Our reading has been an eye-opener, showing us where WE were going wrong. Perhaps we now understand better why so many Qur’anic verses discuss Bani Isra’eel. It wasn’t solely for the benefit of early listeners that these verses were revealed. Listeners of later times have derived great benefit from knowing the symptoms of spiritual ailments, making correct diagnoses, and finding treatment in the Qur’an. But through all the verses that discuss human failings, one flaw stands out above all others: Arrogance.
Arrogance was behind the first disobedience ever committed; remember verse 2:34- when Satan refused to show respect to someone he perceived as ‘lesser’ than himself? That was the first time arrogance (kibr) was mentioned in the Qur’an. The second time it was mentioned was in yesterday’s reading, Verse 87.
Arrogance is a FATAL FLAW that, besides despising other people and belittling their efforts, causes a person to ignore guidance. Such shall 'enter the gates of hell' in an evil state indeed (16:29; 39:72; 40:76).
1. A challenge is presented in verses 94, 95, 96, with regard to people who say that the Hereafter is theirs alone. Asad writes in footnote 79 that this alludes to the Jewish belief that paradise is reserved for the children of Israel alone. We can name many other groups even today who say the same thing: “Paradise is ours alone!” Perhaps a symptom of arrogance?
2. And then the portrayal of those who commit sins and actually send them ‘ahead of’ themselves. Beautifully explained by both M. Asad and Y. Ali, this concept shows that we are in this life temporarily, and that our deeds precede us to the Hereafter, waiting for us when we get there. What a thought!
3. In Verse 97 we find mention of the word ‘Qalb’ which is usually translated as heart according to common usage, but is in reality much more than that. ‘Qalb’ in the earliest usage of the Arabic word is ‘the purest and most esteemed part of a human,’ (see footnote) which could only be the faculty of reasoning and understanding as shown in the following verses: 22:46; 7:179; 47:24.
4. The Qur’an absolves previous Prophets of the many vices reported against them in the Old Testament. In today’s reading, Prophet Solomon is absolved of sorcery. It is important to read Asad’s footnotes 82, 83, 84, especially where he say that activities of an occult nature cause ‘serious damage to the author’s spiritual status’- ie, 'author' meaning the perpetrator of magic.
‘Magic’ is called ‘sihr’ in the Qur’an, and the verses which do mention magic, also state that it is a deception to one’s perception: It’s a combination of ‘Rahba’ to shock or terrify, and ‘sihr’ to deceive (see footnote). You could also read verse 7:116, but note that Yusuf Ali’s translation is clearer than Muhammad Asad’s.
5. In today’s reading, Verse 104, we hear the Qur’an calling us for the first time, “O you who have attained to Faith!” According to narrated tradition, Ibn Mas’ood (a companion of the Prophet peace upon him) said that when we hear this call we should listen carefully; it is either virtue we are commanded to, or vice we are forbidden from.
Of the 89 such calls in the Qur’an, 11 are in this chapter (The Heifer). We shall listen carefully. The final call is in 66:8, and is absolutely beautiful!
Tomorrow we shall have ONE DAY to rest -or to catch up.
Our reading for the day-after-tomorrow is from verse 106-119.
Our working friends said they needed one day every weekend, and this author happily agrees.
If we took 52 days off this year, we can still finish 12 pages every week and complete our mission before the end of the year, with God’s help!
Peace unto all!
*من معجم المقاييس في اللغة لابن فارس المتوفى 395 للهجرة:
قلب: يدلّ على خالِص شَيءٍ وشَريفِه، قلب الإنسان وغيره، سمِّي لأنَّه أخْلصُ شيء فيه وأرفَعُه.
سحر: خَدْعٌ وشِبههُ، قال قوم: هو إخراج الباطل في صورة الحقِّ، ويقال هو الخديعة. واحتجُّوا بقول القائل:
فإِنْ تسألِينا فيمَ نحنُ فإننا *** عصافيرُ من هذا الأنام المسحَّرِ-كأنَّه أراد المخدوع، الذي خدعَتْه الدُّنيا وغرَّتْه.