Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yesterday’s reading was so interesting, made even more so… by your questions!
Yusuf Ali’s Translation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Translation of this Chapter.
Their commentaries can only be read in verse by verse view.
PAGE 175: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
1. In Verses 187-188, the Messenger Muhammad, peace upon him, was asked a question about the ‘Hour,’ to which he was told to relay a very important concept: That its knowledge is with His Lord, with God; that he (the Prophet) has no power to benefit or harm his own self; that –had he known the Unseen- he would have amassed for himself all good fortune and would not have even been touched by misfortune; that he was no more than a Warner AND a Bearer of glad tidings to people who believe. Well-explained by Muhammad Asad, these verses illustrate the Prophet’s ‘humanness.’ A similar argument appeared in HQ 6: 50.
2. Verses 189-190 follow up on God’s knowledge, stating His creation of Humanity from one ‘Self’ from whom He brought a mate into being for soothing comfort (see both Ali and Asad).
The narrative continues, illustrating the feelings and wishes of early parenthood-coupled with humbleness to God- and how these parents changed into ‘associating with God’ after He had provided them with the healthy child they desired (see both Ali and Asad).
3. Verses 193-195 ask the idolatrous tribe of Qureish a series of questions, well-explained by both Ali and Asad, except for the meaning of ‘Ibaad’ عباد which is ‘worshippers,’ NOT ‘servant/slaves.’
The latter in Arabic would have been ‘abeed’ عبيد .
PAGE 176: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
4. Verse 196 is a statement of commitment by the Messenger, as well as a comparison of HIS Protector… to theirs!
Verses 197-198 offer further comparison.
5. Verse 199 is a beautiful command to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, AND guidance to us all. See it in both interpretations of Ali and Asad.
6. Verse 200 is similar to HQ 41: 36, and is one of several instances in the Qur’an where the Prophet is told to seek refuge in God (put استعذ and قل أعوذ in Tanzil). To understand the circumstances that necessitate him/us to seek refuge in God, we must look to the CONTEXT of these verses.
Reading them without their specific context robs them of their full meaning, and allows biased and subjective NON-QUR’ANIC applications.
Here, the context is clear: It is to strengthen oneself in God, so as to enable the self-restraint and motivation required to fulfill the commands in Verse 199, which end with ‘turning away from the ignorant!’
How about HQ 23:97? There the context is also clear: It is specific to Prophet Muhammad who was constantly harassed by the leaders (shayaateen) of Qureish so that he dreaded their approach (أعوذ بك رب أن يحضرون), and was told to seek refuge in God so as to elicit the self-restraint and motivation required to keep repelling their false narratives/rumors (ما يصفون) with his compassion and forbearance, similar to HQ 40:56 where he has to strengthen himself up to bearing their questioning doubts and arrogance.
How about HQ 41:36? This is also similar, seeking refuge in God (to elicit self-restraint and maintain motivation) but with the final result of converting previous ‘enemies’ into intimate friends!
Now we can better understand verses 201-202, and realize how seeking refuge in God will bring us back to Awareness and the proper channel of conduct, even after having been touched by a tendency to Deviate (Ali).
Indeed, the only time we are commanded to seek refuge in God, and it is NOT related to the challenge of dealing with the negativity of other people, is in HQ 16:98. There, the challenge is of MISREADING, MISUNDERSTANDING, AND MISREPRESENTING the Qur’an!
Verse 204 addresses that issue, telling everyone that when the Qur’an is recited, they should not only listen, but also focus on what is said, ie. to physically incline, so as to grasp its meanings, perchance they will receive Mercy.
7. Verses 203, 205 are addressed to the Prophet, peace upon him, on what to say to the public and how to remember God within his own self.
Verse 206 ends this Chapter with mention of ‘those who are near/with/in the custody of’ your Lord…
Commentators have traditionally taken this verse to be a description of the Angels, but both Ali and Asad have broadened the concept to include special categories of ‘God-conscious’ humans (see Ali and Asad).
Our next Reading is from HQ 8: 1-16. A new Chapter!