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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, July 20, 2010

Day 158; Qur’an 20: 1-46, page 312 + 313 + 314

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

سورة طه
The Chapter of Ta Ha
Ta Ha are the two ‘sounds’ which introduce this Chapter, giving it its title.  We have already discussed this Qur’anic ‘introduction’ to certain Chapters, often called ‘disjointed letters’ (see April 6th).  These verses address both the Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, and Mankind, as do other verses in the Qur’an.  I do not think that these two sounds necessarily mean ‘O Man,’ or that they are another name for the Prophet, as some have indicated, although their analyses are valuable and certainly worth reading.   
From the Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
“The mystic letters Ta Ha are prefixed to this Surah.   What do they mean? The earliest tradition is that they denote a dialectical interjection meaning "O man!" If so, the title is particularly appropriate in two ways:
·   (1) It was a direct and personal address to a man in a high state of excitement, tempted by his temper to do grievous wrong, but called by God's Grace, as by a personal appeal, to face the realities, for God knew his inmost secret thoughts (20:7): the revelation was sent by God, Most Gracious, out of His Grace and Mercy (20:5)
·   (2) It takes up the story from the last Surah, of man as a spiritual being and illustrates it in further details. It tells the story of Moses in the crisis of his life -- when he received God's Commission and in his personal relation with his mother, and how he came to be brought up in the Pharaoh's house, to learn all the wisdom of the Egyptians, for use in God's service, and in his personal relations with Pharaoh, whom we take to be his adoptive father (28:9).
It further tells the story of a fallen soul who misled the Israelites into idolatry, and recalls how man's Arch-enemy Satan caused his fall. Prayer and praise are necessary to man to cure his spiritual blindness and enable him to appreciate God's revelation.
From the Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
“FOR THE RENDERING of the title of this surah as "O Man", see note 1 below. As is the case with the preceding surah, its position in the chronology of Qur'anic revelation is not difficult to establish. Despite the vague assertions of some of the later authorities that it was revealed during the last phase (or even in the last year) of the Prophet's sojourn in Mecca, we know for certain that it was fully known to his Companions as early as the sixth year of his mission (that is, at least seven years before he left Mecca for Medina): for it was this very surah which at that period accidentally fell into the hands of 'Umar ibn al-Khattab - who until then had been a bitter opponent of the Prophet - and caused his conversion to Islam (Ibn Sad 111/1, 191 ff.).
The main theme of Ta Ha is the guidance which God offers man through His prophets, and the fact that the fundamental truths inherent in all revealed religions are identical: hence the long story of Moses in verses 9-98, and the reference to the "clear evidence [of the truth of this divine writ]", i.e., of the Qur'an, forthcoming from "what is [to be found] in the earlier scriptures" (verse 133).”
PAGE 312 Arabic Qur’an.

1. The first eight verses of this chapter are indescribable in their heartwarming effect upon listeners who Believe in God, and in all His Revelations:
Addressed to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, they assert to him (and to us) that the Qur’an was not bestowed upon him (or sent to us) so as to be cause for difficulty,[i] unease, or unhappiness!

We shall discuss this further at the end of this Reading.

Readers might grasp something of the beauty of these verses in English, as explained here (1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8) by Muhammad Asad, and below by Yusuf Ali (I have only replaced his “(God) Most Gracious” for ‘The Creator/ Al Rahmaan’ and his “throne” for ‘Arch’):

[20:1] Ta-Ha  [20:2] We have not sent down the Qur’an to thee to be (an occasion) for thy distress, [20:3] But only as an admonition to those who fear (God),- [20:4] A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high. [20:5] The Creator/ Al Rahmaan is firmly established on the ARCH (of authority). [20:6] To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth, and all between them, and all beneath the soil. [20:7] If thou pronounce the word aloud, (it is no matter): for verily He knoweth what is secret and what is yet more hidden. [20:8] God! there is no god but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names.

2. Notice, dear Reader, that even as these verses tell us that the Qur’an is not intended as a burden, they also offer us the definition of Al Rahmaan:

‘A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high. Al Rahmaan …’
Al Rahmaan therefore is ‘Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high..’ 
Al Rahmaan is The Creator.

Also, remember that we have already encountered the concept of ‘The Most Beautiful Attributes’ belonging to God in HQ 7:180, 17:110. 
Put أسماء حسنى in Tanzil to see all four.

3. From Verse 9 onward, we arrive at the story of Prophet Moses, peace upon him, whose narrative takes up the next ninety (yes: 90) verses, beginning with his feeling ‘greeted[ii]’ by a fire he perceived from afar (Verse 10).

As we mentioned earlier, the Qur’an mentions Moses by name -and with reverence- in no less than 136 verses, and mentions Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary, in 25 of its verses, discussing their lives and beautiful teachings in many more.  Any believing Jew or Christian -while knowing those facts- cannot disrespect this Compilation.  The fact that many of them do indeed disrespect it, says more about us than about media-bias… and has nothing to do whatsoever with the Compilation itself.

PAGE 313 Arabic Qur’an.

4.  In the next verses (11- 12- 13- 14- 15- 16), Moses is addressed at that sacred location by His Lord Who tells him to worship Him, and to establish Prayer in His Remembrance, warning him of the Hour when each Self shall be recompensed for its deeds.  Moses is also warned of those who follow their own desires, and the fact that they would attempt to impede him from acknowledging –and working towards- the Final Hour.

We reflect here upon the magnificence of this occasion, noting that Moses was the ONLY Messenger to whom God spoke directly (see HQ 4:164 and 7:144).
After that, in Verses 17- 18- 19- 20- 21, Moses is introduced to the first of God’s Signs by which he is to convince Pharaoh, namely, his staff, which God transforms into a serpent.

And then, in Verses 22- 23, he is introduced to the second Sign: his own white, or shining, hand.

5. In Verse 24, he is commanded to set out towards Pharaoh, for Pharaoh had transgressed all bounds.  This probably refers, not only to the injustice inflicted upon Bani Isra-eel, but also to his claim to be ‘the Lord Most High’ (HQ 79:24).

At that point Moses addresses his Lord with a most beautiful supplication:

[20:25] Said [Moses]: "O my Sustainer! Open up my heart [to Thy light],
[20:26]and make my task easy for me,
[20:27]and loosen the knot from my tongue
[20:28]so that they might fully understand my speech,
[20:29]and appoint for me, out of my kinsfolk, one who will help me to bear my burden:
[20:30]Aaron, my brother.
[20:31]Add Thou through him to my strength,
[20:32]and let him share my task,
[20:33]so that [together] we might abundantly extol Thy limitless glory
[20:34]and remember Thee without cease!
[20:35]Verily, Thou seest all that is within us!"

In Verses 36- 37 his request is granted, and God’s Favor upon him is again bestowed.
What does ‘again’ refer to here? 

PAGE 314 Arabic Qur’an.

It refers to the FIRST favor, which he would have been too young to remember: 
When God conveyed to his mother to throw him, as a babe, into the chest, and then throw the chest into the water to be picked up by an enemy of God and an enemy of his…
Verses 38- 41 are well-explained by both Yusuf Ali and Muhammad Asad.

6. Verses 42- 43- 44
We notice here that God commanded Moses and Aaron to ‘address Pharaoh in lenient terms’ (Arabic لَيِّناً /English ‘lenient’ -see Posting of February 10th).

Leniency with Pharaoh might seem strange in view of the grave injustices and transgressions he was committing, but the Qur’an mentions two important reasons for this.
Leniency on our part might help the enemy:
· Reassess their own situation.
· Realize our superiority.

And I also see two (among other) unmentioned reasons:
·  Setting us an example in communicating with WEAKER enemies so as to avoid what would mostly be their bloodshed.
·  Freeing us of any liability or guilt.

THIS is the ‘higher moral ground’ Humanity should aim for!

Both Moses and Aaron respond with alarm to God’s command for leniency (Verse 45), but God tells them not to fear (Verse 46), for He is indeed with them, hearing all and seeing all.

7. Discussion:
بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
طه ﴿١﴾ مَا أَنزَلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لِتَشْقَىٰ ﴿٢﴾
 إِلَّا تَذْكِرَةً لِّمَن يَخْشَىٰ ﴿٣﴾ تَنزِيلًا مِّمَّنْ خَلَقَ الْأَرْضَ وَالسَّمَاوَاتِ الْعُلَى ﴿٤﴾

[20:1] Ta-Ha  [20:2] We have not sent down the Qur’an to thee to be (an occasion) for thy distress, [20:3] But only as an admonition to those who fear (God),- [20:4] A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the heavens on high.

Addressed to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, these verses assert to him (and to us) that the Qur’an was not bestowed upon him (or sent to us) so as to be cause for difficulty, unease, or unhappiness!

This, dear Readers, is a very important concept which we should highlight, and be fully aware of.  EVERYTHING God has sent us is with one aim:  To help us gain Happiness in this immediate life, as well as in the Hereafter.  By following His suggested route of self-fulfillment and growth, we become the best persons we could possibly be.

Why is this especially noteworthy today? 
Because a growing number of Muslim youths have realized that what some elders have traditionally been telling them is not true (that God has imposed difficulty upon us as part of ‘Faith,’ and that that our acceptance of misery is evidence of our faith), and they have sought to change- and have indeed changed- the ‘status quo,’ sometimes by violent means. 
This, despite what the Qur’an says in HQ 2:185: (discussed on January 17th):

“….God intends every facility/ease for you and does not intend any hardship...”

And despite the famous Saying of Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, to his first two emissaries:

“Facilitate and do not complicate! Advocate and do not intimidate! Cooperate and do not separate!”

Some Readers might be unaware of the fact that Muslims, especially among the poor and underprivileged, have been traditionally taught the mistaken notion that Forbearance means “doing nothing to change unfavorable circumstances,” and that the Life of a Faithful person, as ‘decreed by God,’ is “a series of hardship and misery.”  It is because of such passivity that famous thinkers arose amongst Muslims, with progressive, sometimes radical, views which took entire communities by storm.

As Muhammad Al-Ghazali, a scholar of the Azhar University, wrote in his book (The Prophetic Sunna-Among the Scholars of Fiqh and the Scholars of Hadith, 1989 -p.8):

“Some Muslim youths have succeeded in overturning the tree of Islamic teaching, making its thin branches and twigs take the place of the roots and trunk, while turning the important roots into leaves that drop with the wind!” 

Many of the ‘-isms’ that we have seen throughout the centuries –and still see today- although seemingly brought on by reason of despotic rulers, occupation, or outside interference, actually have their roots in the MISUNDERSTANDING of Islam and the Qur’an.  But what is disastrous to us all, is that they have become locked in a vicious Reactionary cycle which is still going strong.  As an example:
·   Sufism originated in the 8th century as a Reform movement intended to ‘cleanse’ Muslims from the influences of Materialism.  By the 1800’s it had acquired a bad rap. 

·  Wahhabism originated around 200 years ago as a Reform movement intended to ‘cleanse’ Muslims from the influences of Sufism.  By 9/11/2001it had acquired a bad rap.

So, what’s going on today?

·  Sufism is being actively reintroduced and encouraged, pitched as an antidote to Wahhabism.  And it has become even more attractive today, because of the pervading materialism which has eaten away at human values. 

Dear Reader:  Look around you, and note how ‘Sufism’ has become the aim, the goal, the aspiration of anyone who speaks about, or for, Islam.  Count the many publications that advocate ‘Sufi Islam,’ and listen to the calls for ‘thikr’ that are being held all over the world. 

How smart should we be to realize, that today’s drive towards ‘Sufism’ will only bring upon us all another version of ‘Wahhabism,’ more callous and sophisticated than the first?

Why not put all our efforts into understanding the Qur’an?
‘Thikr’ is IN Qur’an.

By understanding the Qur’an we gain the LOVE and AWARENESS (advocated by Sufism, without the Passivity and ‘Mentor-worship’ which some of their extremist views may have upheld).
We also maintain the PURE CONCEPT of GOD (advocated by Wahhabism, without the harsh Austerity and the Ostracism of others, which some of their extremist views may have promoted).

By understanding the Qur’an we gain a world-view that encompasses all of God’s Creation, and we follow His suggested route of self-fulfillment and growth… becoming the best persons we could possibly be to the benefit of everything in Existence.

How wonderful is that?

Enough said!
Our next Reading is from HQ 20:47-76.

Peace unto all!

[i] Put following altogether  يسر -ميسر -استيسر -يسير -يسرون -يسرق –يسرف  in Tanzil.

[ii]aanasa’- from the same root-verb as insaan- cognizant human.  Root verb: 'A-na-sa': to find companionship in, to perceive, to find.

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