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UNCOVERING the original message of the Arabic Qur'an by using Lexicons compiled more than 1,000 years ago.

ISOLATING Fact from Fiction.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 52; HQ4:155-170, pages 103+104

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!

Our last Posting ended with a description of some among the People of (earlier) Compilation, in that they had made a Solemn Pledge with God which they DID not honor.  Today’s Posting continues with the same subject, baring their iniquities, and including a beautiful description of the ‘Knowledgeable’ and the ‘Believers’ of the People of (earlier) Compilation who had honored their Pledge and had believed in this Qur’an (verse 162).
Note:  I have tried to put in some of Ali’s and Asad’s comments for the benefit of readers who asked! 
1.     Verses 155-161 discuss their iniquities, mainly related to their false charges against the Virgin Mary and publicizing that they had killed Jesus the Messenger of God (peace upon him).  Yusuf Ali tells us in note 661:
“Their iniquities were: (1) that they broke their Covenant: (2) that they rejected God’s guidance as conveyed in His signs; (3) that they killed God’s Messengers and incurred a double guilt, viz., that of murder and that of a deliberate defiance of God’s law; and (4) that they imagined themselves arrogantly self-sufficient, which means a blasphemous closing of their hearts forever against the admission of God’s grace.
Then begins another series of iniquities from a different point of view: (1) that they rejected Faith: (2) that they made false charges against a saintly woman like Mary, who was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus; (3) that they boasted of having killed Jesus when they were victims of their own self-hallucination: (4) that they hindered people from God’s way: and (5) that by means of usury and fraud they oppressed their fellow-men.

Verses 157-158 tell us that they didn’t, of a certainty, kill him at all, although it was made to appear so to them; God had in fact (saved and) ‘raised him up/exalted him’ (Ali/Asad) unto Himself. 
Please read important details in Posting of Feb 2nd  which offer an entirely different version of the Jesus narrative(s) from the viewpoint of a Christian historian.
With regard to Verse 158 and verse 159 Asad says in his note 172, and 173:

“..Nowhere in the Qur’ān is there any warrant for the popular belief that God has “taken up” Jesus bodily, in his lifetime, into heaven. The expression “God exalted him unto Himself” in the above verse denotes the elevation of Jesus to the realm of God’s special grace – a blessing in which all prophets partake, as is evident from 19:57, where the verb rafa‘nāhu (“We exalted him”) is used with regard to the Prophet Idrīs. (See also Muhammad ‘Abduh in Manār III, 316 f., and VI, 20 f.) The “nay” (bal) at the beginning of the sentence is meant to stress the contrast between the belief of the Jews that they had put Jesus to a shameful death on the cross and the fact of God’s having “exalted him unto Himself.”

Lit., “who does not believe in him before his death.” According to this verse, all believing Jews and Christians realize at the moment of their death that Jesus was truly a prophet of God – having been neither an impostor nor “the son of God” (Zamakhsharī).”

While Muhammad Asad quite obviously disagrees with the Traditionalists and explains these verses subjectively, Yusuf Ali maintains closeness to the original, giving us both viewpoints in his notes.  We do know that many people believe that this verse ‘indicates the physical return of Jesus, who had physically departed this earth,’ referring the pronoun in the word موته ‘his death’ to Jesus himself.  Yusuf Ali explains in note 665:

Before his death: Interpreters are not agreed as to the exact meaning. Those who hold that Jesus did not die refer the pronoun "his" to Jesus. They say that Jesus is still living in the body and that he will appear just before the Final Day, after the coming of the Mahdi, when the world will be purified of sin and unbelief. There will be a final death before the final Resurrection, but’ all will have believed before that final death. Others think that "his" is better referred, to "none of the People of the Book", and that the emphatic form "must believe" (la-yu’ minanna) denotes more a question of duty than of fact.

To us, the truth of the matter is ‘gheyb.’  It will remain unseen, un-witnessed by us and uncertified… until God wills it otherwise.  What point is there in arguing something that cannot be proven?  The safe and correct thing to do is translate the words as literally as possible- and leave it at that!

2.     Verse 160 mentions what God had made forbidden unto the Jews, and why.  Yusuf Ali mentions what was forbidden them in note 667:
“The ceremonial law of the Jews forbade the eating of the flesh of the camel, rabbit and hare (Leviticus xi. 4-6), and the fat of oxen, sheep, and goats (Leviticus vii. 23), and was in other respects very strict.”

Muhammad Asad goes deeper into the subject in his note 174. 
For newcomers to our study: Please note Asad’s heritage and background in Talmudic studies.
“Most of the commentators assume that this refers to the severe dietary restrictions imposed on the Jews , which are alluded to in 3:93 and 6:146. Since, however, 3:93 clearly states that these restrictions and prohibitions were a punishment for evil deeds committed “before the Torah was bestowed from on high,” while the verse which we are now discussing relates to their sinful behaviour in later times, we must conclude that the punishment spoken of here has another meaning: namely, the age-long deprivation of the Jewish people of the many “good things of life” which other nations enjoy – in other words, the humiliation and suffering which they have had to undergo throughout most of their recorded history, and particularly after the time of Jesus. It is on the basis of this interpretation that I have rendered the expression harramnā ‘alayhim (lit., “We forbade them”) as “We denied to them.”

3.     After baring the iniquities of some of the People of (earlier) Compilation, we arrive at this beautiful description of their counterparts (also among People of earlier Compilation) who are steadfast ‘well-grounded/deeply rooted’ in Knowledge (Ali/Asad), and who obviously at the time of revelation DID believe in this Qur’an, together with the Believers.  According to Asad they are: ‘constant in prayer and spend in charity and all who believe in God and the Last Day – these it is unto whom We shall grant a mighty reward.”

4.     Verses 163-165 mention (to Prophet Muhammad) the names of a few earlier Prophets who had also received God’s inspiration, peace upon them all, making it quite clear however that not all of the Prophets have been mentioned in the Qur’an.  Unique among them was Prophet Moses, whom God spoke to verbally.*  The word ‘takleema’ after the verb ‘kallama’ serves to indicate that this is NOT a figurative matter; it is literal: God spoke to him BY WAY OF SPEECH. 
Verse 165 gives us the main reasons for the missions of these Prophets’:  They were sent in fulfillment of a promise by God (HQ2:38; 7:35; 20:123), since He would not leave people unguided.  They were also sent so that people would not plead ignorance!

5.     In Verse 166 God Is Witness to what He sent down, or revealed to Prophet Muhammad peace upon him, in His Knowledge, and God suffices for Witness.

6.     Verses 167-169 are self-explanatory.

7.     Verse 170 calls on all the peoples of the world:  This is God’s Messenger sent for the benefit of everyone and everything:  Believe in him!

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ4:171- HQ 5:1-2   Yes!  A new sura!

Peace unto all!

* (كلم)  نطقٍ مُفهِم....الكَلام. تقول: كلّمته أُكلّمه تكليماً؛ وهو كَليمِي إذا كلّمك أو كلَّمتَه. ثمَّ يتَّسِعون فيسمُّون اللفظةَ الواحدة المُفهِمَةَ كلمة، والقِصَّةَ كلمة، والقصيدةَ بطولها كلمة. ويجمعون الكلمةَ كلماتٍ وكَلِماً. قال الله تعالى: {يُحرِّفُونَ الكَلِمَ عَنْ مَوَاضِعِهِ} [النساء 46، المائدة 13].

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