Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Someone asked me a while ago, whether I could provide the definition of the word ‘Qur’an,’ a definition other than the common, limited one, found in books. With God’s Grace, during this project we will all get the chance to build up this definition as we gain a hands-on understanding of the Qur’an together.
Last time we started on the Chapter of ‘Al An’am,’ the Cattle, and noted that this Meccan chapter addresses –for most part- people who have long been idol-worshippers, and have traditionally associated many ‘deities’ with God and forgotten His Unique attributes.
In today’s Reading the Qur’an will show us a few of God’s beautiful attributes, and assure us of His Mercy as a ‘responsibility,’ something He instilled upon Himself towards Creation.
1. Verse 7 according to Ali and Asad, starts off by saying: (ولو نزّلنا عليك كتاباً في قرطاس...)
“If we had sent unto you ‘a written (message) on parchment/ a writing on paper’…”
Actually, what everyone seems to have missed is that this verse offers a CLUE as to what, from the very beginning, set this Compilation apart as a Message suitable for all time. More accurately translated the verse says:
“Had we sent unto you a Compilation (inscribed) in a static sheet, and had they touched it with their hands, Those who Denied would have said, “This is manifest Sorcery!”
This verse is telling us that this Compilation is not a static Revelation[i].
Verse 8 tells us that they asked (to see) an angel deliver the Message; the Qur’an tells them that when Angels appear to humans, it is too late for reparation! And the next verse tells us that they would have been confused anyway, as angels are rendered in active (human-like) form رجلاً.
2. Verses 10-11 discuss their mockery. The Qur’an tells Prophet Muhammad peace upon him that their treatment of him is similar to that of Messengers before him- and that he should tell them to travel the earth and then observe how the end was for those who belied/disbelieved in the truth.
3. Verse 12 begins with the command, ‘Say, to Whom is all that is in the heavens and on earth? Say, ‘To God; He has compiled UPON Himself (all) the Mercy…”- كتب على نفسه الرحمة –
Others translate this as, ‘He has ‘inscribed for Himself (the rule) of Mercy/ willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy’ (Ali/Asad) ….”
Our Readers will recall our discussion of March 10th regarding the meaning of the term ‘kataba’ – ‘to put together’ when we said that God either ‘compiles/puts together’ something ‘UPONعلى - ’ someone, which becomes a unit of accountability/responsibility, OR ‘puts together’ ‘FOR- ‘لــ someone, as a unit of exemption/privilege. Here God actually holds Himself responsible of -and accountable for- the Mercy by which His Creation is to be dealt with! This expression appears twice in the Qur’an, BOTH times in this chapter (see HQ6:54).
4. Verses 13-14 give us more of God’s beautiful attributes, and tell us that Divinity sustains but does NOT require sustenance, which reminds us of our Reading of March 15th with regard to Jesus and Mary, peace upon them (HQ5:75).
Also, in Verse 14 the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him, is told to announce that he was commanded to be the first whose Reverence is purely to God, ‘aslama,’ and not to be one of those who Associate.
In Verse 15-16 he is told to announce his place, in that he is someone who is obedient to his Lord and fearful of the suffering of a Monumental Day. He describes those who are ‘averted/spared’ (Ali/Asad) from such suffering as being recipients of God’s Mercy, indeed a clear Salvation/Deliverance (fawz فوز).
5. Verses 17 discusses the two opposites contained in Human Life, ‘dhurrضر/’ or Hurt/Affliction/Distress,[ii] on one hand, and Benefit نفع/- on the other (but in this verse the Qur’an has broadened the second word to include the all-inclusive concept of all that is commendable and advantageous; good; ‘kheyr/ [iii]‘خير).
How wonderful is it, that (as a search through the entire Qur’an will show) God never harms, hurts, or distresses us? The words يضركم- are never mentioned, but rather He ‘touches us with a little of affliction or distress.’ (in Arabic the 'ba' ب is called 'ba'ul tab'eedh' باء التبعيض which indicates only a portion of something!)
There is a VERY interesting point to mention here, and it relates to what Muslims refer to as the ‘List of God’s most beautiful names-أسماء الله الحُسنى ’ Listed among those so-called ‘Beautiful Names’ are several which are derogatory, being neither Qur’anic nor authorized by the Prophet. This issue is finally receiving attention, although scholars including Ibn Taymiyyah have discussed it.[iv] One of these names is الضار ‘Al Dhaar.’ In Arabic it actually labels God as The Harmful/ Hurtful/ Distresser/ Afflicter- see: http://www.islamicity.com/Mosque/99names.htm , a website which allows us to look into the Qur’an and check for ourselves whether or not the word is mentioned in it. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it is not mentioned in any form, and sometimes we only find a verb which, as our Regular Readers know, is NOT the same as a Label. We already know all about labeling!
To sum up, the beautiful ‘names’ of God which we can safely use are those that He has mentioned Himself- those that are found as attributes (not as verbs) in the Qur’an.
Verse 18, for example, is a short statement which holds three of God’s true attributes.
6. Verse 19 discusses the topmost, the weightiest ‘witnessed evidence’ or ‘shahaada’ that can ever be given:
Bearing witness that God is One and Unique- that there are no deities beside Him, and that one is ‘innocent/clear’ of all persons who believe otherwise.
The command to: ‘Say..!’ occurred ten times in our Reading today; 4 times in verse 19 alone!
Verses 20-21 challenge those among People of (earlier) Compilation who withheld the evidence contained in their own scriptures confirming Muhammad as the awaited Messenger of God. Such persons are indeed, as certain of this truth (that he is God’s Messenger) as they are of their own children!
Then comes the question: Who does more wrong than someone who speaks lies on ‘behalf’ of God, or invents a lie ‘against’ God? ………(Note the Q and A interaction!)
And the end result is, that such liars never succeed.
In verses 22-24, we get a glimpse into their single, final, lie on Judgment Day, uttered in self-defense, where they now resort to denying the charges, swearing in God’s name, after having lost the ‘gods’ they had relied on in life!
7. Verse 25 describes people who hear but to no avail, for their hearts/minds قلوبhave been ‘shielded’ from comprehension (not just veiled). Although the verse indicates ‘We’ (meaning God) as the subject for the ‘shields- أكنّة’ this is similar to other verses which indicate the natural law that prevents prejudiced persons from hearing what they don’t wish to hear. In short, God has ‘rendered’ (جعل) the entire learning process to be affected by preconception - this natural law is a warning for all of us!
At the end of verse 25 we find Those who Deny calling the Qur’an: ‘Stories of the Ancients.’ It is interesting to note the Etymology of the English words ‘story,’ and ‘history:’ “From O.Fr. historie, from L. historia "narrative, account, tale, story," from Gk. historia "a learning or knowing by inquiry, history, record, narrative.”[v]
Again we find, in the origins of this word, that Old French, Latin and Greek are mentioned, but not Arabic! The word أساطير ‘asaat-heer’ from أسطورة ‘ust-hoora’ from the root verb ‘satara’سطر which means to align[vi].
In narrative, it indicates adaptation and modification (mixing truth with falsehood).
Verse 26 tells us quite frankly:
“Even as they are prohibiting others from it (the Qur’an), they are distancing themselves from it. And none are they ‘breaking down’ (يهلكون) except their (own) Selves without so realizing.”
Our next Reading is from HQ6:27- 45
Peace unto all!
[i] Qirtaas is the static sheet into which something is compiled:
(القرطاس هو الصحيفة الجامدة التي يكتب بها
[ii] فالضُّرُّ: خلاف النفع-الهُزال. والضَّرَّة: اسمٌ مشتقٌّ من الضَّرِّ، كأنَّها تضرُّ الأخرى كما تضرُّها تلك. واضطُرَّ فلانٌ إلى كذا، من الضرورة. والضَّرِير: الذي به ضَرَرٌ من ذَهاب عَيْنِه. أو ضَنَى جِسْمِه.
[iii] فالخَير: خِلافُ الشّرّ. أصله العَطْف والميْل والخِيرَةُ: ؛ لأنَّ كلَّ أحدٍ يَمِيلُ إِليه ويَعطِف على صاحبه. الخِيار. والخِيرُ: الكَرمُ. والاستخارة: أن تَسْألَ خيرَ الأمرين لك. وكل هذا من الاستخارة، وهي الاستعطاف.
[iv] قال ابن تيمية : (لم يرد في تعيينها حديث صحيح عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم وأشهر ما عند الناس فيها حديث الترمذي الذي رواه الوليد بن مسلم عن شعيب عن أبي حمزة ، وحفاظ أهل الحديث يقولون هذه الزيادة مما جمعه الوليد بن مسلم عن شيوخه من أهل الحديث ، وفيها حديث ثان أضعف من هذا رواه ابن ماجه وقد روي في عددها غير هذين النوعين من جمع بعض السلف) (الفتاوىالكبرى1/217) وقال ابن حجر : (والتحقيق أن سردها من إدراج الرواة) (بلوغ المرام 346) وقال الصنعاني : (اتفق الحفاظ من أئمة الحديث أن سردها إدراج من بعض الرواة) (سبل السلام 4/108) ، فهذا هو حال الأسماء الحسنى التي حفظها الناس لأكثر من ألف عام وأنشدها كل منشد وكتبت في كل مسجد ، ليست نصا من كلام النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم باتفاق أهل العلم والمعرفة بحديثه وإنما هي في حقيقتها ملحقة أو مدرجة في الأحاديث التي ورد فيها سرد الأسماء ، وقد أمرنا الله عز وجل في غير موضع من كتابه أن ندعوه بأسمائه الحسنى فقال : (وَلِلَّهِ الأَسْمَاءُ الْحُسْنَى فَادْعُوهُ بِهَا) (الأعراف:180) وحذرنا من الإلحاد فيها فقال : (وَذَرُوا الَّذِينَ يُلْحِدُونَ فِي أَسْمَائِهِ سَيُجْزَوْنَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ)......يتبع على الموقع http://www.uaearab.com/asma_alhusna/
[vi] (سطر) اصطفافِ الشيء، كالكتاب والشجر، وكلِّ شيء اصطَفَّ. فأمَّا الأساطير فكأنها أشياءُ كُتبت من الباطل فصار ذلك اسماً لها، مخصوصاً بها. يقال سَطَّر فلانٌ علينا تسطيراً، إذا جاء بالأباطيل. وواحد الأساطير إسطار وأُسطورة.