Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Two Hemispheres of the Quran Part 2 —Beautiful Symbols 1

Symbolism of Tree and Quran

If you’ve read our earlier post, “The Two Hemispheres of the Quran Part 1,” then you’ve tasted a little bit of the beauty of the mutashabehat, the Quran’s symbols.

Isn’t beauty subjective though? It is in the eye of the beholder, so everyone wouldn’t consider the mutashabehat beautiful, right? The beauty of the Quran’s symbols is like the beauty of nature surrounding us: like the beauty of the moon, or Niagara Falls, or Mount Everest. You may find some arguing that nature isn’t beautiful, but who really does that?

The following is a bit of a digression: We cannot consider nature ugly without considering ourselves the same since we are also part of nature. We also can never consider ourselves ugly—absolutely none of us—because our Creator is the Most Beautiful. Since we are the creation of the Most Beautiful, we are necessarily beautiful. No matter what worldly minds may think, each of us, as a creation of God, is indeed beautiful.1

Anyway, back to the topic of this post 🙂

Nature is the closest thing humans have to an objective standard of beauty. But didn’t I equate the beauty in nature with the beauty of the Quran’s symbols? Is there any strong evidence for such a conclusion? Yes, there is!

Isn’t God the author of nature? And for us, isn’t he also the author of the Quran? Well, take a peek at this verse:

We have revealed to you the most beautiful message,a book that is allegorical [mutashaabehan] and repeating […] (39:23).2,3
When God, the author of all the beauty in nature, says that symbols are part of what make the Quran beautiful, we can confidently say that the Quran’s symbols are as objectively beautiful as the moon, or Niagara Falls, or Mount Everest.4

And there you have it! The mutashabehat are beautiful indeed. The author of nature and the Quran says so. It’s up to us to discover this truth for ourselves. Open the Quran and start reflecting!

Some caution that we shouldn’t reflect upon the Quran’s symbols because no one really knows their true meaning. They use verse 3:7 as their basis. We’ll discuss this idea in part 3 of this blog post, but until then here’s a quick preview with a verse telling us just the opposite:

Had We sent down this Quran upon a mountain, you would have seen it humble itself and split apart from fear of God. Thus do We provide examples to mankind so they may reflect (59:21).

The verse above is a symbolic, allegorical verse. No doubt about that. And God tells us directly that he made it for the expressed purpose of engaging our minds and having us reflect. No doubt about that either 🙂 See you next post!



1. Behavior can make a person seem beautiful or unattractive, but even people who have behaved in the worst ways are still beautiful as creations of God. Actions are ugly, but the person is not. As long as they breathe, they can repent. Reform is a beautiful thing, and each of us, no matter what, has the Light of God in our hearts. Let’s harmonize with the Light within 🙂

2. In Arabic, the word ahsan used in this verse can mean both “best” and “beautiful.”

3. Mutashabehan is an adjective form of mutashebehat.

4. We may use different terms in English to define the word mutahsabehat, such as  symbols or allegories, but both English meanings can be encompassed by the word “mutashabehat.”


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The Two Hemispheres of the Quran Part 1 7

Brain top view copyright

Have you ever thought of the Quran as an allegory of the human mind? We know that the Quran is made for the human brain, but did you know that the human brain is also made for the Quran? Let’s clear this up. The brain has two hemispheres, right? Well, so does the Quran. It has two types of verses:

He is the one who revealed the Book to you. It contains verses that are clear [muhkamat], they are the foundation of the Book, while others are unclear and allegorical [mutashabehat] [. . .] (3:7)

The verses called the muhkamat are about laws and religious duties, like prayer and fasting, while the other verses, called the mutashabehat, are figurative and symbolic. (We’ll discuss the rest of this verse 3:7 in Part 3 of this blog post).

If we look at how the brain deals with language, notice that the left hemisphere recognizes the grammar and laws of arranging words while the right hemisphere mostly senses the emotional meaning of language through the rhythm of sounds.1

Isn’t this duality simply astounding? Not only do the brain and the Quran have two parts to their setup, but their functions mirror each other!2 The muhkamat deal with laws just like the left hemisphere, while the mutashabehat deal with abstract things like allegories and figurative language, much like the more abstract concept of emotion that the right hemisphere helps with.

Here’s an example of a mutashabehat verse. Do you remember the verse about the “garment of God-consciousness” being the best clothes we could ever wear?

O Children of Adam! We have given you garments to cover your shame and as an adornment. But the garment of God-consciousness [taqwa]—that is best. These are among the Signs of God so people may benefit (7:26).3

Being conscious of God/taqwa is a state of mind, but it isn’t clothes that we wear like a garment. So what could this mean? How could we wear taqwa? This verse is figurative 🙂

Let’s reflect on this a little to figure out what it means. What do we use clothes for? Clothes protect us from the heat and the cold, they beautify our appearance, and they cover our shame. Now think about being aware of God. What a beautiful and powerful state of mind. The garment of taqwa protects us and beautifies us like no other garment ever could!

Isn’t it interesting that Adam and Eve, peace be upon them, became naked when they ate the fruit of the tree?

Then [Satan] misled them through deceit. When (Adam & Eve) tasted (the fruit) of the tree, their shame became apparent to them and they began covering themselves with leaves in the Garden (7:22).

Did you notice something? What garment did Adam and Eve lose that exposed their nakedness? They lost their garment of taqwa! This is what left Adam and Eve naked and vulnerable, exposing their shame.4

Adam and Eve’s nakedness via the “original sin” of eating from the tree is in the Bible too, but the deeper understanding we have comes from the symbols placed so conveniently side by side in the Quran: 7:22 mentions their nakedness and 7:26 mentions the garment of taqwa! Adam and Eve didn’t just become naked as some people often think. They became naked because they lost their garment of God consciousness! This is indeed the worst kind of nakedness.

God is certainly our Master Teacher!

Let this beautiful symbolism be a divine warning. Do not let the embodiment of evil, Satan, strip us of our garment of God-consciousness, leaving us naked, vulnerable, and exposed to our lower nature, but let our garments be a source of protection and beauty.

Wow! The Quran is marvelous indeed, and we better understood its beauty by reflecting on its symbols, the mutashabehat. When you have two things residing in the same place, you must end up with balance. There’s a balance in our anatomy between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and there should just as importantly be a balance in how we read the Quran. Let’s appreciate both types of its verses: the muhkamaat and the mutashabehaat. We are a “community of the middle way” after all (see 2:143).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post discussing the beauty of the Quran’s symbols and the divine command to reflect upon them 🙂



1. Carl Zimmer, “The Big Similarities & Quirky Differences Between Our Left and Right Brains,” Discover Magazine, April 2009, accessed March 14, 2015.

2. At least in terms of how the brain deals with language.

3. Taqwa is the Arabic word for being aware and mindful of God, so the word “God-consciousness” is often used as its translation.

4. A friend mentioned this beautiful connection to me. Its credit is due to the deep-sighted Imam Warith Deen Muhammad.


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The Balance of Good & Evil / Yin & Yang


In many Eastern traditions, like Taoism, the Yin and Yang represent the balance of light and dark, good and evil. Perhaps you’ve even heard some Eastern practitioners say that there’s no difference between good and evil. Many don’t mean this literally, but still, it’s a murky message to plant in people’s minds—especially to new students who tend to take everything literally.*

Yin and Yang emphasize balance. Let’s see what the Quran says about balance:  we are a “community of the middle way” (2:143), when praying we should “not be too loud, nor too low, but seek a way in between” (17:110), and when giving charity we should “not be too extravagant, nor too tight-fisted, but be balanced in between” (25:67).

That’s a lot of talk about balance. This thought leaped into mind, “If balance is so key, then a criminal could justify doing evil because he’s trying to “balance” the good in the world.” (This is warping the concept of Yin and Yang by the way). The Quran provides clarity to every system of knowledge, including the symbols in Taoism. How cool is that! Read on, and correct me if I’m wrong.

For starters, light and darkness are not equal in the least. Light really exists but darkness only exists in light’s absence. As the sun sets, darkness creeps in. But when the sun rises, it wipes away all the darkness. In this duality, Light is independent of darkness, and darkness is dependent. God puts this very clearly in an insightful verse:

“The blind and the seeing are not equal,
Neither is the darkness (equal to) the Light,
Nor the (coolness of) the shade and the heat,
Nor the living and the dead.
God indeed makes whomever He wills listen,
But you cannot make those (interred) in graves to listen” (35:19–22).

The same independent/dependent relationship exists between heat and cold, life and death, and even truth and falsehood. Where there is heat, there is no cold, where there is life, there is no death. Life is the independent. There is nothing to death but the absence of life.** The two aren’t equal. And this is where the diagram of Yin and Yang is not accurate when viewed superficially. It gives the impression that evil and good, light and dark are equal, when in fact they aren’t.

When asking God for clarity on this question, I came to this amazing, yet simple verse speaking about something we see in  nature all the time:

“Have you not considered your Lord, how He stretches the shadow?
Had He willed, He  could have made it remain in place, then We did make the Sun its guide” (25:45)

This is really stunning! The Yin, represented by the shadow, is actually dependent upon the light. No one can say they’re equal. Just go outside and take a look at nature. The Sun’s light guides the shadow! When the light commands one location, the shadow submissively responds and moves accordingly. That’s not an equal relationship, but a relationship between independent and dependent.

Since students of the divine always strive to submit to the Truth, one of God’s beautiful names, we seek to harmonize with the Independent. That Independent is God. Yes, there is potential for evil in all of us, and yes that is a challenge and test for us to grow and learn through, but light & dark, good & evil are not equal. We neither submit to darkness, to evil, nor to death. We submit to Light, to Goodness, and to the Living (these are all God’s names by the way). The next time someone misunderstands the good and evil/Yin and Yang, quote them this verse, and tell them to look outside 🙂

I don’t know about you, but this left a beaming smile on my face. I better understood verse 25:45 only by considering the ideas of other spiritual systems of the world. I asked God about the Yin and Yang. Not only did the Creator answer these questions, but his answers help clarify meanings of symbols for followers of spiritual systems across the world! Thank you God for being so Great!



* If Eastern practitioners meant this literally, they would promote heinous behavior, which real practitioners do not do. This is a description of Yin Yang from a Taoist source here:

If you read the comments on this site you will see some misunderstanding the Yin and Yang by saying that they are seeking a balance between their evil and good tendencies since no one can be all good.  They are justifying continuing their evil actions, just like the example of the criminal mentioned in our post. Of course no one is all good. That is because we are dependent creatures. Only the Independent, our Creator, is all good. Their philosophy will only lead to stagnation. How could you grow by justifying your evils and continuing them? Growth is to strive to purify those evils and harmonize with Good as best we can, to constantly seek improvement day by day. Forgive this expression, but yes we must defecate everyday. But we don’t keep that waste in our body. That will only lead to death. The body constantly strives to purify itself: it takes in food, keeps what’s good, and gets rid of what is evil. You can’t use the beautiful concept of “balance” to justify holding on to filth.

** I first heard this beautiful presentation of ideas in a debate between a theist, Rajab Ali, and an atheist, Dan Barker, on YouTube. I remembered the verse in the Quran and concluded that’s where Rajab Ali was inspired to make that profound point: verses 35:19-22! You can see the debate here:

“Theist Vs Atheist Debate: ‘Does God Not Exist?’ (Part 1/3).”

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Welcome & Peace!

Welcome, dear visitor. We hope to make this a refreshing oasis on your journey through the internet. This site’s purpose is to reflect a little good through the earth. All good comes from God, the Light of the heavens and the earth. There is nothing more fulfilling than being in harmony with God’s light and radiating it through yourself and your environment.

There’s a new book on the way: “Experience the Heights of Symbolic Literature with the Quran.” It presents a refreshing perspective on exploring the tafseer, the meaning of the Quran, using the Quran itself and the symbolic literature all throughout its verses.

This blog will share all things divine, all things natural, and all things spiritual through the light of the Quran, including  all of the content of the book mentioned above. We hope that you benefit! And if you do, please give us a prayer and support our work however you can.

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