You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.


AI 54: For the Love of God and His Prophet

Introductory Essay

Filed under: Uncategorized — May 8, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

The concept of religious diversity is one that has been explored extensively throughout the course. Within the Islamic religion, Muslims practice their faith differently. External factors, such as geography and culture, contribute to the development of varied practices. For that reason, it is incorrect to refer to Islam without specifying “Who’s Islam” (Prof. Asani). One must take into account the context of the religious practice, such as the practitioner, the location, and the time period, in order to understand the religion fully. This notion is rooted in the cultural studies approach, which views religion through the lens of culture. By adopting the cultural studies approach this course has succeeded in portraying the diversity of Islam in different parts of the world. The central themes of these blogs serve to support the notion of Islam as a diverse religion.

One way in which the diversity of Islam is portrayed is through the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran is the central religious text of Islam. It is referred to as “God’s Word (or) Speech” as well as “The Guidance”. (Asani, The Qu’ran Lecture). For that reason, interpretation of this text is crucial to understanding the fundamentals of Islam. After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, practitioners set out to interpret the text that codified the revelation of Allah. However, different Muslim groups put forth varied interpretations of the Qu’ran. Nowadays, there is no unified way of interpreting the book. In fact, the Qu’ran is considered to be a text of multiple dimensions. It can be experienced at various sensory levels, including sight, touch, and audition (Asani, The Qu’ran Lecture), so that not only do different people approach the Qu’ran differently, but the same person can experience different perspectives of the Qu’ran as well. Depending on what sensory experience and interpretation a practitioner adopts, the Qu’ran can reveal different messages.

The Qu’ran can be analyzed externally and internally. The external dimension of the Qu’ran is called Tafsir, while Ta’wil refers to the “esoteric”, or internal dimension of the text. The latter dimension was put forth by a group of scholars, within the Shii and Suffi groups, who argued that their unique knowledge of batin, also known as the internal dimension of the Qu’ran, gave them access to a hidden meaning of the text. (Asani, The Qu’ran Lecture). The existence of at least two interpretations gives rise to different practices of Islam because different groups use different lens to analyze their duties differently. What is accessible internally, through the knowledge of batin, may not be comprehensible through an external interpretation, and vice-versa. For example, the Tafsir focuses on the various forms of exegesis, or commentary, including exegesis through transmission and opinion, but the Ta’wil in its very nature upholds exclusivity. According to the Shii and Sunni groups who support Ta’wil, not everybody has access to the comprehension of allegorical verses, only a few elite scholars, so division of practitioners is at the core of interpreting the Qu’ran. Thus, multiple levels of interpretation give rise to various opinions of Muslim practice, which shape the rituals of believers. At its center, Islam puts forth a fundamental belief, which is the profession of faith referred to as shahadah. Shahadah is the declaration of belief in one God and in the Prophet Muhammad. Yet, beyond shahadah, there are varied theories of what practices a Muslim should uphold. Debates around these notions have persisted for many years.

One way in which Islamic groups have endured is through differing views on physicality. Some Muslim groups argue that women should wear a jihab, while others don’t uphold this practice. This could be a result of differing interpretations of the Qu’ranic text that reference women. For example, The Qu’ran reads, “tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary”(Qu’ran 24:30-31). What is “necessary” for some groups may differ from what another group reveres. For example, an external and internal interpretation of the Qu’ran could lead to different conclusions of what this verse entails. Similarly, a central debate of Islam is whether a man should have a beard. This is mainly a concern because the Prophet Muhammad had a beard. Some groups, like the Shii Imam and Sufi Shaykh, consider Muhammad to be the “Living Embodiment of the Quran”. As a result, these groups emphasize imitation of the life of the Prophet as a fundamental way of practicing Islamic faith. Groups like the Taliban believe that because the Prophet had a beard, all Muslims should have a beard. Beyond having a beard, the Taliban beard requires a specific length, which is not enforced by other groups, so that even within a practice there is room for diversity (RAWA News). Finally, others Muslims believe that the customs, or sunnah, of the Prophet are voluntary, so having a beard is optional. Therefore, one way in which we can see the diversity of the Islamic religion is through distinct physical appearances. The external appearance of Muslims varies according to their beliefs, which are influenced by distinct views of sunnah, and opposing interpretations of the Qu’ran. Simply looking at a believer is not enough to distinguish between a Muslim and a non-Muslim because believers practice the religion differently. As a result, Muslims have differing opinions of what they believe constitutes a “good” Muslim.

Along with the shahada, the five pillars of Islam are mandatory for Muslims and they are considered to be central aspects of the Islamic religion. The five pillars of Islam include: shahadah, salat, hajj, sawm, and zakat. Zakat refers to the practice of giving a percentage of one’s money to the needy and poor. Islamic diversity can be seen through careful analysis of the practice of the zakat, since different Muslim groups approach the ritual differently. A reading from the course that addressed this notion is “The Beggars’ Strike” by Aminata Sow. In this play, whenever the wealthy donors gave money to the beggars they addressed Allah by making a wish that they desire to be fulfilled. Therefore, practice of zakat was a means of ensuring survival. The beggars, on the other hand, receive the donations, and serve as intermediaries between the donors, who are making wishes of prosperity, and Allah, the receiver of wishes. This novel exemplifies the idea that zakat is experienced differently by Muslims, specifically Muslim groups that belong to different social classes. While the beggars receive the zakat, the wealthy give the zakat, thus establishing two distinct approaches to the same pillar. Consequently, it is necessary to have different experiences of zakat in order to have zakat at all. If the wealthy and poor were to experience zakat differently, there would not be a receiver and a donor, and the pillar could not be practiced. So, while Muslims are united by zakat, within that practice, diversity is upheld. What constitutes proper zakat for some Muslims is not proper zakat for other Muslims, given their social standing. This exemplifies diversity within the Islamic religion and it serves to explain why different groups of Muslims approach the religion differently, and revere Allah uniquely.

“There is no god but God”, states the shahadah. In this way, Islam unites its believers through the idea of the oneness of God. Yet, a fundamental difference between Muslim groups stems from this profession, because Muslims differ in the ways they revere this united Allah. This diversity is especially evident through the discussion of the Sufi mystics. Sufism cannot be defined simply, because it is an “umbrella” term that refers to the mysticism of Islam. (Asani, Sufism Lecture). The Sufis believe in transcending the boundaries of Islam by entering a spirituality in which they become connected with God. This spirituality has political, economic, as well as artistic dimensions. One of the central artistic representations is poetry. Ever since pre-islamic Arabia, poetry has served an important function in the religion of Islam. The “sha’ir” poets used it as a means of communicating with different communities. Nowadays, poetry is used as a medium for recitation of religious verses. There is a strong emphasis on the aural experience of the Qu’ran, so that poetic verses are recited publically. Interestingly, the Sufis use poetry romantically. Through the love lyric, also known as the ghazal, Sufis use poetry to express their reverence to Allah. The central theme of these poems is an expression of an unrequited love towards a beloved. The beloved is represented in many ways, including a rose, a flame, and other elements of nature. Nonetheless, the popular interpretation of these ghazals is that the beloved represents Allah, and while superficially the poet could be expressing a physical love, careful analysis of the ghazal reveals that the love is actually spiritual and religiously tied to Islam. This is a distinguishing feature of Muslim groups. Other groups use poetry to connect with Allah, but the theme of love of Allah is unique to Sufis. For example, the film “Koran by Heart” exemplifies the importance that Muslims put forth on the memorization of the Qu’ran as a means of connecting spiritually. Another way in which poetry is used to connect with Allah is through the representation of poetic verses publically, such as in murals, artifacts, and clothing. The reverence of Allah is clearly a unifying factor amongst Muslims, but the way in which this is done various across different groups. This differing reverence to Allah distinguishes amongst Muslim groups and leads to various ways of connecting with the religion.

It is possible that an external focus on the understanding of Islam overshadows its unifying themes. In the “Conference of the Birds” reading, Attar portrays the idea of Allah within his believers. This Persian epic narrates the story of a group of birds that set out to find the Simorgh, who they have chosen to be their king, but only those who address their faults complete the journey. In the end, the remaining birds don’t find the Simorgh, instead they are presented with their own reflections on a lake. This can be interpreted as the birds having found Allah within themselves. Although they did not find the Simorgh, they completed the journey internally. This same notion is alluded to in Iqbal’s “Complaint and Answer” reading. By including a poem from the perspective of Muslims, complaining of their sorrows, and a poem from the perspective of Allah, responding to the Muslims by encouraging them to uphold the greatness of their ancestors, Iqbal is able to put forth the idea of Muslims finding greatness within. In Iqbal’s reading, Allah believes the Muslims have to change their circumstances; they have to be the determinants of the change they want to see in the world. Thus, a way in which we can see the unity of Muslims is through an examination of the religion internally. Through this analysis, one can see that at its core, Islam attempts to unite its believers, but differences in the interpretation of the religion have sustained the diverse concept of what we know to be Islam today.

According to Muslims, Allah is everywhere, so that “wherever you turn there is the face of God” (Quran 2:115). Externally, we can see Allah in the physical appearance of Muslims, whether they wear a jihab or have a beard, as well as what custom they practice; whether they uphold the five pillars, or portray reverence to God. The Sufi and the Shii will show Islam differently, just like Muslims from distinct cultures will practice distinctly. In this course, we have been presented with different interpretations of Islam that could explain this diversity. Yet, an internal analysis of the Islamic religion confirms that just as differing interpretations of Islam sustain different groups, at its core, Islam puts forth the idea that each Muslims carries the message of Allah within. To understand Islam fully one has to keep in mind the unifying pillars of the religion, while accounting for the differences in the practices of groups. Therefore, there is not just one Islam; there are unifying factors that bring together all Muslims, but various practices put forth by its believers.









1. Taliban measures beards with lantern glass. RAWA News. 1998.

Give and Take

Filed under: Uncategorized — May 7, 2014 @ 2:53 am


“God give ear to the complaint of us, thy servants tried and true”- Iqbal’s Complaint and Answer


My last blog post is a modern re-creation of Iqbal’s “Complaint and Answer” Poem through a song mix.

These poems stood out to me because of their controversial theme. Through these poems, Iqbal wrote about the decay of former Islam. At the time it was written, Muslims in India were experiencing the decay of the Mughal Empire, and in this poem, Iqbal chooses to address Allah from the point of view of Muslims who are questioning their hardships, and through the answer Iqbal chooses to address the Muslims from the point of view of Allah. This answer is not a direct one. Allah compares modern Muslims to former Muslims, and instead of providing an explanation, Allah encourages modern Muslims to uphold the standards of greatness of their ancestors.

The songs were selected on their themes, and to convey a modern version of Iqbal’s poem. My interpretation is that if the complaint were written today, similar songs would bring inspiration to the religious practitioners.

The first: “I have a Dream” ft. Will.I.Am is applicable for the complaint portion of the letter. I heard this song in the Freedom Writers movie, and it stood out to me as a very emotional song. Its theme is rooted in that of black discrimination, and while the “Complaint and Answer” is related to Muslims, I believe there is common ground in the message the song conveys, about people who are going through hardship and have a dream that it will soon go away. In “Complaint and Answer”, Muslims address Allah in this fashion, in the hope that they will not “forever suffer loss, oblivious to gain”. In this song, Will.I.Am. speaks of hardship, of “struggle” that black people are going through, and he says “I have a dream, that one day, We gonna work it out”. That is analogous to the Muslims addressing God in hopes that their hardship will end, that Allah will do something to make their sorrows go away.

The second song, “I am the Man” by Aloe Blacc has always stood out to me as one that has a God-like tone. This resonates with the Answer portion of the letter from Allah’s perspective. This song encourages people to change their current situation if they are unhappy, like Allah tells the Muslims to do more to change their sorrows: “Who redeemed the human species from the chains of slavery?… Who were they? They were your fathers; as for now, what are you?”. Aloe Blacc’s lyrics say “stand up now and face the sun, it’s time to do what must be done, be a king when kingdom comes”. In other words, this song is saying stand up, motivate yourself; just as Allah would say to the Muslims to engage in the change they want to see.



1. “A Dream” by Will.I.Am


[Chorus: and Martin Luther King]

(I am happy…I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day ) We gonna work it out out out

(That One Day ) We gonna work it out out out

(That One Day ) We gonna work it out

(I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day ) We gonna work it out out out

(That One Day ) We gonna work it out out out

(That One Day ) We gonna work it out

(I Have a Dream) I got a Dream

(That One Day) That one day

(That One Day) I’ma look deep within myself

(I Have a Dream) I gotta find a way…

My Dream Is To Be Free

My Dream Is To Be

My Dream Is To Be

My Dream Is To Be Free



2. “The Man” by Aloe Blacc


“(this is my world)

Somewhere I heard that life is a test

I been through the worst but I still give my best

God made my mold different from the rest

Then he broke that mold so I know I’m blessed (this is my world)



Stand up now and face the sun

Won’t hide my tail or turn and run

It’s time to do what must be done

Be a king when kingdom comes


Well you can tell everybody

Yeah you can tell everybody

Go ahead and tell everybody

I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man”


Reflection of Light

Filed under: Uncategorized — May 7, 2014 @ 2:18 am


My fifth blog post is a response to the “Conference of the Birds” reading.

This reading stood out to me because I believe its central theme is that Allah is within you.

The famous Persian epic narrates the story of a group of birds that are on the search for the Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird, who they have selected to be their king. Throughout the narration, the hoopoe, which is the wisest of the birds, identifies different human faults in each of the birds, and in the end only thirty birds make the journey to the Simorgh. When they reach their destination, all they see is a lake and in this lake they see their reflection.

As I interpreted this epic, the Simorgh is Allah, and the birds who don’t address their faults are believers whose judgment and faith is clouded by earthly desires. For those who carry faults, the inner self does not allow them to become one with God. In order to become one with God one must prepare oneself, as we learned in one of the first lectures, that the Prophet Muhammad prepared himself to receive the revelation of Allah by ridding himself of faults. The novel ends with those birds who do reach the end of the journey, because they have overcome their faults, and they find their reflection, also interpreted as God within themselves. The journey was never intended to find an external God, but to find Allah within you, and this is Attar’s central theme that I have chosen to depict in my sketch.

My photograph is that of ducks walking near a pond. I took this photograph when I was visiting my family in Orlando, FL, and noted its similarity to Conference of the Birds. Three ducks are walking in line, as the birds in the epic are travelling together on a search for the Simorgh. The light that shines in the background serves as a guide to bring the ducks in the right direction. The light is that of Allah. More than just coming from the back, the light appears to come from the ducks themselves; therefore it is a a light that the ducks have within. The darkness of the ducks contrasts with the light that shines, representing Allah as overcoming human faults and earthly desires, represented through the dark. Each of these ducks has chosen to step apart from the dark by ridding themselves of faults to find God within themselves.

Two as One

Filed under: Uncategorized — May 3, 2014 @ 12:09 am

Screen Shot 2014-05-02 at 8.09.06 PM

I chose to make a blog post in response to our readings of the ghazal poems in “The Green Sea of Heaven”. The discussions of these poems really stood out to me because I believe their themes are relatable to everyday life. The concept of a strong love that is unrequited is a powerful subject that most people can relate to, to some degree. As described in the ghazal, love is an emotion that takes over one’s being, and to view this in the context of religion opened my eyes to the multiple dimensions that love has.

Since pre-Islamic Arabia, poetry has served an important function for Islam. At the time the poet “sha’ir’ honored his tribe through the use of poetry and used this medium to communicate with others. Since then, there has been an emphasis on the power of the spoken word, but it is interesting to note how different factions of Islam have upheld poetry in different ways.

The Sufi mystics view poetry as the product and source of mystical experience (Prof. Asani Lecture on Ghazal). They compose ghazal verses to speak of a beloved. As a result, the ghazal, or love lyric emerged, and through these poems Sufis expressed their love towards the beloved, which is popularly interpreted as a love for God.

My sculpture is of a heart to represent the central theme of love. This can also be viewed as the silhouettes of two people coming together as is spoken of in the ghazals. It is made of metal because the material is meant to symbolize the pain of love. In the ghazals the author yearns for a beloved, who doesn’t return love, and that feeling is much like metal piercing your heart. The two silhouettes coming together hold my heart together, but they come together through the binding of metal, almost if love triumphs through pain. Love is not easy, love is not always good, love is painful, it requires sacrifices, and these are often alluded to in Sufi ghazals through the love of Allah.

The color is red which is meant to symbolize the color of love but also the color of blood. This represents the notion of living through the love of the beloved. Just like one cannot live without blood, the author of the ghazals express inability to be able to persist without their beloved. The love towards their beloved is like the blood that keeps them alive. Thus, the individual ceases to live for himself, and instead lives for himself, and one other being.

Selfish Zakat?

Filed under: Uncategorized — March 24, 2014 @ 1:37 am

“they have whispered their dearest and most secret desires to the alms they tender: “I make you this offering so that God may grant me long life, prosperity and happiness…” “This donation is so that the Creator may remove all the difficulties I might encounter on my path…” (…) That’s what they say when they drop a coin or a little gift in the palm of your out-stretched hand.(…) Our hunger doesn’t worry them. They need to give in order to survive, and if we didn’t exist, who would they give to? How could they ensure their own peace of mind? They don’t give for our sake; they give for their own sake! They need us so that they can live in peace!”

– Aminata Sow Fall, The Beggar’s Strike


This quote from The Beggar’s Strike refers to one of the pillars of Islam, zakat, as a selfish act. According to the beggars, and in the context of the story, zakat is not intended to benefit the needy (the beggars); it is meant to benefit the donor. Apparently, by contributing a donation, the donors intend to have their wishes fulfilled and they can ensure a long life. By performing zakat, the donors are upholding righteous standards of Islam and ensuring their well being.


This perspective brings forth various questions: What is the intention of zakat? After having read this play, one cannot help but wonder whether certain believers practice zakat with selfish intentions. Contrastingly, is it wrong for people to perform zakat with their desires in mind? What is the purpose of zakat, and with what intention should one approach it?


In truth, zakat literally means “to purify”, and the Qu’ran refers to it in multiple verses. It is intended as a means to distribute the wealth, and the Qu’ran stipulates that one must give zakat to ensure salvation. The hadith extends this notion further, by dictating that God will not even listen to prayers of those who do not perform zakat and by explaining that those who do not give zakat will be held accountable on the Day of Judgment. By detailing these consequences, the hadith creates more justification for why the zakat should be performed, but the Qu’ran in itself establishes a link between zakat and salvation.  Thus it becomes clear that the needs of the donor are almost impossible to separate from the act of zakat, since one must perform the ritual to secure prosperity. But what about the needs of the receiver? Is it enough to perform zakat as a means to salvation, or should one also intend to benefit the receivers in doing so?


My artistic representation is meant to portray this notion by substituting money and coins with wishes. Like the beggars of the story who were intermediaries between the donors and God, receivers of zakat are also intermediaries. By receiving donations, one is almost receiving the wishes of the donors and making them known to God.  The coins represent trivial wishes, whereas the dollars represent grandiose wishes, establishing aquantitative element of zakat as well (amount of money is directly proportional to grandiosity of the wish).


I think it is important to consider both aspects of zakat, which are the benefits of the donor and the benefits of the receiver. As portrayed in my portrait, the skin color of both the donor and receiver are the same color. They are equal beneficiaries in the ritual of zakat.

Obligatory vs. Voluntary Sunnah

Filed under: Uncategorized — March 23, 2014 @ 3:09 pm

I read the Qu’ran,

I read the hadith,

Differing rules,

Which to believe?


Several with beard,

Others without,

It’s not very clear,

How to go about.


Shall it be long?

Or shall it be trimmed?

What about width?

Should it be thinned?


Several says yes,

Others say no,

I look around,

How should I know?


I am a Muslim,

To God I revere,

Does this require,

Of me a beard?


As the Prophet,

I strive to be,

But to what extent,

To imitate thee?


-Sharely Fred


Verily in the messenger of God you have a beautiful model for everyone who hopes for God and the Last Judgment and often remembers God (33:21).-  Infidel of Love (Asani)


According to Islamic belief, Muhammad was the last of God’s Prophet who received the revelation.  Many consider this to have taken place because Muhammad prepared himself for this moment by purifying himself of faults and errors. For that reason, practitioners find it difficult to separate the process of revelation from Muhammad, and many have developed a notion of Muhammad as the “Walking Qu’ran”. In addition to his role as a prophet and messenger, Muhammad is viewed as a role model (uswa hasana), and he is believed to exemplify the correct way of living life according to God’s will. As a result of this characterization, respect for sunnah (“custom” or “path” of Prophet) has emerged, and some of the Prophet’s lifestyles have been established as norms. However, Muslim groups differ with respect to what they consider to be obligatory and voluntary sunnah.

Muslims believe that the Prophet’s prescription and practices, particularly those that are not explicitly stated in the Qu’ran, are obligatory, such as salat (prayer). However, other Muslim groups believe that the Prophet’s lifestyle, such as his likes/dislikes, are voluntary, and this establishes a premise for many debates within the Islamic tradition.

One major debate is that of having a beard. Given that the Prophet had a beard, Muslims are conflicted as to whether this should be an obligatory practice, given that it is not stipulated in the Qu’ran. The Sunni and Taliban believe that having a beard is obligatory, and that it should not be trimmed. Others argue that since having a beard is not explicitly stated in the Qu’ran it has no basis, and they have developed counterarguments to support this belief.

A central reason against the practice of the beard is that much of its support stems from narrations of the Prophet’s life, hadith, which were transmitted orally. The hadith is not a primary source and as such, certain Muslim groups, such as Qu’ranists, have rejected it. Thus it is clear, as my last post represented (“Change your lens, change your interpretation”), that depending on one’s interpretation, one’s views of what constitutes a Muslim will vary.

My poem attempts to address this concern of how to define a Muslim. Shahadah (the belief in one God and in Muhammad as the Prophet), is widely accepted as obligatory. Most Muslim groups will agree that in order to be a good practitioner of Islam you shall profess shahadah. What about having a beard? Do all Muslim groups think the same regarding the notion of the beard? The answer is no. There are varied views about how one’s physical appearance should be if one is Muslim. Certain groups believe a beard is necessary since Muhammad had a beard, and all Muslims should imitate his lifestyle (sunnah), but other groups do not see a basis for this. The question becomes: How does physical appearance affect one’s standing within the Islamic society? Does having a beard becoming a sufficient criteria to classify practitioners as good or bad Muslims? My poem represents a general viewpoint that could stem from any practitioner debating this notion of whether a beard is necessary.

Change your lens, change your interpretation

Filed under: Uncategorized — March 14, 2014 @ 10:56 pm


“The Quran possesses an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning (this depth possesses a depth, after the image of the celestial Spheres, which are enclosed within each other). So it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth).”

— Henry Corbin, author Histoire de la philosophie islamique (1964)


I have chosen to represent the notion that there are multiple interpretations of the Qu’ran through a collage of the Qu’ran and glasses. The Qu’ran, which Muslims consider to be the book of revelation is considered to be a text of guidance. However, following the death of the Prophet in 632 CE and crystallization of the originally oral script, distinct Muslim groups have put forth varied interpretations of the text.


Tafsir is one of the earliest disciplines of the Qu’ran , referring to the “exoteric” or external dimension of the text. Tafsir literally means the “science of exegesis” or of the commentaries of the Qu’ran, which exist to explain literary aspects of the verses, its background, and to interpret multiple verses comparably. Ta’wil on the other hand, refers to the esoteric, or internal dimension of the text, which explains allegorical, obscure verses, that only certain people have the knowledge to discern. The scholars who study ta’wil are referred to as the Shii Imam and Suffi, who interpret the “true meaning” of the text through their knowledge of Ta’wil or batin. They believe the Qu’ran is not limited to the physical aspect, but as Henry Corbin states in hadith, (quote above) there is also an internal dimension. Thus, it becomes clear that those who interpret the Qu’ran through tafsir, or zahir, which are the Sunni Ulama scholars, have different notions of what the Qu’ran indicates in comparison to the Shii Imam and Suffi who analyze a “hidden” meaning of the text.


Understanding that the Qu’ran has multiple dimensions, both external and internal, as well as varied interpretations, is essential to acquiring a full comprehension of Islam. As we have discussed in lecture, referring to Islam is no longer accurate, one must specify “who’s Islam”, as Professor Asani says, since there are subgroups within the religion that practice the religion differently in line with their unique interpretations. For example, some Muslims believe there are 5 pillars of Islam, and others believe there are six, with the addition of the jihad. The Shii Imam, actually believe there are Twelve Pillars, and arguably, this could be a result of their understanding of the “inner meaning” of the Qu’ran. Thus, I have chosen a metaphor of glasses and the Qu’ran to represent this. Glasses are instruments used to see clearly. Much like one’s vision of the world changes based on how one looks at it, practically speaking, whether one is wearing glasses or not, one’s view of the Qu’ran also changes depending on what interpretation you are using. Thus, the glasses represent an interpretation, which could be either Tafsir or Ta’wil, as is written on the frames. The glasses change how you look at the Qu’ran. Without the glasses, there is just the Qu’ran in its simplest form, but in reality, each practitioner wears their own, unique glasses to interpret this text. It is the glasses that change the way the Qu’ran is viewed, and it is the glasses (multiple interpretations) that give rise to the varied practices within the Islamic religion.