Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
In our last reading we were introduced to the contrast of ‘amn’ - أمنversus ‘khawf’ خوف – the concepts of ‘security, or feeling of safety’ versus ‘fear, or sense of alarm.’ Knowing that these two are ‘opposing concepts’ will help us better understand today’s verses.
Let us keep in mind that our topic continues with Hypocrites attempting to play both sides!
1. Verses 91-94 should be read together, with special attention to the root verb ‘amana’ – أَمَنَ-* because we have unfortunately narrowed down the connotation of this word in our minds, to the result that, in Muslim understanding, the verb applies to belief only.
Verse 91 mentions the word “ya’man” يأمن and talks of those who wish to keep themselves ‘safe’ from the Believers as well as from those who fight them.
Verses 92-93 discuss the issue of mistakenly causing the death of a “mu’min” (same root verb) and the result of such an act if it is done deliberately.
Verse 94 tells the Believers not to answer a greeting of Peace by accusing that person of not being a ‘Mu’min.
In verses that forbid us from harming a “Mu’min,” most of us tend to understand this word to mean ‘a Muslim,’ a ‘Believer’ who is of ‘our’ faith. But is the Qur’anic intent limited to that narrow meaning? (This, despite our knowledge that every life is sacred, and that someone who believes in God would not harm any of His creatures, and would resort to the legal system for retribution, and when fighting would abide by the rules of a just warfare).
This issue should be a HIGH PRIORITY in Muslim Dialogue today, and the resulting research would form a powerful deterrent to all indiscriminate acts that take place ‘in the name of God,’ especially among civilian populations.
We do know, generally speaking, that a Mu’min translates to a ‘Believer,’ but in verses such as these, what exactly does a “Mu’min” translate to?
Linguistic research and Qur’anic (context) show us that a “mu’min” could also be a person who trusts us, feels no fear of us, believes in our sincerity. This is clear in the following verse which uses the term “mu’min lana” (مؤمن لنا):
“And at nightfall they came to their father, weeping, (16) [and] said: "O our father! Behold, we went off racing with one another, and left Joseph behind with our things; and thereupon the wolf devoured him! But [we know that] you would not trust us even though we speak the truth" - (12:17) وَمَا أَنتَ بِمُؤْمِنٍ لَّنَا وَلَوْ كُنَّا صَادِقِينَ
Before that, in HQ12:11 the brothers had asked their father to trust them(...ما لك لا تأمننا على يوسف...):
"O our father! Wherefore will you not trust us with Joseph, seeing that we are indeed his well-wishers?
Back to our verses: We are often entrusted by someone who does not share our faith. Do we uphold such a trust, or betray it? We know the answer to that: In fact, the Trusting person’s belief has nothing to do with anything, since, as always, we maintain people’s trust (HQ23:8; 70:32). Each of us is a ‘Trustee,’ an ‘Ameen,’ which if you remember, was Muhammad’s nickname –The Ameen (الأمين) - throughout his life, long before he became a Messenger of God at 40, peace upon him.
Is it conceivable that ANY moral person -anywhere on earth- would betray trust? (See HQ2:283; 3:75 for similar connotation.)
Such an act can never be justified, and societies throughout history have considered this immoral, and have penalized such treachery.
This is why it is indeed an act of heinous MURDER to take the life of unwary persons no matter what killing apparatus is used (such victims would not be prepared for the minimum defensive measures of fight or flight). Killing in ‘cold-blood’ has no justification, yet what is even worse than that, is killing someone who trusts another NOT to. As the lexicon elucidates, the word ‘amaanah’ أمانة trustworthiness is opposite of ‘khiyaanah’ خيانة treason. A person might be trusted because of a uniform, being a fellow citizen, a fellow traveler, a neighbor, or just because he first approached others in peace. No need to elaborate any further: This should work both ways, to the benefit of unwary populations at all times.
2. Verse 95 tells us that Believers are NOT of one level- some are passive while others are active, striving hard in their wealth and in themselves- so how can they be deemed equal?
Here we find the word ‘daraja,’ which we usually translate as ‘degree’ or ‘grade,’ but it denotes motion in Arabic, as in ‘to step’ or proceed forward or upward*. This helps us better understand HQ2:228, where the ‘darajah’ which the ‘men/active persons’ or ‘rijaal’ have, is relevant to divorced females. (Doesn’t it denote higher maneuverability in ‘rijaal,’ and therefore a higher responsibility? To think it denotes the ‘higher worth’ of one gender over another makes no sense.)
Anyway, here the term ‘darajah’ is much clearer, seen only in terms of action versus inaction and passivity.
Muhammad Asad’s note 122 explains (جهد)‘striving hard’ from the root verb ‘jahada’- he also explains.(مجاهد- جهاد)
Verse 96 tells us that those who exert a higher effort deserve higher rewards, which is only just.
3. Fast forward, and we are given a peek into the end of our lives on earth, when the angels of Death ask those who have ‘wronged themselves’ as to what state they were in… and they offer the lame excuse that they were ‘weak, downtrodden’ on earth. The angels then ask them a valid question, “Was God’s earth not spacious enough for you to move away in its expanse (from those whom you claim were holding you back)?” Their inaction had stunted their growth in life, and lost them the chance to avail themselves of its bounties. Verses 97-100 indeed show us the benefit of travel!
4. Following the same line of thought related to traveling God’s wide earth, we arrive at the verse related to reducing hardship while traveling, this time with regard to the prayer itself (in Feb. 18th posting we discussed ‘Tayammum’ or ‘dry ablution,’ also granted to travelers). With ‘prayer shortening’ which we call ‘qasr,’ all units of four are shortened to two. Although not mentioned here, in practice there is more which we have received through the Messenger’s direct example. Muhammad Asad tells us about this in his note 127, while Yusuf Ali elaborates in his note 617.
5. This is a clear example of a ritual that has gone forward, without need for books or learning, passed down through families generation after generation. This offers us one example of what we spoke about earlier, namely the difference between Muhammad’s being ‘Prophet’ and ‘Messenger,’ peace upon him. In common matters of his everyday life, the Qur’an called Muhammad ‘Prophet,’ and even his companions were known to give him their own, often conflicting opinions. On the other hand, in matters which relate directly to the Message (such as Prayer), those who believe in the Message he brought should also acknowledge him as the Messenger from whom they learn and emulate. It is in this capacity that God commands those of Faith, or Believers, to obey him, as we noted in earlier posts.
Our next Reading is from HQ4:102-113.
الراغب الأصفهاني:"أصل الأمن طمأنينة النفس وزوال الخوف… و"آمن" إنما يقال على وجهين: أحدهما متعديا بنفسه، يقال "آمنته": أي جعلت له الأمن، ومنه قيل لله مؤمن، والثاني: غير متعد، ومعناه صار ذا أمن…والإيمان هو التصديق الذي معه أمن."
لسان العرب: الأَمْنُ: ضدُّ الخوف. والأَمانةُ: ضدُّ الخِيانة.
معجم المقاييس: (أمن) أصلان متقاربان: أحدهما الأمانة التي هي ضدّ الخيانة، ومعناها سُكون القلب، والآخر التصديق. والمعنيان كما قلنا متدانيان. قال الخليل: الأَمَنَةُ مِن الأمْن. والأمان إعطاء الأَمَنَة. والأمانة ضدُّ الخيانة.
معجم المقاييس: يدلُّ على مُضِيِّ الشّيءِ والمُضيِّ في الشّيء. من ذلك قولُهم دَرَجَ الشّيءُ، إذا مَضَى لسبيله. ورجَع فُلانٌ أدراجَه، إذا رَجع في الطّريق الذي جاء منه. ودَرَج الصَّبيُّ، إذا مَشَى مِشْيته.
لسان العرب: دَرَجُ البناءِ ودُرَّجُه، بالتثقيل: مَراتِبُ بعضها فوق بعض. والدَّرَجَةُ واحدةُ الدَّرَجات، وهي الطبقات من المراتب. والدَّرَجَةُ: المنزلة، والجمع دَرَجٌ. ودَرَجاتُ الجنة: منازلُ أَرفعُ من مَنازِلَ. والدَّرَجانُ: مِشْيَةُ الشيخ والصبي. ويقال للصبي إِذا دَبَّ وأَخذ في الحركة: دَرَجَ. ودَرَج الشيخ والصبي يَدْرُجُ دَرْجاً ودَرَجاناً ودَرِيجاً، فهو دارج.