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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 61; HQ5: 77-89, pages 121+122

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
Congratulations dear Friends: Today we begin the 7th Section of the Qur’an!

As we noticed so far, this Chapter ‘the Repast,’ addresses in most part the Followers of (earlier) Compilation, calling them to Faith in their own Compilation, and showing them the rewards of upholding such Faith. 
From our last Posting:
Say: O People of the Compilation!  You are (standing) on nothing, until you uphold the Torah and the Evangel and what was revealed to you from your Lord..” and also: “Had the People of (earlier) Compilation been Faithful and Aware, We would have erased their misdeeds and brought them into Gardens of Bliss.”

We also noticed that the Qur’an does NOT label any of them (it does not call them ‘Deniers,’ كفّار an adjective some Muslims are quick to use), but rather it criticizes actions of certain people among them, mentioning their denial as a verb (and we already know the significance of verbs versus nouns): Indeed, they have denied, those who said that God is Jesus son of Mary …” and: Indeed, they have denied, those who said that God is the third of a Trinity, while there is no God except One God….” 
1.   Our last Posting ended with a question addressed to such persons in Verse 76: “Say, ‘Do you worship other than God, what neither has power to harm or to benefit you, while God is the Hearer, The Knower?”

And today’s Verse 77 continues with another general address to them:

Say: O People of the (earlier) Compilation!  Do not commit unjustified excesses in your Standard of Accountability, and do not follow the desires of a people who had strayed earlier, and led many astray, and strayed from/lost the even way.

Verse 78 tells us that those amongst Bani Isra-eel who had Denied, were then condemned (to be banished from God’s Favor) by the tongue of David, as well as Jesus, Son of Mary, because they were non-complying بما عصوا and persisted in transgressing كانوا يعتدون. 

I do not like most translators’ use of the word ‘cursed.’  ‘La’ana’ لعن in Arabic is not a simple swear-word, or a ‘curse,’ but has the physical connotation of being deprived of all that is good; condemned to banishment from God’s Favor.  The power of these words uttered by the tongues of both Prophets David and Jesus, peace upon them, goes to show their suffering at the hands of those who denied!

2.  The following verse gives us the reason for such Banishment, and should be especially important to all Cognizant Humans who say they seek God, yet have nothing to show for it:

“They were not bidding one another to desist لا يتناهون from committing unacceptable deeds منكر, evil indeed is what they were committing (specifically) يفعلون . 

3.  Note the levels of ‘Deeds’ we have so far read about:
There is a huge difference between ‘committing,’ which is related to specific acts, and what we mentioned in our last posting, comment no. 6: “what they were doing … يعملون” which is related to general acts (and also “what they were manufacturing/constructing…يصنعون’, which is related to the scheme). 

We shall discuss this in more depth as we proceed, but for now it is important to note that عمل (‘amala) and فعل (fa’ala) are NOT synonymous. 
If I ask a painter ‘What do you ‘ta’mal?’ ماذا تعمل؟- he would respond that he is a painter, which is his general occupation.  If I ask, ‘What do you ‘taf’al?’ ماذا تفعل؟ - he would never say that he is a painter, but would probably say that he mixes paint, uses brushes, and applies different layers on various surfaces etc.. 
Now let’s say I ask him the same two questions, adding the words ‘right now.’ His response to my first question might relate to a project he is currently working on, BUT his response to my second question would HAVE to reflect the EXACT act he is doing when responding; in fact he’d have to say, “I am talking to you!”
This is why verses such as HQ39:70 are SO eloquent!

“And every Self will be repaid for its work عمل, and He Knows best what they were doing/committing (in minute detail)” !

And now a question to our dear Readers:  How does the Qur’an refer to God’s ‘acts?’ Does it use the general verb ya‘mal يعمل- or the specific verb yaf’al يفعل- or perhaps both? I’ll leave the answer till later to give you time to think (or search Tanzil)!

4.  Verses 80-81 discuss the alliance of Protection made between certain persons from among the People of earlier Compilation, namely here, the Jewish Tribes of Yethrib, and  Those who have Denied, namely, the Idolatrous Tribe of Qureish, which is considered a reprehensible act.  Had they any Faith at all in God, and the Prophet (Moses) and what was revealed to him, they would never have taken them as Protectors, but many of them are corrupt.

5.  Verse 82-85 gave the Faithful, at the time of Revelation, a general assessment of the two contrasting positions held TOWARDS them by ‘Those who have Associated Partners with God,’ as well as the People of Earlier Compilation. 
We notice that Those who have Associated, AND the three Jewish Tribes, are considered one Hostile group, dubbed ‘the most severe among people in enmity towards Those who have attained Faith.’  Their negative position is given in a short statement of a few words, making up the first half of verse 82.
This is in stark contrast to those who identified themselves as Nasaaraa, meaning the Christians.  Their positive position and beautiful description takes up the second half of verse 82 as well as all of verses 83-85:
·  They are closest in feelings of accord and affection مودة to those who have Faith.
·  Among them are dedicated priests and monks.
· They are not arrogant.
· They are overcome with emotion when they hear what was revealed to the Messenger (Muhammad), and weep in their knowledge of its Truth.
· They say, “Our Lord,’ enroll us among the Witnesses!”
· They say, “And why should we not believe in God and in what has been delivered to us of the Truth, and yearn that our Lord admits us to the company of the Righteous?”

The result of all those beautiful qualities is given in verse 85, that God rewards them for their standpoint (which they verbally affirmed), Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein eternally, and that is the reward of the Doers of Good.  
Read Posting March 8th for more on such persons.
Verse 86 gives the contrasting image of Those who Denied and belied God’s Signs, as being Companions of the Inferno.

6. Verses 87-88 are addressed to those who have attained Faith, telling us NOT to prohibit unto ourselves what is wholesome (in the first place) and was made lawful to us by God, but also NOT to transgress (committing excesses in our partaking of what is lawful), for God  loves not the transgressors.  And then, that we can partake of what he has provided for us, lawful and wholesome, and that we should be Aware of God whom we have faith in (as we do so).

7.  Verse 89 shows us the importance of awareness in doing the right thing, even if after a mistake, and underlines the value of a Believer’s utterance.  Although oaths in general are not to be uttered lightly, and better yet not uttered at all because a Believer’s word should be the equivalent of an oath, yet that is an idyllic situation.  In this verse we find a way out of the oaths ‘not so idealistic’ persons might have made of their own accord in everyday settings, usually casually or in the heat of argument, as in ‘I swear I will never …’ This is NOT to be confused with the serious oaths of persons bearing witness or in courts of justice; THAT is a false oath called ‘zoor’ –زور- and is among the prohibitions ‘muharramaat,’ mentioned together with the worshipping of idols (HQ22:30)!  
Therefore, as for any casual oaths we may have uttered that are hasty, irresponsible, ignorant, or detrimental in any way to us or others, such oaths must not be allowed to stand, because general benefit is more important than keeping an oath.  However, there is a price to be paid for that; an atonement, and expiation.  Also, although we should break all harmful oaths, deliberate or otherwise, God WILL call us to account for our intention, and we should be aware of that.  There is no point in fulfilling a hurtful or regretful oath as that will land us in an even graver condition: we’d have shown the intent AND committed the injurious deed- such oaths are better broken. 
The best thing of course, is to preserve our oaths; never use them, or use them rarely and with full awareness of the consequences.

Four CHOICES are given as expiation for an oath:

·  Feeding ten poor persons of the most balanced, or best, of what you would feed your own families (see  وسط*)
·  Or clothing ten persons.
·  Or freeing the yoke around one person’s neck (at one point in time this verse was understood to mean purchasing a slave’s freedom.  Today it probably refers to any financial yoke that is an obstruction to freedom).
·  Or, if one does not find the means for the above, a Fasting of three (consecutive) days.
(Readers can check HQ3:48 for a similar in-part, albeit more demanding, atonement for involuntary manslaughter- without forgetting the real definition of ‘Mu’min’ discussed in Posting of Feb 24th).

We are told at the end, that this is the atonement for our oaths, but that we should ‘preserve’ or oaths (the word أيمان- ‘aymaan’ twice repeated), and that this is how God makes clear for us His signs so that we might make the most out of what He has given us.  For definition of ‘Shukr- شكر- Posting Jan. 13th.

Enough said!
Our next Reading is from HQ5: 90-102
Peace unto all!

(وسط) يدلُّ على العَدل والنِّصف. وأعْدلُ الشَّيءِ: أوسَطُه ووَسَطُه. قال الله عزّ وجلَّ: {أُمَّةً وَسَطاً} [البقرة 143]. ويقولون: ضربتُ وَسَط رأسهِ بفتح السين، ووَسْطَ القوم بسكونها. وهو أوسَطُهم حَسَباً، إذا كان في واسطة قومه وأرفعِهِم محلاًّ.

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