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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 177; Qur’an HQ 24:27-35, page 353 + 354

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.

As we have progressed through this chapter, dear Readers, we have come to realize what The Chapter of Light is about.  Be prepared for a tough Reading.
Today, by God’s Grace, we will find ourselves that much closer to understanding its magnificent Verse 35!


PAGE 353 Arabic Qur’an.

1.   Our Reading today starts with Verse 27 as it begins:
“O you who have attained Faith,….!”

Whenever we hear that call, we pay heed to the instruction presented. 
Here, up to Verse 29, we find instruction related to respecting each other’s PRIVACY. 

Yusuf Ali calls these instructions ‘conventions of propriety,’ while Muhammad Asad sees in them ‘an additional protection of individuals against possible slander.

This is very important, as we are NOT to invade other people’s privacy, especially if our invasion is intended to catch them committing a misdeed!  Were we to do so, we would be disobeying THREE Qur’anic injunctions:
·   Do not spy on others (HQ 49:12).
·   Enter houses from their front doors as it is not BIR (forthcoming/ genuine/ true to oneself and others) to enter houses from their rear (HQ 2:189).
·   Do not enter other people’s homes until permission is obtained and you have greeted them with ‘Peace!’

There are several famous tales (all of which have the second Caliph Omar Ibnil Khattab as the main character) breaking in upon people and ‘catching them in the act’ (a couple committing adultery/ a group drinking intoxicants).  When he confronts the guilty party with their violation, as the story goes, they confront him with his THREE violations, for which he respectfully apologizes, and leaves them for the mosque to pray for God to forgive him for having disobeyed His injunctions.
Whether or not the story is true is not important.  What IS important is the fact that it is part of our ethos:  Our homes are our private domains, and we give no one the right to enter without permission.  This might be something that people from other cultures don’t understand.  In the west, a delivery person might enter deep into a house if no one answers, especially when the door is wide open.  To us, an open door only means that we are enjoying the breeze, or the kids are in and out.  We do not expect others to enter unless they have our permission. 
As we saw in Verse 28, if a house is empty, we can only enter if it contains some of our own belongings.  Otherwise, we are not allowed in without permission, and we always have to retrace our footsteps out, the moment we are asked to do so.  Why?
That is purer for us.

The call, “O you who have attained Faith….!” appears THREE times in this Chapter of Light.

·    The first (Verse 21) is general, when we are told NOT to follow the Trespasses of the Deviant/ Sheytaan who commands us to commit deeds which literally corrupt us, hindering us from thriving and growing in Purity.

·       The second time (Verse 27) is more specific, where we are given instruction at the doorways, told not to enter homes without permission and greetings of Peace. 

·       The third time (Verse 58) is even more specific as it takes us deep inside the home, all the way to our private quarters.  There, we are given instruction on how to train our own young children and dependents to respect our privacy and not to intrude during three intervals of every single day and night:  Before dawn prayer; after noon prayer when we undress; and after night prayer.  Outside these times we can allow them to come and go into our rooms freely.

What does all this concern for privacy tell us? 
That there is a time for everything? 
That children should be protected from observing what they cannot yet understand?
That matters of a sexual nature should be given their rightful space in our lives, and not be allowed to expand until they permeate our entire existence?
True, BUT is not all about sex!
It simply is that we need our own space, where we feel sheltered and unhurried, a place where we can be ourselves, unobserved by others, where we can think, reflect, pray, read, and certainly… enjoy intimacies with our spouses and loved ones. 
Isn’t ‘home’ to each of us, the haven of ‘sakeena’ (calmness, tranquility)… without which we cannot grow in Awareness?

This is, in truth, all about creating the home atmosphere which cultivates Awareness.
(For importance of ‘sakeena’ check out the Marriage Union.)

2.    Verses 30- 31 are directed to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him. 
In Verse 30, he is told to instruct the male Faithful/Believers as to what is purer for them, which is to lower part of their gaze[i] and safeguard their privates.  The verse concludes with the assertion that God is indeed well-acquainted with what they formulate/ fabricate/ devise (يصنعون).


The Qur’an’s use of the word يصنعون ‘fabricating/ constructing/ devising/ contriving’ is significant. 
Why is this word used here, rather than (يفعلون/ يعملون) (yaf’aloon/ ya’maloon), which would have indicated either specific ‘actions,’ or ‘deeds’ in general?
(For difference between “fa’ala and ‘amala” فعل- عمل see posting of March 16th.)  

Because ‘yasnaيصنعون- ’ is another, totally different connotation that points to a CONSTRUCT or device which someone builds, or puts into effect[ii]. 

Put صنع -يصنع together in Tanzil, and notice the following:

·      When the verb is in the singular, it could indicate ‘constructs’ that are for positive ends (God’s ‘Construct’ is called ‘صنع الله,’ Prophet Noah ‘constructed’ his Arc, and Prophet David his ‘coats of armor,’ peace upon both), OR negative ends, as in the constructs and devises of Pharaoh and his people (HQ 7:137).  

·      When the verb is in the plural however, it seems to indicate negative contrivance, AND is definitely a warning which appears in the following sequence:
‘..and God is well-acquainted/ shall inform them of
 what they ‘yasna’oon’/are contriving.’

Let us check this out together:
When we copy + paste يصنعون in Tanzil, we notice that the word appears 5 times referring to:

                                        I.         Certain Christians who forgot part of what they had been reminded, after which enmity and hatred was sowed between them, and God will inform them on the Day of Resurrection about what they were contriving/ devising (HQ 5:14).

                                     II.          Certain Jewish Rabbis and Scholars who did not prevent their people from saying and doing wrong; vile indeed is what they   (HQ 5:63).

                                  III.          A Township who denied God’s Bounties, and thereupon was given a taste of Fear and Hunger BECAUSE of what they had devised/ contrived (HQ 16:112).

                                 IV.          Male Believers who are told to lower part of their gaze, and to guard their privates, and that God is well-acquainted with what they construct/ devise.

                                    V.          A parable of a person whose bad deeds were embellished for him, so that he saw them as ‘good’ deeds (HQ 35:8).

Dear Reader,

What is this verse about ‘male’ Believers doing in the middle of all other verses of warning?
Is it to inform male Believers that God is watching what they are planning, even as they partly avert their gaze and safeguard their privates so as to grow in purity? 
Is it related to the genetic make-up which is more likely to drive males than females to seek control, or to assert their manhood in powerful ways that MIGHT bear negative impact upon their society… and making it known to Believing men that they should NOT form part of such a construct, but indeed are better equipped to fight it if and when it does arise?
Give me your studied response on this, dear Reader!

If we took all these verses together we would gain insight, so let’s see: 
Perhaps, and I say ‘perhaps’…. Male Believers are told here that God is well-acquainted with what they DEVISE, so that they would remain pure, and well-removed from:

·      Doing as No. 1 did, forgetting divine Reminders and generating enmity and hatred amongst them (such as fighting for power, dividing into ‘sects’ and calling each other infidels).
·      Doing as No. 2 did, their Scholars allowing unjust words and deeds to pervade in society (at the expense of the powerless).
·      Doing as No. 3 did, taking God’s Bounties lightly and devising constructs which would generate Fear and Hunger (such as wars, depletion of earth’s resources.. etc..).
·      Doing as No. 5 did, allowing bad deeds to be embellished for them, so that their eyes would then see them as ‘good’ ones (such as forbidding women from full participation in society, in the name of Faith, and ‘for their own good.’)

Isn’t that something worthy of thought?
Male ‘Believers’ who have read the above analysis, agree wholeheartedly.  They don’t think that women need to be warned about 1, 2, and 3, as men do. 
As for No. 5, that is a different matter, because it applies to us all, males and females, in a big way.  Look around you and see how many bad deeds have been ‘embellished’ for all of us, so that we now see them as ‘good’ ones. 
One Believer I spoke to told me that women are sometimes their own worst enemies when they reinforce stereotypes and refuse themselves the chance to evolve or, as mothers or educators, when they put young girls through the same things they were put through.

3.    Verse 31 is also directed to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, telling him to instruct the female Faithful/Believers to lower part of their gaze and safeguard their privates, and not to display their adornments except what is naturally apparent of them, and to throw their ‘scarves’ (khumur ( [iii]خُمُر- upon their ‘cleavages’ (juyoobجيوب-), and not to display their adornments except to… (and here there is a long list of persons to whom a Believing woman can display her adornments). 

Much has been said about this part of the verse, so I shan’t repeat.
I’ll just add necessary comments and Q & A which Readers might find helpful.

-Firstly, that the vast space this verse occupies in today’s dialogue about ‘Islam’ is disproportionate with its subject-matter.
-Secondly, that people (men mostly) are arguing vehemently over forcing a few yards of cloth ‘upon’ OR ‘off of’ women, as if this entity, ‘women,’ is not made up of individuals, each of whom has convictions and opinions of her own.
-Thirdly, that this verse was sent, with the entire chapter, as A Bequeathal, impressed upon us to make life easier, purer, more productive, ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN.
-Fourthly, that no one has a monopoly on explaining what this verse means:  Scholars/ Researchers/ Commentators should first look up its words in 1,000 year old Lexicons, then compare with other verses while adhering to Qur’anic context, and then only can they make of it what they can understand.

Q & A:
Q. Is the ‘khimar’ necessarily a scarf worn on the head?
A.  Linguistically, it is a ‘cover,’ but note that the Qur’an here is not objective, but rather subjective in indicating the women’s own ‘khimar’  (خمرهن) which probably referred to their own ‘covers (of the head),’ common during the Prophet’s time (and earlier). 
Believing Christian women were also told to cover their hair.  In his epistle to the Corinthians, Saint Paul explicitly forbade women from showing their hair, and stated that ‘if a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off’ (Corinthians 11:6).

Q. Is this instruction for all time, or does it apply only to the Prophet’s time, peace upon him, because it was given through him to Believers?

A. I think it is NOT limited in time, although its application might vary with our knowledge and awareness.  In other words, when it was revealed it was applied in a straightforward manner, relevant to common attire of that era, and what was understood (which is why the ‘khimar’ which linguistically means any ‘cover’ was understood to be the ‘head-cover’… and also why the ‘juyoob’ which are any indentations, were specifically understood to be the bosom/ cleavage at a time when all else was covered except that part). 
When studied linguistically and in context, these definitions might be applied differently today, and it is our personal challenge to discover how to apply them. 

Also, we cannot consider a verse which starts with ‘Say..’ as limited to people of the Prophet’s time, or we’d be virtually disregarding all the verses which start with ‘Sayقُل- ’ -among which is the beautiful HQ 39:53 and more importantly, HQ 6:151-153, which contains the ‘Inviolables’ of the Straight Path!

Q. Does the verse imply that only the cleavage of the bosom be covered, or does the term ‘juyoob’ include other ‘cleavages’ or physical ‘indentations?’

A. It could mean more than the cleavage of a woman’s bosom.  The term appears in the Qur’an, directed to Prophet Moses, peace upon him, to indicate what we understand as ‘your armpit’ –‘your janaah جناحك’ and your ‘jeybجيبك- ' (HQ 20:22, 28:32). 
At a time when everything but a woman’s private parts are exposed, the term ‘juyoob’ would probably refer to more than just the cleavage of the bosom.  It would refer, by implication, to all apparent cleavages, such as the parts around armpits, buttocks, elbows, knees … all of which today, might be considered exposed ‘juyoob’ to be covered with THEIR cover, a woman’s own ‘khimar.’

4.    Among the persons mentioned in Verse 31 whom Believing women may expose their hidden adornments to (remaining uncovered in their presence), are their ‘bu’ool’ بعول or partners/companions in marriage (remember we said that ‘ba’al’ may indicate a man with more than one partner, as he would no longer be a ‘zawj’ or one in a pair).  She could also remain uncovered in the presence of his father, or his children. 
OR, when these women happen to be the mothers of orphans, they could remain uncovered in front of ‘ma malakat aymaanuhum/ what their rightful pledges hold,’ who would be their marriage-partners, who contracted the marriage with them when they were widowed, specifically for the orphans’ sake (see Feb. 14th). 

Another category which needs explanation is ‘attendants’ who ‘keep track’ of someone’s needs, having no ‘irbahإربة- [iv] of their own- which is defined as those who have no ‘requirement (taken to mean sexual requirements), which would include all kinds of necessary caretakers such as physicians, nurses, therapists, who provide women with their needs, PROVIDED THAT sex is completely irrelevant. 
Also, if ‘irbah’ is taken to means ‘intelligence/ mind’ as its second connotation denotes, this would indicate that women can remain uncovered in the presence of men who are mentally classified as ‘children.’

At the end of this verse, there is a general call to all Believers (male and female) to return unto God so as to succeed/ prosper in life.  With so much dependent on personal behavior and intention, this is an important call!

I would like to share with you something Dr. Murad W. Hoffman said in ‘Islam and the Future’:

“You may be surprised to hear that Muslims discipline in matters of sex strikes a positive note with many young people nowadays who lean towards by men in the street as a mere sex object admires Muslimat whose dress and composure send the clear signal that they are not cheap game. Given the ongoing exploitation of women in pornography, fashion shows, beauty contests, and sexuality explicit commercials, many Western women, partisans of women’s emancipation, now understand that their Muslim sisters pursue the same aim - female dignity - but do so more successfully.”

PAGE 354 Arabic Qur’an.

5.    Verse 32 instructs society to marry-off those who are single among them, as well as those of their ‘slave-servants’ who are fit for marriage.
An accepted and more accurate Reading would be ‘abeedعبيد- ,’ rather than عباد ‘ibaad’ because ‘ibaad’ means ‘worshippers,’ while ‘abeed’ means ‘slave-servants.’  (See how research uncovers the best Reading?)

6.     Verse 33 (Ali/ Asad) commands restraint and chastity of those who do not have the means to marry, and asks people to assist their ‘slave-servants’ financially if they seek to purchase their own freedom.  It also specifically instructs people to be especially helpful in offering financial assistance to their female ‘slave-servants’ who seek to self-fortify themselves (by purchasing their own freedom or by marriage), and not to demean them, by letting them resort to begging بغاء [v] for financial assistance.
English Etymology says that the origin of the word ‘beggar,’ which is ‘beggaert,’ is of unknown origin.

I don’t agree with Ali’s translation of بغاء   as ‘prostitution’ or Asad’s ‘whoredom,’ although that is the Traditional explanation. 
‘Seeking’ something, as in begging, is the first connotation of the word in the Lexicon, and the second is when something becomes ‘foul’ or infected, as in a wound.  The second connotation is where the traditional explanation comes from.  

Verse 34 concludes the entire section on issues of a Sexual nature, by informing us that these are clarifying signs and examples of generations past, AND admonition to the Aware.

7.    And now we arrive at the magnificent Verse 35, the Parable of Light (Ali/ Asad)!

I cannot explain it better than others have done- nor do I think it necessary to, as its beauty is obvious, especially in Arabic.  What we should try to do however, is uncover its intent:
God IS THE LIGHT of Heavens and Earth.  His Light is as…..(read it all).

But what IS God’s Light -to us? 
It is Light upon Light.
It is something He guides us to (HQ 24:36).
It is something which He also ‘renders’.... OUR OWN!! (HQ 24:40, 57:28)

When we put (نوره –نورهم) together in Tanzil we will notice that, other than this verse, there are only TWO other verses which mention ‘His’ Light specifically نوره :

His Light is mentioned in these two verses (HQ 9:32, 61:8) as something which Deniers try to ‘put out/ extinguish with their mouths,’ but which He shall bring to Completion.

يُرِيدُونَ أَن يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللَّـهُ إِلَّا أَن يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ ﴿التوبة: ٣٢﴾
يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّـهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّـهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ ﴿الصف: ٨﴾

So, what is this Light, and how can people try to put out God’s Light with their mouths?

When we put (نورهم -نار) in Tanzil we notice that the Believing men and Believing women ALSO have ‘their’ Light نورهم (HQ 57:12, 57:19, 66:8) which accompanies them wherever they go, and we recognize their humble desire that their Lord ‘completes it’ for them! 
We recognize it as the Light of Awareness, but awareness of what?

Remember our last Reading (Verse 25) when we read that God IS the Ultimate Truth?
When we put "الله هو الحق" in Tanzil we notice 3 other verses which say the same (HQ 22:6, 22:62, 31:30): 
God IS Truth/ Reality!

So what else could be the light of the heavens and the earth, but Truth.... al Haqq?

And it is this Truth which people attempt to put out with their mouths, by spreading Falsehood (52 verses reproach such deeds).

And it is OF this ‘Truth’ that we seek awareness in life, asking God to complete our Awareness of it in the Hereafter!

May He grant us all that honor… ameen!

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 24:36-52!

Peace unto all!

[i] The word ‘min’ indicates part of, not a total lowering of gaze, but to lower something of it.

[ii] صنع: وهو عملُ الشيء صُنْعَاً. وامرأة صَنَاعٌ ورجلٌ صَنَعٌ، إِذا كانا حاذقَين فيما يصنعانه. والمَصانع: ما يُصنَعُ من بئرٍ وغيْرِها للسَّقي. ومن الباب: المُصانَعة، وهي كالرِّشْوة.

[iii] خمر:  يدلُّ على التغطية، والمخالطةِ في سَتْر. فالخَمْرُ: الشَّراب المعروف. ويقولون: دَخَلَ في خَمار الناسِ وخَمَرِهم، أي زحْمتهم.
والخِمار: خِمار المرأة. وامرأةٌ حسنَة الخِمْرَة، أي لُبْس الخِمار. وفي المثل: "العَوَانُ لا تُعَلَّم الخِمْرة". والتخمير: التغطية. ويقال في القوم إذا توارَوْا في خَمَرِ الشَّجر: قد أخْمَرُوا. خامَرَ الرّجُل المكانَ، إذا لزِمه فلم يَبْرح.
  ويقال اختَمَرَ الطِّيبُ، واخْتَمَرَ العَجين. ووجدت منه خُمْرَةً طيِّبة وخَمَرَةً، وهو الرّائحة. والمخامَرة: المقارَبة.
والخُمْرة: شيءٌ من الطِّيب تَطَّلِي به المرأةُ على وجهها ليحسُن به لونُها. والخُمْرة: السّجَّادة الصَّغيرة. وفي الحديث: "أنه كان يسجدُ على الخُمْرة".

[iv] أرب: لها أربعةُ أصولٍ إليها ترجِع الفروع: وهي: الحاجة، والعقل، والنَّصيب، والعَقْد.
1- فأمّا الحاجة فقال الخليل: الأرَب الحاجة، وما أَرَبُك إلى هذا، أي ما حاجتك. والمأْرَبة والمَأْرُبَة والإرْبة، كل ذلك الحاجة.
2- والإرْب: العقل. قال ابن الأعرابيّ: يقال للعقل أيضاً إربٌ وإرْبة. ومن هذا الباب الفَوز والمهارة بالشّيء، يقال أرِبْتُ بالشيء أي صِرتُ به ماهراً.
3- وأما النَّصيب فهو والعُضْو من بابٍ واحد، لأنَّهما جزء الشّيء. قال الخليل وغيرُه: الأُرْبَة نَصيب اليَسَرِ من الجَزُور
ومن هذا ما في الحديث: "كانَ أملَكَكُم لإرْبِه" أي لعُضوه.  ويقال أَرِبَ أي تساقطت آرَابُه.
4- وأما العَقْد والتشديد فقال أبو زيد: أرِبَ الرجل يَأْرَبُ إذا تشدَّد وضَنَّ وتَحَكَّر. قال الأصمعيّ: تَأَرَّبْتُ في حاجتي تشدّدت، وأَرّبْت العقدة أي شدّدتها. وهي التي لا تَنْحلُّ حتى تُحَلّ حَلاًّ. وإنما سمّيت قِلادة الفرَس والكلب أُرْبَةً لأنّها عُقِدَتْ في عُنُقهما. قال ابنُ الأعرابي: رجل أرِبٌ إذا كان مُحكَم الأمر.
ومن هذا الباب أرِبْتُ بكذا أي استعنتُ.

[v] بغي: أصلان: أحدهما طَلَب الشيء، والثاني جنسٌ من الفَساد.
-فمن الأوّل بَغَيْتُ الشيء أبْغِيه إذا طلبتَه. ويقال بَغَيْتُك* الشيءَ إذا طلبته لك، وأبغَيْتُك الشّيءَ إذا أَعَنْتُكَ على طَلَبه. والبُغْية والبِغْية الحاجة. وتقول: ما ينبغي لك أن تفعل كذا.
-والأصل الثاني: قولهم بَغَى الجرح، إذا تَرامَى إلى فساد، ثم يشتقّ من هذا ما بَعْدَهُ. فالبغيّ الفاجِرةُ، تقول بَغَتْ تَبْغي بِغاءً، وهي بَغِيّ. ومنه أن يبغي الإنسانُ على آخَرَ. ومنه بَغْيُ المَطَر، وهو شِدّتُه ومُعْظَمُه. وإذا كان ذا بَغْيٍ فلا بدّ أنْ يقَعَ منه فسادٌ.
والبَغْي: الظْلم.

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