmitted fractionally; Qur’an begins, thrives, as fractured process. 15:90 admonishes permanent faction, admonition to hear what comes after walk has begun. In social technology of the day denial need not be; one may walk, searching for new audience, not disdaining, just moving on.

If so be that you believe me not,

go you apart from me! (Arberry, 54:20)

Admonition is against proclaimed refusal which, upon codification of closed Book post-Mohammad, will come to deny the original process of Qur’anic Recital.

           That process engendered unknown, open ended encounter. In weakness, Revelation could not be exclusive.

We have … made you into nations and tribes, that you might get to know one another. (Dawood, 49:13)

Getting to know the forage of Recital. Recital begins in recognized difference. In encounter foreign even just punishment may be abated:

We decreed for them a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and a wound for a wound. But if a man charitably forbears from retaliation, his remission shall atone for him. (Dawood, 5:46)

Charity is its own atonement, staying the law of home.

We have decked the earth with all manner of ornaments to test mankind and to see who would acquit himself best. (Dawood, 18:10)

The world is stage for Recital, fractured for finite, God understanding what full Appearance would entail. God’s temporal mercy refusal to decide (6:8, ante), mercy which lets us be, which is our Being, audience of Recital mercy itself:

And if there is a party among you who believes in the Message with which I have been sent, and a party which does not believe, hold yourselves in patience until Allah decides between us: for He is best to decide. (Yusuf Ali, 7:87)

Recital performed has no inherent presumption of truth, this the processual message of Recital. Process trumps content, molds content to preserve process, incomplete Recital place filled, yet ever ready to move on.

Say: “True guidance is the guidance of God–that any man may be given the like of what has been given you.” (Ahmed Ali, 3:73)

No Recital holds monopoly:

Say: “If God’s Abode of the Hereafter is for yourselves alone, to the exclusion of all others, then wish for death if your claim be true!” (Dawood, 2:94)

Wish for death if your claim be true: leave this struggle thereby irrelevant; only fear of others unanticipated, of something yet to be revealed, keeps us here. Uncertainty is life finite, is shifting Recital, is the font of mercy human which lets us, us uninclusive, abide.

           The mercy of God is this mercy human acted, to avoid His fullness, avoid collapse of the escape which is space, we ever wandering, each step of ours His promise fulfilled, be what I made, do not falsely mimic Absolute of place which you need must later come to call atrocity. Stalin to Nazi to Pol Pot to Rwanda to Zimbabwe, justice lost in hubris which allows only once stance. God in single place, our brushes with Singularity ever evil incarnate.

           10.6 Recital anew

           A theology must seed its resurrection, its present past, failed, then found anew. Scouring Qur’an, I find two verses–only two–to birth Recital anew:

There never was a people, without a warner having lived among them (in the past) (Yusuf Ali, 35:24)

In the past, Ali must interpolate, demanding closure in his now. One Believer chances more:

every community has been sent a warner (Abdel Haleem, 35:24)

Community less than people, Recital in fine, verb tense ambiguous, perhaps property of community outside time, so present and future. Another verse–a single verse–removes the ambiguity:

Every community is sent a messenger, and when their messenger comes, they will be judged justly; they will not be wronged. (Abdel Haleem, 10:47)

An apostle is sent to every nation (Dawood, 10:47)

for every nation there is a Messenger (Nooruddin, 10:47)

Every nation has its Messenger; then,

when their Messenger comes, justly

the issue is decided between them, and

they are not wronged (Arberry, 10:48)

For every people there is an apostle (Ahmed Ali, 10:47)

Only Yusuf Ali cannot abide present possibility:

To every people (was sent) a Messenger (10:47)

Accepting Yusuf Ali’s interpolation or not, Recital cannot–yet–be complete. Either ancient or more recent, other Messengers are real, included in full Truth:

And say “Shall we give up our gods for the sake of a Poet possessed?

Nay! He has come with Truth, and he confirms the Messengers

(Yusuf Ali, 37:36-7; interpolations suppressed)

He has brought the truth and confirmed the other messengers. (Ahmed Ali, 37:37)

Mohammad confirms the process of Message through referencing other Messengers. It is this plurality which, falsely, has been called other gods (37:36, ante; cf below). At Qur’an’s codification, most extant nations were unknown to Believers, the Americas silent. Even assuming all nations formed at codification–clearly false in the Americas–Message had yet to fully encounter Itself, reciters still wandering, unfathomable distance insuring incomplete Recital, God’s mercy in extended plan beyond any ken. The temporal Book is then falsely complete.

           Removing Yusuf Ali’s admitted interpolation, Recital is ever incomplete. Apart from Native American cultures formed after and through Western encounter, the United States has continuously reformed through massive immigration, continuing presently through (partially illegal) Hispanics. The United States has yet to ossify as a nation; whatever its Message, this too perforce reforms. This constitutionally secular country is the extension of Allah’s mercy, Message entire still incomplete, Recital through encounter of other still as necessary as in the beginning of Islam.

           Behold this critic’s miracle! He has made of Islam Cabrales’ wandering fractured God (Sections 3,5, ante); he has made of Islam Suzuki’s judicial satori through ever shifting Founding (Sections 1,7, ante). The terror Islam can be today finds rebuttal in its American enemy, that terror a closing, a false completeness, impossible incantation of Absolute, God stuffed into bounded space; this evil theirs. Behold the great American conceit, that it can change the world–by ever changing itself.

           No conceit. Life is incomplete Recital:

Say, “If every ocean became ink for the words and creation of my Lord, surely, the oceans would be spent up before the words and creation of my Lord came to an end, even if we brought to add as many more (oceans).” (Nooruddin, 18:109)

Life is parsed Recital, the parsing itself:

We have divided

for thee to recite it to mankind

at intervals, and We have sent it down

successively (Arberry, 17:107)

Finite breath of memory It’s forgetting, not template anew but ongoing erasure which is also writing:

Whatever Message We abrogate or abandon, We bring a better than that or the like of it. (Nooruddin, 2:106; also ante)

A better: Recital can be improving, encounter of Message with Itself finite move toward perfection:

We have made these Messengers excel one another… (Nooruddin, 2:253)

But finite progress is naught at infinity. Improvement is ours, not Absolute’s. Perhaps excellence is no natural ordering, sorted by encounter, not Revelation, movement forward, direction febrile.


make no division

between any one of his Messengers

(Arberry, 2:285)

Life is Recital, absence of full divinity, mercy of delayed Judgement (ante, 6:7). Life is mercy of delayed eternity, Recital both mercy present and promised deferral to come.

           Recital is deferral, encounter estoppel of any proclaimed full Absolute:

If God did not make men deter one another this earth would indeed by depraved. (Ahmed Ali, 2:251)

Wars, of whatever kind, are not made to be won overlong:

If you have suffered defeat, so did the enemy. We alternate these vicissitudes among mankind so that God may know the true believers and choose martyrs from among you. (Dawood, 3:140)

In mild parallel with the Deuteronomic partitioning (Section 9, ante), there is a zero sum consequence to contended Recital. But shifting Recital shifts the terrain of defeat and victory. Recital lost may (partially) repackage with Recital won.

Senator Mary Talbot of Nebraska: Something you’ve said in these hearings. Some come, some go; some will go to other places–to neither you nor I. Coalitions of people. They will change. You don’t want people to come to you; you want coalitions to shift and shift. (Suzuki Confirmation Hearing, Fifth Session)

Recital an ever sorting, making of faiths something other than what they say they are:

Suzuki: A faith not to replicate in entirety but to enable transmission of an event which the faith produces. That event, its story, becomes embedded in other traditions and faiths. Faiths, as a whole, are a means of making these events which transmit part of the original in a new bundle. Needing foreign elements for that bundle, other beliefs cannot be disparaged. (ibid)

Thus defeat may be strategic tool:

We have sent forth Messengers

before you to the sects of old.

And no Messenger came to

them but they mocked him.

That is how We instil it

into the hearts of the

sinners. (Fakhry, 15:10-2)

Only one other Believing translation considered herein agrees with this Believer. Others reverse sense:

(Just as We made this a habit with peoples gone by,) so do We cause this (tendency of scornful treatment) enter the minds of these people who sever the ties (with God) (Nooruddin, 15:12)

But remove the interpolations:

so do We cause this enter the minds of these people who sever the ties

Perhaps the Message Itself enters, to make ties elsewhere. Others remove ambiguity entire:

We sent messengers among the various communities of old, but they mocked every single messenger that came to them: in this way We make the message slip through the hearts of evildoers. (Abdel Haleem, 15:10-2)

We place in the hearts of sinners (disbelief) (Ahmed Ali, 15:12)

Yet Believer Yusuf Ali:

Even so do We let it creep in the hearts of sinners (15:12)

“Instil,” “enter,” “creep in” to “skip through,” “place disbelief,”: Qur’an wars with Itself. A war against, or for, the fatal certainty of closed community. A war played out as well in Recital before closed Book. A war which is Recital ever challenging Itself. A war which is Recital ever anew.

           10.7 Muslim guardian

           Early Recital is proclamation against Singularity, maintenance of space by breath intimate, foreign, common:

Suzuki: I must live with faiths. I do not mean tolerate them as neighbors. Live with them. Gain sustenance through them; return something for this. But not become them. This would be fraud. To become one is to deny the others. There is a place to stand, where the exclusive property of being right does not go. I stand there.




Suzuki: I offer [this] with your faith. Challenge–but, if turned back, acquiesce, for the moment. The process which turned you back must let you come again. It is my faith that you will always be turned back. It is yours that someday you will not. But consider: we may both fail.

Talbot: Both?

Suzuki: One may come rolling forward who is not you. Acquiesce in being turned back, as a lesson in what you would not be.

Talbot: This will stop the rolling other?

Suzuki: I will not know until it fails. But if you are out there, not disdaining but preparing, I think it less likely. You will absorb discontent in a way jurisprudence can abide.

Talbot: Only if we acquiesce.

Suzuki: You acquiesce because there are some things you do not want to become. This is my gamble. What you do not want to become–that is a matter of internal search and struggle. All jurisprudence can do is try and selectively nurture those with this quality. (Confirmation Hearing, Fifth Session)

Acquiescence is self discipline to decide, form, what you are. Through this abundance in other comes intersecting Qur’an. Recital is abundance, but abundance earthly moves:

Have you not seen that Allah sends down water from the clouds and causes it to flow streamlets on the earth and then brings forth herbage of various kinds and of diverse hues with it, then it drys up so that you see it turn yellow; then He turns it into chaff. In this is a reminder for people endowed with pure and clear understanding. (Nooruddin, 39:21)

In chaff distance arises, Singularity denied, space arising from failure:

Suzuki: Without that space we would collapse upon one another, contending for dominant single identity. This happens among us quite often, locally–more or less. Sometimes we call it repression; sometimes atrocity; sometimes genocide; sometimes victory; sometimes destiny. But distance insulates from collapse. The greatest atrocities fail of perfect consumption. So Justice always recovers. Consumption produces greater distance, greater space. So Justice is continually born of the ever minor collapses in the world. (Confirmation Hearing, Fifth Session)

So Recital plans failure, removal from discourse:

For each period is a Book. Allah blots out or confirms what He pleases: with Him is the Mother of the Book. (Yusuf Ali, 13:38-9)

There is a Scripture for every age: God erases or confirms whatever He will, and the source of Scripture is with Him (Abdel Haleem 13:38-9)

Every term has a Book.

God blots out, and He establishes

whatever He will; and with Him is the

Essence of the Book

(Arberry, 13:38-9)

But Nooruddin will not release Book to others:

For everything that has an appointed term, there is a law. Allah repeals what He will and He establishes and confirms and with Him is the source and origin of all laws and commandments. (13:38-9)


Book is Recital, law a lesser thing. Yusuf Ali, Abdel Haleem, Arberry embed the Book in time; Nooruddin would avoid this. Yet the Book manifest is temporal, the Book collecting, not collected, understanding itself a process:

The responsibility of its collection and its arrangement lies on Us. When We recite it, then follow its recitation. The responsibility of explaining it lies again on Us. (Nooruddin, 75:17-9)

           We, singular plural, vast, undifferentiated, horizon, the Mother of the Book. We, of the Book but beyond it, horizon for travel, for encounter, for collection, for abrogation. We, humanity on earth, no community, no people, no truncation to what happens to be known, nor accumulation of all ever encountered. We, a forward in circular horizon, greeting to be, preserving, blotting, gifting. Pen on torus palimpsest.

           Singular plural God is refusal of finite place. Partners of God are culture bound, so condemned (e.g., 4:48, 116; 10:28; 13:36; 29:8; 39:65); these risk closure. The Book, finite in form, risks partnership. 75:17-8, ante, thus forbids codification as truncation of horizon. A written text is not the Book but a Book, no partner, for ephemeral to it’s epoch or age (13:38-9, ante). Epoch has always been plural in space; in our time they may flame quickly as well.

           Ephemerality is Recital renewed:

We reverse the mechanism of the person to whom We grant long life by making the state of his constitution weak. Do they not make use of their understanding? (Nooruddin, 36:68)

We reverse the growth of those to whom We give long life. Can they not understand? (Dawood, 36:68)

Closure brings vigor, success, then enfeeblement. Qur’an warns its own triumph. Such a faith, to know it must release itself from itself, to know it must confront–without final victory. Qur’an wails as it becomes book of men, a finite forward, fortress made to retain advance, God receding distant, pen of Man writing desperate to form civilization entire.

           Which produces a strange transmutation of monotheism–if we will look. While verse condemns Son of God as polytheistic partnership (e.g., 112:3 and ante), Peoples of prior Books are to decide through their own texts:

[L]et the followers of the Evangel [Gospels] judge according to what Allah revealed therein. And indeed those who do not judge according to what Allah has revealed it is these who are the real disobedient. And we revealed to you this perfect Book comprising truth and wisdom, fulfilling the Scripture which was present before it and stands as guardian over it, then judge between them according to that which Allah revealed, and do not deviate from the truth that has come to you in order to follow their low desires. (Nooruddin, 5:47-8)

Let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah revealed therein. If they do fail to judge by what Allah has revealed, they are those that rebel. (Yusuf Ali, 5:47)

To judge is to interpret. If Christians assert a Son of God, it is theirs, even though the greatest transgression against God for Muslims. Islam is obliged to guard that judgement:

To you We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety. (Yusuf Ali, 5:48)

5:48 ends with the marvelous genius of Islam:

vie one with another in good deeds. To Allah is the return of you all, then He will inform you as to that wherein you were of variance. (Nooruddin, 5:48; also 2:148, ante)

Here the sacrifice of Islam, submission, its advance in monotheism: if God is to judge the difference among Peoples of the Books, Muslims may find themselves wanting. The edifice of Islam may be guardian and test of other faiths

If God had pleased He could surely have made you one people

But He wished to try and test you by that which he gave you (Ahmed Ali, 5:48)

not absolute, universal truth entire; to say otherwise appropriates the judgement of difference. Such humility is extreme submission. So

Those who believe (in the Qur’an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians and the Christians–any who believe in Allah, and the Last Day, and work righteousness,–on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Yusuf Ali, 5:69)

The Jews say: “The Christians are not right,”

and the Christians say: “The Jews are in the wrong”;

yet both need the Scripture;

and this is what the unread said too. God alone

will judge between them in their differences. (Ahmed Ali, 2:113)

O people of the Book,

why dispute about Abraham?

The Torah and the Gospel

were sent down after him:

Do you not understand? (Ahmed Ali, 3:65)

Abraham…said to his

father, “…Father, there

has come to me knowledge

such as came not to thee;

so follow me, and I will

guide thee on a level path.”

…[His father replied]

“What, art thou shrinking

from my gods, Abraham?

Surely, if thou givest

not over, I shall stone

thee; so forsake me now

for some little while.”

[Abraham] said, “Peace be

upon thee! I will ask my

Lord to forgive thee;

…Now I will go apart

from you and that you

call upon, apart from God.

(Arberry, 19:41-9; emphasis supplied)

Abraham’s father, polytheist, urges his son A Dios out of love (cf Section 3, ante); in leaving, Abraham does not deny that his father approaches an Absolute–among other things. Father and son combined, in their differences, produce A Dios.

           Faith is trial in difference. Recital creates faith by wandering apart from Itself. God, humanity undifferentiated until encounter, speaks through partial abnegation of Itself. Trial of faith is the essence of finitude, the only communication the human may know, out of which comes tale of humanity, a finitude wherein a next step is always hoped. Here the Muslim stands as guardian.

Do not allow hatred for other men to turn you away from justice. Deal justly; that is nearer to true piety. (Dawood, 5:8)

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witness to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety. (Yusuf Ali, 5:8)

Next to (Yusuf Ali), not nearer to (Dawood): this Believer lets nothing trump Islam. One cannot guard diversity even against oneself in such a case. Your critic takes refuge in

… I

have been commanded to be just between

you. 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 shall bring us together, and unto

Him is the homecoming.

And those who argue concerning God

after the answer has been made to Him,

their argument is null and void in the

sight of their Lord.

(Arberry, 42:12-6)

After that answer has been made to Him: after concrescence of faith, after choice of stance. Their argument is null and void in the sight of their Lord: after choice comes partition.

           Each faith jeopardizes partnership with God–even Islam. To force submission, to force faith, establishes partnership in Book manifest.

There is no compulsion of any sort in religion (as) the right way does stand obviously distinguished from the way of error. Now he that shall reject the transgressor and accepts Allah has laid hold of a support firm and strong which knows no breaking. (Nooruddin, 2:256)

Transgression suggests violation of the law of the Book. But hear the Unbelievers:

There shall be no compulsion in religion. True guidance is now distinct from error. He that renounces idol-worship and puts his faith in God shall grasp a firm handle that will never break. (Dawood, 2:256)

So too Arberry

…whoever disbelieves in idols

and believes in God has laid hold of

the most firm handle…

Ahmed Ali has “forces of evil,” not “idol”; but Western living Abdel Haleem refuses place singular demarcation of what evil is, saying “false gods” instead. If a Catholic saint may be an idol, so too Book manifest. Coupled with 42:12-6, 2:256 warns against any complete Revelation. So the otherwise unknown prophet Shuaib admonishes

fill up the measure

and the balance, and diminish not

the goods of the people; and do not

corruption in the land, after it

has been set right; that is better for you,

if you are believers.

And do not sit in every path, threatening

and barring from God’s way those who believe

in Him, desiring to make it crooked.

And remember when you were few, and He

multiplied you… (Arberry, 7:82-4)

Such is Mohammad’s encountered imperative ancient. And remember, one might add, that long life in singular faith enfeebles (36:68, ante). Remember when you where few: victory ever becomes its own worst enemy. In success, we lament what our ancestors have done. That is islam.

           10.8 Recital desiccated

           There is barbarism in Qur’an. There cannot but be, this submission which asks the human to bear humanity. Finitude knows a greater; protection elides into supremacy. If all nations have a Messenger to them first instanced, nonbelief becomes serpentine, one nation’s denied deviation another’s starting place. When, where we make paths crooked to others becomes doubt incarnate, ever present, an opening to humanity terrible which–without doubt–will crush us in one or another of its avatars. The Muslim is asked to uphold the wandering of Recital at peril of his own contoured faith, contours of livelihood, family, rest.

O you who believe! Take not your fathers and brothers for allies, if they prefer disbelief to belief. And whoever of you ally themselves with them, it is then these who are the real wrong doers. (Nooruddin, 9:23)

These are the real wrong doers: disbelief is less than alliance outside belief. Belief here is Qur’anic culture. Disbelief may be Message derived elsewhere, e.g., Judaism or Christianity. The Qur’an protects difference through formation of Qur’anic culture as an internal policing mechanism; but that mechanism also contends among rivals in belief. Daily life, final arbitrator of faith, is asked to uphold a meta-theology of rival Messages (vie among one another in good works, 5:48, ante) through lived Qur’anic law which must ignore these rivals. In consequence, a single verse may elide from protected tolerance to barbarism in the name of certainty:

And (O Muslims!) fight them until there is no more persecution (in the name of religion) and adopting a (certain) religion is wholly for the sake of Allah. (Nooruddin, 8:39)

And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere. (Yusuf Ali, 8:39)

[Believers] fight them until there is no more persecution, and all worship is devoted to God alone. (Abdel Haleem, 8:39)

And fight them, so that

sedition might end and the

only religion will be that

of Allah. (Fakhry, 8:39)

Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion reign supreme. (Dawood, 8:39)

Verse context may be control of Ka’ba (cf 8:35); even so, translation elides from tolerance of individual choice to single faith, paralleled in Mohammad’s own journey from oppressed faith among faiths to military dominance. The Qur’an, revealed over 20+ years, has other verses to pull 8:39 either way.

           Supremacy trumps through the need to be; let others risk paths untaken.

Never should a believer kill another believer, except by mistake. If anyone kills a believer by mistake, he must free one Muslim slave and pay compensation to the victim’s relatives, unless they charitably forgo it; if the victim belonged to a people at war with you but is a believer, then the compensation is only to free a believing slave; …if anyone kills a believer deliberately, the punishment for him is Hell, and there he will remain. (Abdel Haleem, 4:92-3)

In civilization, slavery ever reincarnates. To harm belief, in war or not, forgoes a benefit of supremacy (release a believing slave), but not supremacy itself. If deliberate harm yields Hell, the serpentine paths of proclaimed disbelief contour protection from violence: belief elsewhere becomes unbelief; rectitude of place supplants wandering Recital.

           Rectitude requires boundaries:

Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. (Dawood, 5:51)


Those to whom We have given the Scriptures, know him as they know their own children. (Dawood, 6:20)

The Qur’an, seeking longevity until the End, fills enfeebled with the inconsistencies inherent in life toto, steps faltering, world ever smaller (36:68, ante). God becomes vertical, extended humanity lost for a controlled place:

From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

After Hamas militants throw a rival Fatah man off a high rise roof in Gaza, June, 2007

Throw me into the intangible arms of your God. Release me from all ground so I may know the divine necessity of submission. Show me the power of your God so I may become that power manifest for all to behold and quake. Set me free, falling free, the only freedom, freedom from history, from my people, from my enemies, from my birth. I ride the air beyond harm, for once arms flaying without account, my world’s focus ever sharper until released. This failing flight becomes Paradise unplanned. No more heights of understanding built on words so steeled as to thrust lives ever upward in rivalry which becomes vacuous hope. Your God releases me from all that; I mourn only those who will come to cleanse my burial, my scattered dregs links in the chains of history, binding them as I was bound until this incalculable, untransmittable, freely falling moment.

Perhaps, when done, the all important face which says what we are shall be divinely positioned to look up at the height whence it came, grateful to the West which propelled it upwards from squaller so to later fall into release. Let me look up, up where God is said to be, pointing the way for you.

           A faith which confronts with exclusion places unbelief on the pyre to keep itself warm (Suzuki, Confirmation Hearings, Fifth Session). Islam, charged with protecting Message generic, polices by hobbling encounter. Qur’an published is as arrogant as John 14:6

I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. (New Jerusalem Bible)


The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8, ibid)

this the same tension between open encounter and exclusive hope as evident in Qur’an. Indeed, John is as polytheistic as Micah 4:1-5 (Section 9, ante):

The Jews fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father; for which are you stoning me?” The Jews answered him, “We are stoning you, not for doing good work, but for blasphemy; though you are only a man, you claim to be God.” Jesus answered: “Is it not written in your Law I said, you are gods? So it was the word ‘gods’ of those people to whom the word of God was addressed–and scripture cannot be set aside.” (John 10:31-5, ibid, emphasis in text)

The internal quote is from Psalm 82:

God takes his stand in the divine assembly

surrounded by the gods he gives judgement

How much longer will you give unjust judgements

and uphold the prestige of the wicked?

Let the weak and the orphan have justice,

be fair to the wretched and the destitute.

Rescue the weak and the needy,

save them from the clutches of the wicked.

Ignorant and uncomprehending, they

wander in darkness,

while the foundations of the world are


I had thought, “are you gods,

are all of you sons of the Most High?”

No! You will die as human beings do,

as one man, princes, you will fall.

Arise, God, judge the world

for all nations belong to you.

           All nations belong to you, for they are but a partition imposed. Psalm 82 breaks the Deuteronomic competition of nations (Section 9, ante); gods associated with such competition will die, just as Roman Imperium had extinguished national autonomy. But Jesus at John 10, ante, claims no more than being a Son of the Most High. Jesus is an extra-national assortment of people(s), no more than a fracturing of humanity based on his ancient texts, his innovation that nationhood is not the only partition. Exclusivity at John 14:6 is no different than national identity, or fidelity to Qur’an.

           The Qur’an’s employment of a multitude of Messengers through the Deuteronomic partition of nations (but Abdel Haleem uses “community” of finer grain) breaks Johnnian exclusivity through later encounter of Messages, the essence of Recital. Exclusivity, Qur’anic or Johnian, is rebutted in the Qur’an’s version of Satan’s (Iblis’) fall:

We created man from dry clay, from black moulded loam, and before him Satan from smokeless fire [other translations have “jinn from scorching wind”; Dawood conflates “jinn” and “angel”]. Your Lord said to the angels: “I am creating man from dry clay, from black moulded loam. When I have fashioned him and breathed of My Spirit into him, knell down and prostrate yourselves before him.”

The angels one and all, prostrated themselves, save Satan. He refused.

“Satan,” said God, “why do you not prostrate yourself?”

He replied, “I will not bow to a mortal whom You created of dry clay, of black moulded loam.”

“Begone,” said God, “you are accursed.” (Dawood, 15:26-33)

Satan refuses to accede to the ephemeral, that which, though dying, transmits Message (cf John 3:8, ante), breath maintained through transversing humanity unknown to itself. Qur’an declared complete risks Satan.

           Consider Suzuki’s attitude towards closed canon during his confirmation hearing:

Suzuki: Can you live with unbelievers, Senator? Is not your progress entwined with many who fail your belief? Does not the hand of God use unbelief? Even the Resurgence has tides within. With distance comes unbelief. Even in Resurgence.

Talbot: We struggle to understand the will of God. Finite and human, we differ; but our disputes go to the same end.

Suzuki: I have long puzzled why unbelief can not too be seen in this struggle toward common goal.

Talbot: You took this line with our Chairman. It leads to mollification and betrayal.

Suzuki: It may. But not at all places, at all times. I search for defeat which is victory elsewhere, elsetime. There is in this no fixed heaven. I would say the Nazarene employed defeat.

Talbot: For victory over time.

Suzuki: Justice has no fixed heaven. It’s victories migrate away from us, as do the defeats. But Justice will not deny your fixed heaven; it simply cannot claim it as its own. Your victory over time is a door I cannot open without becoming deaf to innumerable others. Use Justice. That is what it is there for: to be used. (Fifth Session)

It is not fixed heaven, but its completion, which risks Satan:

Senator Mary Talbot: You see the world as unending. We know it temporary. The–canon–as you would call it, is perforce closed.

Suzuki: Yes. Once you assert the temporal world as temporary you must close Scripture; else this assertion may be overturned. Poof! Perpetual instability would come. Maybe not.

Senator, if the temporal world is temporary, let jurisprudence be an open canon for it. It will, in your light, vanish of its own accord. Well, not really. But it will vanish. In return you will have a place to reside until the end times.

Talbot: The eternal intervenes in the temporary, shifting the world toward the end of days.

Suzuki: Ah. Good reply. Salvation rolls people into a great ball, preparing for the end. Jurisprudence could get in the way. My reply must come from within your tradition; else why accept the abode jurisprudence offers. <pause> Ah. Senator, do you know the end of times?

Talbot: Know when? No one truly does.

Suzuki: Hah! Open ended after all! Good thing too. There can be false signs of the end of days?

Talbot: Yes, there have been false signs, over many centuries.

Suzuki: Then I invite jurisprudence as your waiting place. You will have abode, you can grow. But not control, not swell as in the end of days. Even so, Senator, I say challenge as you must; try to swell beyond the bounds of jurisprudence as you must. If you are stayed, if you are turned away, then I say it is not the end of days. But you must try again, later. How’s that?


Talbot: Do you mock me, Benjamin Suzuki?

Suzuki: Absolutely not! I offer a place to stand, together. Not of one mind, but sill standing together. I say challenge me and jurisprudence. But, if you are turned back–acquiesce. Acknowledge the end of days, in sign, is not today. Perhaps tomorrow. Challenge again. But until your next challenge, accept the abode offered in jurisprudence; it is there. And grow. How’s that, enemy unvanquished? (Ibid)

This the Qur’anic testing through difference (5:48, ante)–maintained by the Medieval common law of England! If God is everywhere, should we not expect common process to be derived repeatedly? The greatest conceit of Judaism and Christianity is (what amount to) singular incarnation. Islam has not this arrogance: Revelation is everywhere there is language.

We have sent no Messenger

except in the tongue

of his own people so that he

may expound to them clearly.

(Fakhry, 14:4)

And to every people, so every tongue, a Messenger (35:24, ante). Where the American tongue, people nascent some 200 years past–and nascent still.

           10.9 American Recital

           The arrogance of America is undifferentiated humanity which will not let itself be. A sentence like that should mean something. This critic who, professionally, should read more than he writes, has found a strange otherness in sentences, ostensibly written by a hand, mine or not, yet without history once eyed, as though the sentence forces us to speak irrespective of our will, or makes our will conform to some path only an artifact of ink can discern. We speak, walking, thinking it is terrain we clear; but perhaps the sentence makes terrain so a path becomes. It is satisfied, and we still have will. A sentence makes terrain, unpassed to make a pass, that which remains unpassed an other kind, perhaps abode for other kinds. Which is the point of this dodging paragraph. Humanity is in the terrain, not our path therein, but spied only through such paths made.

From the Journal of Henry Mitland

On the Court

During Nonacs v Selten

Ben and I took a stroll in the woods today. The apostle of the 13th Amendment is solemn. We walk along trails to see the wood without trails, he says. The trails exist for the places they will not be.

“The Court is like this,” he pronounces.

I bark laugh. “Sorry, Ben. Few would agree with that.”

“We are a trail, interesting for what we reveal on our sides, the full growth, the world beyond the one we make.”

A pause. He continues

“[Associate Justice] Anne [Clare Young] would like that.”

“Yes, I think so.”

“The common law is a mess of trails, followed for the side views. Hah!”

What this has to do with decision I do not know. He probably doesn’t either. Then, a burst:

“Liberty is not ordered!”

The famous dodge of Cardozo turned on its head. [Palko v Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937)]

He continues

“If conscription is disallowed [see Nonacs v Selten, Secretary of Defense, Archivist] there is less order. Justice ever dismantles. I heard that somewhere.”

“But only via the protection of the State, Ben.”

“Yes. Justice always dismantles its own life. It must lose.”

Then: “Ah!” He takes out his pocket notebook, flips through it.

“I found poem about this. By a Frenchman, Yves Bonnefoy. Mispronounced. Have translation, so not wholly French. Good thing, too. Here:

O fragile country

Like the flame of a lamp

Carried out of doors,




You too love the moment

when the light of


Fades and dreams into


There!”, he says, all understood–or so he always seems to think. We walk in silence. I finally venture my incredulity:

“You think this nation will dissolve itself?”

“No. Justice must always fail. Darkness recurs. Then the nation, the lamp, begins anew.”

“Then what the hell are we doing here?”

“We are walking! With the lamp, toward dawn, fading with its approach. That the dawn will not last does not alter its coming. We are at the dawn. Let others deal with the later darkness. That’s what conservatives are for.”

“You are so generous, Ben. I was appointed to the Court as a conservative. God knows what they thought you were.”

“Why you say I say conservatives bad! Without Scalia, without Thomas, how could I be this way? Why you say losing is losing? Do not condemn what must recur; be aware of it.”

Our trail winds in its purpose. On its sides the disorder of growth. Preserved for the trail; preserved by the trail. I know this trail. It dissolves into woodland. There we will turn around. You too, Ben. Liberty is not ordered. But we will not go there. You won’t go there, Ben. We watch the sides, from the side, perhaps wondering when, where we should blaze a trail in new direction, to reign in the liberty of growth, to watch it spread anew on our sides.

           We are a trail, interesting for what we reveal on our sides, the full growth, the world beyond the one we make: humanity cannot be, yet we are for its sake, manifest humanity incomplete. We are as humanity’s subconscious, partial purpose, traveling to find conscious clarity, failing because in our travel we leave ourselves partly behind. Humanity is torus, manifestation that which travels it, finite’s play at infinity. To reach the unbounded, ever process, never result, humanity must be ignorant of itself, ever stretching toward past and future, ever shedding with each stretch.

           Humanity is the medium of the human:

Have they not seen the birds held under subjection (while flying) in the vault of the heaven? None withholds them (from falling down) but Allah. In this there are signs for a people who believe. (Nooruddin, 16:79)

Remove the interpolations for starker sense:

Have they not seen the birds held under subjection in the vault of the heaven? None withholds them but Allah.

Only Arberry comes close to this verse sense:

Have they not regarded the birds,

that are subjected in the

air of heaven?

Naught holds them but God;

surely in that are signs for a people

who believe. (16:81)

To fly is to be subjected unawares. Subjection of medium which lets life be.

Suzuki: There is a saying from the tradition of my ancestors. …It’s from a man named Dōgon.  He lived in the 13th century and wrote profusely.  No one cared.  Here:

There is no bird who flies knowing the limit of the sky. There is no fish who swims knowing the end of the ocean.

That is my world as judge. It is, I humbly assert, also the world of the Christian. It is also the world of the parent. Anywhere there is growth, this is the world. (Confirmation Hearing, Second Session)

Subjection by Humanity, where the human grows to travel to other ways of saying. Such is Recital.

We have not created the heaven and the earth and all that is between the two but to suit the requirements of truth and wisdom. (Nooruddin, 15:85)

Again, only an Unbeliever, now Dawood, comes close to this translation sense:

It was to reveal the Truth that We created the heavens and the earth and all that lies between. (15:85)

           Revelation is Recital, a testing of material acts (e.g., 5:48, 18:10) in different belief (e.g., 2:251, 5:47-8, 49:13). This testing trumps Belief itself:

We have bestowed the Book on those of Our servants whom we have chosen. Some sin against their souls, some follow a middle course, and some, by God’s leave, vie with each other in charitable works: this is the supreme virtue. (Dawood, 35:32)

No Believing translation examined employs a sense of rivalry in good works at 35:32, instead using “forerunner” (Ahmed Ali, Fakhry) or “foremost” (Abdel Haleem, Nooruddin, Yusuf Ali) to avoid direct competition. Unbeliever Arberry slants toward Dawood:


wrong themselves, some of them are lukewarm,

and some are outstrippers in good works (35:29)

The Book, or at least some Book (ante), is bestowed on each nation or people (ante). Vie comports with the marvelous 5:48 (ante), which refrains from supremacy of Message; 35:32 then implies that good works, in outcome, arbitrate faith, this the “supreme virtue” (Dawood). Charity becomes currency across faiths. Believing translations herein frame 35:29 solely within Islam as single faith, not meta-theology–religion grown old, so decrepit (36:68, ante).

           To fly is to be subjected unawares. The vault of heaven is inescapable. Qur’an tells us we are subjected, our only freedom in wing to flight therein. To be free, use the vault. In difference comes freedom, in audience formed, in encounter after difference formed.

There freedom lies–in the breaking; be grateful for your custodians, for their denial is your quantum of freedom.

…God lets us use God…as word to break boundaries and then rechain. (From the journal of Benjamin Suzuki; cf Section 1, ante)

Qur’an employs Humanity unknown for freedom human. Recital is the price, for both cantor and audience. Human freedom is formation of audience, and audience needs its cantor, even if prerecorded. Recital directs what humans will do, wing to flight, directs knowing that origin, Message, is never monopolized.

           So again: the arrogance of America is undifferentiated humanity which will not let itself be. America boasts difference, yet pummels difference, ineffable Humanity, into oblivion. This is human. Not as apology, but fact. What makes America–different–are the structural enclaves of law promoting, sometimes insulating difference. As the Qur’an has many Messages through peoples, America has many origins of people. Such was Anne Clare Young’s contribution to the Suzuki Court (cf 10.2, ante). Common law juries produce divergence, difference, the people manifest small, leading to jury nullification as constitutional principle:

From the Journal of Anne Clare Young

On the Indiana Supreme Court

A Federal jury in Florida fails to convict a US resident Palestinian professor on several counts employing the Patriot Act, 2005

Six to twelve people tell us what we are, what we shall be. Not surprising, that. Each day strangers tell us what we are. Strangers judge us because we live as strangers. It was not always so; and the jury were not strangers, either. Our jury is not what it was. We are tethered to a world long gone.

Ancient in common law, the jury knew all, or made all it knew all there was. Itinerant judges came and were not surprised to hear acquittals, acquittal where the crime seemed gone. Months passed between charge and trial, months in which guilt and redemption were defined and performed. Justice arrived to find the case no more. Conviction was threat to solve the matter before arrival of the Crown. Jury nullification was ancient, foundational, no derived rebellion against law. Yet the law constrained local redress of grievance; formal accusation, portending conviction, also protected the accused until trial. Only so far could locals go; one could resist one’s peers, pleading before itinerant Crown judge as final gamble. The accused could refuse nullification by refusing demanded redress.

Nullification was compromise between locale and Crown. Controlled rebellion producing a dollop of justice. The Crown as judge nullified at the margin the brutality of local retribution, collecting fees for this favor of moderation. Prospect of jury formation could curtail the influence of local dominants: a greater breadth of the (male) population must acquiesce in proscribed punishment. Else the accused might take his chances with the jury without performing pre-trial community absolution. A latent threat to nullify local powers if these demand too much. Nullification, first a favor of local power mediated consensus, could become rebellion not against Crown but against price demanded for local largesse in verdict.

Anciently the jury was no rational machine for identifying the perpetrator of crime. The verdict was more akin to electoral outcome, cumulation of social contention perhaps months in the making. The accused might find himself the least important facet of trial otherwise hidden. The common law evolved, over centuries, to tame this jury; to eviscerate the social process which was jury as outcome. Crown justice demanded a rational machine as the consequences of verdict became increasingly less geographically isolated. A truncating process of centuries, dramatically reversed in the American colonies, where distance reigned once more supreme. There the jury as electoral process recovered, prominent before and after Revolution. The common law enshrined in the 7th Amendment is not British of that day, but rather of the jury unfettered as social process. Our law has evolved by ignoring the 6th and 7th Amendments in extreme.

Now the jury is anonymous to itself and the greater world. We play by rules in anonymity, in roles isolated from the living person. A mirror of our life: more freedom, no home where you are truly known. The jury deliberates by negotiating how these abstract rules apply to the case–yet residual nullification remains. A Florida federal jury has refused to convict a U.S. resident Palestinian for violating the abetting provisions of the Patriot Act. Supporting a charity which is said to support terrorism is an offense, claims the State. The jury could not agree. A causal chain of innocense might be there, violating the rules of guilt in this anonymous society where aid defuses in unknown ways.

This is nullification, now against the State as Crown. But the ancient jury feedback between verdict and community norms, a feedback recovered in this country during the Colonial era, is gone. Each jury makes a solid color which fades into air. The State may come to try similarly until conviction is won. There is no ratchet of memory to keep the State at bay.

Tethered to a dead world, the jury refuses death. It remains more than abstract judge applying fact to law. Guilt remains a relation of facts to law beyond mere presence, embedded in the necessities and traps of livelihood. A relation concrete in the instance but undefined otherwise. A relation consequent of the social relations flared in the amorphous moment of a jury of strangers forced to create an imaginary world of right and wrong.

What freedom there is is in the forcing. Mostly the jurors will do what the law dictates, believing conformity their only long term hope. But they may not. In those moments of almost silent rebellion the past revives. In those moments the law is more than legislation and judge referee. In those moments justice lives, right or wrong, as raw as the last paycheck in a canceled life.

Our written law has struggled mightily to quash those moments. Our failure marks the true genesis of law: abiding elsewhere, the law has no master. A revolutionary principle, briefly risen in Florida this day.

At the Founding, the jury was Recital. No more. Yet protection of State common law in Federal adjudication (Erie Railroad Co. v Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 [1938]) still produces harbors of diluted diversity somewhat akin to Recital. States may still diverge, a stance which ultimately redefined the Constitution’s Privilege and Immunities Clause in Right to Bear Arms (cf Section 7, ante); Recital there emerges as State articulation of Federal Constitutional rights.

           Suzuki’s America, as said, is ever incomplete (Section 7, ante). The Qur’anic requirement of a people becomes ephemeral manifestation of the people–as jury or electorate approving State constitutional change. Recital Message is ever latent, lurking to pounce. America’s war on itself becomes, for Suzuki, a strategy for peace:

From the Journal of Henry Mitland

On the Court

At home, late evening, otherwise undated

Ben [Suzuki] and Elizabeth were over for barbeque this evening. Ben does not like to meet the Court, entire or partial, in such venue.

“Each meeting,” he says, “creates a nexus, an alignment. We become trapped. I say such and such because so and so is here. Thought travels in deep canyons absent seconds before. We leave the grouping finding we cannot think as freely as before. Ideas have people’s names attached, their wants, needs, fears. Justice is the absence of all this. Hard work.”

“Impossible work, Ben.”

“Yes, we travel by sighting a mirage.”

“Is there not a–nexus–with only two?”

“Yes. But the nexus which traps does so through third parties. It is the bystanding audience which traps, not the primary recipient. This is why writing can work so well. There can be writer and reader, nothing else. Even better, a writer not knowing if there will be a reader. Crazy release from social constraint.”

“Not so for Court opinions.”

“Not so. Which is why we are trapped. But I hazzard way out.”

“Yes, you do.”

“Oh. I mean I hazzard a way out.”


“Write opinions for the future. Write incomplete. For those not yet here. Ha! Not so far in the future at that.”

“Have you heard of impeachment, Ben?”

“I am too vague to be impeached! So far.”

Now we sit on the lawn, waiting for the barbecue. He has been preoccupied with metaphors of war lately. As if the Court unendingly steps into them, perpetually shaking its collective feet to get the grime off. What seems a single question of greater right becomes, for him, intervention in an ancient battle. We intervene with words. New armor for some, nakedness for others. He seems to think neither side should–perhaps, better, can–win. Somehow, winning produces the battle anew. I decide to continue this thread before dinner arrives, not realizing he will thereby reveal his unsettling vision of peace. Peace for a global–false–community.

My gambit, tossed as I sip my tea:

“How can words impact wars of centuries, Ben?”

I sip.


Something unheard. Silence, stretching silence. He hasn’t answered. I glance toward him to see a face in despair. Gone the Japanese-American imp, ready to profound anything into nothing. Here rather the American draped in a world he does not want, a world unowned yet supplicant, fearful, hostile–emotions perhaps not far from one another. Single American inheritor to a nation, to an ideal.

“We are,” he once said, “custodians of regret. But regret unowned, unclaimed. We must decide what to do with it. Else blame will accumulate, weighing us all down. Worse, blame can explode.”

Now he says, “We can make new wars, drain the old ones.”

“As you’ve said before, Ben. Small engagements, less destruction. A Madisonian checking of interests.”

“No. Checking suggests all persist, but limited. In multiple wars elimination still occurs.”

“Then why new over old?”

“Many. Many wars. And the opportunity for new war. To escape destruction that way. It is the opportunity for escape we must offer.”

“This is how we operationalize regret? By offering escape?”

“Not by offering. This is to enter the wars. By enabling the potential of escape.”

“At lot of ‘creates’ there.”

“The only way to avoid war.”

“We avoid war by letting others go to war?”

“Yes. That is the way of peace.”

Yet again I see our Chief Justice shimmer in my vision, shimmer in some unknown space bordering violence and non-violence. A general in a war, without troops who serve.

“Peace is the art of getting others to fight?”

“They will fight in any case. The art of peace is understanding that the opportunity for war is not realized war.”

Our barbecue arrives. He picks a leg and crunches–devouring an animal slaughtered by another, beyond sight. If I asked him if his crunching was peace or war–what would he say? Ah, I can hear his reply: “You understand me exactly!”

           It is the bystanding audience which traps, not the primary recipient: Suzuki is no man of Recital. He would flee it all, yet protect, hope, for its formation. American justice is no man’s land, populated by exits from Recital. But multiple exists need not form identical disbelief:

They would have you disbelieve as they themselves have disbelieved, so that you may be all alike. (Dawood, 4:89)

Disbelieve as others, or disbelieve differently. The later, I have argued, is essential to early Recital–and to Suzuki’s grope for peace: Many. Many wars. And the opportunity for new war. To escape destruction that way. It is the opportunity for escape we must offer.

           Dissent must have its own place, feel that it is more than dissent, feel that it makes:

[D]issent does not dissipate when repressed. It is the essence of life to diversify. Your faith would have trial, as faith always must. Your trials, your efforts at common belief, would be protected. I advocate–in your defense–protected group formation for mutual belief and support. You should have opportunity for tribulation. A form of competition would exist. You could change the cultural landscape by succeeding. But direct repression of others would, in most cases, be barred. (Suzuki to Senator Allred of Montana, Confirmation Hearing, Second Session)

So closed Recital is the enemy of Recital.

For us our deeds, and for you your deeds. There is no contention between us and you. Allah will bring us together, and to Him is (our) final goal. (Yusuf Ali, 42:15)

There is contention: the violence of accepted faith, which sunders social ties to form anew. But those left after the exit of others are not–necessarily–dead. Early Recital is a cry against the clan ostracism of Mohammad (ante). Ostracism may come, but inclusion by others, elsewhere, may await.

In his last years, as the righteous nationalism of future [India/Pakistan] partition grew, Gandhi did a simple thing. The house of a prominent Muslim had been overrun by a Hindu mob; fear made recovery of the house difficult. Gandhi and a Muslim cleric went to live there a few days. Angry Hindus appeared, and Gandhi spent his time arguing with them. So non-violence confronts its inner house, in whose cause it ostensibly speaks. Non-violence is not a tool; it aligns with a cause only when the latter arises as a scar of violence. The cause becomes bewildered, not knowing why non-violence one moment fiercely defends it, yet at another as fiercely defies it.

Gandhi’s decision to live with a Muslim cleric in a place defiled by Hindus created argument. Words rose to fight each other, endangering prior social relationships. When mass violence is expressed, many are forced into its alignment, actively or passively. Gandhi’s act sought to enable such to reach out to one another and, just as importantly, to reach out to bystanding outsiders. In consequence, the strength of prior social relationships diminishes–and act of social violence in itself. If we say all social competition is violence, then non-violence is misnamed. Gandhi’s domicile in the gutted Muslim home gives a clue: non-violence has no home. (From the journal of Benjamin Suzuki, early entry, while on the Oregon Appellate Court)

           Exit mostly is coupled with entry elsewhere, entry which sorely tempts ostracism to stay afloat. Once secure, keep your boundaries. Exit without entry, abiding in the wasteland of potential unrealized, there American Justice sojourns. A justice of the particular, to prevent entry into comfort which lulls towards complacency.

Justice is particular; so is non-violence. Yet as the consequences of justice ripple outward they create harm; particularization insures that justice breeds injustice afar. When justice is generalized by mandating a social structure, correlated injustice across individuals must result. So government breeds dissent, dissent calling itself liberty. Similarly, correlated non-violence will ultimately produce correlated harm. (From the journal of Benjamin Suzuki, early entry, while on the Oregon Appellate Court)

There is no tool which does not risk the production of its ostensive enemy. Perhaps this was Jesus of Nazareth’s impetus for exit:

–I tried to battle the Pharisees, to break their hold on risen hope.

And so, Savior, you became a Pharisee, one unable to avoid the End of Days.

–Yes, and so remain. I am still on the cross, each of me but one ridiculed by each of you. Perpetual resurrection on the cross, floating with nowhere to go, precisely placed in the cross winds of diverse hope, precisely placed into stillness.

(From the journal of Anthony Pau Cabrales, The interrogation of Jesus, “Crisis of Faith” entry 7; cf Sections 3,5, ante)

           Recital–early Recital–found a solution of sorts, in the lumbering unimportance of minor trade; but what is minor can keep one afloat. Recite, let audience form, dissolve, what was mixing with what will be, elsewhere. If the tool is dangerous, never stop remaking it.

Our boat stays afloat because at each alteration we keep the bulk of it intact as a going concern. (W. V. O. Quine, Word and Object, p. 4)

Yet going lies in the alteration:

God utters me like a word containing a partial thought of Himself.

A word will never be able to comprehend the voice that utters it.

(Thomas Merton, New seeds of contemplation, #6; prefaced to Cabrales’ A Dios journal entry, Section 3, ante)

A word resides in Humanity, not the human, awaiting employment, afloat on past use, picked up through entry of foreign other. Words survive their use, survival tilting present play, albeit not always completely.

the term “language game is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of a language is part of an activity, or a form of life. (Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, section 23; emphasis original)

Life not of men, traveling through men, Absolute eternal manifest finitely, dying in movement to be reborn in movement.

ask yourself whether our language is complete;–whether it was so before the symbolism of chemistry and the notation of the infinitesimal calculus were incorporated in it; for these are, so to speak, suburbs of our language. (And how many houses or streets does it take before a town begins to be a town?) Our language can be seen as an ancient city: a maze of little streets and squares, of old and new houses, and of houses with additions from various periods; and this surrounded by a multitude of new boroughs with straight regular streets and uniform houses. (ibid, section 18)

No one lives it all. What we live is there because others have lived, are living. Even Recital closed of Qur’an is like this. There is as well demolition–and taboo. Places razed to reuse, edifice now fitting into cityscape different than the prior. And places we go only in quash of recital, as in cemetery, where signs mark erasure of what was. We of I are inadequate to this more than lived world, going through motions because others do, or, sometimes less, because tale tells.

           This is Humanity, where Recital offers a door, where arrival can only be incomplete.

[Allah] has inscribed for Himself mercy. (Yusuf Ali, 6:12)

Inscribed, written, on Himself, making Himself, the We of Allah Recital of no man, everywhere.  The Pen asks for release by writing (Suzuki, ante, Section 10.3).  Mercy is the ever traveled writing. It is Humanity; and why the human is not always a hell, salvation offered by something larger than each of us. Yet there are too things in the Qur’an Humanity struggles to leave–there, but also elsewhere. Humanity would shed itself in movement, demanding travel of the human, unawares.

           10.10 Qur’anic condemnation

           Your critic has strayed far into Qur’an, leaping high for places to alight. There are other footholds therein, giving a very different Book. Nimbly, your critic has explained this as well: Qur’an is both meta-theology (vie among yourselves in good works) and construction of a policing people ostensibly to that end. But the written Qur’an (after Mohammad’s death) has shifted the perpetual vying of Recital to what amounts to a zero sum competition among extant faiths. Precisely because Islam has become singular faith, it has lost the ultimate humility of submission (islam): that it may lose the trial of faiths (leave your differences to me). In Recital incomplete, in breath sustaining a night, such fixed resolution is nonsensical, for creed articulated shifts through these nights. Whatever the differences resolved by God, they ever await definition. Perhaps these shifts are that resolution.

           Yet Qur’an contains my demise, if you want it:

those who are twisted of mind

look for verses metaphorical,

seeking deviation

and giving to them interpretations of their own;

but none knows their meaning except God;

and those who are steeped in knowledge affirm:

“We believe in them as all of them are from the Lord.”

But only those who have wisdom understand.

(Ahmed Ali, 3:7)

If only God knows there meaning, then we must have a mechanism for His resolution–else we have a Message where content is undiscerned. This your arrogant yet incorrectly trained critic has tried to provide. Let him go further, and accept the guilt.

Never have We sent a single prophet or apostle before you with whose wishes Satan did not tamper. But God abrogates the interjections of Satan and confirms His own revelations. (Dawood, 22:52)

Is this not what shifting Recital is for? It is Satan who refuses to venerate the mortal (15:26-33; Section 10.8, ante). We are each Satan for somebody; and often, probably not always, a shifting toward resolution ever promised.

           Humanity is present in social structure ever lived elsewhere. We as I’s are its beneficiaries:

Uttering a word is like striking a note on the keyboard of the imagination. (Wittgenstein, ante, section 6)

Imagination housed in no mind. And, for the greater outside, we are Humanity, part of that elsewhere. Hence the Qur’anic We. God has lived among, through us a good long while. Entification, Quine incantates (ante, p. 1), begins at arms length. So too faith, found naturally in the social ties we would make, or encounter as outsider. Not encountered first in the emotional states and genetic necessities which are engine unawares; but God is not there, in that engine. Nor is He faith resolved. God is above our faiths, beyond what we may pick and hold:

We have set constellations up in the sky and made it beautiful for all to see, and guarded it from every stoned satan. (Abdel Haleem, 15:16-17)

God is the constellation(s) of faiths which some, the crazy ones living faith unfully, seek purchase for view.

Oh, we are fools. We think the stars acts of God, so create our own boiling suns, singeing each other in the glory of advance. Singe, or worse. This, we say, is beauty’s price. But it is not the catastrophic heat of the close star which is beautiful; it is the distant effect. It is not the twinkle of a solitary star which commands but the mass of such stars. We have it all wrong. Beauty is not enacted; it is by-product. It is use for which the star has no use, use for things not of its realm. The distance-revealed pattern of entities which would consume one another if truly close. (From the journal of Anthony Pau Cabrales; cf Section 9, ante)

Use for which the star has no use: perhaps not, Anthony Pau; faiths have their heights for view, before returning to their furnace. Faith singular is not, this the genius of Qur’an, soaring beyond Itself, then to lapse into the enduring necessity of singular faith, furnace denying its sight. We are of place, but seek an everywhere, seek to hold a purchase for universal sight for our children–making a place.

           There is no Gödelian completeness for the human. There may be for Humanity, but that is ever unknown to the human. At best, the human truncates itself with consistency, with reason, with discourse. But consistency abstract–as capable of Final Solution as of Martin Luther King, Jr. Or so my spectrum goes. Humanity may be complete, but rife with terrible inconsistency, Rwanda greeting Gandhi as good fellow, Henry Mitland’s African god of all perspectives, unendingly desperate to shed its insanity into harbors of comforting human worlds (cf Section 2, ante). We, the we of I’s, the we of known us, we are not Humanity. We take from that terrible, divine, earthly beauty, knowing that escape from, or loss of, it is inevitable–this the being and mercy of finitude. In faith we accept that mercy, yet still would strive to encompass all. In faith we make a place, yet long to know elsewhere. Faith is our dawn awaiting night to see afar:

Day breaks

no one knows why

there we all stand

Benjamin Suzuki


All religions look foolish in the day.

But attend their nights.

Henry Mitland

I close your Book, awaiting the marvelous distance of night.

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