Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
1. Verse 108 makes us pay attention to what we say.
We should not be abusive to people nor disrespectful of their freedom to ‘call unto’ other than God. By watching our tongues we are respecting God, by not giving them any reason to speak ugly words against Him out of spite or ignorance. Although we do not agree with their choices, as long as they do not force anything upon us, we must respect the fact that everyone is, indeed, free to choose!
2. In the center of this verse is the statement, “..thus we have made alluring to each people its own doings…” which, as Yusuf Ali tells us in note 936, refers to the reason behind people’s choices, psychological background, tendencies, history. Asad says, in note 93, that it implies man’s nature to believe what was implanted in childhood, “with the result that a polemic against those beliefs often tend to provoke a hostile psychological reaction.”
Perhaps this will help us understand the reaction people get when presenting differing beliefs or practices, even between members of their own community. One example of that, is certain persons’ belief in the power of ‘jinns/ghosts/evil spirits/magic.’ In their view, these ‘forces can overpower humans’ whenever the conditions allow them to do so, and no matter what proof we give such persons (whether Qur’anic, psychological, scientific, or historical), it will not help them change their minds.
But we must help them see that human freedom is the very reason for human accountability, and they cannot have it both ways: The problem is, when they think that each human by nature, by default, is vulnerable to a hostile takeover by other forces, they are in fact granting all humans diminished capacity, after which there would be little or no accountability. It is that simple. And it is NOT SO.
We will grasp more of this issue as we progress through the Qur’an.
3. Verses 109-111 discuss the idol-worshippers’ vows, made without true intent, and describe the inner turmoil of their ‘af’idah, plural of fou’aad’–[i]فؤاد-أفئدة-
RESEARCH: This word is mentioned here for the first time, and both Ali and Asad translate it as ‘heart,’ but had it meant ‘heart/mind,’ then the word ‘qalb’ would have been used. It is an important word which will recur in future, so what is فؤاد the ‘fou’aad?’
TANZIL SEARCH: A search in ‘Tanzil’ shows us other instances of its use, and we realize that fou’aad’ is NOT an organ, being mentioned several times after ‘hearing and sight’ (not ears and eyes) (HQ67:23; 32:9; 23:78; 17:36; 16:78 in this last verse Ali translates it as ‘intelligence and affections,’ while Asad says ‘mind’). So it is a faculty.. but which?
CROSS-REFERENCE and Qur’anic CONTEXT: We discover three verses which give us an important clue. Two of them they say that the Qur’an was delivered to the Messenger in a certain way so as to ‘stabilize/make firm’ his ‘fou’aad’ (HQ11:120; 25:32), and the third (HQ28:10) says that “…the fou’aad of the mother of Moses became ‘empty/void/blank,’ and she almost disclosed him (her infant Moses, floating away) had We not strengthened her qalb- heart/mind so that she’d be of Those with Inner Certainty من الموقنين-.” So the word is not heart/mind, as we can see from the use of qalb in the last part of the same verse.
LINGUISTICS: Our 1000 year-old Lexicon tells us that the three-letter root-verb ‘Fa-a-da’ فأد- “indicates fever and high temperature,” and its verb is used as in, to ‘roast meat,’ the adjective ‘f’aeed’ meaning ‘roasted.’ Our second reference (Ragheb al Asfahaani, mentioned above) says ‘Fou-aad’ is the ‘qalb’ in a condition of being aflame/ignited.”
For now, I can think of no better English translation for this, than the concept of ‘in the heat of the moment’ mental response or reaction.
So, to return to our verse 110 in today’s Reading, the idol-worshippers’ turmoil was related to hearing the Message again (probably feeling its truth) but, in the heat of the moment, not knowing how to respond/react having already announced their disbelief the first time around.
So, for now, we’ll refer to ‘fou-aad’ as ‘mental-response.’
4. Verse 111 states clearly that no matter what Signs they would have received, they would not have believed unless God had willed it upon them (enforced it). Yusuf Ali is off the mark here, referring their disbelief to what might be understood as a fatalistic attitude, ‘God’s Plan,’ unlike Asad’s translation, and his note 95 which makes it even better.
Verse 112 provides solace that all Prophets before him had Deviants (Sheyateen) as enemies, some were of mankind, and others of the Unseen-kind (jinn), some supplying information to others يوحي in the form of ‘flowery discourse/ glittering half-truths’ (Ali/Asad). But here, Yusuf Ali mistakenly translates ‘nabi’ as ‘Messenger’ instead of Prophet- big difference!
5. Verse 113 seems more coherent in Ali’s translation. Here we find the word ‘af’idah’ أفئدة again, plural of ‘fou’aad.’ The verb before it ‘saghaa’ [ii]صغى means to incline, and describes the first of a three-step process mentioned here, about those who do not believe in the Hereafter inclining to the deceit mentioned in verse 112: First, they go through mental inclination, then comes acceptance رضى, and finally committing the deed and earning its consequences. I think Asad’s translation was incoherent because he referred the pronoun إليه to God, rather than to deceit.
6. Verse 114 starts with a question, then presents a statement, and ends with a command: “Am I to seek other than God as Judge, and it is He who sent down to you (pl.) the Compilation ‘explained in detail/ step by step’? (Ali/Asad) And those to whom we had bestowed the (earlier) Compilation know that it is being sent down in Truth, so be not among the Doubters.”
7. According to Muhammad Asad, Verse 115 which begins, “Truly and Justly has your Lord’s promise been fulfilled…” “obviously refers to the Biblical Promise in Deuteronomy XVIII 15 and 18 that God would raise up a prophet ‘like unto Moses’ among the Arabs…”
8. Verse 116 is a statement showing that most people on earth do not have proof for what they believe in; all they can follow is Conjecture, and all they can do is guess.
If not for the Arabic Qur’an, this might have been an assessment of us today! But through our knowledge of Arabic and our research we keep uncovering Qur’anic truths that are such well-structured proofs, that we find ourselves constantly growing in confidence and faith. The Arabic Qur’an, unlike any other Compilation, will not only withstand scrutiny, it will correct commonly-held misconceptions and will thoroughly convince its scrutinizer IF s/he studies it with a truly open mind.
Our next Reading is from HQ6:117-132
Peace unto all!
[i] (فأد) يدلُّ على حُمَّى وشِدّةِ حرارة. من ذلك: فأَدْتُ اللَّحمَ: شويته. وهذا فَئِيدٌ، أي مشويّ. والمِفْأد: السَّفُود. والمُفتأَد: الموضِع يُشوَى فيه.
الراغب الأصفهاني: فأد- الفؤاد كالقلب لكن يقال له فؤاد إذا اعتبر فيه معنى التفؤد، أي: التوقد.
[ii] (صغو/ي) يدلُّ على المَيْل، من ذلك قولُهم: صِغْو فلانٍ معك، أي ميلُه. وصَغتِ النجوم: مالت للغُيوب. وأصغى إليه، إِذا مال بسمعِهِ نحوَه. وأَصْغَيت الإِناءَ أَمَلْتُهُ. ومنه قولهم للذين يَميلون مع الرَّجُل من أصحابِهِ وذوي قُرْباه: صاغِيةٌ