I’ve been asked to do this. Specifically, people have requested to know what on earth a 14-year-old girl thinks she’s doing writing Qur’anic exegesis.
Firstly: Yes, I am 14, and I am not making this up. I have been researching Islam since I was 11. I think it began when I started learning translation with a sheikh. Many things he taught me seemed wrong, so I did what any self-respecting 11-year-old would do: I Googled them.
This led to a series of crises of faith. The more I Googled, the worse things got: Intellectual dishonesty on the part of scholars, extreme misogyny, justifications put forward for slavery and other horrendous crimes. I could not believe that God would permit this.
I also couldn’t understand why God would prohibit things like music and art and everything I liked. I’d even read fatwas declaring fiction books to be haram. I was shaken, and desperately confused.
There were “scholarly differences of opinion” on the most fundamental issues: Do women possess the same level of humanity as men? Are we allowed to derive prohibitions from this hadith or that hadith? What type of slavery is allowed, if any?
This was when I found out that Muslims are supposed to derive religious legislation from only the Quran. A preliminary reading of the Quran can confirm this to anyone unencumbered by previous assumptions, but it took me a while to reach said conclusion, and to carry it through.
Quranic exegesis and interpretation can be learned through experience. When I first started researching them, I’d have to ask others to give me the answers to everything. But now I know the resources at my disposal, so I can translate verses myself. A quick skim through a Quranic concordance index exposes many mistranslations.
I started this website partly because I just like writing, and partly because I felt compelled, somehow, to share what I’d learned. The people who brought me here, who taught me about Islam, are the ones I feel indebted to. I want to have the same effect on others as they had on me. I want to save someone’s faith. If I can do that, I consider this a success.
I write for everyone who is disillusioned with traditional Islam. I write specifically for my sisters and those who are concerned for them.
I never asked to end up here–it just happened, somehow. I think it was God’s plan.
“For God gives, to whom He wills, without measure” -Maryam as a child, Surah Imran
I will never delete any posts I publish on this blog. I may edit them later if I discover something new about a verse, but I decided a while ago never to delete them. Even if I grow up one day and find that I hate the way I wrote as a teenager, I will never delete anything. I want to save all the exegesis. I want to save everything I’ve written in the moment it was written, with all the passion it contains.
At this age, people tend to have more passion than they do as adults. I don’t want to turn into one of those boring adults who no longer cares about things. I want to save everything I wrote as a child.
Every post on this site has the date of publication at the bottom. The earliest dates are from January 2017. They’ll continue indefinitely, since I hope to continue this blog, without deleting anything, for as long as I can.
I used to write a great deal of fantasy. I still do, but I find it harder now. I discovered a few months ago that my literary skills work best on Quranic exegesis, which always occupies my mind. I write best when I’m either unicornly euphoric or bloodcurdlingly furious. That’s when I go on darkly poetic rants embellished with strategically placed, ornately wrought purple prose.
I’ve always been able to write fairly eloquently. It’s not restricted to English–I pick up most languages easily. I currently speak three languages and read/write a fourth (Arabic), which I hope to learn fully at some point in the future, inshallah. I’ve been to around ten countries, but almost all of them are in Asia. I want to see Europe and South America and Africa and pretty much every other place.
I also like drawing; the icon for this site is a sketch I made in April. I’m a published author (and I’m not talking about this blog). I like piano and horses and medicine. I want to be a doctor and a writer on the side. (Which makes me wonder how on Earth I’m ever going to get into medical school without accruing masses of riba…but that’s a different discussion.) I would attribute this obsession with learning everything to my parents, who have been obsessively hounding me since the age of four, making me take classes on every imaginable subject.
Oh, and the other goal–I want to go to Jannah, obviously. The top level of Jannah seems particularly exciting. According to legend there’s a mythical lote tree in Heaven beyond which no creation can pass. I’m planning to have a party there, assuming I get there at some point.
Regarding faith, my parents are both Sunni. My mother is a convert. Neither of my parents know that I have researched Islam at all. It takes a bit of creativity to manage multiple social media and blogging accounts without their knowledge, but it’s doable. (When they ask me what I’m doing, I always say I’m writing–I just don’t specify what.)
I plan to release my work under my real name when I’m 18. At that point, I’ll be a legal adult and neither of my parents will have the right to restrict my Internet access.
For now, my adopted names are Imaan Az-Zahra and Imaan Primrose. Zahra means “rose” in Arabic, hence the Primrose. I’ve also heard that zahra can denote something sparkling, star-like; a constellation. I’m unsure if this is linguistically true, but it sounds nice. It’s a reference to Fatima Az-Zahra, the Prophet’s daughter.
I suspect that I will hate my current pen name when I’m an adult. But that won’t matter, since I’ll be able to use my real name then.
Right now it’s the beginning of July. I’ve been running this blog for six or seven months. It may not be obvious, but the first couple months were absolute death. Having my faith shaken up and rebuilt sent me into a spiral of depression. I’m secure in my faith now, and happy, but I still refuse to tell my parents anything. I have no idea how they’ll react to being told their daughter is no longer Sunni. Quite frankly, I do not want to find out.
I spent a lot of time researching the Quran. I found that its internal logic and natural consistency expose misinterpretations and hypocrisy shockingly well. That’s why I’m no longer distressed when I find apparent contradictions/mistranslations. I know how to note them down and sort them out on my own.
I have never seriously doubted the Quran’s authenticity. Even though I had enormous crises of faith in the past, the revealed Word of God just seemed natural to me. I have never considered any other religion and I never will. I am absolutely sure of this.
At the same time, I am furious over the way Islam has been hijacked and turned into a weapon.
As a child, I used to wonder why Jahannam existed. But now I understand that Hellfire was created as a manifestation of God’s Mercy. He punishes people so we don’t have to. We are commanded to forgive in this life with the knowledge that He will take care of everything for us.
A few notes on Quranic interpretation, and specifically on my exegesis: I understand that Quranic verses can host a multitude of potentially valid interpretations. I don’t hold a monopoly on them. Anyone who has a better interpretation, or who has noticed something I didn’t, can contact me and tell me. I’ll edit my exegesis accordingly.
The only interpretations I don’t hold valid are misinterpretations–those that contradict other Quranic verses. These misunderstandings are easily exposed by reading the Quran against itself. Much of orthodox Qur’anic commentary is composed of misinterpretations. I consider it my personal duty to get rid of them. They’ve harmed too many people for me to just let them be.
The Quran enshrines an all-encompassing vision of human rights, justice, and peace. This becomes clear to anyone who reads the text without deliberately obscuring it. And that’s the beauty of it.
I absolutely despise intellectual dishonesty, misplaced apologism, and crimes committed through misguided religious fervor.
And I’m proud to follow this religion. I used to hate it. The change is startling.
God is surprisingly good at guiding people. I’ve always thought I was good at planning things and figuring things out, but then God arrived with a better plan. It’s almost annoying how well God outsmarts people. I don’t like being outsmarted. But I suppose if it’s God doing the outsmarting, then it’s alright.
I hope my writing helps people. If it does, I’ve succeeded.
I’ll probably write another post like this in a year or two, when I’m older. I hope to, inshallah.
I ask Allah to grant us all Jannat Al-Firdous Al A’laa and to let us have a party by the lote tree, Sidrat Al-Muntaha, in a palace made of crystal galaxies, with ruby flowers and unicorns and sapphire gardens and water nymphs and enchanted forests and faeries and rivers of butterfly honey and even a jinn or two, on an emerald planet in a parallel universe on a plane of angels, the ceilings hung with castles of stars.
Did I mention that I’m hopelessly dreamy?
But I’m not the only one who has this dream:
“And build for me, near You, a palace in Jannah” -Asiyah, wife of Pharoah, Surah Tahrim