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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!


Image: 14th C. Qur'an, Mamluk origin, Library of Congress; Rights obtained.

A BREAKTHROUGH project which helps understand the Qur'an AS REVEALED -not just 'as explained.'


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 203; Qur’an 33:16-35; Page 420- 422

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!

Our Reading today discusses incidents related to ‘the Battle of the Confederates’ and to the Prophet’s household, peace upon him. 
It is important to know that the most authentic reports about the Prophet’s life and times are in the Qur’an itself.  That is why, since this project is about understanding the Qur’an as revealed, you might find me trying NOT to overwrite what it says[i].

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 420 Arabic Qur’an.
1. Verses 16- 17 continue to warn those whose hearts were against the Believers, and who were not keeping true to the promise they had made to God (mentioned in Verses 13-15).

2. Verses 18- 19 -20 describe those who had not believed, and God’s Knowledge of their feelings and their deeds. 

Verse 21 is oft-quoted; it tells us that in the Messenger of God is an IDEAL for us, to be followed/ emulated by anyone who looks forward -with both awe and fear- to God and the Last Day, and oft-remembers God. 

Read both Ali and Asad’s explanations; I find the latter closer to the Arabic.

In both Verses 20 and 22 we find mention of ‘Al Ahzaab,’ the ‘Confederates,’ after whom this Chapter is named.
In Verse 22 we see the Faithful/ Believers’ complete confidence in God and in His Messenger as they come face to face with the Confederates, and we note their ‘label’- ‘Mu’minoon.’

PAGE 421 Arabic Qur’an.

3. Even in translation of meanings, Verses 23- 24 are Timeless:

‘Of the Believers, there are active persons who are True to the commitment/ pledge which they made unto God.  Of them are those who have fulfilled their commitment/ redeemed their pledge, and of them are those who still await, and they never shifted position.
So that God may recompense the True for their Truthfulness, and cause the Hypocrites to suffer if He will, or He may accept their turning unto Him, Indeed God is All-Forgiving, Unceasingly Compassionate.’

Dear Reader:
‘Those who redeemed their pledge did so by remaining True until Death.
At this point in time, dear Readers, we hope and pray to be counted among ‘Those who await.’
May we be, and then remain: True. 
May we then redeem our Pledge without shifting position. 

This, dear Reader, is one of the two verses which got me wondering about the meaning of the word ‘rijaal’ and led me to uncover its amazing definition in an Arabic-Arabic dictionary.  I knew that there were many women who were True to the commitment/ pledge which they made unto God, and I wondered why they did not seem to be acknowledged, here and in HQ 9:108.  Read the following excerpt from Posting of  May 6th:

“Verse 9:108 is what opened my eyes to the full meaning of the word ‘rijaal’ since, having studied Seerah (Prophet’s life, peace upon him), I knew all about the women who frequented his mosque, and I found this verse (as traditionally explained) ‘lacking’ in that it ‘only mentioned men,’ as I had mistakenly thought at the time! 
Little did I know then, that ‘rijaal’ is plural of ‘rajla’ (female) just as much as it is plural of ‘rajul’ (male), and that it denotes active persons on their (arjul) feet!”

4. Verse 25 describes the ‘ghey-Tth[ii]غيظ- ’ of the Deniers; they were repulsed by their own ‘fury.’  This word (and its variations) appears 10 times in the Qur’an, and is sometimes translated as ‘rage/anger’ (both Ali and Asad translate it here as ‘fury’).   
I checked out its meaning in our 1,000 year old Lexicon and ‘infuriation’ is a good translation.  As we can see in footnote, ‘ghey-Tth’ is an unfavorable reaction experienced because of what others have said or done.  The Qur’an relates this to Deniers, Pharaoh and his hosts, and also to the ‘raging’ fire of Hell.  It does NOT relate to the Faithful, except as something to be internally dealt with/ managed/ ‘kathm’ كظم-[iii]. 
It is a well-known health fact that ‘anger/ rage’ is a destructive emotion that can eventually kill those who experience it (see HQ 3:119), and the Qur’anic description of ‘kathm,’ which is commonly translated as ‘restraint,’ actually means literally: ‘providing outlets for the emotion to FLOW from one place to another.’

5. Verses 26- 27 speak of an incident when certain groups from the People of earlier Compilation (from the Jewish tribes inhabiting Yathrib/ Medina) sided with the Confederates against the Prophet and his followers, despite the earlier treaty they had concluded with them. 
The consequences for their actions are shown to be just, according to their own Laws.
It is very important for us to realize the CONTEXT in which certain incidents took place in Medina.  Due to the severity of Mosaic Law, the Jews would come to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, asking him to judge between them[iv].  The Qur’an indicates in HQ5:43 that it is unacceptable that they would overlook the God-given judgment of their own Compilation, and then it labels those specific persons as ‘those who do NOT believe’ (they did not believe in the Qur’an -or else they would have followed Prophet Muhammad- AND did not believe in the Torah -or else they would have followed its rules).    

I have linked to Asad’s explanation here although Ali’s is more detailed; (remember, Asad is of Jewish, Rabbinical background).

6. Verses 28- 29 address the Prophet, telling him to give his wives a choice between this immediate life with all its embellishment on one hand, or God, His Messenger, and the Final Abode on the other hand.  This choice came with the assurance that if they chose the former he would release them graciously and with ample provision (from marriage), while if they chose the latter, those of them who were Doers of Good shall receive from God a Great Recompense.

I won’t comment on the historical background to these verses, as they served their purpose upon being revealed.  I am more interested in their Timeless purpose, as we note two things:  the obvious lack of luxury in the Prophet’s household, peace upon him, and the fact that being related to him does not carry in itself any favor with God. 
Here we note that, to be a true leader, one should be living at a level of subsistence similar to the general populace, even if family-members do not approve. We also note that God’s promise of a grand reward is limited to the Doers of Good among his wives المحسنات منكن— which indicates that no one has a claim, besides their own deeds, to God’s rewards.

Verses 30- 34 address the Prophet’s wives directly: ‘O wives of the Prophet!’

In Verse 30- 31, the Prophet’s wives are told that- were any of them to commit pervasive atrocity proven by evidence (adultery with 4 witnesses) - their penalty would be double that of other women, as would the reward be doubled for any of them who is compliant to God and His Messenger, and performs goodness.  
The next verse tells them why they get double, either way.  

We spoke of the meaning of ‘qaanit’قانت-  on Feb 17th.  Check out all 12 instances where this commendable characteristic is mentioned, whether in Creation, in Believers, in Prophet Abraham, or in Mary, mother of Jesus, peace upon them all.

PAGE 422 Arabic Qur’an.

Verse 32 tells them why they deserve special consideration:  They are UNLIKE ANY OTHER WOMEN.  Their relationship to the Prophet puts them in a category of their own, where they should be extra careful as to their public presence, whether in demeanor, manner of speech, or appearance. 

Verse 33 advises them on what to do, telling them that the ultimate reason for all these precautions is to abolish ‘turmoil/ rijs’ in the Prophet’s Household, and to purify them to the utmost.  Note the command to 'settle with dignity' (وقرن)* in their homes.  As we shall see in future verses, this is not about restricting them, but rather, it is about giving them space within their homes to be themselves.    

Verse 34 ends the verses directed to the Prophet’s wives, by putting a grave responsibility on their shoulders, to remember and publicize what is recited to them in their homes.

7. Verse 35 is a beautiful conclusion to Today’s Reading. 
Note the prominent descriptions which characterize these 10 groups consisting of males and females. 
Beginning with Those Purely Reverent, to The Faithful, to Those Compliant to God, to The Truthful, to the Forbearing, to Those filled with Awe, to Those Spending on others, to Those Fasting, to Those Preserving their Privacy, to Those Oft-Remembering God.  For them has God prepared Forgiveness and a Great Reward.
May we be among them!     

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 33:36-62.

Peace unto all!

[i] Today, the earliest surviving text to be considered the ‘Biography’ of Prophet Muhammad, is that of Ibn Hisham, written more than 200 years after the Prophet’s death.  It was compiled from another, lost narrative (written about 60 years earlier) by Ibn Ishaaq.  We already mentioned that the latter was commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph Al Mansour (d. 159 A.H.) for his child (see Aug 16th).

[ii] (غيظ)  يدلُّ على كَرْبٍ يلحقُ الإنسانَ مِن غيره. يقال: غاظَني يَغِيظُني. وقد غِظْتَني يا هذا. ورجلٌ غائظ وغَيَّاظ.

[iii] (كظم) وهو الإمساك والجمعُ للشَّيء. من ذلك الكَظْم: اجتراع الغَيظ والإمساك عن إبدائه، وكأنَّه يجمعه الكاظمُ في جوفه.
والكظائم: خُروق تُحفَر يجري فيها الماءُ من بئرٍ إلى بئر. وإنَّما سُمِّيت كِظَامةً لإمساكها الماء.

[iv] For example, what we discussed on Aug 17th:  The Qur’anic penalty for adultery which is 100 lashes, versus the Biblical penalty for adultery, which is Death, actually stoning to death being part of the Law of Moses.

*وقر: يدلُّ على ثِقَل في الشَّيء. منه الوَقْرُ: الثِّقَل في الأُذُن. والوِقْر: الحِمْل. ويقال نخلةٌ مُوقرَةٌ ومُوقِرٌ، أي ذات حَملٍ كثير. ومنه الوَقَار: الحِلْم والرَّزَانة. ورجلٌ ذو قِرَةٍ، أي وَقور. يقال منه وَقَرَ وَقاراً. وإذا أمرت قلت اُوقُر، في لغة من قال اُومُرْ. قال الأحمر في قوله: {وقَرْنَ فِي بُيُوتِكُنَّ} [الأحزاب 33]: ليس من الوقار، إنَّما هو من الجلوس. يقال منه وَقَرْتُ أقِرُ وَقْراً.
قال أبو عبيد: هو عندي من الوَقَار. يقال: قِرْ، كما يقال: عِدْ. ورجلٌ مُوَقَّر: مُجرَّب.

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