Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yesterday’s Reading was highly detailed, but it is a CRUCIAL topic to some readers, and I know many who were asking for clarification of the ‘Messenger versus Prophet’ issue. I hope that yesterday’s discussion helped.
Our Reading was also supposed to cover Verse 100, but we missed that due to ‘overload.’
We will include it in today’s discussion- where it fits even better into the topic.
1. We begin today’s Reading with Verse 100, a warning to The Faithful who were already told in HQ3:32 (to obey) to follow the guidance of God and His Messenger, that if they (obeyed) followed the guidance of a certain faction of the People of (previous) Compilation, they would render them, after their faith, into Deniers/Apostates.
Yusuf Ali’s explanation of (يطيعوا) seems more accurate here, because ‘paying heed’ (Asad’s rendering) is a weaker word.
‘Obey,’ does mean ‘to comply with, to follow the commands and guidance of,’ but M. Asad probably steers clear of that word because of the negative connotations of ‘obedience’ being blind.
Anyway, in comparing what the Arabic Lexicon says about ( طوع) with the original meanings of the English* -I find them quite similar, so ‘to obey’ is correct, but one should not take it to mean ‘blind obedience,’ but rather a willing compliance based on one’s enlightened judgment of what is best.
2. The responsibility borne by the Companions of Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, was great (Verse 101). How could they Deny (Faith/Truth) even as the Signs of God are being conveyed to them, and among them, indeed in their very midst, is His Messenger?!
Verse 102 is better explained by Muhammad Asad, since the explanation for ‘Taqwa’ is Awareness, not ‘fear,’ so Ali’s ‘fear God’ (اتقوا الله) is definitely inaccurate. A rendering more accurate would be:
“O you who have attained to Faith, be aware of God, as is indeed His due of (your) Awareness (towards Him), and do not die except while being Purely Reverent to Him.” (2:132)
As we read this verse, we remember our past reading (Jan. 11th) and both Abraham and Jacob’s dying legacy to their children (HQ2:132):
“And this did Abraham entrust unto his children, as well as Jacob: "O my children! God has chosen for you the Standard of Accountability, therefore do not die except while being Purely Reverent to Him.” (2:132)
If we believe in God, we’d make sure this is what we entrust our children with; whether we live it, say it, write it… we have to relay this to them in any way we can. If it had not been crucial we would not have found this as the final act of previous Messengers of God, and now in a direct command from God Himself to all who are Faithful!
3. Verses 103-104 continue to address those who have attained Faith, beginning by telling them to secure themselves (اعتصموا) onto what God has extended for them*(بحبل الله) , collectively, and not to drift apart. Then they are reminded of how God brought their minds/hearts together and they became brethren by His Grace, after being enemies. And that there should grow out of them a community which invites unto Goodness, enjoins (upon its citizens) that which is mutually acceptable, and forbids that which is mutually objectionable (see Posting Jan. 22nd. for the characteristics of this vibrant community)… and the verses conclude with an important statement: And such indeed are the Successful!
‘Falaha’ (فلح) literally means to prevail, AND win or succeed- see below*. (Yusuf Ali’s ‘felicity’ and M. Asad’s ‘happy state’ are both incorrect explanations, although Ali adds ‘success’ in his note 431, and says that it is also pertains to life).
And perhaps we should also remember that in our Call to Prayer (athaan) right after the Muezzin calls everyone to ‘Salaah,’ he also calls them to ‘Falaah,’ to success. So success is indeed ingrained into our daily lives as a CONSTANT goal, sought after as often as we seek the direction of Mecca. So let us bring back that most important goal: Success.
We should be aware of this: In the above verse Qur’an is talking here about SUCCESS which is primarily realized in Life. Succeeding in Life and in the Afterlife. Succeeding as a community and as individuals. This cannot be attained without Security in holding onto the means and tools God has extended for us (whilst knowing that He will help us achieve our noble goals when we work well for them), and Togetherness (each one of us supporting and filling in for the other when required). If we understood these verses we would refrain from putting one another down; it is OUR OWN security which is endangered when we hit at one another. The Aware are the guardians of their communities, and of Humanity at large.
Verses 105-106 are well-explained by both Y.Ali and M. Asad.
4. Verse 107-109 is better explained by Muhammad Asad. I prefer his rendering of the words ‘aswad’ and ‘abyad.’ In the Arabic lexicon, these are not always related to color, but also denote the commonness of one thing and the rarity of the other. Two OPPOSITE States of Being.
5. The first half of Verse 110 is commonly quoted, and considered a description of the ideal Muslim Community. Although it is directed to the First Community of Believers and says: ‘You were..’ in the past tense, many continue to explain or translate the first words as: ‘You are..’ (including both Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad).
They were the best community ‘ever evolved/brought forth’ for mankind (Y. Ali/M. Asad), a beautiful verse explained by both. Please read both their notes: Y. Ali’s note 434 about “a non-sectarian, non-racial, non-doctrinal, universal religion which Islam claims to be.” And M. Asad’s note 82 in which he says that “this promise to the followers of the Qur’an is conditional” and ends by saying: “this promise is bound to lapse whenever the Muslims fail to live up to their faith.”
6. Verses 111-112 describe one group among the People of earlier Compilation, those who have been degraded in life by their own deeds. M. Asad explains in note 83 that, in considering themselves ‘God’s chosen people,’ they have in fact created a barrier between them and all other believers in One God.
This should be a lesson for us, since many of us tend to put ourselves in our own, self-made, holier-than-thou, halos.
7. After the unpleasant description above of the negative-minded community, Verses 113-115 are absolutely beautiful in their description of those who are their exact opposites. Both are People of the (earlier) Compilation, but what a difference Faith makes! This community is upright, and observes its bonds with God and with mankind (see Asad’s note 85), recites God’s messages throughout the night…
“They believe in God and the Last Day, and enjoin what is mutually acceptable and forbid what is mutually unacceptable and they advance* in all that is Good: and these are among the righteous (114) And whatever good they do, they shall never be denied it, for God has full knowledge of the Aware” (115)
Have a Blessed Weekend, and catch up with us!
Our next Reading is from HQ 3:116-132.
*طوع: الإصحابِ والانقيادِ. يقال طاعَه يَطُوعه، إذا انقاد معه ومضى لأمره. وأطاعه بمعنى طاعَ له. ويقال لمن وافَقَ غيرَه: قد طاوعه. والاستطاعة مشتّقةٌ من الطَّوع... والعرب تقول: تطاوَعْ لهذا الأمر حتى تستطيعَه. ثم يقولون: تطوَّعَ، أي تكلَّف استطاعتَه، وأمَّا قولهم في التبرُّع بالشيء: قد تطوَّعَ بهِ، فهو من الباب لكنَّه لم يلزمه، لكنَّه انقاد مع خيرٍ أحبَّ أن يفعله. ولا يقال هذا إلاَّ في باب الخير والبِرّ.
1 : to follow the commands or guidance of..
2 : to conform to or comply with..
2 : to conform to or comply with..
*(حبل) يدلُّ على امتداد الشيء. ثمّ يحمل عليه، ومَرْجِع الفروع مرجعٌ واحد.
ومن الباب الحَبَل، وهو الحَمْل، وذلك أن الأيّام تَمْتَدُّ به.
*(عصم) يدلُّ على إمساكٍ ومنْع وملازمة. والمعنى في ذلك كلِّه معنىً واحد. من ذلك العِصْمة: أن يعصم اللهُ تعالى عَبْدَه من سوءٍ يقع فيه. واعتصم العبدُ بالله تعالى، إذا امتنع. واستَعْصَم: التجأ. وتقول العربُ: أعْصَمتُ فلاناً، أي هيّأتُ له شيئاً يعتصم بما نالته يدُه أي يلتجئ ويتمسَّك به.
ومن الباب مِعْصم المَرْأة، وهو موضعُ السِّوارَين مِن ساعدَيها. وإنما سمِّي مِعْصماً لإمساكه السِّوار، ثم يكون معصماً ولا سِوار. وعِصامٌ: رجل والعرب تقول عند الاستخبار: "ما وراءَكَ يا عصام؟"، ويقولون للسَّائِدِ بنفسه لا بآبائه: نفسُ عِصامٍ سوَّدَتْ عِصَاما.
*(فلح) يدلُّ على شَقٍّ، أوعلى فَوْزٍ وبَقاء.
فالأوَّل: فَلَحتُ الأرضَ: شَقَقتُها.
والفَلاَح: البقاء والفَوْز.
From the Thesaurus (http://thesaurus.reference.com/browse/advance*
advance means 'steady progress' and stresses effective assisting in hastening a process or bringing about a desired end, while advancement suggests progression that is bigger, more, or beyond normal
For ‘Ma’ruf’ & ‘Munkar’ Muhammad Asad says
(“…enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong…”)