Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Just when we might think that our Iqra Challenge is becoming ‘less challenging,’ it sends us a few verses to sharpen our Awareness -and prove us wrong!
PAGE 284 Arabic Qur’an.
1. Verses 18- 19 mention the ‘Transitory Things/ Fleeting Life’ (Ali/Asad) in which most people are fascinated. ‘Aajilahعاجلة- ’ also in HQ 75:20; 76:27.
This Fleeting Commodity turns out to be worthless, unless it is used by a Faithful person who aims towards the Hereafter and makes every effort towards it. Such persons will find their efforts recompensed manifold /appreciated (opposite of depreciated).
Verse 20 gives us a general rule regarding both the people who use the Bounties of God, AND those who misuse them:
Both are extended the same favor, since God’s Bounties (in Life) are granted to all, restricted to none!
Then Verse 21 helps us understand how the Hereafter is different, as it has much larger degrees forward /upward for us to fulfill, and much larger Bounty to enjoy. (For more on ‘daraja’ see Feb. 24th)
2. Verse 22 starts by telling us not to associate any divinity with God, then, as we read Verses 23-37, we notice that these verses relate in subject-matter to HQ 6:151-153, which we understood then, to be ‘the Straight Path’ (April 5th).
Notice that here, however, there is more detail:
Verse 23 enjoins us to worship God Alone AND in both parents Benevolence. But then, the same verse tells us more:
About their reaching old-age ‘with’ us, which entails the need for physical closeness, and when that occurs, that we should be aware of everything we say to them, even our sighs which might be understood (by them) as complaint or displeasure. We should not, in the least, voice any inner complaints! ‘Uph-أف is the smallest sign of displeasure we can muster, and even that, we are told NOT to let escape our lips, in their presence.
Verse 24 is absolutely beautiful, as it tells us to ‘lower to them, in Mercy, the wing of humility’ and to ask God to have Mercy upon them just as they raised us from childhood.
Read about the ‘wing of humility’ in the Marriage Union, where we show how the Qur’an does NOT consider humility a desirable trait in any person – except when dealing with elderly parents (or in a position of Leadership).
Notice that, not only here, but WHEREVER the Qur’an directs us to extend our generosity and kindness to others, we find that there are no preconditions related to Recipients’ faith! That is VERY important, because it shows the universal nature of this Message.
Haven’t we just noticed, in Verse 20, that God’s Bounties are granted to all, restricted to none? So should WE be [i].
Not only that, but where parents are concerned, the Qur’an directs us in HQ 29:8; 31:15 that if our parents happened to be ‘Mushrik /Associaters /idol-worshippers,’ they will always have the inherent Right to our kind companionship in life.
Verse 25 tells us that God knows what is hidden within our selves, and gives us the conditions which grant us forgiveness.
3. Verses 26-27 deal with the financial ‘rights’ which certain people have over us (our relatives, the poor, the wayfarer), and that we should not squander resources, since squanderers are the brethren of Transgressors /Deviants, and the Deviant/ Sheytaan was, of his Lord, a Denier.
Especially today, as we try to mop up yet another Oil Catastrophe, (‘spill’ and ‘leak’ are weak words, perhaps used deliberately, to describe it)… in our endeavors to return Health to our ailing planet, we realize what Transgressors have done to us all, by squandering its resources.
Prince Charles spoke less than a month ago about ‘Islam and the Environment,’ where he detailed “Islam’s teachings on this theme,” and “noted that the Qur’an describes nature as possessing an “intelligibility,” and teaches that there is no separation between man and nature because there is no separation between the natural world and God.”
PAGE 285 Arabic Qur’an.
4. In Verse 28 we are told that we should respond to the persons mentioned (in Verse 26) with kind words, even when we have nothing to offer them.
Verse 29 sets a balance between over-saving and over-spending.
Verse 30 is better explained by Yusuf Ali than Muhammad Asad, who explained ‘yaqdir يقدر-’ as giving scantily. Unfortunately, Asad is not alone, as that is how the verse is traditionally understood, in that some commentators think that God would give abundantly to some and scantily to others… but it is NOT so, as we already know from previous verses: His Bounty is for everyone.
Perhaps the reason for the mistake is that ‘qadr’ is very close to ‘qatr’ (قتر) and the latter does mean ‘scant’- but it is NEVER attributed to God.
Qadr [ii] IS the word mentioned, and it means the ‘projected end or result’ of something. This would mean that God extends, or lays some things out يبسط for us, and ‘projects’ other things, which we would then need to seek actively- making an effort- before we can obtain them.
His Bounty either already is, or CAN, become OURS.
Do you see the difference an accurate interpretation makes?
In mis-interpretation, we’d think that things are as they are, by God’s ‘decree,’ and that we could do nothing to change that. We might even think that God applies ‘favoritism.’ In the linguistically accurate interpretation, everything is within our reach, and all we have to do… is reach for it.
· ‘…..kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them…’ (6:151).
· ‘Kill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you..’ (17:31).
As we see, in the first the parents already believe that they ARE too poor to support their children, whereas in the second verse they are only fearful of being unable to support their children. The Qur’an responds with Hope and Wisdom, in that God would sustain the parents who already are poor, and sustains the children whose presence might cause the parents poverty. Both verses are considered as a directive against abortion (for financial reasons in particular, which some see as opening the way to the need for early abortion in rape cases, for example).
As most of us know, there is no directive against Birth Control, so couples are free to set their own plans and take necessary measures as to the number of children they aim for. What actually does take place after that, however, is often not in their hands.
Once born (and according to some, once ‘viable’ in the uterus) the child becomes a human ‘self’ or ‘nafs’ like any other, and as we know, killing any human is out of the question.
In Verse 32, ‘zina,’ or extra-marital sex, is not to be ‘neared,’ or approached at all, which means that the paths which bring a person to it, are to be avoided.
Then Verse 33 mentions the Inviolability of the Human Self ‘nafs’ we discussed above, telling us that even while exacting retribution, there should be no excess.
6. Verse 34 is about the honest management of an orphan’s wealth, and about our promises, for which we are accountable.
Verse 35 is about dealing with each other in due measure.
Verse 36 is VERY interesting, as it directs us NOT to pursue matters unrelated to us (to mind our own business) telling us that we are responsible for where our Hearing, and our Sight, and our Perception takes us!
Verse 37 is about the earth, and that we should tread it gently. Our ‘carbon footprint’ was unknown when this verse was revealed, yet the Qur’an is full of environmental references to be heeded by the Aware, as Verse 38 ends today’s Reading.
Our next Reading is from HQ 17:39-58.
Peace unto all!
[i] Unfortunately, many of us ‘Cognizant Humans’ have reserved our kind treatment for those whose ‘faith,’ according to our judgment, is identical to ours, and we’ve shown people of other faiths little compassion. Notice that the worst of massacres throughout history are related to fighting for supremacy or territory (and its riches), neighbors killing each other, or settlers obliterating indigenous populations. The most heinous and cruel of attacks have been against people of a different faith, even in recent history. Is it a coincidence that, from WW II’s Hiroshima to present times, when planes have dropped bombs, leveling in one instant entire cities over their inhabitants… is it a coincidence that the person pushing the trigger rarely shares his victims’ ‘faith?’
[ii] قدر: يدل على مبلغ الشيء وكنهه ونهايته.