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Ships and the Qur'an and the epistemology of navigation

Haji 2003



  • Ships are an interesting phenomenon that are referred to in the Qur'an on a number of different occasions.
  • For the Arabs at the time of revelation they would likely have been considered as an object that people made and used. The Qur'an points out that the source of the innovation is God and that they are an example of His Mercy.
    • My belief as a layperson is that this supports the contention that Islam is supportive of product innovation.
  • Once we start talking about ships an associated construct - 'navigation' immediately arises.
    • This is interesting because God explicitly refers to the tools necessary for navigation (stars) also being an example of His mercy.
    • So not only do we have a product that He created for us, but also the knowledge and supporting resources necessary to use it. Worth noting is that these resources were created millions/billions of years and light years apart.
    • The words used for knowledge also subsume notions of both navigation in a physical sense and also a metaphorical or spiritual sense.
  • Finally all of this points towards our dominion over nature and the vocabulary used for this involves man needing to be grateful to God for this provision.


This analysis originally started off as a reply to @Northwest and, as I dug deeper, opened up new and interesting areas of enquiry. So the first post below is the reply to Northwest and it should make sense even when taken out of the thread's context, though I also provide some background.

The replies to the first post (below) then go deeper into the issue of knowledge/epistemology and naval navigation - fascinatingly probing the links between those concepts yields results. 


The thread in which the following material appeared was to do with technological innovation. My contention was that the Qur'an not only accepts this, but puts it in a positive light. In order to support this claim I made reference to the Qur'anic story about Prophet Daoud's (عليه السلام). chain mail. I also pointed out how the Qur'an points out the moral/ethical burden of such technological development.

But this example was considered too specific and singular to be adequate. My challenge therefore was to come up with references to technology and innovation in the Qur'an that were more widespread and hence the material that appears below.

The initial post

This is my answer to my interlocutor after they challenged me about the specificity of my reference to Prophet Daoud's chainmail.

You've stimulated me to bring together something which I had noticed but never addressed or thought to bring together - the numerous but disparate references to ships in the Qur'an. As per my usual format of showing conversations with chatGPT, my prompts are in bold red and its answers are in regular black text.

I think it's reasonable to argue that ships per se are not the kind of innovation that Prophet's Yusuf and Nut ((عليه السلام).) brought i.e. to avert calamity and nor are they innovations for use at a specific point in time which applies to those two Prophets' innovations and that of Prophet Daoud ((عليه السلام).)

Rather the creation of ships is not tied to a specific time or situation nor indeed is it specifically tied to human survival in an acute sense.

More than this, of all the innovations we could be talking about, ships are actually quite profound in terms of the social and economic impact they have, e.g. in terms of migratory flows of people, encouragement of specialisation in terms of means of production and so on. Obviously, they also present challenges in terms of movements of goods that have cultural baggage attached and the obvious impact of international competition and so on.

My inference here is as a layperson and not a theologian. Still, if there is one innovation that points to Divine encouragement of human societal sophistication and complexity, this is it.

What are all references in the Qur'an to ships?

In a material sense ships are the product of human innovation, but clearly that human inspiration is God-given and as the Qur'an says it's a sign of His mercy and something which enables us to prevail over nature.

1. Surah Al-Baqarah (2:164): 
    - "Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, the alternation of the night and the day, the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason."

2. Surah Ya-Sin (36:41-42):
    - "And a sign for them is that We carried their forefathers in a laden ship. And We created for them from the likes of it that which they ride."

3. Surah Az-Zukhruf (43:12-14):
    - "And who created the species, all of them, and has made for you of ships and animals those which you mount. That you may settle yourselves upon their backs and then remember the favor of your Lord when you have settled upon them and say. 'Exalted is He who has subjected this to us, and we could not have [otherwise] subdued it.'"

4. Surah Al-Jathiya (45:12):
    - "Allah is the one who subjected the sea for you so that ships may sail through it by His command and that you may seek of His bounty, and perhaps you will be grateful."

5. Surah Al-Isra (17:66):
    - "Your Lord is the One who drives for you the ship in the sea so that you may seek of His bounty. He is indeed Most Merciful to you."

6. Surah An-Nahl (16:14):
    - "And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, and [He subjected it] that you may seek of His bounty, and perhaps you will be grateful."

7. Surah Ar-Rum (30:46):
    - "And among His Signs is this, that He sends the winds as glad tidings, giving you a taste of His Mercy, and that the ships may sail by His Command and that you may seek of His Bounty, in order that you may be thankful."

8. Surah Al-Furqan (25:53):
    - "And it is He who has released [simultaneously] the two seas, one fresh and sweet and one salty and bitter, and He placed between them a barrier and prohibiting partition."

Are there any roots that commonly appear in association with ships?

In the Qur'an, the primary root associated with ships is {ف-ل-ك} (F-L-K). The derived word "فُلْك" (fulk) specifically means "ship" or "vessel." 

Let's look at the occurrences of this root in the context of ships and check for any other roots that consistently appear close to it:

1. Surah Al-Baqarah (2:164): The verse mentions ships as "الْفُلْكِ الَّتِي تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ" (the ships which sail through the sea).

2. Surah Ya-Sin (36:41-42): The term "الْفُلْكِ" (the ships) is used to signify the ships that sail, carrying their passengers.

3. Surah Al-Isra (17:66): The verse mentions "الْفُلْكِ" (the ship) that sails in the sea.

4. Surah An-Nahl (16:14): Here, the ships are referred to as "الْفُلْكَ" (the ships) that move through the sea.

5. Surah Ghafir (40:79-80): The verses mention "الْفُلْكِ" (the ships) as a means of transport on both land (referring to animals) and sea.

6. Surah Ash-Shura (42:32-33): Ships, "الْفُلْكِ", are mentioned in the context of signs of God's power and mercy.

Looking at these verses and their contexts, ships (fulk) are often mentioned in relation to:
- The sea {ب-ح-ر}  - B-H-R
- Sailing or traveling {ج-ر-ي} - J-R-Y
- Signs of God's mercy and creation {آيات} - Ā-Y-T

Thus, while the primary root associated with ships is {ف-ل-ك} (F-L-K), it frequently appears in the context of the sea, travel, and divine signs.

Going back to your preceding answer, for each instance of the occurrence of f-l-k can you tabulate where a-y-t appears please?

Screenshot 2023-09-11 at 06.07.20.png



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This is a good illustration how you sometimes need to 'help chatgpt along'. In answer to this query the app leaves out the answer I was actually looking for, based on memory. In the next post I refer to it explicitly.

We spoke about ships above. Does the Qur’an also refer to navigation?

Yes, the Qur'an does make reference to navigation, particularly in the context of ships and the sea. Navigation is presented as a sign of God's mercy, enabling humans to traverse vast oceans safely. Here are some of the relevant verses:

1. Surah Al-An'am (6:141):
   - "And He it is who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and date palms, and crops of different shape and taste (its fruits and its seeds) and olives, and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste). Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof (its Zakat) on the day of its harvest, and waste not by extravagance. Verily, He likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance)."
   - **Note**: This verse, while emphasizing the importance of giving due rights and not being wasteful, also indirectly references the mercies of God in providing means of sustenance and guidance on how they should be utilized.

2. Surah An-Nahl (16:14):
   - "And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, and [He subjected it] that you may seek of His bounty, and perhaps you will be grateful."
   - **Note**: This verse highlights the ships "plowing" through the sea, with the underlying implication being that humans can navigate these vast waters because God has made it possible.

3. Surah Al-Isra (17:66):
   - "Your Lord is the One who drives for you the ship in the sea so that you may seek of His bounty. He is indeed Most Merciful to you."
   - **Note**: The mention of God "driving" the ship in the sea emphasizes the divine guidance and mercy in human navigation endeavors.

4. Surah Fatir (35:12):
   - "Nor are the two seas alike: this one palatable, sweet and pleasant to drink, and that a salt and bitter. Yet from both you eat fresh tender meat (fish), and derive the ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships cleaving (the sea-water as they sail through it), that you may seek of His Bounty, and that you may give thanks."
   - **Note**: The ships "cleaving" the waters, navigating through different types of seas, again underlines the divine mercy and provision in human navigation.

5. Surah Ya-Sin (36:43):
   - "If We willed, We could drown them; then no one responding would there be for them, nor would they be saved."
   - **Note**: In the context of the preceding verses that discuss ships and navigation, this verse serves as a reminder of God's ultimate control over the seas and the ships that navigate them.

In these verses, while the act of navigation is a human endeavor, it is deeply intertwined with the divine mercy and guidance that makes such navigation possible. The Qur'an emphasizes the dependency of humans on God's provisions, even in their most advanced and skilled activities, such as sea navigation.



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The need for this question is a good illustration of the limitations of AI. You'll have noted that stars were not mentioned in its previous answer and the app had to be explicitly asked about them.

Are stars mentioned as an aid to navigation?

Yes, stars are mentioned in the Qur'an as aids to navigation, particularly for travelers during the night. Here are the relevant verses:

1. Surah Al-An'am (6:97):
   - "And it is He who produced for you the stars to guide you in the darkness of the land and sea. We have detailed the signs for a people who know."
   - **Note**: In this verse, stars are explicitly mentioned as guides for travelers in the darkness, both on land and at sea.

2. Surah Al-Nahl (16:16):
   - "And landmarks. And by the stars they are [also] guided."
   - **Note**: Here again, stars are indicated as guiding landmarks for travelers.

3. Surah Al-Furqan (25:61):
   - "Blessed is He who placed in the sky great stars and placed therein a [burning] lamp and luminous moon."
   - **Note**: While this verse emphasizes the beauty and grandeur of the celestial bodies God created, the mention of "great stars" can also allude to their significance as navigation aids, given the cultural and historical context of their use in ancient navigation.

The Qur'an, while highlighting the spiritual and cosmic significance of stars, also acknowledges their practical use in navigation, emphasizing the multiple layers of purpose and benefit that God's creations provide to humanity.




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And now we get to the crux of the issue.

Where stars are mentioned in the context of guides, what roots are used for the latter and do they link with roots related to epistemology and knowledge?

When stars are mentioned as guides in the Qur'an, the Arabic root commonly used for "guide" or "guidance" is {هـ د ي} (H-D-Y). Let's examine the relevant instances and see if there are any connections with roots related to epistemology and knowledge:

1. Surah Al-An'am (6:97):
   - Arabic: وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ النُّجُومَ لِتَهْتَدُوا بِهَا فِي ظُلُمَاتِ الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ ...
   - Translation: "And it is He who produced for you the stars to guide you تَهْتَدُوا from {هـ د ي} in the darkness of the land and sea..."
   - **Connection with Epistemology**: The root {هـ د ي}  is central to the concept of guidance in the Qur'an, encompassing both spiritual and practical guidance. The act of guidance inherently implies acquiring knowledge or understanding to make informed decisions or take a correct path.

2. Surah Al-Nahl (16:16):
   - Arabic: وَعَلَامَاتٍ وَبِالنَّجْمِ هُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ
   - Translation: "And landmarks. And by the stars they are guided يَهْتَدُونَ from {هـ د ي}."
   - **Connection with Epistemology**: Again, guidance here can be understood both in the literal sense (physical navigation) and the metaphorical sense (seeking the right path or understanding).

Now, regarding the connection with roots related to epistemology and knowledge:

The root {هـ د ي} (H-D-Y) itself is inherently connected to the acquisition of knowledge and understanding, as guidance often involves obtaining and following knowledge. This root appears in various forms throughout the Qur'an to denote guidance, leading, showing the way, etc. Many verses couple this root with other roots related to knowledge, such as {ع ل م} (‘A-L-M) meaning "to know", emphasizing the close relationship between guidance and knowledge.

For instance, the Qur'an says in Surah Al-Mujadila (58:11):
- Arabic: يَرْفَعِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْعِلْمَ دَرَجَاتٍ
- Translation: "Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge by degrees."

The elevation of those "who were given knowledge" indicates the esteemed position of knowledge in guiding one's actions and understanding.

In summary, the concept of guidance from {هـ د ي}  is intrinsically linked with the acquisition and application of knowledge in the Qur'an. The mention of stars as guides serves as a practical example of this relationship, where observable phenomena (stars) provide knowledge (navigation) that guides human behavior.

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In relation to ships and the sea, the word ‘subjected’ is used in your translation. What’s the Arabic, and what is the root?

The word “subjected” in the context of ships and the sea often translates from the Arabic word “سَخَّرَ” (sakhkhara). The root of this word is {س-خ-ر} (S-KH-R). This root conveys the idea of subjugation, making something subservient or facilitating something for use.

For instance, in Surah An-Nahl (16:14), the verse goes:

    •    Arabic: وَهُوَ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ الْبَحْرَ …
    •    Translation: “And it is He who subjected the sea …”

The use of “سَخَّرَ” (sakhkhara) in such contexts emphasizes the idea that God has made certain elements of nature subservient or beneficial to humans, highlighting His mercy and providence. The concept of “subjection” in the Qur’an often serves to remind humans of God’s favors and their own dependence on these divine provisions.

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Please do a semantic field analysis of s-kh-r

Certainly! The root {س-خ-ر} (S-KH-R) carries the core meaning of “subjugation,” “making subservient,” or “facilitating for use.” Let’s delve into a semantic field analysis to uncover the various nuances and associated concepts linked to this root in the Qur’an:

    1.    Subjugation of Nature:
    •    The Qur’an frequently uses this root in the context of God making various elements of nature subservient to humans. This includes the seas, the winds, the sun, the moon, and animals. Such verses highlight God’s mercy and the favors He has bestowed upon humanity.
    •    Examples include:
    •    Surah An-Nahl (16:14): “And it is He who subjected (سَخَّرَ) the sea so that you eat from it tender meat and extract from it ornaments which you wear.”
    •    Surah Az-Zukhruf (43:13): “…that you may settle yourselves upon their backs and then remember the favor of your Lord when you have settled upon them and say. ‘Exalted is He who has subjected (سَخَّرَ) this to us, and we could not have [otherwise] subdued it.’”
    2.    Human Control and Authority:
    •    While the majority of the Qur’anic uses of this root refer to God’s subjugation of nature for humans, there are instances where humans are granted power or authority over others, indicating a form of subjugation.
    3.    Facilitation and Ease:
    •    The idea of “subjugation” also carries the connotation of “facilitation” or “making things easy.” When God “subjects” something for human benefit, it is not just about control but also about making it beneficial and easy to use.
    4.    Reminder of Dependency:
    •    The repeated mention of God’s act of subjugation serves as a reminder to humans of their dependency on God’s provisions. By realizing that many of the things they take for granted are, in fact, divine favors, humans are encouraged to be grateful and conscious of God’s role in their lives.

Related Words:

    •    {مُسَخَّر} (Musakhkhar): Something that has been made subservient or subjected.
    •    {تَسْخِير} (Taskhīr): The act of subjugating or making something subservient.

Associated Concepts:

    •    Gratitude: Recognizing the numerous elements of nature and life that have been made subservient to humans naturally leads to feelings of gratitude and appreciation.
    •    Reflection: The act of reflecting on God’s favors and blessings, especially those elements of nature and life made subservient for human benefit.

In conclusion, the root {س-خ-ر} (S-KH-R) in the Qur’an encompasses a range of concepts related to subjugation, facilitation, divine favors, and human dependency on God’s provisions. The frequent mention of this root in various contexts serves to remind the reader or listener of God’s mercy, power, and the many blessings He has bestowed upon humanity.

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Does the word subjugation in Arabic carry the same connotations as it does in English?

In Arabic, the word “سَخَّرَ” (sakhkhara) from the root {س-خ-ر} (S-KH-R) carries the primary meaning of “to make subservient,” “to subject,” or “to facilitate for use.” While it can be translated as “subjugation” in English, the connotations can differ based on the cultural and linguistic nuances of each language.

    1.    Connotations in Arabic:
    •    Divine Mercy and Blessing: When the Qur’an uses “سَخَّرَ” in the context of God making elements of nature subservient to humans, it emphasizes God’s mercy, blessings, and the favors He has bestowed upon humanity. It’s a way of highlighting that these natural elements are at humanity’s service by God’s will.
    •    Facilitation: The word also carries a connotation of “facilitation” or “making things easy.” It’s not just about control but also about making something beneficial and easily accessible.
    2.    Connotations in English:
    •    Control and Domination: In English, “subjugation” often carries a more forceful connotation, implying dominance, control, or even oppression. It can have a negative tone when referring to one group of people subjugating another.
    •    Lack of Agency: “Subjugation” can imply that the one being subjugated lacks agency or freedom.

When translating “سَخَّرَ” from Arabic to English, it’s essential to consider the context to choose the most appropriate translation. For example, when referring to God making the seas or animals subservient to humans, “subjected” or “made subservient” might be more fitting than “subjugated” to avoid negative connotations.

In summary, while there’s an overlap in the meanings of “سَخَّرَ” in Arabic and “subjugation” in English, the cultural and contextual connotations can differ. In the Qur’anic context, the Arabic term often has a more positive and merciful connotation, emphasizing God’s blessings and facilitation for humanity.\


Haji's note

The following text, does indeed prefer subservient to subjugated.


while the stars provide them with a means of navigation or guidance on both land and sea (v. 16). To describe something as subservient implies the existence of a conscious will that is constrained to obey and serve another. Because the sun, the moon, and other phenomena that are described as subservient are understood to be inanimate objects, some consider their “subservience” merely a metaphor for God’s creating them in a particular way to serve their designated function. However, others suggest that the Divine Command by which they are made subservient is actually a “prescriptive command,” which these phenomena obey as a matter of religious responsibility (R).

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Dagli, Caner K.; Dakake, Maria Massi; Lumbard, Joseph E.B.; Rustom, Mohammed. The Study Quran (p. 658). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 

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Above you have said that concepts associated with s-kh-r are gratitude and reflection, on what basis are they associated with s-kh-r?

The association of the concepts of gratitude and reflection with the root {س-خ-ر} \) (S-KH-R) is derived from the thematic content and context in which the root appears in the Qur'an. Let's delve into these associations:

1. Gratitude:
   - The Qur'an frequently uses the root {س-خ-ر} \) (S-KH-R) to describe how God has made various elements of nature subservient or beneficial for humans. This includes the seas, the winds, the sun, the moon, and animals. The mention of these favors is often juxtaposed with the idea that humans should recognize and be thankful for them.
   - For instance, in Surah An-Nahl (16:14), the Qur'an mentions that God has "subjected" the sea for humans, allowing them to extract food and ornaments from it. The subsequent verses of this Surah list various other favors and blessings of God, emphasizing the importance of recognizing and being grateful for them.

2. Reflection:
   - The subjugation or facilitation of natural elements for human benefit is not just mentioned as a statement of fact but also as a point of contemplation. The Qur'an often pairs these descriptions with rhetorical questions or statements encouraging reflection.
   - For instance, in Surah Az-Zukhruf (43:12-13), after mentioning that God is the one who "created all kinds of things and gave you ships and animals to ride upon so that you may settle yourselves upon their backs," the verse ends with: "then remember the favor of your Lord when you have settled upon them and say. 'Exalted is He who has subjected this to us, and we could not have [otherwise] subdued it.'"
   - The act of reflecting upon these signs and recognizing the inability of humans to have these benefits without God's intervention is a form of reflection that the Qur'an encourages.

In essence, the thematic context of the verses containing the root {س-خ-ر} often emphasizes the importance of recognizing God's favors and reflecting upon them. The act of recognizing these favors naturally leads to feelings of gratitude, while the contemplation of their significance and our dependency on them encourages reflection.

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8 hours ago, Muhammed Ali said:

Is ChatGPT finding all the occurrences?

Very many thanks for this. Much appreciated. No doubt a more exhaustive approach will likely surface more angles to the discussion.

There are absolutely tons of shall we say 'issues' with using chatgpt.

All I am doing at this stage is putting out there what I hope is a transparent audit trail of what I am doing, with the hope that as you have done someone comes along to pick them up or come back myself at some point to validate and check what I am finding.

Not only that, but as you'll have seen in this thread there are also issues to do with the words used in translations and exploring their nuances. Also in this thread I showed that I had to bring up the point about stars explicitly and it does not do that by itself.

As you'll see at the moment it's almost a full-time job just posting up the wealth of topics that can be explored.

Thanks again.

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9 hours ago, Muhammed Ali said:

Is ChatGPT finding all the occurrences?


I asked it:

In the list above about occurrences of f-l-k are you sure your list was comprehensive?

This is its answer:

I apologize for the oversight. My earlier response may not have provided a comprehensive list of all occurrences of the root {ف-ل-ك} ) (F-L-K) in the Qur’an. To ensure a more comprehensive view, it would be best to consult a Qur’anic concordance or a detailed database.

The root {ف-ل-ك} (F-L-K), generally referring to celestial orbits, divisions, or ships, appears in multiple contexts throughout the Qur’an. Given the richness of the Qur’anic text, it’s possible I missed a few instances.

If you’re seeking a comprehensive list, I’d recommend utilizing specialized Qur’anic databases or software that allow for precise root-based searches. This will provide you with all the verses containing that specific root.

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13 hours ago, Muhammed Ali said:

Is ChatGPT finding all the occurrences?



Thanks for this list. I went to that link and copied pasted all the occurrences identified. I then gave chatgpt the following prompt:

This is a complete list of references to ship(s) in the Qur'an can you identify any other roots that commonly appear in these ayats?

It provided a listing and I followed up with this prompt:

Thanks for this. Can you please tabulate the material you have provided above and for each of the roots you have identified have a column showing what the meanings are (as you have done) and then in another column identify which verses they appear in. Please use your judgement to assess what other columns may be useful.

Screenshot 2023-09-13 at 13.46.24.png


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Is gratitude immanent within navigation?

This line of enquiry is a good example of how gpt4 tries hard to be 'nice'. I am looking for a link between gratitude and navigation, and it tries its hardest to find one - which it does find, but my assessment is that this does seem to be somewhat tenuous. Happy to be corrected though!

Thank you, I wanted to check the following. It is said that the notion of risk is immanent within the concept of trust because in order to demonstrate trust in someone you have to take a risk with them. In a similar way is gratitude immanent within navigation?

The concept of gratitude being immanent within navigation in the Qur'anic context is an interesting notion to explore. Here's how the two can be seen as interconnected:

1. **Recognition of Dependency**: Navigation, especially in historical contexts when the Qur'an was revealed, was fraught with risks. Mariners were at the mercy of the sea, weather conditions, and their limited knowledge of maritime routes. This dependency on forces beyond human control creates a sense of vulnerability. Recognizing this vulnerability and then safely navigating through it can lead to gratitude, acknowledging the higher power that made the journey successful.

2. **The Gift of Knowledge**: The ability to navigate, whether by stars, landmarks, or other means, is a form of knowledge. In the Qur'an, knowledge is often portrayed as a gift from God. Those who possess and use this gift successfully have another reason to be grateful.

3. **Bounties of the Sea**: The Qur'an mentions the benefits humans derive from the sea, such as food, pearls, and trade opportunities. Safe and successful navigation allows humans to access these bounties. The realization of these benefits can evoke gratitude.

4. **Survival and Prosperity**: Safe navigation ensures not just the survival of the sailors but also the prosperity of societies that depended on maritime trade. Recognizing the role of the divine in this prosperity can be a source of gratitude.

5. **Physical Manifestation of Divine Signs**: The Qur'an often points to the natural world as a sign (Ayat) of God's existence and attributes. The vastness of the sea, the orderliness of the celestial bodies used for navigation, and the perfection of natural laws that allow for navigation can all be seen as signs. Reflecting on these signs can lead to gratitude.

In summary, while navigation itself is a human endeavor, the Qur'anic perspective embeds it within a larger cosmic order governed by divine will. Successfully navigating within this order and benefiting from it becomes a reason for gratitude. So, in this context, one could argue that gratitude is immanent within navigation, as the act of navigation continuously reminds one of the divine favors and the need for gratitude.

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      After October 7th 2023, there has been horror as to what happened on that day, with the rebuttal that the history of the conflict provides explanatory context. This article examines historical analysis which suggests that the violence that occurred in the region 90 years ago was entirely predictable due to uncontrolled immigration.
      The Source
      This is a letter published by The Times newspaper on October 14 1936. The writer was a well-known academic/ historian who had visited Palestine at the time of some tension.
      The context of violence between Arabs and Zionists
      He draws comparisons between the Zionist/Arab conflict and that which had taken place between other peoples within the British Empire.
      He particularly draws attention to the scale of European immigration into Palestine as the cause of the violence. And he further draws attention to the cultural differences between Arabs and the Europeans who were settling in Palestine as another cause for the conflict.
      He concludes that the cause (immigration) and effect (violence) had played out as expected.

    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      I came across an interesting newspaper article published on February 27, 1920, in the Manchester Guardian newspaper (the forerunner of the modern Guardian newspaper), it's titled, "Some essential features of the Zionist Programme".
      The author is listed as "from our Special Correspondent" and the location of the writing is given as Jerusalem.
      The 'voice' of the piece appears to be an entirely Zionist one, as you may guess from the quotations that follow.
      The article starts as follows:
      That's interesting. As I've remarked previously on Shiachat, the Zionist ambitions seem to have changed over time.
      Well Britain is no longer the power it once was, and these promises are nowadays being made to the Americans.
      Hmm. This might have been labelled as being anti-semitic if the source had been non-Jewish.
      I am not entirely sure what is being proposed here to the British rulers of Palestine, perhaps it may be a two level pay structure, higher pay for Jews vs. Arabs?
      Interestingly the Zionist promoters of these ideas seem quite happy to use the term Palestine and nowhere is Israel mentioned.
    • By shadow_of_light in From Earth to Heaven
      لحظه‌های یادگاری 
      به یاد کردگارِ زندگی‌بخش
      که هر جز جهان دارد از او نقش
      به یاد روحِ در تربت دمیده
      که تار و پود انسان را تنیده
      به یاد عهد و میثاق اَلَستی
      به بیعت با رَهِ یکتاپرستی
      به یاد سجده‌ی کل ملائک
      به یاد لحظه‌ی آغاز هستی
      به یاد توبه‌های ناب آدم
      به هابیل اولین مظلوم عالم
      به کشتی نشسته بر دلِ کوه
      به یاد نوح و کشتیبانیِ نوح
      به یاد هاجرِ جوینده‌ی آب
      زِ مروه تا صفا نالان و بی‌تاب
      به آن لحظه که اسماعیل خندید
      چو زمزم درکنارش میخروشید
      به ابراهیم و آتش چون شَوَد سرد
      به آن لحظه که بت را سرنگون کرد
      سجده‌ی خورشید و ستاره و ماه
      به یاد یوسفِ افتاده درچاه
      به یاد دیدِگان خفته از غم
      به یعقوبی که در سوگ است و ماتم
      شدند آن خفتگان آن روز بیدار
      که شد زنده دلش از شوقِ دیدار
      به موسی و به یاد دستِ پر نور
      به نعلِینی که جا ماندند در طور
      به نجواهایی که از اعماقِ دریا
      رَوَد بالا به سوی عرشِ اعلا
      به یاد بهترین شاهان دنیا
      به اسحاق و به ادریس و به یحیی
      به یاد مریم و طفلی که در مهد
      سخن گفت از کراماتِ خداوند
      به آن لحظه که در تاریکیِ غار
      پیام آوَرد سروشِ غیب از یار
      به یاد آن که بت‌ها را شکسته 
      رسولی که زِ دنیا دل گسسته
      به یاد جمله من کنتُ مولاه
      به اسرار نهفته در دل چاه
      به یاد دختر از جور خسته
      به اشک لاله‌ی پهلو شکسته
      به یاد چشمه‌های خشک و تشنه
      به خونِ حنجرِ زخمی زِ دشنه
      به مشکِ پاره و اشکِ دو دیده
      تن بیجان و سرهای بریده
      به میراثِ نهان از چشم خاکی
      به یادِ آرمان‌شهرِِ آتی
      شَهَنشاها! نمیدانم کجایی!
      نمیدانم چرا از ما جدایی!
      مسیحای زمان و جانِ عالم!
      نمیدانم که آخر کی می‌آیی!
      به یاد صوت عرش و حق‌الیقین
      به شور و شوقِ پیروانِ یمین
      به یادِ لحظه‌های یادگاری
      به یاد خاطرات ماندگاری
    • By Meedy in Never thought I would see days like these
      Everyday   ,   Every second,         Every situations,         Every difficulties,           Every achievements 
      Take all these a test and trials where your patient is tested, your faith is tested, your ability to control your desires and emotions are tested, family relations is tested etc.....
      Focus on passing these tests with patient, faith in God, doing religious obligations, praying to God, always seeking help from God, seeking forgiveness and thanking him in every situations we are in.  
      Remember God has something better waiting for you in the after world so try and somehow put a smile on your face every now and then...
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      The theory that the pyramids were built or had their construction guided by extraterrestrials is challenged by the existence of mistakes in the construction of some of them.
      But I think the Egyptians were privy to Divine Guidance, which in itself is interesting because the evidence of a Pharoah moving from polytheism to monotheism supports Qur'anic teaching as I understand it.
      The bent pyramid at Dahshur
      There is a populist theory that the pyramids must have had an alien inspiration. This is because of the range of innovations that they represent and knowledge across multiple disciplines and their orientation towards certain constellations.
      My problem with this theory is the bent pyramid at Dahshur. It's bent, because they got the maths wrong (see the picture I took a few years ago below). It's weird that aliens who managed to get to this planet but then got their measurements for a stone structure wrong. Seems pretty clear to me that the pyramids we see represent the refinement and development of Egyptian technology, rather than discrete alien intervention. Also supporting my contention is a landscape literally littered with smaller pyramids, these people were learning, developing and increasing the scale of their creations as they grew more confident.

      If not aliens then who?
      My understanding of the Qur'anic references to Pharaoh is that they provide an example of a powerful leader, with immense resources, who was nevertheless brought down by divine intervention. The Pharaohs were representatives of a culture with a level of scientific, organisational, military and communications capability unknown at that time and for a long time yet to come.
      Indeed the very existence of mistakes in their work and subsequent improvements demonstrates that they had the capability to learn. Nevertheless the fact that the Pharoah of the time of Moses was brought down by believers in Allah who were weaker in numbers and military strength, is a sign to subsequent rulers around the world about how weak their position can be.

      And importantly the Qur'an tells us that the evidence of such civilisations is there for us to observe in order for us to better understand the message that is being conveyed to us:

      A final thought
      Were the ancient Egyptians privy to Divine guidance? I think there is evidence in the Qur'an that they may have been. Here are some references to Allah communicating with other cultures.



      And indeed there is material in the historical record that at least one Pharoah (Akhenaten) tried to promulgate a faith that had similarities to monotheism. The initiative did not last very long and in the reign of the next Pharoah (Tutankhamun) the Egyptians reverted to polytheism. I use the phrase similarities to monotheism because although he removed references to the pantheon of deities that the Egyptians previously worshipped, his new religion nevertheless involved worship of the sun.
      The following extract is from a book published within the last few years that addresses head on the issue of monotheism and Akhenaten's rule.
      Hoffmeier, J.K., 2015. Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism. Oxford University Press.
      Perhaps Akhenaten was amongst the many Prophets that we believe have been sent by God at different times and places to different cultures? I am speculating here, but perhaps the message was corrupted? Still, I would like to believe that the archaeological evidence of Akhenaten's rule supports the idea that Allah's message was not restricted to just the children of Abraham.
      See Also
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      Since the inception of Islam, there had been various sects competing for prominence; many had died out, and the two major ones were Twelver Shia and the Sunni fiqh.
      Then suddenly, from the start of the 19th century to the end of that century, we have the emergence of Ahmadiyya, the renewal of Ismailism and the creation of a new faith entirely, Baha ism. Go back a hundred years, and we can add Wahhabism to this list. I identify a common thread amongst all these new religions in this post.
      Four religions in a couple of hundred years ... and three Knights
      That's an unusually fertile period of spiritual spontaneity by any measure. Or is the explanation for such flowering of faith more mundane and perhaps guided by vested foreign interests or even stimulated by them? Because what marked that period, from the ones that preceded it was the growing recognition by countries from outside the middle eastern region that it was an important geographical location in itself and also for its proximity to the wealth of India. That latter point is important because there is little disagreement that British foreign policy towards the middle east paid due cognisance to the views and interests of the Government of India - of course, that is a pre-independence Government, so wholly controlled by Britain.
      Abdul Wahhab developed what is commonly referred to as an austere interpretation of Islam, one that denounces the rituals and beliefs that he felt had accreted over the centuries. There is a rich vein of (conspiracy) theories, easily found on the internet, that in his travel to Iraq in the early 18th century, he could have come across British agents (specifically a 'Mr Hempher'). Certainly, the British East India Company had been well established at that time, and a British consulate had been established in Iraq in 1802. Less widely commented on is the fact that the famous Danish/German explorer Carsten Niebuhr travelled to Arabia in 1761.
      But leaving conspiracy theories aside, it's possible to develop an argument about foreign involvement based on far less controversial ideas. Britain may not have been a midwife to Wahhabism, but I think people of all geo-political persuasions would agree that Britain was a helpful nanny.
      The person with whom the British did have extensive dealings was Ibn Saud, who had entered into a pact with Abdul Wahhab in 1744. British sources said he persistently approached Britain for support and was generally rebuffed. Saud was a political leader who continued to promote the Wahhabi philosophy after the death of its founder. Saud was no cleric. But he was shrewd enough to mould the ideology as the basis for providing a motivation for conquest and a glue that would hold his fighters together. British records show that he took responsibility for hiring and firing clerics based on his political agenda.
      My source for this and some other information about Wahhabism that is presented here is a PhD dissertation submitted to King's College London in 2002 by Hassan Syed Abedin, titled "Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the great game in Arabia, 1896-1946".
      Ibn Saud (who would in due course be given the British title 'Knight Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire') was ultimately successful in his goal of receiving support from Britain in 1914 when Britain needed to have someone distracting the Ottomans so that they could devote fewer resources to World War I taking place in Europe.
      Prior to that, it's argued that Ibn Saud had spent considerable efforts in achieving a status similar to the one held by Mubarak Al Sabah, the emir of Kuwait. This ideal status would have meant that Sauds and their territories would have been subjects of the Ottoman empire, but who would be given the protection of the British.
      This version of events does not look very good for Ibn Saud, presenting him as someone who is willing to do business with non-Muslims in order to undermine a Muslim ruler, and he'd serve a useful role in helping Britain with the following objective:
      Crewe private telegram to Hardinge, Viceroy of India, November 12,1914, cited in Busch Britain, India and the Arabs: 1914-1921, p. 62.
      Further, east we find the rise of the modern-day Nizari Ismailis, whose Aga Khan in the mid-19th century created a new role for himself in providing services to the British Empire (Aga Khan I would receive an annual British pension of £20,000 per year). Mihir Bose (a noted writer on the subject) says that the Aga Khan had to plead his case for some time before the British took him seriously since they wanted to be sure that they were backing a local ally who'd present them with better value than the alternatives. His grandson Aga Khan III would be bestowed the title of 'Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India'. Their esoteric faith was totally at odds with the one promulgated by Wahhab, but regardless of that difference served a useful purpose.
      Regardless of the support he gave, the British were aware of the hypocrisy of his religious position:
      Sir Charles Napier to Governor-General of India, Earl of Ellenborough, 1843
      The period around the 1840s is interesting for the following reason, as the following letter makes clear:
      Purohit, T. (2012) The Aga Khan Case (religion and identity in colonial India). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
      The writer of the letter is Major Henry Rawlinson, the military officer who worked for the commission in Persia from 1834 to 1838 and subsequently served as a political agent in Qandahar. So the British were interested in there being dislocation in Iran at around this time because of a perceived threat to their interests in Afghanistan.
      This makes the genesis and development of the third religion covered here all the more interesting.
      In roughly the same period, the mid-nineteenth century, we also see the rise of the Bahai faith in Iran. Mirza Ali Mohammad was born in 1820 and was executed in 1850. A focus of his attention was economic inequality in Iran. There were clear political implications, as  noted by the middle eastern commentator Juan Cole:
      The socio-economic aspect of Bab's teachings are also explained here:
      Mansoor Moaddel (1986) The Shi'i Ulama and the State in Iran. Theory and Society, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Jul., 1986), pp. 519-556. This extract: p526.
      This socio-religio-poliitcal impact of a new faith did not go unnoticed by the colonial powers of the time and gained ground as a result of their support as a means of destabilising the Qajar dynasty. Like Ibn Saud, Abdul Baha, eldest son of the Baha'u'llah, would also be awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, ostensibly for his work in alleviating famine.
      Shahvar, S. (2018) ‘Oppression of Religious Minority Groups in Times of Great Upheaval in Late Qajar Iran: The 1892 Persecution of Jews and Baha’is of Jewish Origin in Hamadan Based on Two Newly Discovered Letters’, The Jewish quarterly review. University of Pennsylvania Press, 108(2), pp. 225–251.
      Going further east, we find the third innovation in the Muslim religion towards the end of the 19th century and one that would lead to charges of being the creation of a new religion entirely. The Ahmadis would destabilise Muslims in the Indian sub-continent. Their support for the British in India is expressed in their texts:
      There is a reason for this approach; unlike the established religions of the Indian sub-continent, the leader of this new religion needed legitimacy. By acquiescing to the needs of the invaders, he sought to achieve that. For the established religions doing the same would have been challenging because they would have lost the legitimacy of their many existing followers; the new religion with far fewer followers had much less to lose in this respect but potentially a great deal more to gain. 
      I am not saying that the British went into the middle east with the prior notion of introducing new faiths. However, it is reasonable to say that in an environment where there were new powers in the region, for someone starting a new faith, the potential for a symbiotic relationship with these new arrivals was obvious. 
      For the invaders, these new religions provided a ready-made supportive constituency with which to challenge the established order, whether it be the Ottomans, the Qajars or the established religious order in India.
    • By Ali in ShiaChat.com Blog
      [This will be a series of blog entries on the history of ShiaChat.com; how it was founded, major ups and down, politics and issues behind running such a site and of course, the drama!  I will also provide some feedback on development efforts, new features and future goals and objectives]
      Part 1 - The IRC (#Shia) Days!
      Sit children, gather around and let me speak to you of tales of times before there was ever high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi, YouTube or Facebook; a time when the Internet was a much different place and 15 yearold me was still trying to make sense of it all. 
      In the 90s, the Internet was a very different place; no social media, no video streaming and downloading an image used to take anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on how fast your 14.4k monster-sized dial-up modem was.  Of course you also had to be lucky enough for your mom to have the common courtesy not to disconnect you when you’re in the middle of a session; that is if you were privileged enough to have Internet at home and not have to spend hours at school or libraries, or looking for AOL discs with 30 hour free trials..(Breathe... breathe... breathe) -  I digress.
      Back in 1998 when Google was still a little computer sitting in Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s basement, I was engaged in endless debates with our Sunni brothers on an IRC channel called #Shia.  (Ok, a side note here for all you little pups.  This is not read as Hashtag Shia, the correct way of reading this is “Channel Shia”.  The “Hashtag” was a much cooler thing back in the day than the way you young’uns use it today).
      For those of you who don’t know what IRC was (or is... as it still exists), it stands for Internet Relay Chat, which are servers available that you could host chat rooms in and connect through a client.  It was like the Wild West where anyone can go and “found” their own channel (chat room), become an operator and reign down their god-like dictator powers upon the minions that were to join as a member of their chat room.  Luckily, #Shia had already been established for a few years before by a couple of brothers I met from Toronto, Canada (Hussain A. and Mohammed H.).  Young and eager, I quickly rose up the ranks to become a moderator (@Ali) and the chatroom quickly became an important part of my adolescent years.  I learned everything I knew from that channel and met some of the most incredible people.  Needless to say, I spent hours and dedicated a good portion of my life on the chatroom; of course, the alternate was school and work but that was just boring to a 15-year-old.
      In the 90’s, creating a website was just starting to be cool so I volunteered to create a website for #Shia to advertise our services, who we are, what we do as well as have a list of moderators and administrators that have volunteered to maintain #Shia.  As a result, #Shia’s first website was hosted on a friend’s server under the URL http://786-110.co.uk/shia/ - yes, ShiaChat.com as a domain did not exist yet – was too expensive for my taste so we piggybacked on one of our member’s servers and domain name.
      The channel quickly became popular, so popular that we sometimes outnumbered our nemesis, #Islam.  As a result, our moderator team was growing as well and we needed a website with an application that would help us manage our chatroom in a more efficient style.  Being a global channel, it was very hard to do “shift transfers” and knowledge transfers between moderators as the typical nature of a chatroom is the fact that when a word is typed, its posted and its gone after a few seconds – this quickly became a pain point for us trying to maintain a list of offenders to keep an eye out for and have it all maintained in a historical, easily accessible way.
      A thought occurred to me.  Why not start a “forum” for the moderators to use?  The concept of “forums” or discussion boards was new to the Internet – it was the seed of what we call social media today.  The concept of having a chat-style discussion be forever hosted online and be available for everyone to view and respond to at any time from anywhere was extremely well welcomed by the Internet users.  I don’t recall what software or service I initially used to set that forum up, but I did – with absolutely no knowledge that the forum I just set up was a tiny little acorn that would one day be the oak tree that is ShiaChat.com.
      [More to follow, Part 2..]
      So who here is still around from the good old #Shia IRC days?
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