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Nov 22, 2022

A Multi-Miraculous Verse of the Qur’an

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Ghazi bin Muhammad

HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal is a professor of Islamic philosophy with PhDs from Al-Azhar University and the University of Cambridge.

More About this Author

A Multi-Miraculous Verse of the Qur’an

And What It Reveals about the Gospel, the Golden Rule, and the Rule of Law of Love

Khalili Collection Islamic Art Qur 1076 1B 2A

Qur’anic calligraphy and illumination by Mahmud Celâleddin Efendi, 1778

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Praise be to God.
May peace and blessings be upon our master, the Prophet Muĥammad .
There is no power nor strength save in God.

The Miracles of the Qur’anic Text

The subject of the miracles of the Qur’an is too vast to do more than touch on here. It suffices to say that God Himself issues direct challenges about it that have never been met. God affirms that no one can produce another book like it (17:88, 28:49) or even ten chapters like it (11:13–14) or ultimately even a single chapter like it (2:23–24, 10:37–38). 

There are many different kinds of miracles in the Qur’an: grammatical, rhetorical, linguistic, auditory, logical, organizational, structural, numerical, exegetical, theological, psychological, spiritual, soteriological, scientific, foreknowledge, knowledge of the past, knowledge of the unseen present, and comprehensiveness. For myself personally, however, the most powerful have always been the miracles of its philosophical content. For there is no serious topic in philosophy (such as epistemology, ontology, language, symbolism, time, consciousness, life, cosmology, hermeneutics, logic, numerology, jurisprudence, anthropology, sociology, religion, and oneirology) that I have not found covered completely and perfectly in the Qur’an. I will not attempt to prove this here, but I have done it in detail for the philosophy of love in my book Love in the Holy Qur’an (which is an English translation of my 2010 PhD thesis at the Azhar).1 Anyone who understands Arabic and really knows philosophy (and whose [spiritual] heart [qalb] is not completely clouded by his or her own appetites and passions) will not fail to be continuously amazed, enthralled, and overawed by the Qur’an. Indeed, the Prophet Muĥammad himself said:

Those who know cannot get enough of it… despite constant repetition, and its wonders never cease (Sunan al-Tirmidhī).

In another sense, however, this is not surprising since its author is of course Omniscient, and because it “has been revealed by Him who knows the secret of the heavens and the earth” (Al-Furqān, 25:6). 

The “rule of Law” and the “Rule of law”

Before turning to the miracles of Al-Mā’idah (5:48), it is worth considering what is meant by “the rule of law,” and then considering that there is a difference between the rule of Law and the Rule of law.

Nowadays people use the phrase “rule of law”—first coined in 1885 CE by the Vinerian Professor of English Law at Oxford, Albert Venn Dicey—as if it were in itself a moral imperative and synonymous with good government. The late Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Tom Bingham, writes:

What is the difference between Good and Bad Government? I would answer, no doubt predictably: the rule of law… in a world divided by differences of nationality, race, colour, religion and wealth it is one of the greatest unifying factors, perhaps the greatest, the nearest we are likely to approach to a universal secular religion. It remains an ideal, but an ideal worth striving for, in the interests of good government and peace, at home and in the world at large.2

Of course “rule of law,” as such, is the starting point of any decent and functioning society, including Islamic society. Nevertheless, since man-made laws can be unjust—even democratically made ones—“rule of law” in itself is not enough to ensure justice. That is of course precisely why Islamic laws are based in divine revelation. So for the sake of clarity, I will use the phrase “rule of Law” to indicate situations where more-or-less just laws are the underlying principles of a society. On the other hand, I will use the phrase “Rule of law” to indicate the foundational ethical principle of the jurisprudence of enacted laws. 

Now in Western law—and in canon law before it, and perhaps even in Jewish sacred law—this principle is usually conceived as justice. In Islamic shariah, it is justice only secondarily, and divine mercy and love first. For, as I argue in Love in the Holy Qur’an, God created the world and human beings out of His love and mercy and for His love and mercy. I will not restate the textual arguments here. It suffices to cite the following hadith narrated by Abū Hurayrah:

When God completed the creation, He wrote in His book with Him upon the Throne: Verily, “My mercy prevails over My wrath” (Bukhārī; Muslim).

What I will argue here is that the “Rule of law” in the Gospel is love—not divine love, as Christological redemption theology would have it, but human love. Consequently, as will be seen, human love is—or should be—the great ethical principle of Christianity. I will also argue that love bears—or should bear—on the “rule of Law” in Western and/or Christian societies as well.

Al-Mā’idah (5:48)

God says:
And We have sent down to you the Book in truth, confirming the Book that was before it and guarding (muhayminan) over it. So judge between them by what God has sent down, and do not follow their caprices (ahwā’ahum) over the truth that has come to you. For each of you We have appointed a law (shir¢atan) and a way (minhāj). Had God willed, He would have made you one community, but He would put you to the test in what He has given you. So vie with one another in good works; to God you shall all return, and He will inform you about that wherein you differed. (Al-Mā’idah, 5:48)

Now, this verse contains a number of miraculous statements. For example, the assertion that the Qur’an confirms the Book that was before it is a miracle of knowledge of the unseen past, since the Bible was not translated into Arabic until the ninth century CE (two hundred years after the revelation of the Qur’an) and the Prophet Muĥammad did not read and write, did not speak any languages other than Arabic, and did not have access to any Bibles. The disclosure that the objections of people of the book (referred to here) to the Qur’an are actually caprices (ahwā’), not inspirations or logical deductions, is a miracle of knowledge of the unseen and hidden present (and of the inner motivations of the Prophet’s interlocutors). The prediction that Muslims, Christians, and Jews will never become one community—and, indeed, they have not, in the fourteen centuries since this verse was revealed—is a miracle of the unseen and unknown future.

Yet the three miracles I wish to discuss here are not these three (for these are clear and do not need more explanation). What I wish to discuss are the assertions that (1) the Qur’an is guarding over the Bible and that (2) God appointed for Christianity (as for Judaism before it) a law (shir¢atan) and (3) a way (minhāj). 

After all, does not Islam aim to supersede Christianity and Judaism? Surely there is precisely no sacred law in Christianity, but rather only common law? And how can there be a (spiritual) way appointed by God (directly) in Christianity when the existing Bible we have does not describe the details of one, and anyway did not take its final form until the third century CE (not to mention that each Christian denomination has a different canon of what books belong in the Bible, or that anyway no translations of the Bible are ever the same, or finally that we do not have the original Aramaic of Jesus Christ’s words)? To answer these questions, we must look at the Gospel itself, as we have it, in particular the two great commandments of the Gospel and the Golden Rule. 

1. The Two Great Commandments

Jesus Christ, upon him peace, describes the two great (spiritual) commandments as follows in the Gospel of Matthew:

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34–40)3

And in the Gospel of Mark, as follows:

Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28–31)

Both of the two great commandments have their origin in the Torah and recur separately throughout the Bible. Indeed, the first great commandment appears as the Shema of the Book of Deuteronomy, a centerpiece of the Old Testament and of Jewish liturgy:

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!  You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4–5)

This first great commandment to love God is also to be found in a number of other places throughout the Bible, including Deuteronomy 4:29, 10:12, 11:13 (also part of the Shema), 13:3, 26:16, 30:2, 30:6, 30:10; Joshua 22:5; Mark 12:32–33; and Luke 10:27–28. 

Similarly, the second great commandment appears in the Torah as follows:

“You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)  

And slightly further on:

“The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shalt love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:34) 

The second great commandment is also to be found elsewhere in the Bible, including Matthew 19:19; Luke 6:27; John 15:12–13; Romans 13:9; I Corinthians 13:1–8; Galatians 5:4; James 2:8; and I John 3:18, 4:7–8, 4:11, 4:20–21.

The Way of Christianity

Now, clearly this is the way—the minhāj—that Jesus, upon him peace, taught. Certainly that is what Saint Paul took them to be (if we understand the first great commandment as the implied root and origin of the second):

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8–10)
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Galatians 5:14)

So the Gospel does have a way—the way of love—described in essence, if not detail (as in the sunnah of the Prophet Muĥammad ). This way is also the Rule of law, as the words “There is no other commandment greater than these” indicate. Al-Mā’idah (5:48) is of course entirely correct, and that is another miracle of the verse.

2. The Golden Rule

The Gospel does not, however, only contain the two great commandments as Jesus’s reading of the law. It contains a simple Golden Rule, which is the “Law and the Prophets”:

Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12)
And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. (Luke 6:31)

The Law of Christianity

Being the Law and the Prophets, the Golden Rule is thus precisely the shir¢ah of Christianity, as mentioned in Al-Mā’idah. Here too, then, Al-Mā’idah (5:48) is entirely correct, and that is yet another miracle of the verse. It is worth noting that a shir¢ah, although it is translated here as a “law,” is not exactly the same as a sharī¢ah. The great Qur’anic lexicographer Rāghib al-Iśfahānī (d. 505 AH / 1108 CE), in his Mufradāt alfāz al-Qur’ān, suggests that shir¢ah is the fundamental principle of divine law that all religions have (rather than the particular laws of Islam [sharī¢ah]). In other words, we can call the Golden Rule “a rule of Law.”

The Application of the Golden Rule

Unlike the two great commandments, which are spiritual injunctions and concern a person’s own soul (primarily at least), this Golden Rule is a practical instruction (and hence a “rule” precisely) and concerns concrete actions toward others. But how should it be applied? For as simple and perfect (and arguably universal, in the world’s religions) as the Golden Rule is, it presents some obvious difficulties in its application, simply because people are different. To take a trivial example, let us suppose that someone likes tea, and indeed drinks nothing but tea and water. Then let us suppose that person gets married: Should he (or she) then get tea for their spouse to drink when their spouse likes coffee and hates tea, or even is allergic to it? Surely not. 

Surely we must suppose that what is meant in the Golden Rule, practically speaking, is to give to others what they love or need, just as we would like to have what we love or need. But let us suppose then that the spouse is an atheist and the person is a believer. And let us suppose that the spouse thinks that their children should be taught at a young age that science is truth and religion is all nonsense and fairy tales: How then to educate the children? As the believer loves or as the atheist loves? And what are the rights of the children? Who decides? On what basis? And how do we know what other people love or need?

And let us suppose that I love things such as drugs or brawling: Do I randomly start imposing these on others? Conversely, do I allow others to take drugs, even when they are not harming me? Moreover, does our love or their love supersede God’s love and love of God? One could go on with these examples and questions—and, indeed, countless people have no doubt considered them—but it is sufficient to say that these questions are the ongoing basis and impetus not only of ethics but also arguably of law, politics, government, and religious and social actions and interactions.

The Relationship between the Two Great Commandments and the Golden Rule

There is, nevertheless, a potential solution to—or at least an integral philosophical and spiritual paradigm to help with—these questions. It lies in the relationship between the two great commandments and the Golden Rule. In fact, I find it rather surprising that the relationship is not examined and explained more often by Christians. What in fact is the relationship between the two great commandments and the Golden Rule? 

The text of St. Matthew’s Gospel itself gives the answer, and it is particularly apt to find it there because it relates both the two great commandments and the Golden Rule. It is also the only Gospel that mentions “the Law and the Prophets” in connection with both: 

On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (22:40)
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (7:12)

Thus, the Golden Rule is the Law and the Prophets, whereas the two great commandments are what all the Law and the Prophets hang on. 

What exactly is the difference between the two? 

Every action or act that a person deliberately and consciously performs has its roots in that person’s soul. Indeed, Jesus himself, upon him peace, teaches that people’s acts reveal their souls:

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:16–17)

More specifically, individual acts have their roots in the intentions behind them (even if these be at times mixed), and it is thus in intentions that actions become either laudable or blameworthy. We know this precisely as Muslims from the very first hadith of Śaĥīĥ al-Bukhārī (“Acts are [judged] according to their intentions”), but the Book of Proverbs also says:

A good man obtains favor from the LORD,
But a man of wicked intentions He will condemn. (12:2)
A quick-tempered man acts foolishly,
And a man of wicked intentions is hated. (14:17)

In other words, actions hang on the intentions behind them. This means that actions performed because of the Golden Rule hang on the two great commandments, which are, after all, injunctions to intend, and have, love for God and for the neighbor. Thus, doing things for others that we would like them to do for us is not merely a self-interested grand principle of social reciprocity but rather the enactment of love for God first, and for the neighbor second. It is thus not only a code of social behavior but an enactment and a fulfillment of the great spiritual categorical imperative of love.  

Moreover, if we juxtapose the texts of the two great commandments and the Golden Rule and apply simple logical deductive reasoning to them, we arrive at the following argument:

    1. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:40)
    2. Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12). In other words, the Golden Rule is the Law and the Prophets.
    3. On the two great commandments hangs the Golden Rule. Or, to rephrase: the Golden Rule hangs on the two great commandments.

Thus, Jesus’s own words show ineluctably that the two great commandments are the valid intentions for the Golden Rule: this is the relationship between them. 

The Shir‘ah and Minhāj of Christianity

The Golden Rule—in combination with the two great commandments—can thus be said to constitute the shir¢ah and minhāj of Christianity mentioned in the Qur’an. The Golden Rule and the two great commandments are operationally inseparable—as we have just seen—and that is perhaps why they are mentioned in the Qur’an together. The mere fact that they turn out to be, in practical terms, inseparable—and that they are paired together in the Qur’an—is arguably itself a further miracle of Al-Mā’idah (5:48).

3. Guarding Over the Bible

Now we can ask, how does the Qur’an “guard over” the Bible? Evidently, it guards over it by decrying (as it does elsewhere; see 2:75, 2:79, 2:85, 3:78) alterations to it. However, in verse 5:48, it also guards over it specifically by affirming what we have just mentioned—namely, that it contains a way and a law. This affirmation in fact contains the key to resolving many of the (a) exegetical, (b) social and ethical, and (c) jurisprudential problems that have dogged Christianity for two thousand years. For some reason, however, Christians themselves have in general blithely ignored the idea of a single inherent Christian way and law. So let us look more closely at the two great commandments and the Golden Rule together.

The Rule of Law of Love

The two great commandments and the Golden Rule when combined together show not only what one should do but why. That is, they give not only a yardstick for practical action based on love but also an overarching principle for jurisprudence. As they constitute both a “Rule of law” and a “rule of Law,” together they can be said to make up a “Rule of Law,” as it were. And as they are both based on love, we can call them together a “Rule of Law of Love.” In what follows, I will try to illustrate what I mean and why I think it is so important.

The Uses of the Rule of Law of Love

It seems to me that understanding the relationship between the two great commandments and the Golden Rule—understanding the Rule of Law of Love—can be of use in resolving many problems in at least three areas: (a) in interpreting and understanding the Christian scripture, (b) in social interactions, and (c) in legal matters (or at least, in legal philosophy). 

3(a). The Rule of Law of Love in Scriptural Exegesis

St. Augustine (of Hippo) already suggests in his work On Christian Doctrine, in Four Books that the whole Bible needs to be read, interpreted, and understood only in the light of the two great commandments (in addition to seven other rules for interpreting the scripture, which he adapts from Tichonius the Donatist):

But hasty and careless readers are led astray by many and manifold obscurities and ambiguities, substituting one meaning for another; and in some places they cannot hit upon even a fair interpretation. Some of the expressions are so obscure as to shroud the meaning in the thickest darkness. And I do not doubt that all this was divinely arranged for the purpose of subduing pride by toil, and of preventing a feeling of satiety in the intellect, which generally holds in small esteem what is discovered without difficulty.…  I recognize them under… the twin commandments of love, and none among them barren in that holy fruit.4
After these two steps of fear and piety, we come to the third step, knowledge, of which I have now undertaken to treat. For in this every earnest student of the Holy Scriptures exercises himself, to find nothing else in them but that God is to be loved for His own sake, and our neighbour for God’s sake; and that God is to be loved with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the mind, and one’s neighbour as one’s self—that is, in such a way that all our love for our neighbour, like all our love for ourselves, should have reference to God. And on these two commandments I touched in the previous book when I was treating about things. It is necessary, then, that each man should first of all find in the Scriptures that he, through being entangled in the love of this world—i.e., of temporal things—has been drawn far away from such a love for God and such a love for his neighbour as Scripture enjoins.5

If the two great commandments are of use in interpreting and understanding the scripture’s obscurities and ambiguities (and vice versa), then the Rule of Law of Love may be of use not only in understanding the scripture but also in understanding the motives of acts or actions described in it, and thus in fathoming the scripture’s practical import. Let us take the example of the following passage, again from Matthew’s Gospel: 

Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour. (15:21–28; see also Mark 7:24–30)

At first glance, it would seem rather surprising (to say the least) that Jesus, upon him peace, should call (albeit indirectly) a woman asking for help a “little dog” merely because she is of a different race or tribe from him (especially given the parable of the Good Samaritan’s conception of who is the neighbor, as previously discussed). Certainly, it would seem contrary to the Golden Rule he himself taught slightly earlier in the same Gospel or to the two great commandments that he taught not long afterward. Christian apologists will no doubt say that Jesus’s words are a “test” or a “challenge,” but the lens of the Rule of Law of Love would suggest something more loving. Dogs have a double symbolism—and are thought of in two opposite ways—even in the Bible. The first is negative, as the personification of viciousness, irascibility, and filth (as throughout the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament [see, e.g., 2 Kings 13 and Proverbs 26:11]), and the second is as man’s faithful companion or “man’s best friend” (see, e.g., Luke 16:21, where Lazarus’s wounds are licked by dogs [“licked,” meaning precisely that he was not bitten, nor did they try to eat him, even though he was incapacitated]). Similarly, the word little can be either dismissive or affectionate. Thus little dogs can be either completely scornful or affectionate (if pitying). At any rate, the woman of Canaan understands the words in the latter sense—that is, exactly according to the Rule of Law of Love, as we have defined it—as she proves with her words: “even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table,” as if to say that she has understood Jesus’s words as being loving nevertheless, and loves him back with humility and submission. 

Here, then, we see how interpreting Jesus’s words with and through love increases faith and even miraculously heals the interpreter (or rather, her daughter): Jesus, upon him peace, says as much in Mark 7:28–29:

And she answered and said to Him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs under the table eat from the children’s crumbs.” Then He said to her, “For this saying go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter.”

This is thus an example from the Gospel itself of applying the Rule of Law of Love to interpreting scripture, and it shows how doing so leads not only to a correct understanding of the scripture but also to stronger faith, and even to healing.

I will not attempt here to systematically go through and reinterpret (using the Rule of Law of Love) all the passages in the Bible—or even those few passages in the Gospel (such as the Cleansing of the Temple in Mark 11:15–19; Matthew 21:12–17; Luke 19:45–48; and John 2:13–16)—that seem to endorse hatred or violence, because it is obvious that love for something necessarily implies, if not hatred, certainly dislike of its opposite, and consequently that dislike of something must involve rupture with it, whether this be violent (as a last resort) or not. This is true of all of love, even love of God and love of the neighbor, which ipso facto must lead to rupture with hatred or indifference toward God, and hatred or indifference to the neighbor, as primarily represented by Satan and by the ego. Nevertheless, I do suggest that if the litmus test of the Rule of Law of Love were applied to the biblical passages (certainly to all those in the Gospel, at any rate) that seem to manifest or endorse hatred or violence, they would always yield love, and not hatred, as the true intention, and violence only strictly in legitimate self-defense, if ever. This would resolve many of the problems caused by seemingly violent or hateful passages in the Bible. As mentioned earlier, St. Augustine himself seems to be suggesting this, even if no one has brought it to fruition to this very day.

3(b). The Rule of Law of Love in Ethical and Social Interaction

Earlier, I posed a number of hypothetical questions about the practical application of the Golden Rule:

    1. Let us suppose then that one person is a believer and the spouse is an atheist. And let us suppose that the spouse thinks that their children should be taught at a young age that science is truth and religion is all nonsense and fairy tales: How then to educate the children? As the believer loves or as the atheist loves?
    2. And what are the rights of the children? Who decides? On what basis? And how do we know what other people love or need?
    3. And let us suppose that I love things such as drugs or brawling: Do I randomly start imposing these on others?
    4. Conversely, do I allow others to take drugs, even when they are not harming me?

Using the Rule of Law of Love—that is, using the two great commandments as the intention for the Golden Rule—I suggest, clears up all these questions quite easily, and gives us definitive answers to these and potentially most (if not all) ethical questions:

    1. Answer: Children should be educated as God loves them to be educated, insofar as we are able to do so, and insofar as we understand God’s love; certainly the commandment of love of God dictates that we should not bring up our children to deny Him (insofar as we are able).
    2. Answer: Children have the right to be loved (with all that this implies) and to be taught love (with all that this implies). They need love, to be loved, and to love, and all that this implies. Legal rights follow from this moral principle.
    3. Answer: Love the neighbor as yourself: both are loved; one love cannot impose itself on the other, but love of God has priority (over either or both).
    4. Answer: Love of God precludes love of harming God’s creatures (including oneself), and love of self precludes drugs and self-harm.

Thus the Rule of Law of Love contains a comprehensive and applicable social ethic that has the potential to resolve many of the questions that have bedeviled people and thinkers in the West and in Christianity throughout history to this day.

3(c). The Rule of Law of Love in Legal Matters

Although I am in no way a legal expert, it is obvious even to the layman that the principle of the Rule of Law of Love, being the Law and the Prophets (and that on which they hang), must have certain implications for legal philosophy and possibly for common law, statutes, rights, constitutions, and even legal hermeneutics. Much of Western common law has its roots in Judeo-Christian thought and biblical law, and much of statutory marital and family law is connected to the concept of love. Moreover, the reciprocity between the Golden Rule and the love of the neighbor is connected to the very concepts of the “individual good” and “general good,” and through these to the essence of legal philosophy and consequently to the entire strata of the law, including preeminently rights. Finally, the Rule of Law of Love can even bear on legal hermeneutics, both because it is itself a cogent hermeneutic method for deciphering morals and intentions and because in most countries (if not all) legal hermeneutics precisely lack a grand coherent philosophical or even linguistic method. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, the most textualist of US Supreme Court justices (whom I had the honor of hosting at home once and, I can attest, was a man of profound faith), himself admits:

The state of the science of statutory interpretation in American law is accurately described by a prominent treatise on the legal process as follows:
Do not expect anybody’s theory of statutory interpretation, whether it is your own or somebody else’s, to be an accurate statement of what courts actually do with statutes. The hard truth of the matter is that American courts have no intelligible, generally accepted, and consistently applied theory of statutory interpretation. [Henry M. Hart, Jr. & Albert M. Sacks, The Legal Process 1169 (William N. Eskridge, Jr. & Philip P. Frickey eds., 1994).]
Surely this is a sad commentary: We American judges have no intelligible theory of what we do most. Even sadder, however, is the fact that the American bar and American legal education, by and large, are unconcerned with the fact that we have no intelligible theory.6

That is to say that even US law lacks a consistent philosophical method for determining the meaning of ambiguities in the law. What I am suggesting, then, is that in ambiguous common-law (and perhaps other) legal questions that refer to or depend on the principle of love, or even the principle of “the individual good,” the two great commandments should be taken as the proper intention behind the principle of the Golden Rule of “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.” This might resolve any number of important legal and jurisprudential dilemmas.

A Compound Miracle

It should be evident now that the assertion in the Qur’an that it “guards over” the Bible is miraculous not simply because it is true in a totally unexpected way but because its philosophical content is mind-boggling in many different ways. How can one discrete word in a single verse contain the answer to many of the most difficult philosophical questions over the course of an entire civilization’s history? The only possible explanation is because it is from God. Indeed, I have curtailed—for the sake of fitting into the word limit for this essay—many other things I could have said about this truly stunning intellectual miracle, but I invite the reader to contemplate the point for himself or herself. God says:

Do they not ponder the Qur’an? Had it been from other than God, they would have found much incongruity therein. (Al-Nisā’, 4:82)


In summary, then, verse 48 of Sura Al-Mā’idah contains multiple different miracles, one of which alone suffices to rectify many of the different exegetical, social, ethical, and legal problems of Christianity throughout its history and to this day, by confirming its Rule of Law of Love. 

And God knows best.


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