"Islam is not a religion," Answer to Lloyd de Jongh - Part 2
There can be nothing more tedious than listening to believers in the throes of disagreement. Readers interested in this kind of discourse would do better listening to Mohamed Hijab or Zakir Naik. At least they'll be entertained.
De Jongh's 3 March 2022 video, Islam is a DEEN. What does that mean? offers a window into the workings of a propagandist's mind. When De Jongh treated the same subject back in 2020, the material he offered seemed a lot less massaged, his handling of it less combative and his tone measured, even nuanced:
The third meaning is rules, regulations, ideology, doctrine, custom, tradition or religion. And finally the fourth meaning is reward, repayment, justice and accountability.
It may be noted that before Islam, the Arabs had different connotations in using this word and their use of it in its various derivatives revolved around one or all of the above-mentioned connotations. However, these connotations were not clear enough to the Arabs and this word did not get a terminological position in any systematic and recognised school of thought. Rather the understanding of this word was vague and insubstantial. With the revelation of the Qur'an, the word received a more definite connotation. The Qur'anic use of the word has four components:
1. Sovereignty and supreme authority.
2. Obedience and submission to that authority.
3. Intellectual and practical system formed under that authority.
4. Repayment by that authority for loyalty in obedience or rebellion and transgression against it.
Even though the Qur'an uses the term connoting various meanings, the term is generally referred to [to] mean a complete code of life.
Curiously, De Jongh does not tell us where in the Qur'an the meaning of deen is discussed. More curious, though, is that in this 14 December 2020 video, the source for the identical material, it is not, “The famous classical Arabic dictionaries Al-Qamus al-Muheet and Lisan al-Arab [that] state there are four meanings of deen,” as cited in his 2022 videos, but the Qur'an. "Why would I read a vague Qur’anic verse, which has some contradictory verse, so they always all have contradictory verses somewhere else in the book," scoffed De Jongh two years later. De Jongh does not acknowledge, let alone explain, this 180-degree reversal of Qur'anic fortune. Most curious, though, is the difference in De Jongh's handling of the quoted text between 2020 and 2022. Of course, it is normal to understand things more deeply, even differently, with the passage of time, but this is not the impression one gets here. The impression one gets is of a text manipulated over time to force a message.
To begin with, the four meanings appear to be De Jongh's summary of a more diffuse handling in the original sources. In 2020 he provided this helpful cautionary note against too inflexible an understanding of deen:
It may be noted that before Islam, the Arabs had different connotations in using this word and their use of it in its various derivatives revolved around one or all of the above-mentioned connotations. However, these connotations were not clear enough to the Arabs and this word did not get a terminological position in any systematic and recognised school of thought. Rather the understanding of this word was vague and insubstantial. With the revelation of the Qur'an, the word received a more definite connotation. ...Even though the Qur'an uses the term connoting various meanings, the term is generally referred to [to] mean a complete code of life.
Even a book that De Jongh acknowledges as so riddled with contradictions as to be of no value, is still "more definite" in its use of the word deen than are "any systematic and recognised school of thought." We can deduce from this that the meaning of word deen is even less definite than in the contradiction-riddled Qur'an. No "systematic and recognised school of thought," of which the Arabs had none prior to Islam, could give the word "a terminological position." In other words, when dealing with the word deen, we are dealing with "different connotations", "revolved around", "one or all", "not clear enough", "[no] terminological position", "vague and insubstantial", "more[/less] definite", and "various meanings," all attempting to capture "a complete way of life." It must be clear to the careful reader that the word deen means different things to different people, and so lends itself to abuse, especially propaganda.
One notices that, "The third meaning is rules, regulations, ideology, doctrine, custom, tradition or religion," in 2020, becomes, "Rules and Regulations: doctrine, ideology, tradition or religion,” in 2022. "rules, regulations, ideology, doctrine, custom, tradition or religion," all equal in 2020, become a hierarchy in 2022. Of the seven 2020 meanings, one, "custom," is dropped without explanation. Of the remaining six, two, "rules, regulations," are elevated to a heading, "Rules and Regulations," leaving four meanings of deen from the original seven in the list. Having thus rendered deen even more definite than does the contradictory Qur'an, it now becomes less tricky for a propagandist to assert what deen is and what deen is not.
The Lane's Lexicon entry for "Deen" includes:
He was, or became, obedient; he obeyed. This is the primary signification: or, as some say, the primary signification is the following; namely, he was, or became, abased and submissive; or he was, or became, abased and enslaved and obedient. (My emphasis)
De Jongh draws attention to this signification of deen, but neglects to mention that Lane's Lexicon is unequivocal about Islam being a religion:
He became [a servant of God, or] a Muslim. He became, or made himself, a servant of God by [following the religion of] El-Islam, [i.e., he followed El-Islam as his religion;]
He, and I, followed such a thing as his, and my, religion; from [deen] as signifying "obedience."
In the phrase [nor follow the religion of the truth, or the true religion], in the Qur'an ix. 29, El-Islám is meant.
But, most importantly, Lane's Lexicon continues,
Also: He was, or became, disobedient; he disobeyed: and he was, or became, mighty, potent, powerful, or strong; or high, or elevated, in rank, condition, or state; noble, honourable, glorious, or illustrious. Thus it bears significations contr[ary] to those mentioned in the first part of this paragraph. (My emphasis)
I do not speak Arabic and, unfortunately, am unable to comment on how Lloyd De Jongh used Magayis al-Lughah, Al-Oamus al-Muheet and Lisan al-Arab, his claimed sources for the four meanings of deen. De Jongh's one-sided use of Lane's Lexicon, pointed out above, misrepresents that source. This does not give confidence in his use of the Arabic sources, which might be unfair on my part. This lack of confidence would be mitigated had De Jongh at least mentioned the association of deen with religion in other English-accessible dictionaries, such as: "To be religious; to be a believer" (Vocabulary of the Holy Qur'an, by A A Nadwi), or “Principles of religion : Usul al-Din” (Brill Encyclopaedia of Islam). It is a simple matter of intellectual honesty.
The fact that the twelve item list jumbles the items and heading of the "four meanings" in such an inconsistent way suggests the simple heaping of facts upon facts without synthesising anything, especially if those facts are gleaned from different sources. We see the same curious omission of the heading of the fourth, "Reward and repayment," and hardly a word said about the rest.
It is highly unlikely that De Jongh is unaware of the list of meanings of deen in M G Farid's Dictionary of the Qur'an, that offers:
Obedience and submissiveness: "To Him is due obedience forever." 16:53
Religion: "There shall be no compulsion in religion." 2:257; "Surely, the true religion with Allah is Islam." 3:20. The word [deen] is applied to Religion, in the widest sense of the term, practical and doctrinal, thus comprehending al-iman [faith, AP], which means religious belief. It is synonymous with Shari'a.
A particular law, statute; or an ordinance or dominion or government: "He could not have taken his brother under the law (or in the dominion) of the King." 12:77; "Let not pity of the twain take hold of you in executing the Judgement of Allah." 24:3;
Reckoning or judgement: "The Master of the Day of Judgement." 1:4; "Surely, the Judgement or reckoning will come to pass." 51:7; "This is the right creed or true reckoning." 9:36
A system of usages or rites and ceremonies inherited from ancestors. It is said of the Holy Prophet in a tradition [Hadith, AP], "He used to conform with usages inherited from fore-fathers."
Custom or habit and business: "This has always been my custom."
A way of acting or conduct.
State, condition or case.
A property (it)
Recompense or compensation or requital: "Day of Requital." 1:4.
Compulsion against the will, subjugation, ascendancy or ruling power, mastery.
Retaliation. (My emphasis).
Naturally, this does not mean that Farid is correct and De Jongh is wrong, but it would just be more honest to make the viewer aware that one of his sources has come up with a very similar structure, but arranged its content significantly differently, and arrives at the very opposite conclusion. It should set off alarm bells when De Jongh places "religion" at position 10, while Farid places it at position 2, and crucially, that Farid equates Shari'a with religion in its comprehensive sense (complete way of life) that includes its narrow sense of religious belief (faith). De Jongh owes it to his viewers to tell them why he differs so radically from Farid, one of his own sources, if only to help clear up the inconsistency in the following:
Islam is the deen al-haqq meaning "the truth," or "the right", "the religion," as we would say of truth, the religion of right. No! It's the deen of right, the deen of truth...
Who, exactly, is De Jongh taking issue with here?
...Conversely, this makes Christianity the deen al-batel and Judaism are the deen al-batel, the false, the void religions, the abrogated religions. so the empty religions these. Also, al-batel means false, void, worthless.
Why is this incorrect? Because Christians believe something different. There can be nothing more tedious than listening to believers in the throes of disagreement. Readers interested in this kind of discourse would do better listening to Mohamed Hijab or Zakir Naik. At least they'll be entertained.
All three dictionaries quoted above are in the sources De Jongh makes available to the public. Everything pointed out is in there, very easy to locate. What would make Lloyd de Jongh take it for granted that another researcher examining the same material will reach the same conclusions as he does? There could be several explanations for this. The one that strikes me as the most plausible is that De Jongh’s aim is not to elucidate Shari’a, but to convince us that Islam is not a religion. To this end he quotes what he needs to quote and ignores what he needs to ignore. In other words, he operates according to da'wah standards: abusing both his sources and his audience.
This aim of delegitimising Islam as religion he shares with all smarter Christian ideologues, such as Jamie Glazov and Jay Smith, who are able to see the dangers that Islam, by its barbaric and totalitarian nature, poses for all religion, and thereby for Christianity, the only religion that concerns them, and the Christian god, the only god that concerns them. All religion for Jesus alone.
Naturally, De Jongh avoids mentioning the Islamic telos, all religion for Allah alone, while consciously driving the narrative in the opposite direction, "Notice: religion is an optional understanding [of deen] and technically, in terms of Islam, Islam exists to destroy Christianity. It is anti-religion." (My emphasis) In this Savonarola's mind, "all religion" equals "Christianity." It also foreshadows De Jongh's other obsession: atheism. How Lloyd De Jongh uses the vagueness of the word deen to buttress Christianity is an object lesson in propaganda similar to Yasir Qadhi's hit job on Zionism.
[Part 3: Friday 28 October]
- Lloyd de Jongh, "Islamic Sharia Law live Q&A. Beyond Yasir Qadhi's Red Line." Lloyd De Jongh, YouTube 14 Dec 2020 https://youtu.be/WX8mBC4HVOI?list=PL_jc4ocGMeQnWQnopfyXzWgbGB19AWuwt
- Lane's Lexicon, https://ejtaal.net/aa/#hw4=365,ll=985,ls=5,la=1467,sg=400,ha=235,br=345,pr=59,aan=196,mgf=314,vi=152,kz=767,mr=239,mn=437,uqw=563,umr=379,ums=312,umj=262,ulq=737,uqa=137,uqq=109,bdw=h334,amr=h232,asb=h304,auh=h586,dhq=h186,mht=h306,msb=h85,tla=h50,amj=h253,ens=h1,mis=h685
- M.G. Farid, Dictionary of Quran, https://ejtaal.net/aa/#hw4=365,ll=985,ls=5,la=1467,sg=400,ha=235,br=345,pr=59,aan=196,mgf=315,vi=152,kz=767,mr=239,mn=437,uqw=563,umr=379,ums=312,umj=262,ulq=737,uqa=137,uqq=109,bdw=h334,amr=h232,asb=h304,auh=h586,dhq=h186,mht=h306,msb=h85,tla=h50,amj=h253,ens=h1,mis=h685