In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

The Disastrous Misinterpretation of 49:1- opinion VS truth


- a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
- a favorable estimate
- a personal view, attitude

Wish: a request, something desired

Desire: an expressed wish; request.

Ego: conceit; self-importance- the ā€œIā€ or "self" of any person

The Arabic word "hawa" : it means personal inclinations and opinions which are not necessarily based on rational thinking or sufficient evidence.

In the English translation of Quran, the word "hawa" and many of its derivatives is often translated as personal opinions, wishes, or desires and it is also translated as ego. As indicated above, the definitions of opinions, desires, wishes, and ego in English dictionaries are consistent with the meaning and use of the word "hawa" in Quran, which is always attributed to humans. Nowhere in Quran has God used the words "hawa", opinions, desires, wishes, and ego, in reference to Himself. His words establish the absolute truth not some "opinions". His issuing represents His decreed will, not some "wishes". His guidelines are non-negotiable, decreed commands spelled out in black and white in His scriptures delivered and confirmed through His messengers for our redemption.

A study of all verses where God uses the word "hawa", personal opinions, desires, wishes, and ego, or any of its derivatives reveals some reminders for the believers (51:55).

- God informs us that His truth will not necessarily match our personal opinions or wishes, and in most cases His teachings and commands are against our natural human desires (23:71, 90:11).

- He has warned us that being overly consumed with ourselves is a disastrous form of idol worship. Being so wrapped up in our own ideologies prevents us from gaining knowledge or recognizing the truth (25:43, 47:14, 47:16, 54:3).

- He has emphasized that no matter how appealing and different our personal judgment is from the divine Truth, it is always God's decree that must be followed without question - it is His guidance that must always be considered the true guidance - it is His ethics that are always superior - it is His knowledge that must always be sought (2:120, 45:18, 5:48).

- He has provided guidance for dealing with personal wishes and opinions, and for reacting to people who advocate them, i.e.; we cannot follow them, nor can we guide those who stubbornly adhere to them (45:23, 42:15, 28:50, 30:29).

- God has indicated that pursuing our own opinions rather than His commands would mislead us, nullify our efforts, waste our energy, and divert our attention to other than God, which will eventually rank us as losers (7:175-176, 6:119, 38:26, 5:49)

- He has especially warned us against the personal opinions and wishes of those who confess their disbelief and rejection of His truth, since such opinions will likely be against His (20:16, 6:56, 5:77, 18:28).

- One last but important note to consider is that God has consistently assured us in Quran that His messengers are fallible humans and that they make mistakes related to their human attitudes, wishes, emotions, and opinions. One way we can learn this is from histories of Muhammad, Solomon, Noah or Abraham in 80:1-10, 38:30-40, 11:42-47, 9:113-114, and 11:74-76. Moreover, God has instructed His messengers to only recite and deliver His truth. We read this in 5:99, 3:20, 2:252, 28:59, and it is also demonstrated in the history of Muhammad in 46:8-10, 69:40-47, 75:16-19, 20:114. It is thus confirmed by Quran that messengers have NO PERSONAL OPINIONS OR WISHES TO OFFER US, but this does not mean they didn't have any. In Quran, God doesn't attribute any validity to the opinions or wishes of God's messengers. As messengers of God, their sole duty is the delivery of the divine truth (5:92,99- 24:54). It is always the divine word of God they recite to deliver, and God is the Supreme Author and Source of what they recite and deliver (6:114, 18:27, 5:50, and 45:17-18).

In chapter 53, through an explanation of what took place during the Night of Power, God has made it clear for us that the revelations dictated to Muhammad are nothing but Quran (53:10). The same Arabic word, "hawa" is used in 53:3 to emphasize that what Muhammad utters is NOT his personal opinions, then 53:4-10 further explain that he is ONLY speaking the word of God, the revealed Quran.. Most traditional Muslims have been singling out 53:3, abusing it and claiming that everything Muhammad had uttered is "authorized" by God, while God refers exclusively to His Quran as the authorized text delivered by Muhammad. Their personal wishes to believe in the so-called "Hadith" has blinded them from the real context of these verses:

[53:2] Your friend (Muhammad) was not astray, nor was he deceived.
[53:3] Nor was he speaking out of a personal desire (hawa in Arabic text).
[53:4] It was divine inspiration.
[53:5] Dictated by the Most Powerful.
[53:6] Possessor of all authority. From His highest height.
[53:7] At the highest horizon.
[53:8] He drew nearer by moving down.
[53:9] Until He became as close as possible.
[53:10] He then revealed to His servant what was to be revealed.

Similarly, and based on the same blatant misconception that messengers could possibly offer us any personal opinions or understandings besides the divine Truth, some of us have been attributing divinity to the personal opinions of God's messenger of the covenant as expressed in some materials that he left behind. The translation of 49:1, and the use of the word "opinion" contribute to this misunderstanding. This verse has been widely abused for years to suppress and discredit any new knowledge if it differs from the messenger's "opinion" because we are not supposed to raise our opinions above his!

[49:1] O you who believe, (do not place your opinion above that of) GOD and His messenger. You shall reverence GOD. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.

It is important to realize that the words in parenthesis above, and the word "opinion" in particular, do not exist in Arabic text of 49:1. God DOES NOT err- His revelations are perfect with no contradictions. What the Arabic text is stating is a command for the believers to not question or add to (la tuqaddemu bayna yaday Allah wa rasooleh) what God and His messenger are offering us which is established by Him to be the divine Truth and nothing but the divine Truth. He has chosen His words perfectly, so we get His guidance without confusion. There are no opinions in this verse or any others attributed to either God or His messenger to be considered. God knows that such word would confuse us or would lead to following the personal opinions of the messenger. The personal opinions of His messengers are irrelevant to our salvation while the word of God is all that we need for salvation. The way 49:1 is translated confuses this crucial concept.

In conclusion, the divine truth is absolute and proven, it is not "opinion". God's decrees are not His wishes or requests but represent His WILL. When God has used the word "hawa" in Quran (translated in English as personal opinions, wishes, desires, and sometimes as ego), He has indicated how wrong it is to pursue them. We are consistently warned against them. We are to strictly abide by Quran when it comes to matters and guidelines that He chose to cover in Quran. We go astray if we choose to follow any opinions over the absolute, flawless, and proven truth from God. Messengers do not have personal opinions or wishes to offer us. They only deliver, recite and preach with God's Truth. 49:1 has been misinterpreted by many Submitters to add baseless authorization to recorded or documented materials left by God's messenger of the covenant just as 53:3 has been misinterpreted by many Muslims all over the world to add baseless authorization to Hadith and Sunna. Quran is the only existing document proven to have divine authority.

[13:37] We revealed these laws in Arabic, and if you ever acquiesce to their wishes, after this knowledge has come to you, you will have no ally, nor a protector, against God.

Peaceful Friday, salaam, and God bless.