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UNCOVERING the original message of the Arabic Qur'an by using Lexicons compiled more than 1,000 years ago.

ISOLATING Fact from Fiction.

RECOVERING Hope and regaining the perspective where Humanity is one, God's Message is one, and our Future CAN become one we all look forward to!


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A BREAKTHROUGH project which helps understand the Qur'an AS REVEALED -not just 'as explained.'


Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 76; Qur’an 6:151-165; Pages 149-150

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!

Readers who started with us from Day One, would have noticed that we did not explain the all-important first Chapter of the Qur’an, the Faatiha, or Opener.  There are many reasons why we didn’t, or COULDN’T.  One of these reasons, is that it holds too many concepts to grasp all at once, and our intention was to discuss all these concepts as they came along. 
A VERY important concept comes along today:

The description of the ‘Straightened Path’ The Siraat Mustaqeem- الصراط المستقيم - which we ask God to guide us to, at least 17 times every day! 

But before we start, it is important to know that, although this is a Meccan Chapter, Verses 151- 152- 153 were revealed in Medina.  That is one of the amazing characteristics of the Qur'an!  
1.  Verse 151 starts with a command to the Messenger Muhammad (peace upon him), to invite his people to RISE to a higher standard of responsibility. 
Some might ask, “But the invitation is to ‘Come,’ not to ‘Rise!” All interpretations will agree… BUT… let’s stop for a second and think:  ‘Ta’aala’ تعالَ in Arabic may be an invitation to ‘come,’ but, as anyone who knows Arabic will tell you, the root verb is ‘alaa – علا- يعلو’ (and we already know that when we say that God is ‘Ta’aala’ تعالى we mean that He is Exalted). Furthermore, we can see in our footnote many lexicons that assert its original connotation of persons on a higher elevation (whether literal or in seniority) calling persons on a lower elevation TO JOIN THEM [i]! 
Isn’t that something? 
We should adjust our explanation of HQ3:61; 64; 167; 4:61; 5:104- because we have just grasped what every ‘ta’aala-u’ تعالوا in the Qur’an indicated: an invitation to people to elevate themselves to a higher level!

In my translation of these commandments (hereunder), Readers will notice some changes, such as ‘inviolable’ instead of ‘forbidden’- both have the same meaning but the word ‘forbidden’ has caused commentators and translators many problems, especially with the second commandment, as in: ‘How is kindness/benevolence to parents forbidden?’  Also the word ‘straightened’ instead of ‘straight’ because that is the meaning of ‘mustaqeem [ii] (as seen in HQ9:7; 41:6- in the command to ‘straighten oneself.’)
Anyway, let’s proceed, and count the underlined commands (click verse numbers to see original Arabic):
Say: " Rise/Come, I’ll recite what God has made Inviolable upon you (pl):
That you do not Associate anything with Him, and in both parents Benevolence, and do not kill your (birth) children due to poverty [iii]  – We sustain you and them- and do not approach the Pervasive Atrocity (sex out of wedlock) [iv], what is overt of such, and what is covert, and do not kill the Human Self–which God has made inviolable – unless in legal retribution: this has He enjoined upon you so that you might secure knowledge.

And do not approach the wealth of an orphan – unless by that which is best (investment)– until he comes of age, and fully render/fulfill all measure and weight with justness- We do not charge a Human Self except with what it can encompass- and when you make any statement, be fair, even if the person is close to you (in kinship or friendship).  And of God’s Covenant be fulfilling: this He has enjoined upon you, so that you might recollect.

And indeed, THIS IS MY PATH, STRAIGHTENED, so pursue it, and do not pursue the byways which diverge you from His Way, this He has enjoined upon you so that you might be Aware."
2.  Verse 154 tells us that Prophet Moses, peace upon him, received the Compilation, with a beautiful description of what he had received… but why mention Moses now?
We have to keep reminding ourselves why the Qur’an mentions People of earlier Compilation:  Just so WE do not commit their mistakes!

Above, in the ‘Straightened Path’ -‘Siraat Mustaqeem’- the last of our Commandments is to pursue THIS path, forsaking all others.

Forsaking all others.  That is the crux. 
That we realize the value of what we have. 
That we hold it –in our minds- above contamination. 
That we protect it from loss by making it a part of our lives. 

How many people today realize that the ‘Siraat Mustaqeem’ is right here, in the Qur’an?

Did you count the underlined injunctions as you went along?  TEN. 
How similar are they to what the Old Testament contains of Moses’ Commandments? 
Were People of earlier Compilation commanded to do all the above and stay on God’s Path, neither turning right nor left? 
Did they, in fact, do that, and walked straight in the way of God, their Lord? 

There is no need to answer these questions; they are not intended to show us any shortcoming but OUR OWN.

For research’s sake however, The Old Testament, Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 5, shows us similar Commandments (see footnote [v]), ending with the last of its verses saying:

“Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. (V. 32). Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you.. ..” (V. 33)
Indeed, Moses' Compilation, when it was revealed, guided people to a ‘Straight Path,’ and traces of that guidance are still found in the 'static' books of today (we will notice some resemblance to the Qur'an although a translation might say ‘level’ rather than ‘straight,’ or ‘way’ rather than ‘path'.  In the Arabic version of the Bible, it will be much closer of course). 
World English Bible
27:11 “Teach me your way, Yahweh. Lead me in a straight path….”
The Arabic translation says ‘sabeel’ for ‘path,’ and ‘mustaqeem’ for ‘straight:’
سفر المزامير 27:11 "عَلِّمْنِي يَا رَبُّ طَرِيقَكَ، وَاهْدِنِي فِي سَبِيل مُسْتَقِيمٍ ….."
3.  Now back to the Qur'an which, as we remember from previous Postings is different from all that still exists of earlier Revelation, in that it is NOT a compilation of 'static sheets' كتاباً في قرطاس , but rather: A COMPILATION OF ABIDING BENEFIT, as shown in Verse 155:
     This Compilation is of Abiding Benefit (mubaarak), and that we should pursue it if we truly seek Mercy.  Remember HQ6:92: “And THIS is a Compilation we bestowed, of Abiding Benefit (Blessings)…” (definition of ‘baraka’ in March 26 Posting).

4.  In concluding this Meccan chapter, Verses 156-158 present us with the responses to TWO arguments which the Qureish tribe would make (to absolve themselves of responsibility):  The first is that they would say that the Compilation (singular!) was sent to two groups before their time (Jews and Christians), and that they were unaware of the teachings of other peoples.  The second is the argument that, had THEY received the Compilation, they would have been better guided than the Jews or Christians.  The RESPONSE is that, now, after the CLEAR EVIDENCE has come to them from their Lord, AND Guidance, AND Mercy… they have no excuse!  Verse 157 ends with dire warning to those who turn away from God’s Signs.
Verse 158 asks them, what they are waiting for; the arrival of Angels, or your Lord, or some of your Lord’s Signs…?  It tells them that when the signs they seek DO come finally upon them, it would be too late for any Human Self which had not Believed beforehand AND earned well in its belief…. and it tells Prophet Muhammad to tell them (if they prefer to wait for the final hour): Say, “You all wait.  We are awaiting!”

This is a timeless argument:  Time will tell!

5.  Verse 159 tells us of those who disassemble their Standard of Accountability, their ‘Deen,’ and become sects.  By breaking its unity, making certain parts of ‘Deen’ more important or relevant than others- what may start out as a difference in priorities, becomes an ideological break, and ends up quite physical in that the ‘Faithful’ are no longer one unit. 
The Messenger is told that he is not responsible for such people (Zamakhshari), and that their affairs rest with God Who, in time, will tell them of every single deed they had been doing (notice ‘yaf’al’ not ‘ya’mal’ يفعل # يعمل see March 16th Posting)!!!
Read Muhammad Asad’s note 161.  The persons referred to here may have been thought to be the Jews and Christians of the time, while many of us today understand this to refer to ‘any sect other than MINE’ … but it is even more serious than that: 
It is ALL of us – ANY of us - who have dissected and redefined our original Standard of Accountability!  Our Beloved Prophet Muhammad is absolved of our misdeeds, as indeed he should be, in a likeness to Jesus, who was absolved of the misdeeds of his followers, peace upon them both.  In Jesus’ case, the gravest misdeed of his followers was calling him ‘son of God,’ while our gravest misdeed is our separation from our beautiful Standard and from each other.  Let every Believer think of that.

6.  Verse 160 gives us a clear-cut view of how God assesses our Deeds and Rewards:  He gives us ten-fold recompense for one good deed, and a single recompense for a bad deed.  How wonderful is that?  After knowing this, how could we ever doubt His Infinite Mercy and Love?

7.  Verses 161-164 contain a most beautiful supplication given to the Messenger to say (and to us, and indeed WE DO recite these two verses after Abraham’s ‘Du’aa el Tawajjuh,’ HQ6:79, the supplication we give as we initiate prayer, directing ourselves towards God).
Notice how these verses start with mention of the Straightened Path AND of Abraham, peace upon him:

"Say, 'My Lord has indeed guided me to a Straightened Path, a Standard of Accountability Upright/Straight, the creed of Abraham, Haneef, and he was not of Those who Ascribed partners' (to God)." 6:161 

PLEASE REFER TO DEFINITION OF 'HANEEF' in Posting of Jan. 12th. These beautiful verses end with a question each of us should ask ourselves: 
Would we seek a Lord other than God, after all that we now KNOW about Him?
In the center of verse 164 is what Muhammad Asad calls a “categorical rejection of the Christian doctrines of ‘original sin’ and ‘vicarious atonement..”…see his note 163.  This concept of pure self-accountability appears 5 times in the Qur’an: copy + paste تزر وازرة in Tanzil.

8.  Verse 165 returns us to the beginning of creation, when we were created as Beings that ‘take over from one another,’ or ‘succeed each other,’ خلفاء-Khulafaa’. 
Here, however, it specifies ‘Successors of the Earth’ ‘Khalaa-ef’ – خلائف الأرض’ which indicates our ‘inheritance’ of this earth, or perhaps that humans will NOT become extinct, remaining on this earth until the end, and being resurrected after the destruction of earth as we know it.  This concept will be validated in other Verses when we get to them; we’ll just keep an open mind for now.
I also find categorically WRONG what many scholars have indicated (including Yusuf Ali), that ‘Man is God’s Vicegerent’ on earth.  Linguistically, 'vicegerent means: representative, deputy, steward etc.. In Arabic, the verb khalafa means to be literally behind in location, OR to come after, follow, or succeed someone absent- usually someone who had died (vi).  This is supported by Arabic usage, historical procedure, and the absence of such indication in the Qur’an:

·    In usage, when someone dies we praise that person’s children by saying ‘You/they are the best successor ‘khalaf’ to the best predecessor ‘salaf خير خلف لخير سلف

·   As for historical procedure, when the Messenger passed away, peace upon him, Abu Bakr became ‘Khaleefat Rasoolil-Lah.’ When he in turn passed away, people were wondering what to call his successor, Omar Ibnil Khattaab.  He could not be called ‘Khaleefat Rasoolil-Lah’ because he was not succeeding the Messenger, but was succeeding the Messenger’s Successor, so instead of the lengthy title ‘the Khaleefa of the Khaleefa of the Messenger of God,’ people decided to call him ‘Ameerul Mu’mineen- أمير المؤمنينthe Leader of the Faithful.

·   Nowhere does the Qur’an call anyone ‘God’s Successor/ Deputy/ Vicegerent.’  Furthermore, the words in plural: ‘khalaa’ef / khulafaa, or the singular khaleefa,’ are always related to the earth, NEVER to God:  Copy + paste: خلائف – خلفاء – خليفة  in Tanzil.
The term ‘khaleefatul-Lah’ was coined by humans!

The verse continues, saying that humans were given varying degrees of every single attribute (so that we would need each other and work together HQ43:32), as a trial to us all, by which we could prove our worth by how we make use of what we are given.
The Chapter of Al An’aam ends by saying that God is indeed swift in meting out the consequences (to our actions and inaction), and He is indeed Most Forgiving and Unceasingly Compassionate.

Our next Reading is from HQ 7:1-22; a new Chapter!

P.S.  Check out the fun quiz at bottom of side-bar!
Peace unto all!

 [i]  الراغب الأصفهاني: (تعال) قيل: أصله أن يدعى الإنسان إلى مكان مرتفع، ثم جعل للدعاء إلى كل مكان، قال بعضهم: أصله من العلو، وهو ارتفاع المنزلة، فكأنه دعا إلى ما فيه رفعة، كقولك: افعل كذا غير صاغر تشريفا للمقول له. وعلى ذلك قال: }قل تعالوا ندع أبناءنا{ [آل عمران/61]، }تعالوا إلى كلمة{ [آل عمران/64]، }تعالوا إلى ما أنزل الله{ [النساء/61]، }ألا تعلوا علي{ [النمل /31]، }تعالوا أتل{ [الأنعام/151].
وفي تاج العروس للزَّبيدي ( علو ) جاء: " ( والتعالى الارتفاع إذا أمرت منه قلت تعال بفتح اللام ) أي اعل ولا يستعمل في غير الامر
وقال أحمد بن محمد بن علي الفيومي المقري في المصباح المنير (نسبة إلى فيوم العراق لا فيوم مصر، ونزيل مدينة حماة) والمتوفي 770 هـ/1368 م .في (تعالى): وتعالى تعالياً من الارتفاع أيضاً. وتعالَ فعل أمر من ذلك. وأصله أن الرجل العالي كان ينادي السافل فيقول: تعالَ، ثم كثر في كلامهم حتى استعمل بمعنى هلمَّ مطلقاً، سواء كان موضع المدعو أعلى أو أسفل أو مساوياً، فهو في الأصل لمعنى خاص ثم استعمل في معنى عام.

[ii] الجوهري: وقَوَّمت الشيء، فهو قَويم أي مستقيم. والاسْتِقامةُ: الاعْتدالُ، يقال: اسْتَقامَ له الأمر. وقامَ الشيءُ واسْتقامَ: اعْتدَل واستوى.
[iii] (ملق)  يدلُّ على [تجرُّد] في الشيء ولين. ويقال الإملاق: إتلافُ المال حَتَّى يُحوِج. والقياس واحد، كأنَّه تجرَّدَ عن المال.
 [iv] وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا الزِّنَا  إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَاحِشَةً وَسَاءَ سَبِيلًا ﴿17:32
[v] “And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them:
Thou shalt have none other gods before me….(V. 7)
Honor thy father and thy mother as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.. (V. 16)
Neither shalt thou commit adultery (V. 18).
Neither shalt thou steal (V. 19).
Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbor (V. 20).
 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbor's wife…. (V. 21).
….ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left (V. 32).
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded  you.. .” (V. 33)

vii (خلف) لها أصولٌ ثلاثة: أحدُها أن يجيءَ شيءٌ بعدَ شيءٍ يقومُ مقامَه، والثاني خِلاف قُدَّام، والثالث التغيُّر.
فالأوّل الخَلَف. والخَلَف: ما جاء بعدُ. ويقولون: هو خَلَفُ صِدْقٍ من أبيه. وخَلَف سَوْءٍ من أبيه. والخِلِّيفَى: الخِلافة، وإنَّما سُميِّت خلافةً لأنَّ الثَّاني يَجيءُ بَعد الأوّلِ قائماً مقامَه.
والأصل الآخر خَلْفٌ، وهو غير قَدّام. يقال: هذا خلفي، وهذا قدّامي. وهذا مشهورٌ.
وأمّا الثالث *فقولهم خَلَف فُوه، إذا تغيَّرَ، وأخْلَفَ. وهو قولُه صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم: "لَخُلُوفُ فم الصائم أطيَبُ عند الله من ريح المِسْك".
ومنه الخِلاف في الوَعْد. وخَلَفَ الرَّجُلُ عن خُلق أبيه: تغيَّر.
وأمّا قولهم: اختلفَ النَّاسُ في كذا، والناس خلْفَةٌ أي مختلِفون، فمن الباب الأوّل؛ لأنَّ كلَّ واحدٍ منهم يُنَحِّي قولَ صاحبه، ويُقيم نفسَه مُقام الذي نَحّاه.

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