Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
As we said yesterday: Understanding the Qur’an Linguistically AND IN CONTEXT is to everyone’s best interest!
In this Chapter we notice that the Qur’an urges the Believers to fight against the ‘Mushriks- the Associaters’ of Qureish.
We also notice that, after verse(s) urging firmness and severity, there always is a verse which OPENS THE DOOR to reconciliation and even brotherhood (which both so-called ‘Islamic’ and ‘anti-Islamic’ fanatics tend to ignore).
And there certainly was ample ground for battling the pledge-breaking Mushriks; besides the reasons mentioned in earlier verses, Verses 12-13 cite the following reasons:
· They had BROKEN their pledges after their covenant (نكثوا أيمانهم من بعد عهدهم).
· They had DISCREDITED the Believer’s Standard of Accountability (طعنوا في دينكم).
· They had plotted to expel the Messenger from Medina (in violation of their treaty with him).
· They were the ones who had instigated hostility.
And so we continue today.
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 189: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
1. Verses 14-15 tell the Believers to fight Qureish. We mustn’t forget that, to the Emigrants, this was THEIR OWN TRIBE who had oppressed them, which is why gaining victory over them would ‘heal the breasts’ (Ali) or ‘soothe the bosoms’ of the Believers (Asad) as mentioned in verse 14. Such a victory would also ‘still the indignation of their hearts…’ (Ali), verse 15. Note that Muhammad Asad refers the pronoun ‘their’ in verse 15 (يذهب غيظ قلوبهم) to the Mushriks, translating this last line as ‘and will remove the wrath that is in the UNBELIEVERS’ hearts.’ This is what commentators such as Zamakhshari say, and is quite interesting!
2. The main concept in Verse 16 (that life is a test) appears often in the Qur’an. Here it asks us whether we think that we would not be tried, and by trial be differentiated- علم by God. Read this verse according to Ali and Asad, and see HQ 2: 90-92.
Trials, tests, ordeals, hardships…this is what drives us to put our effort ‘juhd’(جهد) , to various degrees of self-exertion ‘jihaad’ (جهاد). As Cognizant Humans we must strive to fulfill our potential and prove ourselves. As Believers we must differentiate ourselves and let the strength of our faith guide our actions towards all that is good. We discussed a similar concept and gave the definition of (‘allama) in the Posting of February 8th (Comment 5), where we said:
“Many people have fretted over interpreting ‘liya’lama’ as ‘so that God would know,’ which of course is not correct since God’s Knowledge encompasses all. Many do not realize that it is also linguistically inaccurate because the meaning of the word (’allama) is originally related to making a ‘mark.’
3. The following verses refer to the ‘Superiority Complex’ of Idolatrous Qureish, signaling their DEMISE as erstwhile custodians of the Ka’ba, and their imminent defeat in the power-struggle that had threatened them as soon as ‘Islam’- Pure Reverence to God- had first appeared. Not many people realize that THIS POWER STRUGGLE was the main reason for Qureish’s opposition to the new faith (remember, they had offered the Messenger of God a ‘power-sharing’ option, whereby they would appoint him their leader and would accept his new faith if he let them keep their idol-gods AND their status!).
ECONOMIC LEVERAGE is an ideology of its own!
As custodians of the Holy Shrine, Qureish had held unchallenged reins over Arabia as to who was allowed to perform Pilgrimage, at what time of day, in what months of the year, from which entry points, in what attire… and they had benefitted in both prestige and Trade. Verse 17 DENOUNCES the Mushriks in the upkeep, (يعمر) of God’s Houses of Worship, while Verse 18 identifies its RIGHTFUL UPKEEPERS.
It informs us of the 5 characteristics required so as to qualify to upkeep God’s Houses of Worship; characteristics which might merit the title of ‘rightly guided- مهتدين.’
· Believing in God.
· Believing in the Hereafter.
· Establishing regular Prayer/a proper relationship with God.
· Giving generously (of wealth and character).
· Standing in awe of none BUT God.
Ali translates ‘upkeepers’ as those who ‘visit and maintain’ while Asad says it is ‘those who visit or tend.’ I agree with both, since what truly ‘upholds’ a House of God are its worshippers!
4. Verse 19, by way of asking a question, highlights the absurdity of their allegations. Read both Ali and Asad’s beautiful comments regarding the positive characteristics of Believers.
5. Verse 20 posits a statement, giving further merit to those amongst the Believers who have ‘emigrated,’ and details their exertion as being in their selves and their wealth. Such persons are of greater ‘daraja,’ translated by both Ali and Asad as a higher ‘rank.’
Their translation is inaccurate.
As we have seen earlier, the word ‘daraja’ reflects on our understanding of other verses, and when taken to mean ‘rank,’ could be construed to give males a ‘higher rank’ over females. See Posting of February 24th where this is discussed and where we find the definition of ‘daraja’ from our Lexicon.
Daraja denotes motion in Arabic, as in ‘to step’ or proceed forward or upward.
No wonder emigration is a greater ‘daraja!’ Whether we emigrate physically or spiritually, we step up to the challenge and make, what is in fact, LIFE’S GREATEST MOVE!
PAGE 190: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
6. Verses 21-22 give the Believers glad tidings- may WE be among them!
Verse 23 addresses the Believers directly and forbids them to take their parents and brothers as protectors when they favor Denial over Belief.
7. In Verse 24 the Qur’an tells the Believers where their/our PASSIONS should lie:
What they/we should love most are God, His Messenger, and striving in His cause, even MORE than parents, children, siblings, spouses, tribe, wealth, business, and homes!
That… is….so…. scary! It seems impossible to live up to, especially when we are young and immersed in life. It is only when something happens to put everything into perspective that we suddenly realize what life is all about. Then, neither the wealth we’ve accumulated, the business we were fearful for, or the homes we enjoy, will matter. Love will matter, and the Love of God will be first and foremost. His love for us and our love for Him. This is the only thing that can validate all our other loves, and guarantee our eternal enjoyment of those loves. When we think of someone we love most on earth we ask ourselves: Wouldn’t we want that relationship to transcend this existence into eternity?
It can. It will… when cradled in the love of God.
Our next Reading is from HQ 9: 25-36.