Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
Thank you dear Readers for your patience: In 'real time' it's already March 29th, while in 'virtual time' it's still November 1st.
I haven’t been able to sit at my desk for many weeks now! Please pray for my dear Dad’s full return to health. He is getting better, and I am trying to regain momentum… thank God…alhamdulil-Lah.
Our new chapter is titled ‘Surat Ghaafir,’ in reference to its third verse, which begins with the words ‘Ghaafir’ which I shall translate for now as ‘Pardoner.’
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.
From Yusuf Ali’s Introduction:
“The Surah is called Ghafir (Forgiver, see verse 3). It is also called "The Believer (Mu'min) from the story of the individual Believer among the people of Pharaoh, who declares his faith and looks to the Future (verses 28-45). In Surah 23, called Believers (Mu'minun), the argument was about the collective force of Faith and virtue. Here it is about the Individual's witness to Faith and Virtue, and his triumph in the End.
We now begin a series of seven Surahs (40-46) to which are affixed the Abbreviated Letters Ha Mim. Chronologically they all belong to the same period, the later Makkan Period, and they immediately follow the last Surah in time.”
“The general theme of the whole series is the relation of Faith to Unfaith, Revelation to Rejection, Goodness to Evil, Truth to Falsehood.”
From Muhammad Asad’s Introduction:
“THE MAIN THEME of this surah is that false pride which often makes man think that he is the centre of the universe, and thus impels him to remain smugly satisfied with his own, empirically-acquired knowledge (verse 83), to worship all manner of imaginary forces and false values seemingly helpful to human aggrandizement - like wealth, power, or even the conceit of "progress" - and to deny validity to any truth, however obvious, which runs counter to his sense of self-importance.”
“As so often in the Qur'an, these ideas are illustrated by references to the stories of earlier prophets, and to what happened in the end to deniers of the truth in bygone times (verses 21-22 and 82 ff.)- "such being the way of God that has always obtained for His creatures" (verse 85).
The key-word by which the surah is known has been taken from verse 3, where God is spoken of as ghafir adh-dhanb ("forgiving sins"): but it has also been designated as Al-Mu'min ("The Believer"), alluding to the "believing man of Pharaoh's family" who tried to convince his erring compatriots of the truth of Moses' mission.
All authorities agree that the present and the six successive surahs (all of which are prefixed with the letter-symbols Ha Mim) belong to the later part of the middle Mecca period.”
I believe that ‘Ghaafiril thanb’ is best explained as ‘Pardoner of Repercussion’ because:
Human ‘misdeeds’ are varied, as we mentioned on Oct 27th.
One type of ‘misdeed’ is called ‘thanbذَنْب- ’ - which starts out as a ‘private affair’ between us and God, a ‘wrong’ committed against our own Selves without infringing upon others. This wrongdoing ENTAILS a negative outcome, both in life and on the ‘Day’ of Account (yawm il Deen):
Its negative outcome is, in fact, its ‘thanab[i]-ذَنَب- ’ -literally its ‘tail-ending.’
That is what I mean by ‘repercussion’= a ‘negative’ outcome.
Please tell me if you find a better word.
By sincere Repentance, we can absolve ourselves of the ‘repercussions entailed’ as a result of our own ‘Self-wronging:’
As long as no one other than our Self is involved, God pardons all our repented ‘thunoob,’ absolving us without bringing the repercussion into effect and also without exposing our wrongdoing.
Not only are we told in this beautiful chapter that God is ‘Ghaafir il thanb’ and ‘Qaabil il Tawb’… (‘Absolver of the Repercussions we entail by our deeds AND Acceptor of our Return in Repentance to Him’)…. but we also learn that:
One of the services rendered to us by ‘Those Who uphold the Arch’ or ‘structure’ of Existence’ -besides being in constant praise of God-.. is to remain in constant appeal for our well-being!
That is indeed a wondrous fact -to stop at and appreciate -when we get to those verses!
PAGE 467 Arabic Qur’an.
1. This Chapter is one of seven which begin with a ‘set’ of disjointed sounds/ letters: Hhaa-meem…حم… as we can see here in Tanzil.
When we look at context, we note that all these ‘sounds/ letters’ precede (5 times) the mention of ‘al Kitaab/ the Compilation,’ and (once) of ‘Tanzeel/ a ‘Transmission’ sent by God to Cognizant Humans,’ and (once) of ‘wahi / exclusive information’ conveyed to Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, in chapters which are all thought to be ‘late Meccan.’
Here, we note that these sounds/ letters precede mention of the Compilation being a ‘Tanzeel/ Transmission’ (to Cognizant Humans) sent from God, The Almighty, The All-Knowing.
Verse 3 is one of those beautiful verses which mention several other exalted ‘Attributes/ Asmaa’ أسماء[ii] of God as:
· ‘Pardoner/ Absolver’ of the Repercussions we entail by our deeds غافر الذنب…(He is also the Best of Pardoners خير الغافرين- HQ 7:155)…It is important to note that God calls Himself ‘Ghafoor’غفور 91 times, and ‘Ghaffaar’ غفّار 5 times.
· ‘Acceptor of our Return in Repentance to Him’ ..قابل التوب
· ‘Exacting in (meting out) the Consequence’ (to actions)..شديد العقاب
· ‘OF Munificence (limitless Bounty)..ذي الطول
· No god but He..لا إله إلا هو
To Him is the ‘Journey’s End’...إليه المصير…
2. Verse 4 identifies the type of person who usually resorts to argument when presented with God’s Signs: Such are persons who have denied, and no matter how they might ‘shift’ through the land (literally ‘turnover’ - which might refer to the ‘authoritative positions’ such persons gain by their unjust actions)… no matter how they ‘strut about/ move as they please’ (Ali/ Asad) the Messenger is told NOT to be deceived by appearances. The same concept appeared in HQ 3:106.
3. Verses 5-6 inform the Messenger/ us, that what people of his day were doing is similar to what people of earlier days had done to their Messengers: They belied him, and plotted/ schemed against him, and disputed/ contended so as to condemn/ render void the Truth (Ali/ Asad)… until God ‘took them’… and with what Consequence عقاب: Denial renders them ‘companions’ of the Fire.
4. Verses 7-10 are beautiful!
They tell us of ‘Those who carry the Arch’ and their relationship to us (scholars say that they are ‘custodian-angels’ ملائكة (.
We spoke about the meaning of ‘Arch’ on April 9th, and said:
“We should bear in mind that the word ‘arch’ in Arabic (see footnote[iii]) expresses BUILDING, complete with raising and fortifying what is built. The 'arch' which the Qur'an ALWAYS mentions with regard to God's Creation, is directly related to the form and function of this universe, as the receptacle of LIFE. Verse HQ 2:255 tells us about God, that "..no slumber nor sleep overcomes Him..." The concept of the 'Arch' seems to have been well-understood by early Muslims who manifested it into their architecture; see 'The Arch Which Never Sleeps' in sidebar.”
· ‘Sing Glory and Praise to their Lord’/ Extol their Sustainers limitless glory and praise.’
· ‘Believe in Him’/ ‘have faith in Him.’
· ‘Implore Forgiveness for those who believe’/ ‘ask forgiveness for all [others] who have attained to faith’.. saying:
§ ‘Our Lord! Thy Reach is over all things, in Mercy and Knowledge. Forgive, then, those who turn in Repentance, and follow Thy Path; and preserve them from the Penalty of the Blazing Fire!’ (Ali).
‘O our Sustainer! Thou embracest all things within [Thy] grace and knowledge: forgive, then, their sins unto those who repent and follow Thy path, and preserve them from suffering through the blazing fire!’ (Asad)
§ ‘And grant, our Lord! that they enter the Gardens of Eternity, which Thou hast promised to them, and to the righteous among their fathers, their wives, and their posterity! For Thou art (He), the Exalted in Might, Full of Wisdom (Ali).
‘And, O our Sustainer, bring them into the gardens of perpetual bliss which Thou hast promised them, together with the righteous from among their forebears, and their spouses, and their offspring – for, verily, Thou alone art almighty, truly wise’ (Asad).
§ ‘And preserve them from (all) ills; and any whom Thou dost preserve from ills that Day,- on them wilt Thou have bestowed Mercy indeed: and that will be truly (for them) the highest Achievement’ (Ali).
and preserve them from [doing] evil deeds: for anyone whom on that Day [of Judgment] Thou wilt have preserved from [the taint of] evil deeds, him wilt Thou have graced with Thy mercy: and that, that will be the triumph supreme!’(Asad).
These verses have such far-reaching implications, and tell us so much about God Himself, and our unique Relationship with Him and other Beings!
Let me know what you think, dear Reader.
Also: These beautiful prayers are invoked by such magnificent Beings for the benefit of ‘Those who have attained Faith… so isn’t it CRUCIAL for us to attempt to be in this blessed category?
May we all be among them… Amen!
Our next Reading is from HQ 40:10-23.
[i] ذنب: أصول ثلاثة: أحدها الجُرم، والآخر مؤخَّر الشيء، والثالث كالحظِّ والنّصيب.
فالأوّل الذّنب والجُرم. يقال أَذْنَبَ يُذْنِبُ. والاسم الذّنْب، وهو مُذْنِبٌ.
والأصل الآخر الذّنَب، وهو مؤخر الدوابّ… ويقال للفرس الطويل الذّنب: ذَنُوب. والذِّناب: عَقِبُ كلِّ شيء. والذّانب: التابع؛ وكذلك المستَذْنِبُ: الذي يكون عند أذناب الإبل.
[ii] The Arabic word ‘Issm اسم-’ does not denote the ‘name’ of something/ someone, as most people think, but rather, as we can see from the root-verb ‘wasama-وَسَمَ- ’ it marks a certain distinction pertaining to something/ someone. This ‘distinction’ could be ‘degrading’ as in ‘branding’ someone (HQ 68:16), or ‘dignifying’ as in ‘exalting’ someone (HQ 61:6).
Arabic is unlike any other language. Each word bears its unique characteristics, and the ‘issm - simahاسم/سمة/ ’ of something is the distinguishing feature which marks something out from among others. This feature ‘exalts’ it and ‘elevates’ it above others, which is why a ‘wissaam’ is a medal of honor,’ and the ‘samaa’ is the highest elevation; the sky!
The Arabic root-verb (wasama) is mentioned in the Etymology of the word ‘monsoon,’ which was originally pronounced ‘mawsimمَوسِم- ’ denoting a ‘season marked by certain occurrences’ such as winds, rain… and celebratory seasons where Arabs used to congregate for oration or Pilgrimage (put ‘etymology’ in ‘Search this Site’ for other English words of Arabic origin).
[iii] عرش: يدلُّ على ارتفاعٍ في شيء مبنيّ، ثم يستعارُ في غير ذلك. من ذلك العَرْش، قال الخليل: العرش: سرير الملِك....ثم استُعير ذلك فقيل لأمر الرّجُل وقِوامه: عرش. وإذا زال ذلك عنه قيل: ثُلَّ عَرشُه. ومن الباب: تعريش الكَرْم، لأنّه رفعه والتوثُّق منه. والعريش: بناءٌ من قُضبانٍ يُرفَع ويوثَّق حتَّى يظلّل. ... ومن الباب العَرِيش، وهو شِبْه الهَوْدَجِ يُتَّخَذ للمرأة تقعُد فيه على بعيرها. ومن الباب: عَرَشْتُ الكرم وعَرَّشْتُه. يقال: اعتَرش العنبُ، إذا علا على العَرش. ومن الباب: عَرْش البِئر: طيُّها بالخشَب. قال بعضهم: تكون البئرُ رِخوةَ الأسفل والأعلَى فلا تُمسِكُ الطَّيَّ لأنَّها رَملة، فيعرَّش أعلاها بالخشَب، يُوضَع بعضُه على بعض، ثمَّ يَقُوم السُّقاة عليه فيستقون.