Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Mabrouk dear Readers! We have studied together 1/4th of the Qur’an!
It IS the beginning of April, and this is a true statement precisely for that reason; we’re 1/4th of our way through 2010! May God facilitate the coming months.
Regular Readers should be able to guess the meaning of the word ‘mabrouk’ by retracing it to its three letter origin ‘baraka’ برك – (see posting March 26).
Today we will attempt to arrive at an understanding of several important concepts, so dear Readers, wear your thinking caps’!
1. In today’s Reading , Verses 143-144 ridicule other superstitions and customs among the idol-worshipping tribes of the time, related to what they allege that God has forbidden them to eat of their livestock. The latter part of verse 144 asks them whether they were witnesses to God enjoining that, and states – by way of a question- that no one could be more of a wrong-doer than someone who fabricates a lie, attributing it to God, so as to misguide people without knowledge. Indeed, God does not guide People who are doing Wrong!
These verses are very interesting, in that they discuss food restrictions that are attributed to God, yet they are self-imposed; a lesson for all listeners.
2. In Verse 145 the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him, is commanded to say that he has NOT FOUND among all the information/revelation imparted to him (to date!), ANYTHING FORBIDDEN to a consumer to consume, OTHER THAN carrion, spilled blood, and the flesh of swine; for it is indeed turmoil (consuming causes one’s turmoil, or is in itself a sign of one’s turmoil) OR a breach of faith slaughtered in the name of other than God (a sacrificial offering as in HQ6:121. Also see Posting March 7th). However, whoever partakes (of any of these 4 forbidden items) out of necessity, with no self-inclination or indulgence, God is Forgiving and Unceasingly Compassionate.
Rijs: Taking the word 'rijs' in context - and cross-referencing it –by copy + paste رجس in Tanzil- we find it appears 9 times, and indicates an opposition to, or a Disconnect in, Faith/Belief, as in HQ10:100 and in our ‘scientific marvel’ 6:125 …That is how God brings about Turmoil upon those who do not believe.” Remember when we discussed earlier, that abstention from the ‘forbidden’ is a Non-negotiable Act of Worship.
Notice that what is considered ‘turmoil’ are the first three, which we are forbidden from, but might find anywhere. As for animal sacrifices to deities/idols, these are NOT readily available, but are slaughtered at certain times/places with specific rituals involved. If anyone were to consume something known to be dedicated to other than God, it would not be turmoil, but a straightforward Breach of Faith ‘fisq’ فسق -which would denote that person’s point of no return (copy + paste فسق in Tanzil, you’ll see the difference between ‘rijs’ and ‘fisq.’ ‘Fisq’ describes Iblees’ point of no return in HQ18:50 and the Deniers point of no return in HQ10:33)!
3. Although offerings to deities are not part of our concerns today, for the Faithful in Mecca, these were staples of the idolatrous life and everyday decisions to be made, often of life and death. Refusing to eat of a sacrificial animal PUBLICIZED their faith, at a time when many had not yet gone open with this. It was dangerous for the weaker Believers (women, slaves, servants) to show themselves. Nevertheless, it was a STANCE that had to be taken: Faithful person will conduct their lives in ONLY God’s Name!
As Believers, we will not ask ‘why’ regarding these prohibitions. Remember what we said in earlier postings, that a Believer will neither need -nor indeed will the Qur’an provide- ANY grounds to justify WHY these things were forbidden (unlike the explanations provided for intoxicants which offer leeway for the use of medicinal drugs, see Posting Jan. 20, 21).
4. Verse 146 tells us what was forbidden to the Jews (see HQ3:93), and the reason behind saddling them with this added burden of accountability. Muhammad Asad refers us to the Old Testament, Leviticus vii, 23.
5. Verse 147 concludes the ‘Forbidden Foods’ section of this entire Chapter Al An’aam, telling the Messenger that even if they belied him (called him a liar), he should say: “Your Lord is of Mercy All-embracing, yet His Severity بأس can never be averted from the Evil-Earners-‘mujrims’ (see definition March 30th).
6. Verses 148-149 hold a statement made by those who associate partners with God, in which they said, “If God had willed it, we would not have associated partners with him…”
This verse is important in that it shows us how unacceptable their statement is, in its indication that God’s Will is behind their lack of faith. But isn’t this what so many of us believe, avoiding responsibility by that argument: It is/was God’s will that we failed to………..!
The next verse shows us WHOSE the final ‘argument/evidence’ (Ali/Asad) actually is: It is God’s.
It is best to read the two explanations and their commentaries (at Tafaaseer!) to get the viewpoints of Ali/Asad on this very important discussion of ‘free will:’ How free are we, really?
The way I see this today, after my attempts at understanding is:
Just as God is Limitless in His attributes, He is also limitless in what He offers Humanity as possibilities.
Whenever we have a few possibilities to choose from, the choice we make becomes a reality which opens up another set of possibilities. So our choices are NOT predestined, but rather, they are Defined; in other words, the EXISTENCE of each choice is DEPENDENT on all the choices we made before it.
We have in the famous incident between Omar Ibn al Khattab and Abu Ubaydah Ibn al Jarrah the best example. This ‘hadeeth’ was narrated by Bukhari:
“Umar ibn al-Khattab set out for ash-Sham and when he was at Sargh, near Tabuk, the army commander Abu Ubayda ibn al-Jarrah and his companions, met him and told him that the plague had broken out in ash-Sham.
Ibn Abbas related, "Umar ibn al-Khattab said, ‘call the first Muhajir unto me.'
He assembled them and asked them for advice, informing them that the plague had broken out in ash-Sham. They disagreed in their opinions. Some said, 'You have set out for something, and we do not think that you should leave it.' Others said, 'You have the companions of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, and the rest of the people with you, and we do not think that you should send them towards this plague.'
Umar said, 'Leave me.' Then he said, 'Summon the Ansar to me.'
They were summoned and he asked them for advice. They acted as the Muhajirun had and disagreed as they had disagreed.
He said, 'Leave me.' "Then he said, 'Summon to me whoever is here of the aged men of Quraysh from the Muhajirun of the conquest.'
He summoned them and not one of them differed. They said, 'We think that you should withdraw the people and not send them towards the plague.'
Umar called out to the people, 'I am leaving by camel in the morning,' so they set out.
Abu Ubayda said, 'Is it flight from the decree of God?'
Umar said, 'Better that someone other than you had said it, Abu Ubayda. Yes. We flee from the decree of God to the decree of God. What would you think if these camels had gone down into a valley which had two slopes, one of them fertile, and the other barren. If you pastured in the fertile part, wouldn't you pasture them by the decree of God? If you pastured them in the barren part, wouldn't you pasture them by the decree of God?'
BOTH 'pastures' are in God's Divine Decree ‘Qadar,’ but the CHOICE of pasture is OURS.
That is what those who escape responsibility must understand!
That is what those who escape responsibility must understand!
Enough said! Have a Blessed Weekend,
Our next Reading is from HQ6:151-165
Peace unto all!