Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
We ended yesterday’s Reading with verses 45 and 45, which may have seemed surprising to some, in that God opened wide the gates of Worldly Pleasures to these Heedless persons, who indulged in these pleasures, only to be taken suddenly ‘to account/to task,’ then becoming dumbstruck and plunging into despair. (Those of us who read Muhammad Asad’s account would have noted that the last word in verse 44 (mublisoon – (مبلسون shares the same root-verb as the term ‘Iblees’ (إبليس), see Asad’s note 34, and my Comment 7 below.)
This turn of events is quite natural, explained in Asad’s note 35 as a historical phenomenon in the inevitability “of social and moral disintegration of communities that have lost sight of spiritual truths.” Also, God gives us many chances to initiate change for the better as He allows for BOTH the suppression and release of the earth’s bounties. Perhaps we now realize why verse 45 ended with: “… praise be to God, Lord of the diverse Worlds!”
1. Today’s Reading holds seven “Say!” commands, as well as other verses directing the Messenger, peace upon him, on how to deal with his Denying tribe on one hand, and ‘Those who have Faith in God’s Signs’ on the other. We must bear in mind that, when these verses were revealed, the Faithful group consisted mostly of the down-trodden in the Meccan community; young people, many of whom were slaves and servants, and immigrants with no financial or tribal backing. They were the Messenger’s ‘company’ at all times, a matter which caused the arrogant persons of ‘higher breeding’ to distance themselves from his company, and to ask him to send away the ‘lower class’ when they arrived, or else they would not stay.
In verses 46-47 The Messenger is told to ask them 2 questions that focus on God as Creator and Provider (of their sensory and cognitive organs, and of their general well-being and freedom from suffering).
2. Verses 48-49 are statements indicating the reason behind sending Messengers and the result of denying/belying those Divine Messages.
3. Verse 50 is a very important verse to remember: This is where the Messenger is told to explain his mortality, making it clear that he possesses neither material treasures nor supernatural powers; he does not know the ‘gheyb,’ the Unseen, what is beyond human perception.
Actually, there is a clear statement in HQ27:65, telling us that no one, whether in the heavens or on earth, knows the ‘gheyb’ Unseen EXCEPT GOD.
Despite that, we will find Muslims who say that the Prophet, peace upon him, did know the Unseen ‘gheyb,’ in stark contradiction to three clear Qur’anic statements in which he plainly says, as commanded by God: “…I do not know the Unseen…” (HQ6:50; 11:31) and, “….if I had known the Unseen….” (HQ7:188).
In this verse the Messenger explains that he only follows what Divine information/revelation is delivered to him (wahi وحي), and asks, “…are the blind and the sighted equal, do you not then ‘consider/take thought’?” (Ali/Asad)
Verse 51 tells him to warn -by means of this revelation- all those who fear being gathered to their Lord, none else do they have as Intercessor or Protector.. perchance they would be Aware.
4. Verse 52 begins with the command to the Messenger, NOT to send away those who call unto their Lord morning and evening seeking his direction (intending Him as their direction of focus ‘wajh’- (وجه. What a beautiful description is given of these early men and women of Faith, and what love God shows for them! (Commentators, such as Zamakhshari, say that ‘morning and evening’ indicates daylong continuity.)
The verse then shows that each person (whether Deliverer or Recipient of the Message) is accountable for oneself, and that, were the Messenger to ask them to leave (when the arrogant persons arrived), he would become one of the wrongdoers.
Verse 53 shows us how God tries us humans by way of each other (also HQ6:165)- and He Best Knows those of who are productive even with little means الشاكرين! (See definition of ‘shukr- (شكر.
Verse 54 is amazing in the ‘three- points-delivered-as-one,’ which God commands His Messenger to say to these vulnerable Believers- many of whom were being punished on a daily basis by the arrogant slave-owners and ‘higher-class:’
· When those who have Faith in His Signs approached him, he should: Wish them Peace (from their Lord?) and touch their hearts and strengthen their spirits immediately with the rest of the verse without any ands or buts.. it’s amazing, look at it!)
· God has compiled UPON Himself all Mercy (as a responsibility to be granted)
· that Whomever of them commits a misdeed unknowingly, then repents and repairs his wrongs.. (such persons will find).. that He is indeed Oft-Forgiving, Unceasingly Compassionate.
What a strong endorsement from God Himself! How rewarding it must have been to these humble persons (whom we call ‘the Sahaaba’- Companions) to hear this, as testimony of God’s love and support!
And the next verse concludes by showing how it is through His signs that the path of ‘the sinners/those lost in sin’ is clearly distinguished (Ali/Asad).
5. Verse 56 is a loud ‘Disclaimer,’ in which the Messenger is told to announce to Qureish that he had been forbidden from worshipping those whom they call upon- other than God- and that he does not follow their desires, and that if he did he would have gone astray and would not be among the Guided!
6. Verses 57-58 are in response to Qureish’s demand for proof (Signs or Punishment) to which the Messenger says that he stands on clear evidence which they deny, and that what they ask for is not his to impart; judgment is God’s Alone and He is the best to distinguish (and identify people by their intentions and deeds: fasala- [i](فصل
7. As mentioned above, the last word in verse 44 (mublisoon – (مبلسون shares the same root-verb as the term ‘Iblees’ (إبليس). A study of the root-verb ‘balasa’[ii] (بلس) helps us understand the two main characteristics of Iblees (before he became the Deviant/Sheytaan). The Arabic definition indicates ‘immobility; being dumbstruck, and also in despair.’ Again, this is all ‘gheyb’ Unseen but we might deduce that he had first been uncommunicative as to the limits of his obedience to God AND his resentment when Adam was created. After that, he might have despaired of himself, or any other creature gaining superiority over Cognizant Humans. That seems to be the point in time when he became the Deviant/Sheytaan whose sole mission is to make subtle, inaudible suggestions (wiswaas- ([iii] وسواس to urge as many Humans as he possibly could, to their own self- destruction. But as we learnt in HQ4:76, he has no power over us; his guile is indeed weak (Posting Feb 22nd).
Our next Reading is from HQ6:59- 73
[i] (فصل) تمييز الشَّيء من الشَّيء وإبانته عنه. يقال: فَصَلْتُ الشَّيءَ فَصْلاً. والفَيْصل: الحاكم. والفَصِيل: ولدُ النَّاقةِ إذا افتُصِلَ عن أُمِّه. والمِفْصَل: اللِّسان، لأنَّ به تُفصَل الأمور وتميَّز. والمفاصل: مَفاصل العِظام. والمَفْصِل: ما بين الجبلَيْن، والجمع مَفاصل.
[iii] (وس) كلمةٌ تدلُّ على صوتٍ غير رفيع. يقال لصوت الحَلْي: وَسْوَاسٌ. وهَمْسُ الصَّائِد وَسواسٌ. وإغواء الشّيطان ابنَ آدم وسواس.