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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.

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


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 97; Qur’an 9: 25-35, pages 191+192

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
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 190: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
1.  We stopped last time at the center of page 190, before discussing the Battle of Hunayn, of which Asad says:

“The battle of Hunayn, a valley situated on one of the roads leading from Mecca to Ta'if, took place in the year 8 H., shortly after the conquest of Mecca by the Muslims.”  Read his translation of Verse 25 and his commentary.

This battle offered a lesson to the Believers who, as we gather, seemed elated after having finally gained victory over idolatrous Qureish and entered Mecca.  They had pride in their victory AND overconfidence in their growing numbers, as explained by Yusuf Ali:
“For the first time the Muslims had at Hunain tremendous odds in their favour. But this itself constituted a danger. Many in their ranks had more enthusiasm than wisdom, more a spirit of elation than of faith and confidence in the righteousness of their cause.”
After an initial defeat which served to wash away their pride and overconfidence, they DID win the battle.  The Deniers suffered, and God turned in Mercy upon whom He wills (Verse 27).
PAGE 191: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
2.  These verses were all revealed after the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, and his companions had entered Mecca.  The Ka’ba returned to being the House Of Worship of One God after it was cleansed of its 360 idols.  Pure Reverence to God was re-established as was intended by Abraham when he built the Ka’ba with his son Ishmael.
Verse 28 tells the Believers who had cleansed the Ka’ba, that the polytheist Mushriks (those who associate others with God) are not allowed, after ‘this year of theirs’ ( بعد عامهم هذا) to enter the Inviolable House of Worship.  They are described as ‘najas.’
The word ‘najas نجس- [i]’ appears only here in the Qur’an, in, and is used to describe the Mushriks.  Although this word appears in this instance alone and refers to HUMANS, the term ‘najaasah’ was derived from it to denote (in ‘Islamic Jurisprudence- fiqh’) the SUBSTANCES we ‘cleanse ourselves’ of, such as blood, urine, stool, etc.  Because of our familiarity with that application, this Qur’anic word has come to be incorrectly understood and narrowly translated into English as ‘Unclean/impure.’  As we see below in our 1,000 year old Lexicon, ‘najas’ has TWO connotations:  the opposite of cleanliness (tahaara-طهارة) AND an incurable affliction!
Although this word is used only once in the Qur’an, it describes humans who, in many other verses, are said to have an affliction, or ‘marad- مرض in their hearts/minds (put قلوبهم مرض in Tanzil).  Therefore, ‘najas’ here refers to their incurable ideological affliction, and not to any immature, inaccurate description of them being ‘dirty’!
Why is this important? 
Such LABELS are misused by extremists!
Both the-called ‘Islamic’ AND ‘Anti-Islamic’ fanatics love such connotations, using them to justify their positions against each other.
Dear Reader: 
I have no desire to direct you into their websites and arguments (also, depending on location, some of you would find these websites inaccessible), but you may have noticed my delay in posting today’s Reading.  Well, the reason is that I got caught up with unplanned research into the damage this SINGLE WORD has done to the Muslim versus non-Muslim relationship throughout the ages!  I was astounded and disheartened by what I found. 
Today, a few of the most vocal attackers of Islam say that they were born Muslims, and that Islam is ‘full of hate.’  Some are of Arab origin.  Anti-Islamic blogs highlight the negativity they find in (their understanding of) Qur’an, the Prophet’s life-story (Seerah), his Sayings (Hadeeth), and Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh).  We find such persons and others, writing regular columns and appearing frequently on TV and radio.  They get listened to and believed; these are not ignorant people!  These prejudiced ‘intellectuals’ are the strongest and most effective attackers against Islam.  Certainly, most of them have ulterior motives (related mostly to politics- an issue we do NOT wish to get into), but before we blame them, dear Reader, we must realize: Their ammunition is provided by us.
This is why it is so important for us to focus on ONE thing that could, in itself, correct everything else: A correct understanding of the Qur’an. 
This is in EVERYONE’S best interest, and all peace-loving people around the world should rally to this end. 
Back to our Reading:  These verses give the ‘Mushriks’ who were present at that time of Pilgrimage an ultimatum, forbidding them and anyone like them from ever approaching the Inviolable House of Worship.  Yusuf Ali gives the word ‘najas’ both physical and spiritual connotation, while Asad gives it only spiritual meaning.  
3.  Verse 29 is another verse taken out of context and mis-explained.  After the preceding verse had said that the Mushriks were ‘persona non-grata,’ prohibited AFTER THIS YEAR OF THEIRS from ever living or visiting the Holy vicinity, this verse assigned to Believers–and dissolved of People of Earlier Compilation-  responsibility of its maintenance and defense.  Believers were clearly told to fight so as TO RENDER BENIGN (to make compliant, and NOT to kill or eradicate) certain individuals from among (‘min’ مِن’ = ‘part of;’ ‘from among’) the People of Earlier Compilation who clearly had not been following the standards of their own faith, as we see below.  The description of such persons is that they:
·  did not believe in God or the Hereafter, and furthermore
·  violated what God and His Messenger have ordained as ‘Inviolable,’ and furthermore 
·  did not uphold the just Standard of Accountability.
Believers were told to fight such persons UNTIL they had ‘laid down their arms’ and become compliant.  As for the word ‘jizyah -جزية’ – since it appears only here in the Qur’an (and is something ‘given’) it does seem to be, as explained, a form of taxation levied upon such persons in return for being defended by the Believers (see Ali and Asad). (We have evidence from history, where the Believers pay Zakaat, while People of Earlier Compilation pay a much smaller amount called 'jizyah' in return for being exempt from a duty to fight.  Khaled Ibn al Waleed, for example, when he found himself unable to defend the Christians of Homs (Emesa) from the Byzantines, returned to them the tax they had paid.)

FRAMEWORK for ‘fighting’ which the Qur’an has already laid down: There is to be NO AGGRESSION (see HQ 2:190). 
The words ‘after this year of theirs’ makes specific both the TIME and the SUBJECT of these verses which, I believe, can best be understood within a framework specific to the time of revelation.  It seems to me that this verse referred to only a fraction of the People of Earlier Compilation who lived in the vicinity of the Inviolable House of Worship at the time, BUT WERE ANTAGONISTIC to the Believers.  Under the umbrella of the faith they professed (but did NOT follow), the Believers could not give them the same ultimatum they had given the Mushriks.  The solution was to give them an alternative: a tax to be paid as the price for remaining UNARMED, YET FULLY DEFENDED by the Believers.  At the time, such persons would have been notoriously distinct from the rest of the People of Earlier Compilation by their history and their actions; the rest of the People of Earlier Compilation being those who DID in fact believe in God and the Hereafter!Some might ask:  Does this mean that the Qur’an opens God’s Inviolable House of Worship to People of Earlier Compilation ? 
The answer is in HQ 3:97.  
We can also read on Islamonline:
“Relying on these verses, the majority of Muslim Jurists, including those from the Maliki, Shafi`i and other schools of fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence), maintain that the polytheists are not allowed to enter the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. However, they state that there is nothing wrong if Christians and Jews enter it. They state that this ruling applies to the Holy Mosque in Makkah as well as its precincts. Abu Hanifah, however, views that even a polytheist can enter the Holy Mosque in Makkah as long as he will not stay or reside there. He interpreted impurity to mean spiritual impurity (shirk).”

4.  Verse 30 continues, highlighting one major difference held by some People of Earlier Compilation, in opposition to Pure Reverence to God, namely, considering Ezra and Christ ‘sons’ of God.  Asad, our authority on the Torah, explains this well.
Please note that in IDEOLOGICAL differences such as these, where arms are not actively taken up against Believers, the matter is left entirely to God.  God will bring upon them the consequences of these beliefs:  ‘Qaatalahumul-Lah’ قاتلهم الله means ‘…by God are they assailed….’ 
These words are translated by Ali as ‘God’s curse be on them’ and by Asad as ‘may God destroy them.’ Wishful thinking, versus actual fact!
5. Verse 31 pin-points where such persons went wrong:
They went wrong when they took their rabbis, priests, or Christ the son of Mary as Lords instead of God. 
This offers us a lesson, as Muslims.  Many of us in practice do take our Imams, Mullahs, and even Prophet Muhammad as ‘lords’- may God’s peace and blessings be upon all His Messengers.  Such persons might worship One God, but everything they believe and do is understood or practiced through the translations and teachings of Imams and through certain Sayings of Prophet Muhammad which these Imams have highlighted and explained.  This is one reason why Muslim understanding has often departed from the intent of the Arabic Qur’an.

PAGE 192: Click for Arabic Qur’an.

6.  Verses 32-33 are beautiful, telling us that God’s Light cannot be extinguished; It will shine in all its fullness, in spite of both those who Deny God and those who Ascribe partners to Him!  Well-explained by Asad, except for the word ‘Deen’ which we now know is not ‘religion’ but ‘Standard of Accountability.’
7.  Verses 34-35 inform us of the power that many rabbis and priests (and any of perceived ‘divine authority’) have over the lives and livelihood of common folk, and of their tasting the consequence of their deeds.

Enough said!
Our next Reading is from HQ 9: 36-47.

Peace unto all!

 [i] (نجس)  يدلُّ على خلاف الطّهارة. وشيء نَجِسٌ ونَجَسٌ: قذِر. والنَّجَس: القَذَر. النَّاجس: الداء لا دَواءَ له.

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