Interview with an Islamic Scholar

I received the following email from Iran. It contains questions of an Iranian student and the answers of his erudite Islamic teacher who is a renowned scholar of Islam. Although this person did not mind me publishing the name of that scholar and his own first name, I do not think it is prudent. Someone could read this interview, inform that scholar who would certainly remember the interviewer and the safety of our young friend could be at risk. So I hide the names of both parties. 

Dear Mr. Sina

I had a debate with a teacher of mine a couple weeks ago that I would like to share with you. He is Islamic scholar X.  He has been teaching the Quran and Islam for over 30 years now. He is a respected teacher at the University of Tehran. Only the best of the best of teachers gets the opportunity to teach at this university, and therefore he seemed a worthy opponent to ask a few questions.

Please understand that my lack of answering back or not being able to say exactly what I want is because of my position here in Iran. I cannot say anything that would contradict the Quran by a great means, so I kept my debate and questioning very simple. I absolutely cannot debate in a way that you did with Ayatollah Montazeri, that would be instant death for me.

My questions to him are in blue and his responses are in black.

Ali Z



Let me start with my first question, You will read in verse (Q.18:86) "When he reached the setting place of the Sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring". Could you please explain the meaning of this verse.

I understand why this is in the Quran, you see back then people would have freaked out if they were told that the earth is a sphere and is floating in the middle of nowhere, or it is possible that it has a different meaning and that we humans have not advanced intellectually enough to understand it. Right now there are many verses in the Quran that we have yet to understand. That is the beauty of the Quran.

If god knew that his children would freak out by telling the truth about the earth, wouldn't god have also thought that the people would have freaked out by telling them some of the stories in the Quran that are obviously hard to swallow like the story of Noah and how water over-ran the earth and killed thousands of people, and wouldn't god know that people would freak out by telling them they would have boiling water poured over them in hell?

Like I said, it could have a different meaning, and the historical events in the Quran aren't in anyway that would freak people out, and god had to talk like that to the Arabs that lived 1400 years ago. Many people ask me why does the Quran repeat itself so much. It's because us humans remember things easier when it is repeated and god knows that, and repeating was absolutely necessary for the Arabs back then.

You said that many verses of the Quran are much higher than our intellect and therefore we cannot understand them, but if god sends a book of guidance for all mankind, wouldn't god write it in a way that everyone would be able to read it, and not just the ones with a Ph.D.

That's a good question. You see you can divide the Quran into 3 parts. The parts that everyone can understand, the parts that only a few people can understand and the scientific parts. The parts were everyone can understand are the only parts of the Quran that are needed for guidance. You do not need to know the other parts for ultimate guidance.

Now my next point, the Quran teaches that Adam and Eve are the first humans on earth, but now we know that we humans have evolved through millions and millions of years. It is not possible that Adam and Eve were the first humans that appeared 6000 years ago.

It is true that we have evolved through millions of years of evolution, but the Quran teaches that Adam and Eve were the first humans to evolve into semi-intelligent creatures.

You say semi-intelligent. If the meaning of life is for god to test it's semi-intelligent creations then why did god take so long to create the humans. Why did god bother with the dinosaurs and the billions of years that there were no semi-intelligent beings on the earth?

At that time god had humans to test on other planets. Imam Ali even says in the Nahj AlBalaghe that there are many other planets with humans on them.

I had a question about the ship of Noah. Apparently it rained so hard in one day that water rose so high that it elevated higher than even the tallest mountain. Now if it rained this hard in one day it wasn't rain, it was more like oceans of water coming out from the sky. Didn't the rain fill up the ship?

The people quickly poured the water out.

But that's too much water for a couple of people to pour out. Like I said there would have to be oceans and oceans of water coming from the sky for water to rise that high in one day.

God can do whatever he pleases.

We know that water can not leave the atmosphere of the earth. We also know that 29% of the earth is land and 71% is water. No matter how much it rains or how much water is evaporated this amount stays the same, because water travels in a cycle on earth. The cycle is of course from the earth to the sky and from the sky to the earth. If it rained that much that is recorded in the Quran, the percentage of water would have gone over 71%. Now where did the water go afterwards knowing that water cannot leave the atmosphere of the earth?

That's what makes it a miracle.

In a contractual marriage you and a partner write a contract identifying how much money the woman will get for her services for the man and for how long. I don't understand how this is different from Prostitution.

The difference is that you read an ayah from the Quran.

I agree with you.







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