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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, August 10, 2010

Day 171; Qur’an 23:1-27, page 342 + 343

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
To the Chapter entitled ‘The Faithful/ The Believers’….
How fitting that we are reading it in this Blessed Month!
But do take your time:  Today’s Reading is beautiful, AND tough!
Yusuf Ali’s Translation of our new Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Translation of our new Chapter.
Their commentaries can only be read in verse by verse view.

سورة المؤمنون
‘The Faithful/ The Believers’
From Yusuf Ali’s Introduction:

"This Surah deals with the virtues which are the seed-bed of faith, especially in an environment in which truth is denied and its votaries insulted and persecuted. But Truth is One and must prevail. Those who do wrong will be filled with vain regrets when it is too late for repentance.
It belongs to the late Makkan period.
Summary- Faith, coupled with humility in prayer, charity, abstinence from vanity and from indulgence in appetites, and strict probity, must lead to final success, even though people mock and accuse the righteous and false motives, as did the contemporaries of Noah, of Moses, and of Jesus (23:1-50, and C. 154).

From Muhammad Asad’s Introduction:

“MOST of the classical commentators agree in that this surah was revealed towards the end of the Mecca period; some authorities (quoted by Suyuti) are even of the opinion that it is the very last Meccan revelation, but we have no conclusive evidence to that effect.
From the first to the last verse, the discourse centres - as the title of the surah indicates - on the problem of true faith, the overwhelming evidence which points to the existence of an almighty Creator, and on man's ultimate responsibility before Him. Stress is laid on the fact of unceasing divine guidance manifested in a long succession of God-inspired prophets; and since all of them propounded one and the same truth, all who believe in God are reminded-as in 21:92-93 - that "this community of yours is one single community" (verse 52), and that this unity has been torn asunder by man's egotism, greed and striving after power (verses 53 if.). But the main theme of the surah is the reminder, expressed in a variety of arguments, that it is logically impossible to believe in God as a conscious Creative Power without believing in the reality of a life after death as well.”

PAGE 342 Arabic Qur’an.

1.The first verse of this Chapter starts out with a declaration:

"قد أفلح المؤمنون"
‘Indeed, The Faithful/ The Believers have succeeded!”

We notice that the statement is in the past tense, while both Ali and Asad’s explanations give us the statement in the future tense.  This is because commentators such as Zamakhshari have said that the word ‘qadقد- ’ -with a verb following it in the past tense- could also denote confirmation of a future prospect[i] - (as in: ‘Indeed it shall come to pass, that the Believers succeed’).  I suspect that commentators were of the opinion that, since these verses were ‘revealed in Mecca,’ the Believers were in no position to be considered ‘successful’ at that point in time!

Dear Reader,
First of all, changing one’s understanding of certain words in the Qur’an as per the so-called ‘Meccan’ or ‘Medenite’ verses goes against the unity of this Revelation; our explanation should not change depending on WHERE any verse was revealed: 
That is why I see this verse indicating -as I explained it in the past tense- that The Faithful had already succeeded.  Although I do not doubt that their FULL success had yet to manifest itself at a future point in time (the Hereafter), but I believe it is literally expressed in this verse: THEY HAD ALREADY SUCCEEDED.

2.  Secondly: Isn’t it significant that they were labeled here ‘The Faithful’ المؤمنون (rather than ‘those who have attained faith’ الذين آمنوا)?  ‘Attaining faith’إيمان is a description of the heart/ mind (qalb), a status higher than the status of ‘Islaam,’ which is why it is very special.  In other words, people first have to go through the process of ‘Islaam’ so as to arrive at ‘Imaan’ (see HQ 49:14).

The Qur’an tells us clearly that no standard of Accountability (Deen) could be better than being ‘Pure in our Reverence and Direction to God, whilst performing good deeds and following Abraham’s self-correcting creed..’ HQ 4:125.
  (ومن أحسن ديناً ممن أسلم وجهه لله وهو محسن واتبع ملة إبراهيم حنيفا)

Islaam is the sturdy foundation upon which Imaan is built, and that basis is ‘Pure Reverence to God,’ in NOT associating Him with anything or anyone.  That ‘pureness’ either is, or it isn’t:  Islaam can be present, or Islaam can be absent, but it neither fluctuates nor grows. 
Imaan/Faith, on the other hand, DOES grow, as we consciously observe the measures God has set for us (to the benefit of all Creation), and we hearken to His guidance.    
Put زاد إيمان in Tanzil and see the 4 instances mentioned. 

Therefore, those who deserve to be titled ‘The Faithful’ have indeed succeeded: Their success, however, is not necessarily obvious to the world, as it could be subtle and personal.  In fact, our own experience tells us (especially as we grow older), that success IS hidden in the subtle, indiscernible things that eventually add up to form a coherent whole.  That is the ‘lasting’ success, while all else is a sham!

In HQ 87:14-15 we have a description of those who have already succeeded:

قد أفلح من تزكى * وذكر اسم ربه فصلى
“Indeed, he has succeeded, one who grew by purifying himself
And recalled his Lord’s Attribute, then prayed/maintained Relationship.”

3.  After that uplifting statement on the Faithful having achieved success, we are given six of their attributes in Verses 2- 9; characteristics every Believer should have, such as humbleness in Prayer, turning away from vain /frivolous conversation, being active in rendering purifying dues and charitable deeds, preserving their privacy فروج-) from all but their (known) mates OR contracted partners, keeping their trusts and covenants, and finally, preserving their Prayers/Relationships[ii].

4.  Verse 6 is explained traditionally by Yusuf Ali (who says that ‘ma malakat aymaanuhum’ were the captives -during times of captivity/ slavery), while Muhammad Asad sees the expression synonymous with ‘azwaaj’ (both denoting lawful spouses). 

Readers might not realize that the word ‘aymaan,’ depending on context, is traditionally explained in two very different ways, see below:

· Ma = what.
· Malakat = possess/ hold.
· Aymaanukum = your (pl) ‘right hands.’
(HQ 4:3, 24, 25, 26).


· Allatheena= those who.
· Aqadat= bind together.
· Aymaanukum= your ‘rightful pledges.’
‘Right hands,’ versus ‘rightful Pledges.’
How is it possible, that the same identical word ‘aymaan,’ is explained so differently?
This is because it is plural of ‘yameen’ which means ‘right,’ taken either to indicate the right hand, OR a rightful pledge!

Everyone agrees that the plural ‘Aymaan’ refers to one’s ‘yameen,’ or ‘right’ hand, as in HQ 20: 17, 69; 29:48.  
And everyone also agrees that ‘Rightful pledges’ are also ‘aymaan’ -as in HQ 2:224-225; 4:33; 5:89; 16:92-94; 66:2… and as we see in HQ 5:89… and that ‘your’ Pledges are ‘aymaanakumأيمانكم- ’..

And finally, everyone agrees that we are commanded to rightfully safeguard and maintain our Pledges.
But this is where the ‘unanimous agreement’ comes to an end.

Please note, dear Reader:
Because what we are doing here is Research, we must state our findings as we see them, and there certainly does appear to be an alternate Reading of ‘ma malakat aymaanukum,’ which Traditional commentators might not agree with:

· Ma = what.
· Malakat = possess/ hold.
· Aymaanukum = your (pl) ‘rightful Pledges.’

Together: ‘What your Rightful Pledges hold.’

By replacing the understanding of ‘right hands’ with ‘rightful pledges’ we seem to be on the right track because the word ‘maما- ’ refers to ‘what is held in your tenure’ which is more likely to be the object of the Pledge (namely, a Contract or Agreement),  rather than a person in bondage!

Q. But what Contract are we discussing here, one which would allow us to forego the ‘preservation, or safeguarding’ of our ‘furooj’ privacy? 

A. This could be the ‘contracted partnership’ mentioned earlier in HQ 4:3, between a married man (who already has a mate), with a widowed mother of orphans, specifically for the benefit of her young children, as stated in the conditional clause of HQ 4:3.  This verse (which offers a solution in devastating conditions[iii] where no institutions are functional) is the only verse in the Qur’an sanctioning polygyny, and we already discussed that in detail on February 14th.
So, for anyone seeking a ‘non-traditional’ explanation, this might be one option.
If you are not in the mood for concentration, skip the italicized observation below.
I offer it here for ‘mental exercise’ only.

I can assure you dear Readers, that our work is an ongoing process, and our Research does not end here!  There still is a lot to discuss because of many traditional interpretations which we still happen to accept blindly.  Some might think that what we say is sometimes incredulous, but that is only to be expected.  This Blog is a little ahead of its time, but by seeking God’s direction, with Faith, Linguistic and Contextual Research, AND much Contemplation… matters should become clearer in time… insha-Allah.

One such traditional interpretation which we missed earlier is our understanding of the term ‘furooj’ which, as we see in our 1,000 year-old dictionary, denotes an opening, a gap, a haven in times of fear or uncertainty, as well as the divulgence of secrets[iv].
See HQ 50:6, where the ‘furooj’ of the sky are explained as its ‘flaws.’
When explaining this to one Thinker, I was offered a broader understanding of the ‘preservation’ of our ‘furooj’ concept, which would cover all affairs of a private nature, which we are allowed here to share with spouses and ‘ma malakat aymanukum.’  In that case, as this Thinker suggests, (since we are not talking about private 'parts of our body,' but about privacy in general) the category of ma malakat aymaanukum/ ‘what holds rightful pledges’ could also be broadened  to include ALL rightful pledges, such as a physician’s pledge, a lawyer’s pledge and all pledges which are made to uphold privacy and ethical conduct.

I can see Readers scratching their heads: This is an exercise that leaves us 'mentally' breathless!
Relax.  We'll not go that far for now, as such a suggestion would have to agree with the context of ALL the verses mentioning these terms, and that is something we have yet to ascertain. 

But this is what research does; it keeps us on our (mental) toes, opens us to possibilities that either get discarded, or retained.  It is a slow process of unraveling one's thoughts from Preconception and reviewing the indications in front of us, ALWAYS within the framework of the Arabic Language and Qur'anic Context, cross-referencing one's understanding of a word with ALL its Qur'anic occurrences.

Let me know what YOU think, dear Reader!
Now back to our discussion: 
Please remember 'ma malakat aymaanukum,' which could also refer to the 'rightful pledges' mentioned in HQ 4:3, as we will refer to it again when we reach certain verses in our next chapter which discuss what Traditional commentators have called a woman’s ‘right-hand possession’ – a matter which, surely enough, they had much difficulty explaining.

5.  Verses 10- 11 take us to Ultimate Success in the ‘Heavenly Firdaus.’

Then, Verse 12 shows Cognizant Humans the cycle of our own creation from its very beginning… so on until Verse 14 ‘…so Blessed is God, The Best to create/ hallowed therefore is God, the best of artisans’ (Ali/Asad).  These verses are also considered ‘Scientific Marvels’-part of what we discussed earlier, the embryonic stages as presented in Professor Keith L. Moore’s 3rd edition of his college textbook ‘The Developing Human,’ subtitled ‘With Islamic Additions.

Then we find Verses 15- 16 taking us back full circle… to our inevitable Death… after which is:  Resurrection.
What a moving discourse!  This Chapter begins by announcing the Believers’ Success, then lists their characteristics as it encourages us to be in their category and share the ultimate reward which is theirs in the Hereafter, then it shows us how we all began, and how our earthly existence shall end with death and Resurrection… inviting us indirectly to be resurrected as ‘Believers’ … wearing a Title which is the ultimate crown of success.
May we be among them!

PAGE 343 Arabic Qur’an.

6.  Verse 17 begins listing God’s bounties, from the rain, to orchards and gardens bearing fruits and oils, to livestock from which we obtain food and drink, to beasts of burden which carry us upon their backs… up to Verse 22, which mentions all vessels that transport us.

7.  And that is how Noah’s story is reintroduced in Verse 23, HIS vessel, the Arc, being the first ever, and therefore the most noteworthy! 

As we mentioned earlier, each Prophet /Messenger had an impact relative to Human Progress at the time of his appearance, bringing humanity information to raise their standards: After having received divinely conveyed information (wahi-وحي) on ship-building, Noah’s contribution was to instruct his people who knew nothing about flotation!

Verses 24- 30 continue Noah’s story, which was already mentioned in HQ 10:71-73, and told in detail in HQ 11:25-48.

Here however, we notice how he called his people to Awareness, his people accusing him of being inflicted by madness, and the prayer he was given by which to praise God for deliverance (copy + paste قل الحمد لله in Tanzil).  

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 23:31-56.

Peace unto all!

[i] الزمخشري: "{ قَدْ } هي تثبت المتوقع.."
[ii] Note:  Just as ‘being true/believing صدق’ is the opposite of ‘being false/ belyingكذب- ’, so is ‘maintaining relationship/ sallaصلّى- ’ the opposite of ‘turning away/ tawallaتولّى-’!  (HQ 75: 31-32).  Isn’t it a beautiful concept we have lost, that when the Qur’an mentions ‘salat’ on its own, it denotes the broader connotation of ‘Relationship,’ which is not limited to prayer. 
On the other hand, when the word ‘to establishأقام- ’ is added to ‘salat’- أقام الصلاة  - then ‘relationship’ is specified, as in ‘Establishing Regular Prayer.’

The following is what HISTORY reports to us:

Muhammad, peace upon him, remained faithful to his mate, Khadija, until she died after 25 years of their marriage, when he was 50 and she was 65.  At a time when ‘concubines’ and polygyny were the norm, he had neither. 
When they married, Khadija was 40 years of age (15 years older than Muhammad), and had already been twice-widowed, with two daughters and one son (some say there were 3 sons) from her deceased husbands.  The most famous of these children was the renowned companion Hind Ibn Abi Hala al Tameemi; he was raised by Muhammad, was among the first to believe in his message, fought the battles of Badr and Uhud, and is believed to have died a ‘martyr.’

Khadija bore Muhammad 4 daughters, the most famous of whom was Fatima, whose husband was Ali (the prophet’s cousin, whom he had also raised).  Ali too, remained faithful to Fatima, his only mate, until she died.

After Khadija’s death, Prophet Muhammad married polygamously.  As a community leader, each wife he took was either to establish relations and accord, or to alleviate distress.  The most famous of them was Aicha*, daughter of Abu Bakr, who was betrothed (but not yet married) before she became his wife.  All his other wives had been widowed, some quite recently and traumatically, when they were invited into his household.  None bore him child.

As for what the QUR’AN reports:
The Prophet was directed to follow the tradition of previous times and take more than one wife HQ 33:38 at a later stage in his life. 

Contrary to what some may think, his ‘polygamous’ marriages were dictated by strategy not by fancy. 
Furthermore, they do not serve as an example for Muslim men because, in an exception to the norm, MUHAMMAD WAS ORDAINED TO DO SO, as HQ 33:38 clearly indicates; he was following the way/ manner (‘sunna’) of previous times.

There is much dispute with regard to Aicha’s reported age at the time this marriage was consummated. 
Al Bukhari, who narrates her ‘Saying/ Hadeeth’ that her age at the time of marriage was 9 years, also narrates her saying that she was cognizant when an EARLY Meccan Chapter (HQ 54) was revealed, and also another saying that ever since she could discern, she knew that her parents were Purely Reverent to God and her father was among those who emigrated to Ethiopia in the 5th year after Revelation.  The last two ‘hadeeth’ contradict the first:  If the last two are correct, she must have been at least 6 years old to be cognizant of early verses revealed in Mecca and the faith of her parents, plus at least 10 years until Emigration, plus one year after Emigration to Medina (when they married)… so she must have been at least 17 years old.  A similarlate-teen’ age is arrived at in another way, by calculating reports of her sister Asma’s  age compared with hers at the time of their deaths, she being 10 years younger.

[iv] فرج: يدلُّ على تفتُّح في الشَّيء. من ذلك الفُرجة في الحائط وغيرِه. الشَّقُّ. يقال: فَرَجْته وفرَّجته. ويقولون: إنَّ الفَرْجة: التفصِّي من همٍّ أو غمّ.
والفَرْج: ما بين رِجْلَي الفَرَس.
والفُروج: الثُّغور التي بين مَواضِع المخافة، وسمِّيت فُرُوجاً لأنَّها محتاجةٌ إلى تفقُّد وحِفْظ. وكلُّ مَوضعِ مَخافةٍ فَرْج.
وقوسٌ فُرُجٌ، إذا انفجَّتْ سِيَتُها. قالوا: والرَّجُل الأفْرَجُ: الذي لا يلتقي أَليتاه. وامرأةٌ فَرْجاء. ومنه الفُرُج: الذي لا يكتُم السِّرّ، والفِرْج مثله.

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