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.
PAGE 335 Arabic Qur’an.
1. Verse 25 introduces us to the topic of ‘Reverence to God Alone at The Inviolable House of Worship’ the –Masjid Haraam- المسجد الحرام .
(‘Masjid’ literally means ‘place of prostration/ reverence,’ from the root-verb ‘sajada.’)
Here we note that this verse, when revealed, was discussing the PRESENT. Those who were in Denial (literally: ‘had denied’ –probably referring to Qureish), were preventing others from the Path of God AND from the Inviolable House- wherein all are (supposed to be) equal.
Note that the topic here is equality at the Inviolable House, keeping it open for its visitors, AND the severity of suffering for anyone who intends profanity or wrong-doing in its vicinity!
Some Commentators’ opinions:
Some say, that just as the recompense for good deeds is multiplied at that Holy Site, so is the recompense for, or consequence of, bad deeds.
Others go so far as to say that, at this Holy Site, one is accountable even for one’s intention- whether or not one eventually commits the deed.
2. Verses 26- 27 describe God’s ‘returning*’ (بوأ) Abraham to the site of the House with three (or four) commands:
· That he should not associate anything with God.
· That he should purify His House…
· … allowing all worshippers –whether in motion or stationary- to fulfill their rites.
· To proclaim the Pilgrimage to all Cognizant Humans -who would come to him ‘rijaalرِجالاً- ’ on foot- and (riding) upon their lean mounts from the far depths of the earth.
We note that some commentators (including Muhammad Asad) take the fourth command to be addressed to Prophet Muhammad, rather than Prophet Abraham, peace upon both.
I feel that no matter to whom all these verses were addressed, Prophet Muhammad would have been responsible –in his time- for doing what Prophet Abraham was commanded to do, in his time. Doesn’t the Qur’an often command him to ‘follow Abraham’s creed of ‘Self-correcting Awareness’ (Haneef): "اتبع ملة إبراهيم حنيفاً..." Remember, the verses relate to returning people to the Worship of God Alone, purifying the House (so that it is not related to any other ‘deity’).
The similarities in the missions of both Prophets are obvious.
I like what Yusuf Ali said about the benefits of Hajj, which must have been part of the original intent of this great act of worship: an International Convention of Believers in God, coming from all over the world to meet each other at a certain time of every year (which isn’t necessarily what is taking place today).
“There are benefits both for this our material life and for our spiritual life. Of the former kind are those associated with social intercourse which furthers trade and increases knowledge. Of the latter kind are the opportunities of realising some of our spiritual yearnings in sacred associations that go back to the most ancient times. Of both kinds may be considered the opportunities which the Pilgrimage provides for strengthening our international Brotherhood.”
It is sad that our worship in general has become quite selfish, as each of us focuses on what is perceived as MY ‘spiritual benefit,’ not realizing that in matters of the ‘spirit’ there is no ‘I/me.’ Everything is ‘We/Us’, a Humanity of whom ‘I/me’ is only a part.’ Hajj should remind us of that, and it in fact does, despite all our shortcomings!
In fact, our main prayers do not include the word ‘I,’ but begins with the Opener to the Qur’an (Thee do WE worship…) which we recite at least 17 times every day, and ends with the greetings of peace ‘Al-Salaamu aleykum,’ which is also plural.
Realizing that, how illogical are we, when in assessing our relationship with God, we might not hold our relationship with His creatures into account? Some of us could be so immersed in our own definition of ‘worship’ that we don’t mind being distracted from those who are dependent upon us. This, despite the fact that worshipping God should begin with ensuring that our dependents are taken care of, which include our children, aging parents, employees, employers (yes, our employers are dependent on us doing a good job!), as well as those who are at the other side of our desk at school or at the office, awaiting our instruction or our assistance. Actually, even the flora and fauna of this earth are dependent on us, and taking care of our dependents is part of worship.
Remember our discovery, at iqrathechallenge, that the original connotations of ‘iqra’ include commands to ‘bear witness’ and ‘share,’ both of which can only take place in a social setting[i]? Solitude might be a good time to activate the initial dynamics of ‘iqra,’ but one has to inevitably rejoin society, so to complete the activation of the entire process.
Hence Ramadan: A Month designated for our benefit, to enable us to enrich ourselves in knowledge and spirituality, reactivating the dynamics that necessitate self-assessment and undisturbed focus.
(Notice the description of someone who associates with God, at the end of Verse 31!)
4. Furthermore, in these verses, we notice the importance of ‘honoring’ or ‘appreciating’ God’s ‘Inviolables,’ (Verse 30: (ذلك ومن يعظم حرمات الله.. , where we note that we should also steer clear of the ‘rijs’ of Idols AND of providing false statements (rijs: disconnect of faith/ turmoil).
We should also honor and appreciate God’s Symbols (Verse 32: (ذلك ومن يعظم شعائر الله...
Not because these symbols, in and of themselves, are ‘sacred,’ but because these ‘symbols’ and ‘rituals’ provide us the constancy, stability and security we require to attain Awareness! Have we ever thought of it that way?
A famous Hadeeth[ii] of Prophet Muhammad reports him to have looked at the Ka’ba, admired its ‘Hurma’/ Inviolability, stating that a Faithful person is of greater Inviolability than the Ka’ba; that what is truly inviolable are a Believer’s life, possessions, and reputation… even more than the Ka’ba itself!
Dear Readers, isn’t that food for thought?
Let us recall offhand, how many ‘Believers’ have lost their own lives, possessions or reputations unnecessarily, in what they perceive as ‘defense’ of ‘Islamic Inviolables.’
(We are not discussing individuals/groups who waste other people’s lives/possessions/ reputations; they do not fit into this picture to start with.)
If we are truly ‘Believers,’ then God holds you… God holds me… God holds each one of us dearer and HIGHER in Inviolability than anything else on this earth. And if someone should ask, ‘Why is such a status reserved for a Believer?’… the answer would have to be:
Because Believers are persons who would feel accountable to God and therefore act responsibly in safeguarding OTHER lives, possessions and reputations- regardless of whether or not there are human measures to punish or reward them.
PAGE 336 Arabic Qur’an.
5. Therefore, we should honor and appreciate God’s Symbols ( (ذلك ومن يعظم شعائر الله.. for their Awareness-enhancing value, as we will note from the connotation of the Arabic word.
The plural sha’aa’erشعائر- denotes a شِعار or a symbol (also شعيرة) and is from the root verb ‘sha’araشَعَرَ-’ from which we also get the connotation شاعر who is someone with heightened perception, who draws other people’s attention to what he perceives. In English we might call such a person a ‘poet,’ but when Qureish accused Prophet Muhammad of being a ‘sha’er- poet شاعِر-’ they meant much more than what we understand this word to mean, today.
The importance of these Symbols and the power of the corresponding Rituals must not be underestimated:
Just as family rituals help preserve values and enhance mental/spiritual health, maintain families through life’s many transitions, save adolescents from delinquency, and bring members together in times of crisis… so do the rituals of one’s team, school, nation, faith, help maintain focus on what binds them, as each team-member helps others enhance their achievement.
Hence Ramadan: A Month designated for our benefit, to enable us to bond in its Ritual, allowing us to refocus on familial/societal ties that pull us all together.
But that is not all Ramadan is!
Hopefully, we might have a chance to discuss Ramadan as it unfolds.
The Prophet himself is commanded to ‘bear glad tidings’ to:
The ‘Humble,’ whose hearts/minds tremble with awe when God is mentioned, who are Forbearing in face of affliction, who establish regular prayer and connections, and spend (on others) of what God has given them. May we be among them!
Verses 36- 37- 38 mention the sacrificial cattle, which are also ‘symbols,’ to be slaughtered in God’s name and shared with the needy. We note that neither the flesh nor the blood of these cattle will reach God BUT:
What reaches God is the Awareness on our part!
This piece of information shows us that Awareness is the reason behind all our rituals, even those pertaining to mundane actions such as eating. When we eat, we should do so in awareness and gratitude.
Verse 37 also ends with a command to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him… this time to bear glad tidings to ‘Those who are doing their best’المُحسِنين-.
7. Verse 38 informs us that God will defend/ ward off evil those who Believe(Ali/Asad) from, indeed God does not love a Betraying Denier.
For Readers who are reading the Qur’an daily, I picked this quote from Participation of the Inner Self:
“Let everything you read in the Qur'an react with your heart, and breathe new life into it. Make your heart pass through various corresponding states of adoration and praise, reverence and gratitude, wonder and awe, love and longing, trust and patience, hope and fear, joy and sorrow, reflection and recollection, surrender and obedience. Unless you do so the share you derive from reading the Qur'an may be no more than the movement of your lips.”
Those of you who are learning Arabic might find benefit in: The Easy Dictionary of the Qur’an.
But please remember dear Reader, that iqrathechallenge does NOT endorse any other website, or necessarily agree with what is presented on other pages. We also do not see different ‘paths’ related to ‘sunnis’ or others, but only ONE PATH to God.
But since our Readers can make up their own minds on what to acquire and what to ignore, I see no harm in referrals.
Our next Reading is from HQ 22:39-54.
Peace unto all!
* بوأ: أصلان: أحدُهما الرُّجوع إلى الشيءِ )والآخر تساوِي الشّيئين(.
فالأوّل الباءَة والمباءَة، وهي مَنزلة القوم، حيثُ يتبوّؤُون في قُبُلِ وادٍ و سَنَدِ جبل. ويقال قد تبوَّؤوا، وبوّأهم اللهُ تعالى مَنْزِلَ صِدْق.
يقال فلانٌ حسن البِيئَةِ على فِعْلة، من قولك تبوَّأْتُ منْزِلاً. وبات فلانٌ ببيئة سَوء. ومن هذا الباب قولُهم باءَ فلان بذَنْبِه، كأنّه عاد إلى مَبَاءته محتملاً لذنْبه. وقد بُؤْت بالذَّنْبِ….
“The six components defining the root word ‘qa’ra-a’ are found in our 1,000 year-old Arabic lexicon:
3. Proceed with purpose.
4. Bear witness to it.
5. Be timely.
6. Be hospitable; share.
After having noted that the verb ‘awha’ "أوحى" -which we usually translate as to reveal, literally means ‘to convey exclusive information to another so that they become knowledgeable of it,’ we realize that the command ‘Iqra’ is no other than a directive to proceed, as a responsible, cognizant human, processing and disseminating information, constantly seeking and interacting with knowledge, the human intellect functioning at its best!”