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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 238; Qur’an 42: 1- 16, page 483-484

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
Today (in real time) there is much talk about ‘democracy versus autocracy,’ especially in news about the Arab world.
This Chapter is titled ‘Mutual Consultation,’ which is a fundamental characteristic in how Believers should conduct affairs.  Indeed, ‘Shura’ is as essential in private matters (between spouses HQ 2:233), as it is in public affairs (between institutions or people in office HQ 3:159, 42:38)! 

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.

سورة الشورى
Mutual Consultation

From Yusuf Ali’s Introduction:

“This is the third Surah of the Ha Mim series of seven Surahs, for which see the Introduction to Surah 40.
The theme is how evil and blasphemy can be cured by the Mercy and guidance of God, which come through His revelation. Men are asked to settle their differences in patience by mutual Consultation (42;38); which explains the title of the Surah.”

From Muhammad Asad’s Introduction:

THE BEGINNING and the end of this surah stress the reality of divine revelation, and the fact that all prophets, at all times, preached one and the same essential truth - namely, the existence and oneness of God - and the same ethical principles: either of which makes it imperative that all believers in the One God, whatever their historical “denomination”, should regard themselves as “one single community” (see verse 13 and the corresponding note, as well as verse 15). Hence, all divisive speculations about the “nature” of God are “null and void in their Sustainer’s sight” (verse 16), because “there is nothing like unto Him” (verse 11), and, therefore, nothing by which to define Him. And because God is indefinable and unfathomable, man cannot grasp even the real nature of His activity beyond the fact that He has imposed on all creation the law of cause and effect - so that in the life to come man will only harvest “what his own hands have wrought” in this world.

The key-word by which this surah has always been designated is derived from the phrase shura baynahum (“consultation among themselves”) in verse 36, outlining one of the basic social principles which ought to characterize the community of true believers.

This is the third of seven chapters which begin with ‘Hha Meemحم- ’ about which we spoke earlier[i].

PAGE 483 Arabic Qur’an.

1. This Chapter’s ‘disjointed letters/ sounds’ (see April 6th) introduce what God, The Invincible, The Wise, is imparting of exclusive information ‘to you’ (O Muhammad) and ‘to those before you’ (of His Messengers)[ii].

2.   Verse 4 asserts that to God is what is in the Heavens and in the Earth (ما في السموات وما في الأرض)    - ending with: ‘…And He alone is truly Exalted, Magnificent” (these two attributes appearing together only here and in the famous ‘Verse of Dominion- آية الكرسي"  ….

3. Verse 5 describes the imperceptible activity taking place in the celestial structure maintaining this Earth, and is quite interesting in its description of what the ‘Custodians/Angels’ do:

These ‘celestial’ Beings are in constant motion, fulfilling their roles 'in praise of their Lord,' AND seeking forgiveness for us, here on Earth (see HQ 33:43, 4:97, 21:103, 41:30, 97:4). We are then assured that God Is, indeed, the Most Forgiving, Unceasingly Compassionate!

Note: In Arabic, ‘mannمن- ’ (unlike ‘maa’ما- ), is always related to Cognizant Beings "للعاقل".

Verse 6 asserts that God Alone watches and keeps record of those who have taken Protectors other than Him.  In verses such as this, the Messenger, peace upon him, is absolved of responsibility for such persons (see HQ 6: 107, and the other times in the Qur’an which refer to him as well as other Messengers).

4. Verse 7 addresses the Messenger, telling him that the Qur’an was ‘exclusively conveyed’ in ‘Arabi so that he could warn the ‘Umm al Quraa’ أم القرى— (Mecca) and its surrounding areas of the ‘Day’ of ‘Congregation,’ when a party will be in the Garden while another will be in the Blaze.

In this verse there are several points to be highlighted:
·  That the Qur’an was conveyed: Arabi (قرآنا عربيا).
·  That it was intended to warn ‘Umm al Quraa’ and all around itأم القرى وما حولها -’..
· That it warned of the Day/Time of Congregation (يوم الجمع), which interestingly, is also known as ‘the Time’ of mutual weakening.( (التغابن[iii]

As our Regular Readers know, the ‘Arabic tongue’ is about eloquent articulation and coherence.
‘Umm al Quraa:’

As for ‘umm al Quraa,’ we are just discovering what it is about (not simply the ‘mother of all towns’)!
As we discussed earlier, ‘Umm’ has several connotations in Arabic, among which are:  ‘Foundation,’ ‘origin,’ ‘multitude,’ and ‘direction’…. which is why I’ve revised my earlier understanding[iv] to see, Mecca, when defined as ‘umm’ being considered:  The ‘fountainhead’ of destinations towards which multitudes direct themselves. 

This is very interesting since, even in today’s English, the word ‘Mecca’ bears these connotations, with synonyms such as ‘axis, base, capital, central, core epicenter, focus, seat’…(see Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

Furthermore, by considering it the ‘umm’ of all ‘Quraa,’ Mecca is highlighted for being the ‘fountainhead’ of all hospitable gathering-places (from root-verb ‘qariaقري- ’see footnote[v] below), in addition to being THE destination towards which multitudes direct themselves.

5.  In Verses 8-10, ‘Wrong-doers’ are warned of taking ‘protectors’ other than God, yet are also reminded that the diversity of opinion and direction are natural outcomes of Freedom:  Had God willed otherwise, He would have rendered us all one ‘ummah,’ one ‘multitude of singular direction!’

Note:  This understanding of the word ‘ummah’ (plural: ‘umam’) referring to one ‘multitude of singular direction’ becomes even clearer when we see its occurrences in the Qur’an.
Therefore, Verse 10 tells the Messenger to announce that God shall judge with regard to any differences people might have; in Him does he trust and to Him does he return.  

PAGE 484 Arabic Qur’an.
6.  Verse 11 tells us that He is The Originator of the ‘Heavens’ and Earth, who rendered for us ‘pairs/mates’ of ourselves, and similarly (rendered) of cattle to propagate in it (Earth)… [vi] (ذرء)..Nothing is like unto Him, for He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing.

Verse 12 states, that to Him belong the ‘power-reins’ of the ‘Heavens’ and the Earth, and that He… -Who is of everything Knowing-…  extends Provision to whomever He wills/ to whomever wills, and PROJECTS ITS UTMOST (يقدر). 

We already know that the essence of this verse was lost when traditional explanations mistook the word ‘qatr قتر-’ for ‘qadrقدر-’ and turned this amazing concept upside down!  There is a HUGE difference between stating (erroneously) that God gives in ‘scant’ measure, and understanding (correctly) that Provision is at times readily extended for us, and at other times projected for us, requiring us to make the effort to obtain it.

Looking into this matter today, I think that perhaps the reason for the mix-up was the existence of the following verses, HQ 65:7, 89:16, which tell us that one’s provision could also be projected ‘upon/ against’ the person (على) – and not always ‘for’ him (له)….  so what does that indicate?

Let us ask ourselves: 

How could all human efforts and provisions be identical in their projections?
Of course there will be mitigating circumstances which cause us to fall short at times!  But, THAT is when we revise our approach, or change our entire course… opening ourselves to different projections.
(Put ‘qatr قتر-’ or ‘qadrقدر-’ in ‘Search this Site.’)

7.   Verse 13 brings us toward the end of today’s Reading as it describes the step which the ‘Mushrik /Associaters’ (idol-worshippers) were invited to take, and which they found too ‘big’ to make. 
The verse informs the Messenger/us that God had previously enjoined upon Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus a part of the ‘Accountability/Deen’ which He was conveying (here) and had made accessible for us as a system ([vii]شرع ), telling us all to:

Uphold the Standard of Accountability and do not separate therein from one another!

Verse 13 ends by stating that God GATHERS and HOLDS to Himself whomever ‘wills/ He wills,’ and guides to Himself whoever returns (wholeheartedly to Him, with love, and a feeling of returning home; ‘yuneebينيب- ’!)  WOW.

New Readers:  Put 'muneeb' in 'Search this Site.'

Today, I looked up the definition of ‘jabaaجبى-[viii]’ and was a m a z e d!
It is not about ‘choosing’ at all!  It is about ‘drawing to oneself,’ ‘gathering and ‘containing!’
(In hindsight, it seems obvious, but we were influenced by preconception:  We know that ‘jawaab’ –as in HQ 34:13- means ‘reservoirs’ or ‘containers’-plural of ‘jaabiyahجابية- ’- usually where water is collected.  And we know that ‘jibaayah’ is to collect something, usually ‘taxes’ or funds… but we still missed this, relying on what we thought we knew.)

I think it is beautiful, that God ‘gathers us to Him and holds us to Himself’ … and guides us...(the more we know about Him, the more we adore!).

New Readers:  Put ‘Deen’ and ‘Islam’ in ‘Search this Site’ to understand a most important concept, as mentioned in the Qur’an. 

After that, in Verse 14, we are given the reasons for their separation (from each other and from God) which is بغيا بينهم, as each group ‘seeks’ something for itself in a ‘corrupt’ manner (see Aug 19th, where ‘baghaaبغى- ’ means ‘seeking’ / ‘corruption’- here it is both together).  Were it not for a recognized ‘preceding word’ of God which held Judgment to a defined term, judgment would have taken place between them.
This is the last time we find mention of ‘those who had INHERITED the Compilation’ (see ورث كتاب-).  Having read about them earlier, we understand how it is natural for people to go to extremes in how they view what they have ‘inherited’ from their forefathers:  ‘Inheritors’ usually show blind Reverence to such heritage, or suspicious Mistrust/ Doubt. 
Which is why New Readers must find out the important distinction between ‘kitaab’ and ‘quraan!’

‘For that purpose,’ Verse 15 commands the Messenger to do 4 things:
·  To invite (everyone to God).
·  To ‘straighten himself’ (upon the path to Him).
·  Not to follow ‘their’ plummeting desires/ ‘hawaa’ (‘they’ here seems to refer to both the ‘Mushriks’ and the ‘Inheritors’ of the Compilation).
· To make an important announcement of SIX statements:
o   That He believes in any Compilation which God has sent.
o   That he was commanded to be equitable in his treatment of all.
o   That God is ‘our Lord and yours.’
o   That ‘our deeds belong to us, as your deeds belong to you.’
o   That there is no dispute/ debate between us and you (in that all positions are now clear.  Hhujjah[ix] literally: contentious path).
o   That God shall ‘bring us all together:’ to Him is the destination.

Verse 16 follows-up on these six statements, warning those who ‘contend’ in God’s regard, after He had already been responded to, that:
·    Their ‘contentions’ are groundless/ void’ (دحض[x]), to God…
·    That ‘upon them’ shall be God’s 'severity and strength غضب-'…
·    That ‘for them’ shall be a ‘dire suffering.’


Our 1,000 year old lexicon tells us that 'ghadhab' refers to ‘severity and strength as in a sturdy rock; a 'ghadbah..' and is NOT about ‘anger’ or ‘wrath!’ 

God imparts Severity and Strength, but HE DOES NOT GET ANGRY! 

How could some of us attribute 'anger' to God, while He tells us that it is an unfavorable attribute, even in humans ?

The Arabic word for ‘anger’ is ‘gheyTthغيظ- ’ which NEVER relates to God, as we can see.

Furthermore, we did mention earlier that the Qur’an does not uphold the concept of ‘punishment,’ while it does uphold the concept of OUTCOME, or the ‘consequence to one’s actions’- called in Arabic ‘aaqibah/iqaabعاقبة/عقاب- ’ (see definition in 1,000 year-old Arabic Lexicon below[xi] as well as comments on April 14th).

The more we learn about God, the more we adore Him!

Enough said!

Our next Reading is from HQ 42: 17- 31.

Peace unto all!

[i] “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.”

[ii] We note that the second verse is also made up of letters/ sounds, which are: ‘ayn- seen- qaafعسق-

[iii] غبن: كلمةٌ تدُلُّ على ضَعفٍ واهتضام. يقال غُبِنَ الرّجُل في بَيعه، فهو يُغْبَنُ غَبْناً، وذلك إذا اهتُضم فيه. وغَبنَ في رأيه، وذلك إذا ضَعُف رأيُه.

[iv] See April 16th:  “Umm, Ummi, Ummah, tayammum are all words which relate to the root-verb ‘amma,’ which denotes foundation, origin, as well as multitude and direction (‘tayammam’ comes from the verse which says ‘seek direction of’ pure earth- as in HQ4:43).  Mecca was called ‘Umm el Qura.’.. .”  but then, on April 16th we  mentioned that ‘the term simply denoted any central town, as compared to those surrounding it’ and said that in that part of the world at the time, Mecca was indeed the origin-the foundation- the ‘mother’ of all towns… Today  however, we see more in both words ‘Umm’ and ‘Quraa!’

[v] These are the SIX components to the root verb ‘qara’a قرأ-’- from قري as found in our 1,000 year-old Arabic lexicon:
2. Carrying.
3. Proceeding with purpose.
4. Bearing witness.
5. Being timely.
6. Being hospitable; sharing.

[vi] ذرأ:  كالشَّي يُبذَرُ ويُزْرَع. قولهم ذَرَأْنا الأرضَ، أي بذَرْناها. وزرعٌ ذرِيءٌ،  ومن هذا الباب: ذرَأَ اللهُ الخَلْق يذرؤُهُم. قال الله تعالى: {يَذْرَؤُكُمْ فِيهِ} [الشورى 11].

[vii] شرع: هو شيءٌ يُفتَح في امتدادٍ يكون فيه. من ذلك الشّريعة، وهي مورد الشَّارِبة الماء. واشتُقّ من ذلك الشِّرْعة في الدِّين، والشَّريعة.
والإبْل الشُّرُوع: التي شَرَعَت ورَوِيَت. ويُقال أشرعْتُ طريقاً، إِذا أنفذتَه وفتحتَه، وشرعت أيضاً. وشَرَعْت الإِبلَ، إِذا أمكنتَها من الشّريعة. هذا هو الأصل ثم حُمِل عليه كلُّ شيءٍ يُمدُّ في رفعةٍ وغير رفعة. من ذلك الشِّرَع، وهي الأوتار، واحدتها شِرْعة، والشراع جمع الجمع. ومن ذلك شِرَاع السَّفينة، وهو ممدودٌ في علوٍّ،  وشُبّه بذلك عنقُ البعير فقيل شرَعَ البعيرُ عنقَه. وقد مَدَّ شِراعَه إذا رفَعَ عُنقَه.
[viii] جبي: يدل على جَمْع الشيء والتجمُّع. يقال جَبَيْتُ المالَ أجْبِيه جِبايةً، وجَبَيْتُ الماءَ في الحوض. والحوضُ نَفْسُه جابيةٌ. والجَبَا، مقصورٌ: ما حولَ البئر. والجِبَا بكسر الجيم: ما جُمِع من الماء في الحوض أو غيره. ويقال له جِبْوَة وجِبَاوة.

الراغب الأصفهاني:
يقال: جبيت الماء في الحوض: جمعته، والحوض الجامع له: جابية، وجمعها جواب.

[ix]  حج: أصولٌ أربعة. فالأول القصد، وكل قَصْدٍ حجٌّ. ثم اختُصَّ بهذا الاسمِ القصدُ إلى البيت الحرام للنُّسْك.
  ومن الباب المحَجَّة، وهي جَادَّة الطريق. وممكن أن يكون الحُجَّة مشتقّةً من هذا؛ لأنها تُقْصَد، أو بها يُقْصَد الحقُّ المطلوب. يقال حاججت فلاناً فحجَجْته أي غلبتُه بالحجّة، وذلك الظّفرُ يكون عند الخصومة، والجمع حُجَج. والمصدر الحِجَاج.
 والأصل الثالث: الحِجَاجُ، وهو العظْم المستدير حَولَ العَين. يقال للعظيمِ الحِجَاجِ أحَجُّ، جمع الحِجَاج أحِجَّة.
  والأصل الرابع: الحَجْحَجة النُّكوص. يقال: حَمَلوا علينا ثمَّ حَجْحَجُوا. والمُحَجْحِج: العاجز.
  ويقال أنا لا أُحَجْحِجُ في كذا، أي لا أشكّ. يقولون: لا تذهَبنَّ بك حَجْحجةٌ ولا لَجْلجة. ورَجُلٌ حَجْحجٌ.

[x]   دحض:  يدلُّ على زوالٍ وزَلَق. يقال دَحَضَتْ رجلُه: زَلِقَتْ. ومنه دحَضَت الشّمس: زالت. ودَحَضَتْ حُجّةُ فلانٍ، إذا لم تَثْبُت.

[xi] عقب: أصلانِ صحيحان: أحدُهما يدلُّ على تأخير شيء وإتيانِه بعد غيره. والأصل الآخَر يدلُّ على ارتفاعٍ وشدّة وصُعوبة.
فالأوّل قال الخليل:
كلُّ شيء يَعقُبُ شيئاً فهو عَقيبُه، كقولك خَلفٍ يَخلف، بمنزلة اللَّيل والنهار إذا مضى أحدُهما عَقَبَ الآخَر.
عاقبةُ كلِّ شيءٍ: آخره، ويقال: استعقَبَ فلانٌ من فِعلهِ خيراً أو شرَّاً، واستعقَبَ من أمرهِ ندماً، وتَعقَّب أيضاً. وتعقَّبْت ما صنَعَ فلانٌ، أي تتبَّعت أثره. ويقولون: ستَجِد عقِبَ الأمر كخيرٍ أو كشرٍّ، وهو العاقبة. ويقال: أعقب فلانٌ، أي رجَع، والمعنى أنه جاء عُقَيب مضيّه.
 وأمّا الأصل الآخر فالعَقَبة:
طريقٌ في الجبل، وجمعها عِقابٌ. ثمّ رُدّ إلى هذا كلُّ شيءٍ فيه عُلوٌّ أو شدّة. وكلُّ طريقٍ يكون بعضُه فوقَ بعض فهي أَعْقاب.
ومن الباب: العُقاب من الطَّير، سمِّيت بذلك لشدَّتها وقُوّتها، وجمعه أَعْقُبٌ وعِقبانٌ، وهي من جوارح الطَّير. ثمّ شُبِّهت الرّاية بهذه العُقاب، كأنَّها تطير كما تَطير .

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