Language enables us to know and kill one another

I this in an article about the impermissibility of killing civilians in Islamic warfare.

‘Pay heed to the words of Mawlana Rumi (may Allah sanctify his secrets!):

Go beyond names and look at the qualities,
so that they may show you the way to the essence.

The disagreement of people takes place because of names.
Peace occurs when they go to the real meaning.

Every war and every conflict between human beings
has happened because of some disagreement about names.

It’s such an unnecessary foolishness, because just beyond the arguing
there’s a long table of companionship, set and waiting for us to sit down.

Thank God, there is some sense in the world.

Did war begin when Allah swt taught Adam (peace be upon him) the names?

And He taught Adam the names of all things

Qu’ran 2.31

I have often wondered whether “names” means language itself or simply the ability to understand the world through symbols. Language enables us to interpret and learn, but it provides an outlet for miscommunication. We forget the essence of things and become focused on objects and definitions, we forget that some things cannot be defined.

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8 Responses to “Language enables us to know and kill one another”

  1. Irving Says:

    How right you are. Humans think in patterns, and hiararchal ones at that, with a natural tendency to believe one pattern is superior to another. That is the nafs looking at the names, and missing the essense of Oneness in them. Prophets are sent to remind us that we are all one family and belong to Allah.

    Ya Haqq!

  2. Suroor Says:

    Beautiful, Asiya!

  3. Saira Says:

    Wow, mashaAllah that was very thought-provoking.

    Your last paragraph touched me. It’s so true. We obsess over superficialities like names, definitions, specific and yet unnecessary details, and we don’t see that there is so much MORE depth in pure simplicity.

    And it really hits home when your brother finds any means to side-track an argument (let’s call it a discussion) by accusing you of misusing words and mistreating Language when the matter at hand is actually of people mistreating others.

    Then you throw language out the window and can say nothing more than, “ARggghHHH!”

  4. Asiya Says:

    Assalamu alaikoum and welcome,
    Abdur Rahman, yes please add me, you’re welcome to do so. Sorry I approved your comment but it dissappeared, I’ll go back and try again iA!

    Saira, mashaAllah you have a beautiful name! I know, lol, I am frequently argggghhhing!

  5. Asiya Says:

    Salamaat Irving, I like your use of the word patterns, it’s true. It fascinates me that in Islamic art, there is always a perfect balance, each component working towards creating the whole and even the most detailed complicated works point outside of themselves towards a singularity (maybe that’s a confused way of putting it!). This is what we should aim for in speech. Of course this is an ideal but I can still dream! If the patterns of our thoughts are balanced (that is, infused with an understanding of purpose and connection to Unity and we can appreciate a multiplicity of patterns, at the same time understanding that their Origin is the same. Then we would become less preoccupied with arguing over the details and whether blue is actually green!

    Thankyou lovely Suroor!

  6. Penni Says:

    I’ve read this lovely post many times now. I think it’s true, we tend to see difference and separation in language instead of connectedness. Perhaps because each word points to everything that it is not. I think the very pervasive poststructuralist idea that language is arbitrary has made people believe that things, and people, are arbitrary too. It’s made us lazy, so we don’t look beyond names, because we no longer believe that things have a true or essential nature.

    Thanks Asiya, for posting this.

  7. Asiya Says:

    yes, exactly. But even people who do believe that things have an essential nature use language as a means of fighting over defining what it is/isn’t. At the same time, language can and does bring people together but only on one level. It’s a mirage of sorts.

    I was wondering if in faith discourse it could be seen as a necessity brought about by the “Fall”, but now I’m getting into things I don’t fully understand!

  8. Abdur Rahman Says:

    Salaams Saha

    Ma sha Allah! A nice post. Thank you for posting some of Mevlana’s wisdom (may God sanctify his secret).

    Abdur Rahman

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