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.
Click for Arabic Qur’an.
1. These two verses discuss the ‘Inviolable’ months. Both Yusuf Ali (36-37) and Muhammad Asad (36-37) have done a good job in offering us the generally accepted and historically recognized explanation for these verses.
It is interesting to note that there have been other explanations which have departed from the traditional and led to much debate and controversy, such as that of Dr. Niyazi Izzedine (Arabic info). Such arguments, as I understood, have reread the historical narrative and offered another perspective, using Qur’anic reference as well as comparison of the ‘lunar to solar’ calendar at the time of revelation. They argue that, although verse 36 DOES indeed discuss the importance of not violating the FOUR months God has made ‘inviolable’ when He created this earth, the four months mentioned here are NOT related to the other months (11, 12, 1, 7 : Thul-Qi’dah, Thul-Hijjah, Muharram, and Rajab which are Inviolable by reason of Pilgrimage). According to this argument, the Inviolable Months intended here are the first four consecutive months of the year: ‘Muharram- Safar- Rabee 1 and Rabee 2,’ (in English: the Inviolable Month, The Zero Month, the month of First Spring, and the month of Second Spring). They contend that this period of 4 months was intended to cover the entire spring season- and was made Inviolable by God from the first moment of Creation for the sake of wildlife conservation and the preservation of the balance of Life on earth. They tell us that Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, fought to reinstate this balance after Qureish had tampered with it, and that this verse presents this issue as worthy of fighting for and upholding as a matter of faith.
This certainly IS a very interesting take on the ‘Divine Purpose’ for the ‘Inviolable’ months (the Pilgrimage months PLUS four in Spring), and could be seen to add an issue we had not thought of to our standard of accountability : Conservation! (‘THAT is the upright Standard of Accountability’- ذلك الدين القيّم).
Were Muslims to adopt such a perspective, we would be heartbroken to note that, after the Prophet, peace upon him, was sent as a Mercy to the Worlds …… we went right ahead, forgot his teachings, and hunted to extinction so many species of wildlife on earth!
2. Verses 38-39-40 are related to the Battle of Tabuk, and are interspersed with heart-wrenching questions and warnings addressed to Believers, such as:
· …what is the matter with you, that, when you are asked to go forth in the cause of God, you cling heavily to the earth…?
· …do ye prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter…?
· …unless ye go forth, He will punish you with a grievous penalty, and replace you with others..!
Verse 40 offers a beautiful flash-back to Prophet Muhammad’s first moment of escape from his own people, peace upon him. A moment where, due to hopelessness in them, he had to step into the unknown and deliver his life, his 13 years of struggle, AND his Message, into the hands of complete strangers. On his way to ‘Yethrib,’ his destination, in that tiny cave, as he was anxiously shouldering the burden of that moment… there was another escapee with him.. a friend… who needed to hear words of consolation from his blessed lips:
“Don’t be sad…” The Prophet said to Abu Bakr. “God is indeed with us!”
With these words, God sent calmness and tranquility upon him, aided him with unseen forces, and ultimately rendered his message supreme.
PAGE 194: Click for Arabic Qur’an.
3. Verse 41 is a command, telling People of Faith what is best for them.
4. Verses 42-46 speak directly to prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, telling him about those who ‘lagged behind’ when he took the rest of the able-bodied men to battle. Those who lagged behind were all Hypocrites, except for three persons whom we mentioned earlier, in Posting of February 17th. I’ve included that footnote below [i].
5. In Verse 43 we hear the ‘voice’ of God clearly, as He questions the Prophet regarding the decision he had made to accept their excuses for remaining behind.
6. Verse 47 informs us of the negative effect RELUCTANT people will have upon any endeavor!
Our next Reading is from HQ 9: 48-61
[i] Three Believers were enjoying the weather and their harvest, and kept procrastinating about getting themselves ready for the Battle of Tabuk, until the Prophet, peace upon him, and the army had left. There was no way for them to catch up, and finding themselves in town with the women, children, and hypocrites they felt ashamed of what they had done. They were thinking of making up excuses, but couldn’t, and told the truth when they apologized to the Prophet upon his return. The Prophet did not admonish them, but God did not allow him or the Believers to take them back into their folds until they had TASTED the loss of what they had taken so lightly. The three men were treated as if they were invisible, the wives of the married men were told to leave them alone, and not a single person in the entire town spoke one word to them, even in response. The two older men gradually stayed in their homes, while the younger one kept attending all the congregational prayers for fifty days, till the very last night. Before dawn the next morning Qur’an was revealed HQ9:118 describing their pain and their repentance and declaring that God had indeed ‘forgiven them so that they might repent.’ The entire town rejoiced, a man on horseback was dispatched to give each of them the good news but someone had already climbed a hill and shouted out the good news, and therefore was able to reach them first. HQ9:43-46; 90; 102-105; 106; 118 see M. Asad’s note 155 in Ch.9.
We might be the ones asking for forgiveness, but when we do we must know… that God already has forgiven!