Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
1. We begin today’s Reading with a verse unlike any other, most famous because it holds the all-important ‘Concluding Statement to the Qur’anic Message,’ one of the last verses revealed to the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him. After 23 years of trial and sacrifice, God finally announces to the Faithful:
· “…At this point in time/this day the Deniers have despaired of your Standard of Accountability دينكم (seeing its prevalence and yours), so do not hold them in awe, but stand in awe of Me; on this day I have brought to completion* for you, your Standard of Accountability, and I have fulfilled upon you, my Favor, and I have approved, for you, Purity in Reverence/ Islam as a Standard of Accountability…”
(See Posting Feb 4th for definition of ‘Islam.’)
· According to Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad respectively:
“…..This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…”
“….Today, those who , are bent on denying the truth have lost all hope of [your ever forsaking] your religion: do not, then, hold them in awe, but stand in awe of Me! Today have I perfected your religious law for you, and have bestowed upon you the full measure of My blessings, and willed that self-surrender unto Me shall be your religion….”
2. This lengthy verse not only sheds light on the preceding 2 verses of this Chapter, but indeed pulls all these verses together, to start drawing for us the identity-card of a Believer in the Qur’anic Message; what identifies a person as one who has attained Faith. We shall probably add to this list as we go along:
Believers are those who:
· Will comply with and honor their contracts.
· Will not hunt or kill any wildlife during the publicly-known Forbidden Month(s).
· Will not violate what God has sanctified, especially the rights of people who flock to the Inviolable House, and the gifts they bring as offerings.
· Will not let resentment lead them to aggression.
· Will cooperate and be supportive of one another in the Hastening of goodness البر and in Awareness التقوى.
· Will neither cooperate nor be supportive of one another in Hindrance الإثم or in Aggression العدوان .
· Will be aware of God, remembering that He is severe in meting out retribution.
· Will abstain from consuming the ten substances listed, among which are blood, the flesh of swine, ‘edible’ animals that have died without being slaughtered, or were slaughtered in the name of any other than God (however, in case of dire necessity, one may partake -with no self-inclination- the minimum requirement of any of the above).
Please note that a Believer will neither need -nor indeed will the Qur’an provide- ANY grounds to justify this requirement (unlike the explanations provided for intoxicants which offer leeway for the use of medicinal drugs, see Posting Jan. 20, 21). Therefore, with regard to these ten substances: Abstention is a Non-negotiable Act of Worship.
· Will not immerse in superstitious practices or allow fantasies of ‘predestination’ to define their actions or influence their future وأن تستقسموا بالأزلام .
· Will stand in awe of God Alone- and none other than Him- (see Posting Jan 14th for difference between ‘khawf’ and ‘khashyah’ خوف- خشية.
3. Verse 4 gives a general statement that, when asked what is allowed for consumption by the Faithful (O Muhammad), tell them that everything wholesome is allowed, as well as what your trained birds/animals of prey have hunted for you, so eat of the quarry mentioning God’s name upon it, being aware of God, for He is swift in holding to account.
Some may wonder: why the warning at the end of the verse?
Because, should you realize that the intention of your bird/animal of prey had changed from hunting for you, to hunting for itself, you should let it have its quarry and NOT partake of it! Hunters usually realize that when their trained bird/animal of prey begins to eat of the quarry. What other standard would vouch for animals’ intentions?
What a noble, what a wonderful, what a high standard of Accountability is Islam!
A Thought: I know that some Believers might not like my following reflection (especially the smokers and the manufacturers or suppliers of artificially produced foodstuffs): Isn’t the last part of the verse related to the first, that God will hold us to account when we knowingly partake of or distribute things which are NOT wholesome for human consumption? Our bodies are the physical mediums by which we can survive to fulfill our roles in life, to worship and do deeds of goodness. Won’t we be held to account for knowingly damaging ourselves or others with ANY unwholesome substance? THAT could be reason for the warning at the end of the verse too. It is just a thought; your comments are welcome!
4. Verse 5 continues, highlighting again, that all things wholesome are permitted to the Faithful, before it goes on to include the foods of the People of (earlier) Compilation. Please note that, upon stating specifically that our food is permitted to them, this verse hints at a relationship that should exist between us all, one of congeniality and the sharing of food; it indicates that we could -perhaps should- be inviting each other to our tables. This hint becomes more inclusive when, after mentioning ‘self-fortified’ محصنات Faithful women being permitted in marriage to Faithful men, the verse mentions ‘chaste’ محصنات women from those of (earlier) Compilation (for definition of ‘muhsanaat’ see Posting Feb 16th). I find a resemblance in the words of this verse- إِذَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ مُحْصِنِينَ غَيْرَ مُسَافِحِينَ وَلَا مُتَّخِذِي أَخْدَانٍ - to something almost identical in HQ4:25- which may suggest that these women were similar in status, meaning that both these verses referred to bonds-women at that time, permitted to be taken in marriage by Faithful men, and thus become elevated in social status. But this matter needs further study. Nevertheless, the verse ends with another warning:
Whoever Denies Faith will invalidate his deeds and in the Hereafter will be among the Losers.
5. Beginning with a call to the Faithful, the first 3 lines of Verse 6 give details for Ablution, their grammatical context indicating the ‘order’ in which it should be performed. There are two Readings of this instruction related to different conjugations:
· In the first, the diacritic mark on the word ‘arjul’ is a ‘fat-ha’ and reads as ‘arjul-a-kum,’ which ties the coordinating conjunction ‘and’ to the arms, indicating that the feet should be washed along with the arms…......وأرجلَكم.
· In the second, the diacritic mark on the word ‘arjul’ is a ‘kasra’ and reads as ‘arjul-i-kumm,’ which ties the coordinating conjunction ‘and’ to the head, indicating that the feet should be wiped along with part of the head وأرجلِكم... .
The majority of Believers (mostly Sunnis), follow the first reading and wash their feet, while others (mostly Shiites) follow the second, and wipe them.
The next three lines deal with the issue of ‘dry ablution,’ also discussed in Posting of Feb 18th.
6. The last line of verse 6 is a statement, (similar to what we read earlier in HQ2:185), translated by Yusuf Ali:
“….God does not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that you may be grateful.”
It is interesting to note that in this verse, the instructions on Ritual Bathing as well as both forms of Ablution, are considered a completion of God’s Favor upon us, related directly to the preceding verse, to the concluding statement of the Qur’anic Message! This is in part due to the importance of Prayer itself; ablution is performed for the specific purpose of approaching prayer, but there is more:
Remember verse 2:128 when we read the prayer of Abraham and Ishmael, peace upon them, two Prophets of God who were building a House for His worship, asking Him to accept their service, and to send their progeny a Messenger of their own who shall instruct them in the Compilation and in wisdom? As the final verses of the Qur’anic Message show, the answer to their prayer had become a reality, completing God’s Favor upon Humanity, bringing the efforts of all God’s Messengers to fruition. The Qur’an is for all cognizant Humans; after other Messages had paved the way, THIS is the completed favor of God!
7. Verse 7 reminds the Faithful of God’s Favor and their Covenant with Him, saying, “WE hear and we obey!”
The beginning of Verse 8 is similar to the beginning of HQ4:135, but it then takes us to the concept of doing the right thing despite resentment, that fairness is closer to Awareness, and finally asks us to be Aware of God Who Is Well-acquainted with what we do.
Our next Reading is from HQ5: 9-17
In the Qur’an, variations of the root verb ‘kamala’ occur 5 times, always related to completing a set amount (HQ2:185, 196, 233; 4:3; 16:25). When translations say ‘perfecting your religion,’ they automatically do two things:
· They erroneously indicate that God has sent Humanity different ‘religions’ which He hasn’t. He has sent us all ONE Standard of Accountability, delivered in a progressive Compilation that began with His first Messenger and was concluded with His last.
· They reduce earlier Compilation to the status of ‘imperfection,’ which is neither true nor is it worthy of God Who sent it! Earlier Compilation was a stage of revelation perfect for its time. On the other hand, the Standard of Accountability God had set for a progressing Humanity was ‘completed’ with the Qur’an, so as to stand for ALL time.
We must also note that: The Completion of our ‘Deen’ (Standard of Accountability), the Fulfillment of God’s Favor, and His acceptance of Islam as our ‘Deen’ are all directly related to, and are part and parcel of, the ‘true to the original’ ARABIC delivery of Qur’an. In other words, it is ONLY the correct understanding of the Arabic language that can ensure that our ‘Deen’ remains complete and God’s Favor remains fulfilled! How can we correctly carry out His directions otherwise and be the positive force for Human cooperation and advancement that the Qur’an envisages? So if we look at ourselves now and see ourselves lacking, it is because our forefathers have misunderstood and misrepresented what God had completed; His Favor was fulfilled, but we have departed from it.