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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.

RECOVERING Hope and regaining the perspective where Humanity is one, God's Message is one, and our Future CAN become one we all look forward to!


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


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 124; Qur’an 12: 63-78, page 243 + 244

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
Some of you must have felt as I did, upon studying the final verse of our Last Reading, where Prophet Joseph, peace upon him, enticed the brothers who had grievously wronged him, with his kindness and generosity.  His forgiveness had preceded that, but they did not know of it.
The Most Effective Pressure we can apply, to get people to do the right thing is ‘Ihsaan,’ a most beautiful combination of Forgiveness, Kindness, and Generosity.
This is yet another lesson learnt from the beautiful story of Joseph, peace upon him.  We shall dwell on it at the end of today’s Reading. 

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 243 Arabic Qur’an.

1.    Verses 63- 64 describe the conversation that took place between Joseph’s brothers, and their father Jacob.  Jacob is reluctant to send his youngest son with them, reminding them of how he had previously trusted them with Joseph, peace upon both.
In Verse 65 the brothers discover the bartered goods which had been returned to them, and use that as evidence of the generosity they expect to benefit from.
Even so, Jacob asks them to pledge solemnly (Verse 66) that they would return with their young brother, or else die protecting him.

2.     In Verses 67- 68 Jacob advises his eleven sons against arousing suspicion in the towns they enter, telling them to enter from separate gates.  This was very wise, seeing that a group of young, all-male, armed, traveling strangers might easily be perceived as a gang!
Unfortunately, people who believe in superstition often cite this verse as proof that Prophet Jacob, peace upon him, was asking them to break up, so that the ‘evil eye’ would not harm his eleven sons if seen together.  How sorry a state are such people in, when they ignore the real and true dangers, and fall prey to them, while fighting imagined ones instead… using a blue bead or a palm, or even incantation in place of their God-given common sense (see Ali’s note 67)?!

3.    In Verse 69, Joseph and his younger brother are reunited, and he discloses to him his true identity.

PAGE 244 Arabic Qur’an.
4.     In Verses 70- 71- 72- 73 Joseph puts his plan to action:  Intending to keep his brother with him, he arranged for their caravan to be generously supplied, and then put the King’s Measuring Cup in his youngest brother’s belongings.  Just before their departure, the call was made throughout the caravan, that they were thieves.  (We should remember, that this was indeed true, since they had indeed kidnapped Joseph from his father and sold him for a paltry price!)  

5.    In Verses 74- 75-76 we hear the conversation that took place between Joseph’s company and his brothers, as to the consequence of theft.  Commentators usually attribute Joseph’s plan to the strict Standard of Accountability which his family followed (according to Abraham’s teachings) in that a thief should be punished by service/enslavement and no one can vouch for a thief or take his place.  Asad’s commentary offers an alternate view, in that these were the ways of the land.  Notice the words ‘Deen il Malikدين الملك- ’ which indicate that Joseph could not have taken his brother under the Accountability standard of the King, which seems to indicate that this was in fact, Abraham’s standard.

6.    In Verses 77- 78 the Brothers drove another nail into their ‘coffin’ of shame- it’s amazing!  They were obviously disassociating themselves from their younger brother, telling Joseph in a roundabout way that he was only their half-brother.  Remembering their pledge, they plead on their old father’s behalf, and ask Joseph to take one of them in their youngest brother’s place.
But not after having falsely vilified Joseph!  It’s as if, once the Deviant gets us to deviate, there is no stopping him! 
This story is SO full of lessons, perhaps the most important of which is the following:

7.    We mentioned earlier that the Most Effective Pressure which entices people to doing the right thing, and mends their wrongs, is ‘Ihsaan,’ a most beautiful combination of Forgiveness, Kindness, and Generosity.

This SUPERIOR trait in a Believer’s character is clearly described in HQ 41:33-36 (in my explanation):

HQ 41:33-36”
“Who is of better Communication than one who invited (others) to God, worked Goodness, and said, "Indeed I am of those who are Purely Reverent (to Him)"? (33)
Of unequal merit is the good deed (one to another,) and (similarly unequal) the bad deed (one to another).  Push forward with that which is Better (of good deeds), and then (observe) the person whom enmity had kept apart from you, becoming like an intimate friend/protector! (34)
And none shall be so granted except those who have practiced Forbearance, and none shall be so granted except a person of great fortune. (35)
And if (at any time) you receive an incitement from the Deviant/Sheytaan towards discord (between you and others), then seek refuge in God. It is He Who Is All-hearing, All-Knowing. (36)
First of all, as both the explanation of Zamakhshari [i]  and the Lexicon tell us, the word ‘qawlقول- ’ does not denote ‘speech,’ but rather what we communicate to others by our demeanor, speech and action (which explains HQ 19:26 when Mary, peace upon her, having abstained from speaking to any Human, was commanded ‘qooleeقولي- ’ or ‘communicate.’)

Secondly, within each standard of good versus bad, there is a sub-standard; a choice of good deeds where some are better than others AND a choice of bad deeds were some are worse than others.  What the Qur’an urges us to do here, is to choose amongst the Good, and then push forward with what is even Better (there is no mention of the bad at all in the second part of Verse 34, let alone ‘repelling evil,’ as seen in both Yusuf Ali and Asad’s explanations.) 
This highlights an important trait every one of us ‘Believers-in-progress’ should aspire to:
We should have no inclination, in and of ourselves, to commit a bad deed!

However, we may lapse temporarily, as ‘the Deviant’ seeks to sow discord amongst us ‘nazghنزغ-[ii] ’ and causes us to lose focus, but by invoking God’s support we neutralize this discordant energy and are able to CHOOSE THE BETTER DEED AMONG THE GOOD and push forward with it!  

(In the broader context of one entire community versus another, we should also possess sufficient deterrents (HQ 8:60) which would discourage those who harbor enmity towards us, from taking advantage of our kindness and generosity.)

Thirdly, we are assured that such acts would make a friend of our direst foe.  In order to understand what kind of acts we are talking about, I’ll translate what Zamakhshari says:

“If someone commits a misdeed against you, the good deed you can do is to forgive him BUT the deed even better than that, is to do something good for him in return for his bad deed against you.  For example, by speaking well of someone after he had spoken ill of you, or paying the ransom of his kidnapped child after he had killed your own.”End quote.

WHAT!  And some misinformed people say that ‘the Qur’an preaches Hate!’ 

Dear, dear Friends:  We must realize how powerful our misdeeds have become, so that WE have caused our Faith to be so misunderstood!  That, PLUS the fact that there are many societies on this earth with innocent people who are so down-trodden, and hurting so much that they cannot see straight any more.  Discord has been sown so well that the Deviant is ever-present between them and their opponents, many of whom are guilty of simply ignoring their pain.
Wrong-doing is the Deviant’s playground.

Fourthly, we are also told that such a turn-around (from foe to intimate-friend) is only allocated to those who are Forbearing, those who can truly be considered ‘of great fortune!’

Finally, if we happen to lapse and lose focus, we neutralize the Deviant’s discordant energy by seeking refuge with God, who will help us stay on track.

By keeping all this information in mind, we should, as Cognizant Humans, work hard to become our BETTER Selves.  This is what everyone around us should begin to feel as they observe our subtle growth, now entering the sixth month of our Iqra Challenge. 

This has been a challenge to us in all respects, including the challenge to improve our demeanor.  We had announced that as our M.O. on the first day we started, according to Prophet Muhammad's saying, peace upon him:

'The Believers most ideal in their faith are those of the best demeanor."

أكمل المؤمنين إيماناً أحاسنهم أخلاقاً

Enough said!
Our next Reading is from HQ 12: 79-95.
Peace unto all!

[i] تفسير الكشاف/ الزمخشري (ت 538 هـ):
{ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلاً مِّمَّن دَعَآ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحاً وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ } { وَلاَ تَسْتَوِي ٱلْحَسَنَةُ وَلاَ ٱلسَّيِّئَةُ ٱدْفَعْ بِٱلَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا ٱلَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ } * { وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلاَّ ٱلَّذِينَ صَبَرُواْ وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَآ إِلاَّ ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ } { وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ ٱلشَّيْطَٰنِ نَزْغٌ فَٱسْتَعِذْ بِٱللَّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ ٱلسَّمِيعُ ٱلْعَلِيمُ }
"...وما هم إلاّ طبقة العالمين العاملين من أهل العدل والتوحيد، الدعاة إلى دين الله وقوله: { وَقَالَ إِنَّنِى مِنَ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ } ليس الغرض أنه تكلم بهذا الكلام، ولكن جعل دين الإسلام مذهبه ومعتقده..."
"أنّ الحسنة والسيئة متفاوتتان في أنفسهما فخذ الحسنة التي هي أحسن من أختها - إذا اعترضتك حسنتان - فادفع بها السيئة التي ترد عليك من بعض أعدائك. ومثال ذلك: رجل أساء إليك إساءة، فالحسنة: أن تعفو عنه، والتي هي أحسن: أن تحسن إليه مكان إساءته إليك، مثل أن يذمك فتمدحه ويقتل ولدك فتفتدي ولده من يد عدوه، فإنك إذا فعلت ذلك انقلب عدوك المشاقّ مثل الولي الحميم مصافاة لك. ثم قال: وما يلقى هذه الخليقة أو السجية التي هي مقابلة الإساءة بالإحسان إلاّ أهل الصبر، وإلا رجل خير وفق لحظ عظيم من الخير."
وإن صرفك الشيطان عما وصيت به من الدفع بالتي هي أحسن { فَٱسْتَعِذْ بِٱللَّهِ } من شرّه، وامض على شأنك ولا تطعه.

[ii]  (نزغ)  النون والزاء والغين كلمةٌ تدلُّ على إفسادٍ بين اثنين. ونَزَغَ بينَ القوم: أفسَدَ ذاتَ بَيْنِهم.

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