The claim that circumcision is not mentioned in the Quran is incorrect. Circumcision is represented in the Arabic Quran.
The word Rashad Khalifa translated as Monotheism in the Quran is حَنِيفًا (ḥanīfan). This word is almost exclusively mentioned throughout the Quan in conjunction with Abraham (2:135. 3:67, 3:95. 4:125. 6:161, 16:120, 16:123).
The root of حَنِيفًا (ḥanīfan) is ح ن ف and means to turn away from idol worship but also to be circumcised, in addition to other meanings as well. A comprehensive list of meanings are below for this root.
ح ن ف : To lean to one side, incline or decline, turn away from error to guidance, incline to the right religion, stand firmly on one side, leave a false religion and turn to right, act according to the law of Abraham, to be circumcised, turn away from the worship of idols, to perform Hajj; apply or devote oneself to religious services, incline to or have a right state or tendency.
[16:123] Then we inspired you (Muhammad) to follow the religion of Abraham (milat-Ibraheem), the monotheist (ḥanīfan); he never was an idol worshiper.
I don’t think is a coincidence, the fact that the word for “monotheism” in Arabic also is understood to mean one who turns away from idol worship, follows the religion of Abraham, performs Hajj, and is circumcised.
It is worth noting that the Hanif religion was in practice prior to Muhammad and the Quran, and these were the basic tenants that they practiced, which the Arabic word Hanif obtained its meaning from.
Additionally, the Arabic word “milat” specifically implies the religious practices of a religion. This is obvious as we do not follow the scripture of Abraham, but Abraham’s religious practices e.g. Salat, Zakat, Ramadan, Hajj, and circumcision. It is interesting that while Salat, Zakat, Ramadan and Hajj have been rejected by Jews and Christians the rite of circumcision has been universally accepted by all Abrahamic religions.
Just because one of the root words for “Haneef” is “one who is circumcised” does not mean we simply insert this meaning in the translation – this would be silly. As mentioned the root words are not mad-libs where we just place in any of the meanings we want for the word. The root words provide a comprehensive look at the word and give us a glimpse to why God selected that word for the Quran, why Rashad translated the way he did, and what is the full meaning of the word.
Take for example the word “khamr” that Rashad translated as “intoxicants”. If we simply understood “intoxicants” as the way it is technically defined, then the argument can be made that marijuana and other illicit drugs are not part of this prohibition as they are not generally considered intoxicants. But we see from Appendix 35, that Rashad wrote the following:
“The word used for intoxicants is “Khamr” from the root word “Khamara” which means “to cover.” Thus, anything that covers or hinders the mind is prohibited. This includes anything that alters the mind, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, hashish, and anything else that affects the mind.”
These Quranic words have meanings that are oftentimes beyond what can be conveyed in just a single word, and knowing the root of khamr provides us guidance to what this word means beyond the single word “intoxicant” it allows us to understand the full scope of this word. This does not mean that we just insert the word “to cover” into the verse to disprove that this is not what the word means:
[5:90] O you who believe, THE COVER, and gambling, and the altars of idols, and the games of chance are abominations of the devil; you shall avoid them, that you may succeed.
Again, this would be silly.
There are numerous examples of this in the Quran and in Rashad’s translation. I see how Rashad explained for us the meaning of khamr as a perfect lesson for us to how we should understand the Quran and Rashad’s translation for many of the disputed topics that have come up.
When we just look at the English definition of a word we may not necessarily have a full understanding of what God is conveying, just like the example with Khamr and intoxicants. But by looking at the root word, along with how this word is used throughout the Quran, and how Rashad translated this word then can we better grasp what is being conveyed.
Therefore, I am using the same methodology for “haneef” as Rashad used for khamr.
We know from the verses that we are to follow specifically the religious practices of Abraham (milat-Ibraheem). God then selected the next word as “Haneef” which Rashad translated as “monotheism.” Looking at the root we see that the definitions of Haneef is more than just a single word, that these definitions revolve around this idea of monotheism; such as: avoiding idols, following the religion of Abraham, performing Hajj pilgrimage, and being circumcised.
I believe all these practices are encompassed in this word Haneef, and that all these practices are encompassed when Rashad translated this word as “monotheism” as all the Abrahamic religions perform this one single rite and universally accept that this was part of the religion of Abraham. I see this in the same manner that Rashad explained khamr as not just merely intoxicants but anything that covers the mind including: “marijuana, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, hashish, and anything else that affects the mind.”
The second example of circumcision mentioned in the Quran comes from 2:88 and 4:155. The expression that Rashad translated “our minds are made up” occurs three times in the Quran 2:88, 4:155, and 41:5.
While 41:5 is addressing the recipients of the Quran and uses the Arabic expression “قُلُوۡبُنَا فِیۡۤ اَکِنَّۃٍ” which literally translates to:
قُلُوۡبُنَا = our hearts / minds
فِیۡۤ = in
اَکِنَّۃٍ = veils / coverings
[41:2] A revelation from the Most Gracious, Most Merciful. [41:3] A scripture whose verses provide the complete details, in an Arabic Quran, for people who know. [41:4] A bearer of good news, as well as a warner. However, most of them turn away; they do not hear. [41:5] They said, “Our minds are made up, our ears are deaf to your message, and a barrier separates us from you. Do what you want, and so will we.”
This expression is different then the Arabic that is used in 2:88 and 4:155 when addressing the Children of Israel who broke their covenant with God. In 2:88 and 4:155 it uses the Arabic expression: قُلُوۡبُنَا غُلۡفٌ which literally translates to:
قُلُوۡبُنَا = our hearts / minds
غُلۡفٌ = covered / uncircumcised
It is worth noting that the Arabic word قُلوبُنا can be translated as both “heart” or “mind” (e.g. 2:74 & 3:8)
[2:74] Despite this, your HEARTS hardened like rocks, or even harder…
[3:8] “Our Lord, let not our HEARTS waver, now that You have guided us. Shower us with Your mercy; You are the Grantor.
Again, I don’t think that this is a coincidence that God chose to use this expression when discussing the Children of Israel and their breaking of their covenant with God for 2:88 and 4:155. yet use another expression when dealing with the recipients of the Quran in 41:5.
[2:83] WE MADE A COVENANT WITH THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL: “You shall not worship except GOD. You shall honor your parents and regard the relatives, the orphans, and the poor. You shall treat the people amicably. You shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat).” But you turned away, except a few of you, and you became averse. [2:84] WE MADE A COVENANT WITH YOU, that you shall not shed your blood, nor shall you evict each other from your homes. You agreed and bore witness. [2:85] Yet, here you are killing each other, and evicting some of you from their homes, banding against them sinfully and maliciously. Even when they surrendered, you demanded ransom from them. Evicting them was prohibited for you in the first place. DO YOU BELIEVE IN PART OF THE SCRIPTURE AND DISBELIEVE IN PART? What should be the retribution for those among you who do this, except humiliation in this life, and a far worse retribution on the Day of Resurrection? GOD is never unaware of anything you do. [2:86] It is they who bought this lowly life at the expense of the Hereafter. Consequently, the retribution is never commuted for them, nor can they be helped. [2:87] We gave Moses the scripture, and subsequent to him we sent other messengers, and we gave Jesus, son of Mary, profound miracles and supported him with the Holy Spirit. Is it not a fact that every time a messenger went to you with anything you disliked, your ego caused you to be arrogant? Some of them you rejected, and some of them you killed. [2:88] Some would say, “OUR MINDS ARE MADE UP (our hearts are uncircumcised)!” Instead, it is a curse from GOD, as a consequence of their disbelief, that keeps them from believing, except for a few of them.
[4:155] (They incurred condemnation) FOR VIOLATING THEIR COVENANT, REJECTING GOD’S REVELATIONS, killing the prophets unjustly, and for saying, “OUR MINDS ARE MADE UP (our hearts are uncircumcised)!” In fact, GOD is the One who sealed their minds, due to their disbelief, and this is why they fail to believe, except rarely.
The word غُلفٌ has the trilateral root غ ل ف and its only occurrence in the Quran is in these two verses (2:88 and 4:155). The meaning of this word and root is the following
غ ل ف: to furnish with a covering; covered, wrapped, and uncircumcised.
Not only is the context of both these verses correspond with someone who has an uncircumcised heart, even the word for foreskin غلفة is derived from the same root.
God could of utilized any number of alternative words to articulate someone whose mind is made up like He did in 41:5, but in these two instances, He selected the word that means uncircumcised.
The significance of this to me is that this shows that the Children of Israel who are called out in these two verses, that despite them being physically circumcised as part of their covenant with God, their hearts were not fulfilling their part of the agreement and therefore it is as if they are spiritually uncircumcised when they proclaim that their minds are made up.
This expression of an “uncircumcised heart” also occurs repeatedly in the Bible in a similar context to people who are not upholding God’s covenant despite bearing the physical mark of the covenant of circumcision.
[Deuteronomy 10:16] CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEARTS, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.
[Deuteronomy 30:6] The Lord your God will CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEARTS AND THE HEARTS OF YOUR DESCENDANTS, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
[Leviticus 26:41] which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when THEIR UNCIRCUMCISED HEARTS are humbled and they pay for their sin,
[Jeremiah 4:4] Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, CIRCUMCISE YOUR HEARTS, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.
[Jeremiah 9:25 – 26] “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will punish all who are CIRCUMCISED ONLY IN THE FLESH—Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel ARE UNCIRCUMCISED IN HEART.”
Naturally when submitters are first presented with this evidence for the first time, they become defensive and attribute this to being akin to what God warns us in 3:7. Therefore, I want to explain why this is not a correct comparison.
[3:7] He sent down to you this scripture, containing straightforward verses—which constitute the essence of the scripture—as well as multiple-meaning or allegorical verses. Those who harbor doubts in their hearts will pursue the multiple-meaning verses to create confusion, and to extricate a certain meaning. None knows the true meaning thereof except GOD and those well founded in knowledge. They say, “We believe in this—all of it comes from our Lord.” Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.
The Quran itself is the best source to determine the meaning of the words. It is not a mad-lib where we can randomly apply whatever meaning from the root we want. Additionally, we are blessed with the translation from Rashad where we know the appropriate meaning to apply to each word and verse.
All words in Arabic can be considered multi-meaning, but the examples I provided are not meant to be multi-meaning. Instead, they are the Arabic definitions for the words used, therefore it doesn’t contradict Rashad’s translation. It is like using a dictionary to figure out the meaning of words rather than a thesaurus to find simply a word that is synonymous.
Here are my criteria when analyzing the meanings of words and their use in the Quran:
(1) Does the root apply to the context of what is being said
(2) Does it contradict the use of that root/word in other verses with the same context
(3) Does it contradict how Rashad translated the verse.
If these three criteria are met then I am not going to discard the understanding just because I don’t like its implications.
Let’s apply this logic to the two words and their corresponding roots: Haneef and Galafa.
(1) The context of the verses cited (2:135. 3:67, 3:95. 4:125. 6:161, 16:120, 16:123) are all in the context of the the religion of Abraham (milat-Ibraheem), or more specifically the religious practices of Abraham; as we do not follow the scripture of Abraham, but specifically his religious practices. In the verse the following word immediately after “milat-ibraheem” is “haneef” which not only means to turn away from idols (monotheism) but also the specific religious practices of Abraham which happens to also be Hajj and circumcision which are recognized practices of Abraham as defined by this root. Therefore, this meets the first criteria that the context of the verse matches its definition in Classical Arabic.
(2) The meaning of “one who is circumcised” does not contradict the use of the word in other verses because again it is consistently used in the context of the religion of Abraham (milat-Ibraheem).
(3) It doesn’t contradict Rashad’s translation as circumcision is a universally accepted rite of the religion of Abraham. Also, it is interesting that like Hajj, Salat, Zakat, and Ramadan these religious practices were all already in existence at the time of Muhammad, but unlike those Abrahamic practices, circumcision has been universally accepted and practiced by all Abrahamic religions. That is up until recently when the atheist began the campaign against the practice.
(1) The context of the verses where this root is used (2:88, 4:155) is both towards the Children of Israel and their breaking of the covenant. Also, the phrase of an “uncircumcised heart” is likewise widely used in the previous scriptures of the Children of Israel. Therefore, this meets the first criteria.
(2) It doesn’t contradict the meaning as it is only used in the verses addressing the Children of Isael and their breaking of the covenant. That while their bodies are circumcised their hearts/minds are not circumcised.
(3) It doesn’t contradict the translation of Rashad because an uncircumcised heart implies a heart that is closed and impervious to attempts to being changed (see Acts 7:51).
I think as submitters we should all be happy to embrace the truth and willing to kill our own opinions when presented with contradictory information. Coincidentally, this is the very message of these verses (2:88 and 4:155).
These Arabic words have meanings. The meanings fit the context of their use in the Quran. And the meanings do not contradict other verses or the translation by the Quran, therefore I would be cautious of just disregarding them because it contradicts our preconceived notions.
[39:28] An Arabic Quran, without any ambiguity, that they may be righteous.
[41:3] A scripture whose verses provide the complete details, in an Arabic Quran, for people who know.
The Quran addresses the Children of Israel more than any other group. So it makes sense that God uses similar language in the Quran when addressing them as was done in their scripture.
If the purpose of the Quran is to confirm and supersede what they have then it would make sense that if circumcision was a satanic practice that God would have corrected this. We are talking about a religious practice that has been around for thousands of years and universally accepted by all of the Abrahamic religions. This is not some fringe practice that people are not aware of or wishy-washy about – until recently.
“ONE OF THE MOST FLAGRANT INTERFERENCES IN THE WORD OF GOD”
Rashad Khalifa informed us that the vast majority of the Bible is divine truth. He informed us that the contradictions and unacceptable information are easily identifiable.
As an example, in the March 1985 issue of the Muslim Perspective, Rashad proved that someone altered the name of Abraham’s son in Genesis 22:2 from Ishmael to Isaac. It is interesting that in this article Rashad cites Genesis 16, 21, and 22 and even the birth of Isaac and says nothing about Genesis 17 and the circumcision covenant with Abraham let alone any of the numerous occurrences of circumcision in these verses. Yet, Rashad calls this single name change as:
“ONE OF THE MOST FLAGRANT INTERFERENCES IN THE WORD OF GOD”
March 1985 Muslim Perspective
If we are to believe that circumcision is a satanic practice that was never authorized by God, then this seems like something widely more serious than a name change. If that was the case, then certainly God would have sent a messenger to correct such a supposed fabrication. Or is it more plausible that the practice did originate form God and was a commandment to Abraham as stated in the Bible?
Universally Accepted Practice
Circumcision has been around for thousands of years since the time of Abraham (~2000BC). Since then we have had many many prophets and messengers and not a single instance that I know of a single one claiming that this was a satanic practice despite the fact that this has been universally accepted and practiced. That being said, to me it would be an innovation to abolish circumcision all of a sudden after many millennia.
This is the same argument Rashad made in regards to women leading Friday Prayer or the Salat. If something as widely accepted and practiced as this was to be changed all of a sudden by us without the guidance of a messenger then I would find that more akin to an innovation rather than a following a tradition.
There are many things that we follow that are not specifically mentioned in the Quran, but we accept them because we do not want to innovate. For instance, taking shoes off during Salat, believing that homosexuality among women is prohibited and not just among men. Believing that passing of gas breaks one abolition. Going around the Kaaba seven times counter-clockwise at the beginning and end of Hajj. The stoning of Satan in Mina during Hajj. Women leading the Salat or Friday Prayer. Just to name a few.
Historically, the only people who have been calling for the abolishment of circumcision have been from the ardent atheist community, but now we have submitters joining the bandwagon calling it a satanic practice. They are basing this new understanding on atheist propaganda. They fail to provide any proof from God’s scripture that this specific practice was never authorized by God.
Yet we do not have a single instance of any of God’s messengers ever correcting or altering this ritual in any sort. On the contrary, circumcision is discussed in the Old Testament in over 50 instances and in 12 separate books (Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Judges, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah; Joshua). The only time that it is recommended in the Bible not to circumcise is by Paul, who we know was inspired by Satan as he was the individual who elevated Jesus from a prophet to the son of God.
[10:94] If you have any doubt regarding what is revealed to you from your Lord, then ask those who read the previous scripture. Indeed, the truth has come to you from your Lord. Do not be with the doubters.
This is in contrast to the mention of Isaac instead of Ishmael and the satanic dream which occurs only ONE single time in the Bible with the exception of a passage from Paul in Hebrews who again mentioned his wrong understanding of this narrative as a comparative example for his beliefs about Jesus. Similar to circumcision.
I just wanted to share my understanding and hope that this may sway some people from calling circumcision a satanic practice.