Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Yesterday’s main topic was tough, but I do hope that I have well-illustrated the necessity of keeping Qur’anic verses -indeed everything we report - in context.
Also, since many people around the world (due to media bias and disinformation) do NOT realize that Islam is historically known for having been the most tolerant towards others, I think that they need to discover this fact, but not in our writings as much as in our persons. We must re-establish our tradition of respecting other people’s faiths and cultures. Unfortunately, many of us have lost sight of that.
It is no coincidence that, the most convincing arguments today, and therefore those most likely to change mind-sets, are coming from scholars who have embraced Islam, rather than being born into it. I believe that one of the reasons for this is that when they look out, they see people, rather than a ‘Muslim’ versus ‘non-Muslim’ divide. And because people can feel this acceptance, they naturally soften to them.
One such scholar, Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah of the Nawawi Foundation, Chicago, speaks eloquently about Islam’s uniqueness; even as it spread to other cultures, it kept them intact:
“Historically, Islamic jurists have upheld the Prophet’s legal precedent for respecting non-Arabs’ ethnic and cultural differences, as long as they did not contravene his teaching. Islam’s spread and triumphant past reflects this glorious global culture. Like a crystal clear river, Islam and sacred law are pure but colorless, until they reflect the Chinese, African, & other bedrock over which they flow.” Read complete article.
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 209Arabic Qur’an.
1. The first four verses offer an example of what is termed ‘targheeb and tarheeb-ترغيب وترهيب ’ or ‘persuasion and dissuasion,’ which we spoke of earlier when discussing HQ 7:41-42.
Verses 7 and 8, the first two verses of today’s Reading, discuss the negative consequence which shall inevitably come to those who:
· Do not anticipate meeting God (in other verses we learn that they do not believe in the resurrection of dust and bones; copy + paste ترابا وعظاما in Tanzil).
· Were satisfied to keep their sights on this immediate and lowly life which provided them ease (due to having absolved themselves of responsibility).
· Are heedless of God’s signs.
(P.S. The tenses are interesting in this verse!)
2. These verses are in contrast to the next two:
· Done good deeds.
The first consequence for those who Believe, is that their Lord shall guide them BY THEIR FAITH. The second consequence is arriving at their final destination: Here we see the beautiful picture of the rivers flowing beneath the gardens of bliss, where they praise God and receive greetings of ‘Peace!’ Their final invocation takes them full circle to the first call they ever made to their Creator in life, to the words that had never left their lips: ‘AlHamdulil-Lahi Rabbil-AAlameen.’
Ali: ‘Praise be to God, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds!’
Arberry: ‘Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being.’
The two opposing scenes offer listeners both ‘persuasion and dissuasion,’ but it is up to them to heed the message!
3. Verse 11 shows us the value of time and the reason behind delaying the full consequence to our actions; we are given ample time throughout life to learn from our mistakes, to rethink our decisions, and to make amends. But time flies! The less time we have remaining for us to live, the less the chance that we can adjust ourselves to the right course. This is why it is so important for us to find our way sooner, rather than later, in life.
No regret will ever burn more deeply than the regret of a Chance wasted, and a Time lost. Regret is what Hell is about!
Verse 12 shows us Human Nature; it is only when we are touched by hardship that we pray to God with our whole hearts. When hardship passes, the urgency fades.
Here we are reminded of what we had discussed on March 24th:
“How wonderful is it, that (as a search through the entire Qur’an will show) God never harms, hurts, or distresses us: The words يضركم- are never mentioned, but rather He ‘touches us with…”
4. Verse 13 reminds us of this being a Meccan Chapter; Qureish/listeners are told here about earlier populations who did not believe their Messengers. The verse ends on a note of warning.
Verse 14 tells Qureish/listeners are told that they are the ‘successors’ on earth to the departed populations, and it is their turn to prove themselves.
Here we note the term ‘khala’ef’ on earth- خلائف في الأرض and see quite clearly (as discussed on April 5th) that human 'succession' is always related to the earth- not to God. The Qur’an NEVER mentions that anyone is God’s successor or vicegerent, or anything similar! Such an allegation, may constitute ‘shirk’ at most, and disrespect, or ignorance at the least. God is not to be succeeded by anyone or anything! This is just one example of the many instances where we have gone wrong, and ended up echoing each other -without even thinking.
PAGE 210 Arabic Qur’an.
5. Verse 15 returns to those who ‘do not anticipate meeting God,’ and their irrational demands. Despite the fact that they made those demands without any intention of ever conceding (even if these demands were met), the Messenger was commanded to respond to them by stating that he was following what was revealed to him, peace upon him, and feared to disobey his Lord.
Verse 16 presents them with an even more detailed argument, and reminds them of the upright life he had led in their midst (he became a Messenger when he was 40 years of age).
6. Verse 17 in Ali’s translation is a little better because I don’t agree with Asad’s ‘happy state.’ Note the ‘interactive’ question and remember what we said earlier; a question always gets its response, silent or otherwise!
The theme of belying God’s signs is a recurrent one (see HQ 6:21, or copy + paste أظلم ممن كذب in Tanzil).
Verse 18 is clearer in Ali’s explanation, but make sure to read Asad’s comments on intercession. This is a VERY important topic because it is difficult to find any person of any faith who does not believe in the necessity to have someone interceding on their behalf- and worse yet, depend on that intercession. Notice that the verse responds to their allegation of intercession with another question which puts them on the spot!
7. Verse 19 should be read, with the commentary. Another verse which sheds light on this topic is HQ 2:213.
In Verse 20 Qureish asks the Messenger for a sign from ‘his Lord,’ by which they meant ‘miracle.’ The response he is told to give them is a most eloquent warning!
Our next Reading is from HQ 10: 21-33.