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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 17, 2010

Day 175; Qur’an 23:105-118, 24:1-10 page 349 + 350

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
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.

As Readers can tell, despite all efforts, it seems that the schedule I had planned (of 2 pages/day, 6 days/week throughout 2010) is unsustainable.  Many of you had already told me that you found it difficult to catch up with that rate, and although it was very difficult for me as well, I thought I could continue to do it.

Notice how Iqrathechallenge has matured!  When we compare early posts to more recent ones we realize: 

Iqrathechallenge now has a presence and a standard of its own.

Its standards do not permit us to lose perspective on what is important, simply ‘to keep up’ with a tight schedule.  So, we’ll lighten up and keep going, without worrying about numbers and dates. 
Our destination is on the Horizon, and with God’s help, we’ll be getting there soon.

PAGE 349 Arabic Qur’an.

1.  In our last Reading (Verses 103-104) we saw persons who had not heeded God’s Signs in Life, described as ‘losing their own Selves’. 
In Verse 105, a valid question is posed to them after they end up with ‘light-weighted’ scales of Good Deeds on Judgment Day.

They respond in Verses 106- 107, admitting full blame for their wrong-doing. 
In Verses 108- 111 they are rebuked for having made fun of God’s Worshippers, and are then shown that it was the Forbearance of these Worshippers which, on Judgment Day, earns them Salvation/ Deliverance (فوز). 
What a contrast!

2.   Verse 112 asks those in the Hereafter, how long their sojourn on earth was… to which they respond in Verse 113, saying:
‘..a day or part of a day..!’

Verses 114- 115 ask them whether they thought they were created in vain, having not considered this Return to God.
Verses 116- 117, cite attributes of God, The True Sovereign, warning any who might ascribe Partners to Him.
Verse 118 concludes the entire Chapter with a beautiful prayer: 

‘Say:  My Lord, Grant Forgiveness and Mercy, for You Are the Best of the Merciful.’

PAGE 350 Arabic Qur’an.

سورة النور
The Light

From Yusuf Ali’s Introduction:
“The environmental and social influences which most frequently wreck our spiritual ideals have to do with sex and especially with its misuse, whether in the form of unregulated behavior, or false charges or scandals, or breach of the refined conventions of personal or domestic privacy, Light and God-created Nature.”

From Muhammad Asad’s introduction:

“… it is evident that this surah was revealed towards the end of the fifth or the beginning of the sixth year after the hijrah. A large part of it deals with the mutual relations of the sexes and with certain ethical rules to be observed in the context of this relationship. Verses 2 - 9, in particular, lay down definite legal injunctions concerning illicit sexual intercourse, while verses 27 - 29 and 58 - 59 stress each in­dividual’s right to privacy. The title is derived from the mystic parable of the “light of God” in verse 35 and its echo in verse 40: “he to whom God gives no light, no light whatever has he!”

This Chapter is entitled ‘The Light,’ in reference to the magnificent Verse 35, wherein the word ‘noor’ appears no less than 5 times (plus twice in Verse 40, making this the chapter with the most recurrences of the word ‘Noor’). 

But there is more:
As we shall see, it is a chapter intended to protect the community of the Faithful, regenerating their Awareness, their Light, which radiates from the inside… out.

Awareness is cultivated at the very root of our earthly existence as social beings, at the deepest, most intimate level, beginning with the relationship between a man and a woman, who ‘garment’ each other on every level of their earthly existence.
Think back to the story of Adam and his spouse, and how they discovered the value of the highest garment, that of Awareness. 
Think back to the Inviolables on the Straight Path (the Ten Commandments), and the importance of commitment in marriage. 
Parents’ commitment to their own Awareness is what creates a healthy family, and a healthy society.  The conjugal relationship is sacred, and its success is worthy of effort and forbearance because it is through such a relationship that spouses and children grow and achieve potential.  This relationship is upheld by a commitment-bond between two life partners, which the Qur’an calls a ‘solemn covenant’ ‘meethaaqan ghaleethan-ميثاقاً غليظاً’- (as mentioned in ‘the Marriage Union: Sanctity and Fulfillment’). 

In light of all of the above, it is PARAMOUNT to recognize the agents of destruction which work to break this unit apart, causing a society’s entire spiritual and social structure to collapse in a domino effect. 
The Chapter of Light shows us how to deal with these agents of destruction.
This chapter not only enlightens us, but gives us the means to uphold our faith in each other, even as we tend our own inner light, our Awareness, which originated with God and leads us towards Him. 
Indeed, our Light is part of His, and His is magnificent!

1. The first Verse in this chapter establishes its enlightening factor:

This is a chapter which has been sent down and made (‘fardh’فرض-[i] )- impressed (upon us), or bequeathed (to us)- and in which clear Signs are sent down as reminders.

Important Note:
Free your mind, dear Reader, from the familiarity of the word ‘fardhفرض- ’ which we’ve been using for the past one thousand years… in a NON-Qur’anic context!

As we see in footnote, according to our 1,000 year old Lexicon, the root-verb ‘faradha’ denotes two actions, either ‘leaving a clear imprint’ (impressing upon something, causing an observable indentation or mark) AND/ OR a freely given bequest or reward.

Ask any ‘Islamic’ Scholar about the contents of the ‘Compilation of Farae’dh–كتاب الفرائض- and s/he would tell you it is about the details on how to divide the inheritance among family members (as in HQ 4:7) because:
The Kitaab al-Fara’edh is none other than the ‘Compilation of Inherited Bequests [ii].’ 

Back to Qur’anic Language and Context:
When the Qur’an discusses something bequeathed or impressed, it uses the term ‘faradha.’  Put فرض  in Tanzil and notice the following:
·   When something is ‘bequeathed to’ someone, the verb is ‘faradha lahفرض له- ’:

Check out the following two verses, the first mentions a husband’s ‘fareedha/ gift/ bequest’ to his wife (HQ 2:236 Ali/ Asad), while the second refers to God’s bequeathing us a method by which we could get out of a predicament, by expiating/absolving ourselves of wrongfully-made vows (HQ 66:2 Ali/ Asad.
Notice that both Ali and Asad, after explaining this concept in HQ 2:236 as ‘a gift,’ explain it here as something ‘enjoined/ ordained,’ which is inconsistent: Here too, it should be translated as a bequest.
·   When something is ‘impressed upon’ someone it is ‘faradha ‘aleyhiفرض عليه-’:

In HQ 28:85, the Qur’an is mentioned as being ‘impressed upon you,’ the word ‘you’ referring to the ONLY person upon whom it was literally impressed/ imprinted; someone upon whose heart/ mind ‘qalbقلب- it had descended… Muhammad, peace upon him[iii].
The only other verse with the word على ‘upon,’ refers to what has been impressed upon husbands in relation to the marriage dower which they should gift their wives (HQ 33:50); in a very long verse that segment says:

"...........قد علمنا ما فرضنا عليهم في أزواجهم.........."
‘…..We know what We have impressed upon them as to their wives…’

Therefore: The Qur’an used variations of the term ‘faradha’ to denote something bequeathed or impressed, and we saw them all in Tanzil, numbering 14 verses, mostly indicating bequeathal (I had explained ‘fareedha’ earlier as ‘allotment,’ but I think I should revise that after the knowledge gained today).

This Chapter is considered A ‘Fardh,’ which seems to indicate that it is both impressed/ clearly defined AND granted as a bequest.
As we shall see:  This chapter offers each of us the practical means to gain an honorable place in society, safeguards us from harm, and generally provides us with a healthy atmosphere for Growth, among other things.  Think about that!

Now, let’s dive into the next verse.

2.  Verse 2 begins with ‘the Zaaniah and the Zaani,’ understood as ‘the Fornicating Woman and the Fornicating Man.’

Our generation has unfortunately been conditioned into thinking that ‘adultery’ only involves married persons, but that isn’t true of ‘Zinaa,’ by Qur’anic definition.  We have also been conditioned into thinking lightly of sexual acts between unmarried ‘consensual adults.’  There is nothing light about sexual relations without commitment. 

It is Commitment to each other and to the Law (any law: common, civic, religious) that renders this base instinct: Sacred.
The Qur'an considers marriage a 'Solemn Covenant.'

The solemnity of the Marriage Covenant is reason for the gravity of ANYTHING which might negatively impact, and damage its Commitment ميثاق, its Intimacy مودّة , and its Nurturance رحمة ! 

And the first, most powerful agent of destruction is SEX outside of marriage.
(It is called ‘faahisha,’ or ‘pervasive atrocity’ in the ‘Ten Commandments,’ in HQ 6:151.) 

I searched for a full definition of ‘zana’ which predates the Qur’an, but I am not sure there is one, other than the word ‘zan [iv]زن- ’ which denotes ‘to charge/ indict someone with something.’
Anyway, if ‘Zan’ is to indict or charge someone (of non-marital sex here), this might reinforce the understanding that branding someone as a ‘Zaaniah or Zaani’ means that they have indeed earned that charge.

Branding/ Labeling:

Regular Readers will remember what we said on March 11 regarding ‘The male Thief, and the female Thief,’ when we explained how when we use a NOUN to identify someone we are labeling them (versus using a verb which identifies their deed), and that only a person who is well-known to be ‘something’ might be rightfully labeled.  (Had they simply ‘stolen,’ the Qur’an would NOT have branded each of them separately as ‘the Thief.’  This indicates that they are ‘repeat-offenders’). 
So, here too, we have a penalty meted out to 2 persons KNOWN to be perpetrators of non-marital sex. 

3.  Note here, that the female perpetrator is mentioned preceding the male (in stark contrast to the verse about the thieves!). 
This shows that, when a female is penalized, it is only after ascertaining that she instigated the publicly known acts she is charged with: 

·  Mentioning the female first shows her active part in what she is charged with.
·  Mentioning a female first, publicly earning ‘the brand,’ also indicates prostitution.  
·  Mentioning the female first as ‘earner’ of this label ascertains that such a penalty does NOT apply to females who were raped!

4. But what is the Penalty which would serve to prevent such acts, and what is the Mechanism for its application?

First, The Penalty:

Verse 2 mentions Flogging 100 stripes, which society is told to mete out to the ‘Zaaniah’ and the ‘Zaani.’  
It is deemed very important for society to uphold this penalty without compassion in an issue related to one’s Accountability to God, if indeed they believed in God and in the Final Day (of Judgment).
As we saw, this deterrent is considered crucial to the well-being of society, and we shall see why.  Also note that it is far more lenient than the Biblical penalty for adultery, which is Death:
“..the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.." (Leviticus 20:10 KJV).

Actually, stoning to death was part of the Mosaic Law[v], and we all remember the famous Biblical words of Jesus, peace upon him:
“He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

3. Verse 3 presents a statement of fact, informing us of the identity of fornicators, as it tells Believers that observing one’s chastity/ remaining within married relations is INVIOLABLE; they are NOT to partake in fornication, which is committed either by a ‘Zaani’ or a ‘Mushrik - مشرك.’ 

A Mushrik is someone who is ‘associating a partner,’ شريك, which might be explained in this case as a 'partner to his spouse' (rather than ‘a partner to God,’ which is the common explanation).  Note how Asad explained it WITHOUT putting his addition in brackets, but I do like his comment:

“…the construction of the above passage is clearly that of a statement of fact (Rāzī), and cannot be interpreted as an injunction. On the other hand, since adultery is an illicit sexual union, the verb yankihu, which appears twice in this passage, cannot have the customary, specific meaning of “he marries” but must, rather, be understood in its general sense – applicable to both lawful and unlawful sexual intercourse – namely, “he couples with.”

I too, believe it states a fact.  Yusuf Ali, on the other hand, does not see this verse as a statement of fact, but rather as instructions on Marriage. 

4. Second, the Procedure to be adhered to by accusers from the general public:

Verse 4 safeguards the reputation of 'self-fortified[vi] women' محصنات by presenting anyone who speaks against their chastity with a choice:  Get FOUR witnesses who saw the accused in the act to uphold your allegation (or three others, if YOU saw her)… or else: Get flogged 80 stripes yourself! 

It is interesting to read Yusuf Ali’s legal take on this, as well as Muhammad Asad’s definition of ‘Muhsanaat.’

The fact that -before even a whisper is voiced against such a woman- FOUR witnesses have to be provided, is amazing:  All four have to bear witness that they have indeed observed the consummation of the sexual act, and if any of the four declines to bear witness, those who had already given their statement would face the penalty of 80 stripes and be considered unfit to bear witness for life! 
However, to such persons who have already been penalized for their unverifiable accusation, the road to repentance and making amends is open, in Verse 5.

5. Third, the Procedure to be adhered to, by an accusing Spouse:

In Verses 6- 7 we notice that the Spouse’s witness is tantamount to 4 witnesses, but that he has to swear FOUR separate times as to his honesty.  After that, the FIFTH time he speaks, he has to call upon himself God’s CONDEMNATION, in case he is lying.
‘La’ana’ لعن in Arabic is not a simple swear-word, or a ‘curse,’ but has the physical connotation of being deprived of all that is good; condemned to banishment from God’s Favor.

6. Fourth, the Procedure to be adhered to, by an accused Spouse:

At this point the Accused could accept her guilt and face the 100 lashes, or deny her guilt by Rebuttal and so escape the penalty (Verses 8- 9) by:

Swearing FOUR separate times that her accuser is lying.  After that, the FIFTH time she speaks, she has to call God’s SEVERITY upon herself, in case he is truthful.
'Ghadhab' is usually translated as 'wrath,' but when I looked it up I found that 'ghadab' meant 'severity and strength,' as in a sturdy rock, which is called a 'ghadbah' in Arabic.  Anyway, facing God's 'Severity' IS a serious consequence!  Put "غضب الله" in Tanzil and notice the other two verses which mention God's 'ghadhab' (HQ 58:14, 60:13).
When the Accused spouse is the husband, the same procedure applies, but the wife was mentioned here because these verses were revealed TO BENEFIT WRONGFULLY ACCUSED WOMEN in particular.
P.S. Isn’t it absolutely clear that the Zaaniah and Zaani could be either single or married persons? 

7. After enlightening Believers and granting them a few procedures whereby they can safeguard family life, Verse 10 reminds them of God’s Favor upon them, and His Forgiveness.

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 24:11-27.

Peace unto all!

 [i] فرض: يدلُّ على تأثيرٍ في شيء... فالفَرْض: الحزُّ في الشَّيء. يقال: فَرَضْتُ الخشبةَ. ومن الباب اشتقاق الفَرْض الذي أوجَبَه الله تعالى، وسمِّي بذلك لأنّ لـه معالمَ وحدوداً.
ومن الباب ما يَفرِضُه الحاكم من نفقةٍ لزوجةٍ أو غيرها، وسمِّي بذلك لأنَّه شيءٌ معلوم يَبِين كالأثر في الشَّيء. ويقولون: الفَرض ما جُدتَ به على غير ثوابٍ، والفَرض: ما كان للمكافأة.

[ii] However, at some point after Revelation, the common term of ‘fardh’ entered our vocabulary to mean ‘obligations’ required of us, even though the Qur’an never mentions any so-called ‘fardhs/ obligations.’  What the Qur’an DOES mention are prayers, fasting, etc., which are convened or compiled UPON us, the word ‘aleykum inكتب عليكم- ’indicating duty (see Posting Feb. 15th).  
‘Acts of worship,’ such as prayer, fasting, zakat, etc.. that falls under the title of the Kitaab of ‘Ibaadaatعبادات-, while details on debts, contracts, and other transactions fall under the title Kitaab of ‘Mu’aamalaat.معاملات- ’.
All these topics form part of a discipline called ‘Fiqh,’or ‘Islamic Jurisprudence.’

[iii] Yusuf Ali’s explanation of this verse is not that far off, but Muhammad Asad’s certainly is, because he considered ‘you’ to refer to any ‘believer.’  That cannot be:  Since what is discussed here is ‘Qur’an’ (not kitaab), this can only apply to the Messenger (سنقرئك فلا تنسى).
 [iv]معجم المقاييس:
زني: الزِّنَى، معروف.
زن: يقال أَزنَنْتُ فلاناً بكذا، إذا اتَّهمتَهُ به. وهويُزَنُّ به.

[v] For Readers who might wonder whether there is any mention of ‘Stoning to death’ for adultery in the Qur’an, the answer is an emphatic:  NO!
As we said earlier, the penalty of 100 lashes applies to the act itself, regardless of whether the perpetrators were single or married.
Also, as we shall see in HQ 4:25, how could female perpetrators who are bonds-women get one half the penalty of a Muhsan (married woman), unless the penalty for a Muhsan (married woman) is the 100 lashes? There can be no such thing as ½ of ‘stoning to death!’

There is one saying of Umar Ibn al Khattab which mentions that stoning to death was applied to married persons during the Prophet’s time, but narrators are not certain whether this took place ‘before or after the revelation of Suratul Noor.’  Furthermore, since this was part of the Mosaic Law upheld by Jewish tribes in Medina, it is quite possible that there is record of it taking place during the Prophet’s lifetime, peace upon him.

Others consider ‘Stoning’ a penalty not related to fornication, but part of what they term ‘taqtil.’

It is interesting to note the Traditional Sunni versus Shiite take on Abrogation:  Shiite Scholars believe that Qur’an abrogates Hadeeth, but that Hadeeth cannot abrogate Qur’an.  Traditional Sunni Scholars believed that either one can abrogate the other, so that Hadeeth abrogates the Qur’an!
The mentality of Abrogation is a serious setback for Muslims, as prominent contemporary (Sunni) scholar Yusuf Qardawi asserts.

[vi] These women are considered ‘fortified’ either by a combination of their own chastity and self-determination (freedom), or by being in wed-lock (see Feb. 16). 

غضب: يدلُّ على شدَّة وقُوّة. يقال: إنَّ الغَضْبة: الصَّخرة الصُّلبة. قالوا: ومنه اشتُقَّ الغَضَب، لأنَّه اشتدادُ السُّخط. يقال: غَضِب يَغْضَبُ غَضَباً، وهو غضبانُ وغَضُوب.

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