Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
With our next reading we begin Section 3 of the Qur’an, which is divided into 30 sections.
We are progressing slowly and surely, with God’s grace.
1. Verse 238 begins with a call to the Faithful to uphold and maintain prayers/relationships in general, then specifies that they should uphold and maintain the prayer/relationship which is Central amongst all others: Standing steadfast before God in sincere devotion. These regular prayers (which the Faithful perform daily) are the physical and mental ‘time-out’ we take from worldly matters to enter a state where we become conscious of our Creator alone and of our relationship with Him. Ideally, these acts of worship build our self-confidence and will-power, enhance our spirituality, strengthen family and community ties, and enable us to be more generous towards others.
This verse has been explained in several ways, see Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad.
2. Prayer, or ‘standing steadfast before God,’ is so important that the Faithful can pray in any manner suited to their physical ability, for the body succumbs as the soul rises to seek its Creator during prayer. That is why we often observe elderly people praying while seated, and invalids, while lying in bed. There also is a version suited to times of battle. When surrounded by danger, the Faithful can perform a condensed form of prayer, where they take turns prostrating, called ‘Salatul Khawf,’ (Prayer in times of Fear: HQ4:101-102). There actually are many other prayers, whether it be to offer gratitude or penance, during Ramadan or Eid, to seek guidance for oneself or blessings upon a departed soul.
3. Verses 240-243 are about maintenance given to the widow and the divorcee. An interesting concept touched upon here is the concept of ‘ma’roof’ and ‘munkar’ (المعروف و المنكر). Yusuf Ali translates the word ‘ma’roof’ as ‘reasonable’ in both verses, while Asad translates it first as ‘lawful manner’ (240), and in the next verse as ‘goodly manner’ (241).
‘Ma’roof’ from the verb ‘arafa*’ literally means to feel reassured by something; the opposite of which is ‘Munkar,*’ or intimidating. Depending on usage, I think we might safely translate this concept as the ‘Acceptable and Unacceptable/objectionable. This concept is just as important as it is broad, but has nevertheless set a guideline for the community, whose duty it is to ‘enjoin the ‘Ma’roof’ and to forbid the ‘Munkar.’ These two words are mentioned together معروف منكر no less than 9 times in the Qur’an.
4. An important question comes to mind: What does it mean when God says that a widow might eventually do with herself what she wills in an ‘acceptable’ manner, or that a divorcee should be given maintenance according to what is ‘acceptable’ at any given time? It means that Society as understood here, is a VIBRANT one, constistently improving its standards to serve the needs of all its citizens so as to be indeed 'accepted' by them. With Consultation or ‘Shura’ شورى’ (HQ 42:38), they lay out these standards according to civic requirements. Nevertheless, ‘Ma’roof,’ is a Right, and the onus for fulfilling it... lies upon the shoulders of the Aware "حقاً على المتقين" amongst its members. This is not a 'religious edict,' but rather one of natural human development in any society. People instinctively seek change for the better from their own Aware members!
5. Verse 242, immediately after that, speaks of God making clear His Signs ‘so that you might secure knowledge لعلكم تعقلون.’
6. Verses 243-248 give us historical narratives by which we can learn lessons. Well-explained by Muhammad Asad.
7. RESEARCH EXERCISE: try this: Click topmost image which opens the Tanzil page; copy & paste these words معروف منكر where it says Qur’an Search on right, and click GO. See what you get! Next, click on any verse you wish, and it opens a full Arabic page. Click top tab which says ‘Translation’ and read it in English (but specify which translation you need when the Tanzil page first opens). To Friends who asked for a Tagalog translation... I'll see what I can find.
Our next reading is from verse 249-256.
Have a great weekend and keep up the good work!
(عرف) السكون والطُّمَأنينة.
المعَرِفة والعِرفان. تقول: عَرَف فلانٌ فلاناً عِرفاناً ومَعرِفة. وهذا أمر معروف. وهذا يدلُّ على ما قلناه من سُكونه إليه، لأنَّ مَن أنكر شيئاً توحَّشَ منه ونَبَا عنْه.
والعُرْف: المعروف، وسمِّي بذلك لأنَّ النفوس تسكُن إليه.
(نكر) خلاف المعرفة التي يَسكُن إليها القَلب. ونَكِرَ الشَّيءَ وأنكَره: لم يَقْبَلْه قلبُه ولم يعترِفْ به لسانُه.
والنَّكْراء: الأمر الصعب الشَّديد. ونَكُرَ الأمرُ نَكَارةً. والإنكار: خِلاف الاعتراف. والتنكُّر: التَّنقُّل من حالٍ تَسُرُّ إلى أخرى تُكْرَه.