Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
As you probably remember, this chapter began by describing this Compilation, and asking people to worship God, to Whom they all return. It also spoke personally, both to Prophet Muhammad, reinforcing him, AND to his tribe, Qureish, challenging them. Then Prophet Moses’ name came up, when his Compilation was mentioned as a ‘Forerunner’ and a Mercy (May 19th). After that, there were references to the stories of several Prophets (Noah, Hud, Saleh, Abraham, lot, Shu’ayb).
Today, Prophet Moses is referred to twice: First, in four brief verses, mentioned to highlight a Timeless theme, and then with regard to the Compilation.
Then, the Chapter of Hud redirects itself to Prophet Muhammad and his Message, may God’s peace and blessings be upon all His Messengers.
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 233 Arabic Qur’an.
1. The first four verses in today’s Reading 96- 97- 98- 99 mention the story of Prophet Moses with Pharaoh, as they highlight a Timeless issue:
The Human tendency to FOLLOW an established authority, even when WRONG!
Isn’t it amazing that most people would rather follow a ‘pharaoh,’ than check to see if they are being misdirected- and part ways with him! Before you think, dear Reader: ‘This is not me!’ STOP. It IS indeed us, to a certain degree, and is what ‘conditioning’ is all about! We all do –in varying degrees- follow our forefathers and bend to peer pressure. We all do –in varying degrees- seek to emulate figures of authority; the ‘Pharaohs’ of the various industries that fascinate us. And unfortunately, matters of the spirit have always been the most lucrative industry. Endorsed by our sense of shortcoming and guilt, AND better-fed today than ever before, our spiritual ‘pharoahs’ amplify our instinctive fears and keep us glued to them by keeping us suspicious of each other. Such ‘pharaohs’ are the most difficult to part with.
God Is One, and at every moment in our lives, He is calling us to Him. We look around us, reflect, and make up our minds, having learned to do so from Prophet Abraham, peace upon him. THAT IS WHAT BEING ‘HANEEF’ is ALL ABOUT: Only in maintaining Awareness, while self-correcting our direction at every turn, would we be 'hunafaa' (plural of 'haneef'; see Posting Jan. 12th).
A comment from Muhammad Asad:
Thus, the main point of this passage is the problem of immoral leadership and, arising from it, the problem of man’s individual, moral responsibility for wrongs committed in obedience to a “higher authority.” The Qur’ān answers this question emphatically in the affirmative: the leader and the led are equally guilty, and none can be absolved of responsibility on the plea that he was but blindly following orders given by those above him. This indirect allusion to man’s relative free will – i.e., his freedom of choice between right and wrong – fittingly concludes the stories of the earlier prophets and their wrongdoing communities as narrated in this sūrah.
2. I prefer Arberry’s simpler translation of the meanings of Verses 100- 101- 102, where the Qur’an pulls together the lessons learnt from what these deviant communities have brought on themselves (we first met Arthur J. Arberry on May 7th).
The Qur’an does not uphold the concept of ‘punishment,’ while it does uphold the concept of OUTCOME, or the ‘consequence to one’s actions’- called in Arabic ‘aaqibah/iqaabعاقبة/عقاب- ’ (See definition in 1,000 year-old Arabic Lexicon below [i] as well as comments on April 14th).
This is why I disagree with Asad’s translation of ‘akhthأخذ-’ as ‘punishing grasp’ in Verse 102. On the other hand, I do like his note on Verse 100.
3. Verses 103-104- 105 begin by telling us that in these stories (of earlier communities and their Prophets) is a Sign to those who fear the Hereafter; a Term which ALL people shall come together and witness, to become thereafter either Anguished or Delighted (depending on their deeds in life).
Regular Readers know that ‘yawm-يوم‘ means a ‘time period’ a ‘term,’ and NOT a ‘day’ (although that is how we often translate it- see April 9th).
4. Verses 106- 107- 108 continue the Dissuasion versus Persuasion argument, as we notice what might seem to be a ‘time frame’ to the final stages of our existence in the Hereafter.
Muhammad Asad offers his interesting perspective, in that God might “open to man a new, yet higher stage of evolution,” while Yusuf Ali’s notes offer us familiar views.
Anyway, this is Gheyb… so God knows best!
What we DO know, is that we’d much rather be among the Delighted, than the Anguished!
PAGE 234 Arabic Qur’an.
5. Verse 109 speaks directly to Prophet Muhammad and to us in general, belittling those who ‘worship as their forefathers worshipped.’
Then, in Verse 110- 111, Prophet Moses and his Compilation are mentioned again, drawing upon the similarities between the experiences of God’s Messengers, peace upon them all, and their people
6. Read Verses 112- 113- 114- 115 with Asad’s notes, as they deserve our FULL ATTENTION, which is why I shall also post them below in Ali’s explanation:
“Therefore stand firm (in the straight Path) as thou art commanded,- thou and those who with thee turn (unto God); and transgress not (from the Path): for He seeth well all that ye do.
And incline not to those who do wrong, or the Fire will seize you; and ye have no protectors other than God, nor shall ye be helped.
And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night: For those things, that are good remove those that are evil: Be that the word of remembrance to those who remember (their Lord):
And be steadfast in patience; for verily God will not suffer the reward of the righteous to perish.”
7. After Verse 116, we end today’s thought-provoking Reading with Verse 117, which says, according to Yusuf Ali:
“Nor would thy Lord be the One to destroy communities for a single wrong- doing, if its members were likely to mend.”
What this verse seems to indicate, is that destruction ultimately befalls the communities that have transgressed beyond the Point of Return. Examples were drawn in the definitive destruction of the communities we read about earlier, a warning to us all.
The destruction of communities is still taking place today, but it in subtle ways, as consequences of our misguided deeds and decisions. The transgressions we commit are camouflaged beneath fair-sounding names, but no matter what names they bear, they are still Transgressions which bode of Self-Destruction.
Remember, that the communities mentioned in these verses all had ONE THING in common: Their attachment to what they thought of as their exemplary ‘way of life طريقة مُثلى’. This term is used by Pharaoh and his hosts, in HQ 20:63. The question we should ask is, ‘exemplary’ for whom? (Pharaoh and his hosts’ Way of Life was NOT exemplary for Bani Isra-eel, who were in slavery!)
Cognizant Humans should consider the ‘exemplary way of life’ to be one serving the weakest amongst us, before the strongest. We should be guided by our values, adjusting our ‘way of life’ to these values at every turn, and NOT the other way around.
Dear Reader: IF we truly seek to benefit from the Guidance offered in this Compilation, we must re-assess ALL our attachments, and then reaffirm ONLY what is in line with its wisdom, to the best that EACH of us sees it. Your assessment should be your own, regardless of anyone’s views, including this author!
Our next Reading is from HQ 11:118-123; 12: 1-14:
A new chapter!
[i] (عقب) أصلانِ صحيحان: أحدُهما يدلُّ على تأخير شيء وإتيانِه بعد غيره. والأصل الآخَر يدلُّ على ارتفاعٍ وشدّة وصُعوبة.
· فالأوّل قال الخليل:
كلُّ شيء يَعقُبُ شيئاً فهو عَقيبُه، كقولك خَلفٍ يَخلف، بمنزلة اللَّيل والنهار إذا مضى أحدُهما عَقَبَ الآخَر.
عاقبةُ كلِّ شيءٍ: آخره، ويقال: استعقَبَ فلانٌ من فِعلهِ خيراً أو شرَّاً، واستعقَبَ من أمرهِ ندماً، وتَعقَّب أيضاً. وتعقَّبْت ما صنَعَ فلانٌ، أي تتبَّعت أثره. ويقولون: ستَجِد عقِبَ الأمر كخيرٍ أو كشرٍّ، وهو العاقبة. ويقال: أعقب فلانٌ، أي رجَع، والمعنى أنه جاء عُقَيب مضيّه.
· وأمّا الأصل الآخر فالعَقَبة:
طريقٌ في الجبل، وجمعها عِقابٌ. ثمّ رُدّ إلى هذا كلُّ شيءٍ فيه عُلوٌّ أو شدّة. وكلُّ طريقٍ يكون بعضُه فوقَ بعض فهي أَعْقاب.
ومن الباب: العُقاب من الطَّير، سمِّيت بذلك لشدَّتها وقُوّتها، وجمعه أَعْقُبٌ وعِقبانٌ، وهي من جوارح الطَّير. ثمّ شُبِّهت الرّاية بهذه العُقاب، كأنَّها تطير كما تَطير .