Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan
Our last Reading was full of surprises!
Remember, dear Reader, that this project is not a intended as a ‘stand-alone’ Reading, but rather as commentary and explanation of certain Arabic words and concepts ‘as revealed’ more than 1,000 years ago. Ideally, we would be reading both from this page AND the Qur’anic compilation (original Arabic or explained English).
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 513 Arabic Qur’an.
1. After Verse 15 had exposed the words and intentions of ‘Those who lagged behind,’ Verse 16 tells the Messenger to inform them of an upcoming occasion where they shall be forced to make a decisive move: At that point in time, they can either ‘willingly comply’ to his call to them, to fight a mighty people (and earn the rewards), or they can turn away, repeating their past history (and earning painful suffering).
Note, dear Reader, that this is a warning as well as a CHANCE to wipe their slate clean; it is an INVITATION to Forgiveness and a promise of rewards, to top it off! It is Dissuasion AND Persuasion combined.
Verse 17 then addresses others who might be afraid of being counted amongst those who turn away:
It addresses the incapacitated, telling them that there is no pressure upon any of them (to heed a call to battle when it arises). Note how the verse addresses the singular; the blind, the lame, the unwell, removing ‘Hharaj حرج-’[i] or ‘pressure/constraint’ from each.
Note, dear Reader:
Each of us is accountable ONLY for what is within our capacity; there are no constraints upon the incapacitated.
The verse concludes by assuring those who are ‘willingly compliant’ of the Gardens they shall enter, beneath which rivers flow, and warning those who ‘turn away’ of painful suffering.
2. In Verses 18- 20 we get a glimpse into the historic occasion known today as the ‘Bey’a’ /Purchase/ Pledge’ of RiDdwaan which took place after the Faithful/ Believers were barred by the idol-worshippers from proceeding to the Inviolable Mosque (Ka’ba) in pilgrimage, and had also received news that Qureish had killed their emissary!
Note, dear Reader, that this was unheard of at the time, and went against all known agreements:
Pilgrims were never barred because being a pilgrim meant that one was in a state of ‘ihraam’ in which ALL negative acts were forbidden, especially the use of arms. Taking life, even hunting animals, was out of the question for any pilgrim, and Qureish understood perfectly that the Faithful were coming in peace.
Therefore, it was in utter sorrow and disappointment that the Faithful approached the Messenger, especially since he had told them of his vision in which they all were performing the Pilgrimage. Remember, many of them were Meccans who had long YEARNED to see the Ka’ba again and worship God freely in its vicinity.
That was how their faith was tested, as we understand from their story and how they refrained from concluding their ‘ihraam’ until the Prophet himself had concluded his… and they had placed their lost hopes upon what the Treaty had allowed for, which was that they could return the following year.
Note that the Qur’an here addresses the Messenger, announcing God’s ‘acceptance of and pleasure in’ this group, who had obviously earned the title ‘The Faithful/Believers.’
(See all 5 رضي الله عن.. in Qur’an.)
To understand the history, please see Martin Lings’ book and read previous post discussing The Peace Treaty of Hudaybiyya.
Note the connection between God’s ‘riDdwaan’ (acceptance of / ‘pleasure’ in someone) and His sending them Tranquility ‘sakeena’ (see ‘SsakhaTt # riDdwaan’ mentioned earlier).
Put ‘sakeena’ in ‘Search this Site.’
Read the previous Post and put ‘peace’ in ‘Search this Site.’
We must pause here to mention an interesting linguistic feature of the Arabic word ‘bey-3’ "بيع"… This word is one of the few Arabic words which can bear either of two opposing connotations هي من الأضداد which in this case are ‘to sell’ and ‘to buy’ (one has to let go of something to acquire another, so whenever we ‘buy’ we also ‘sell’).
Some of you, dear Readers, may have guessed what comes next:
‘Buy’ means "بيع" literally; the Arabic and English words being identical in meaning and almost identical in pronunciation. Furthermore, when we check English Etymology we find that ‘buy’ is ‘of unknown origin,’ just like so many other words which I am now certain ARE OF ARABIC ORIGIN. Put ‘Etymology’ in ‘Search this Site.’
When I started this ‘iqrathechallenge’ project, I had no idea that it would lead to such a HUGE discovery:
So many European words are of Arabic origin, dating back to the time when Arabic was the dominant language of science and innovation, much like English is today. It would be wonderful if this buried issue could be brought to the forefront today as one way to convey justice and build Peace for the benefit of future generations:
Let us, as people of conscience, show our children how intermingled the previous generations were on the human level. Let them see that much of what we enjoy today is owed to other cultures, prominent among which is the ‘Arab-Muslim’ culture which is now being unjustly maligned for political reasons. Let them understand that the torch of knowledge was, is, and shall always be transported around the world, with different cultures and communities having the honor, for a moment in history, of holding it up to enlighten humanity.
Now back to our verses!
In Verse 20, we notice the great bounty/ gain promised to the Faithful, and the statement that THIS specific ‘gain’ was expedited… it was a ‘Sign’ for them… and that God guided/gifted them a Path set Straight… and also that they had earned something else towards which they had not directed their efforts, but which God had ‘encompassed.’
Referring to the ‘Peace Treaty,’ this speaks of its foreseen and unforeseen benefits (among which was peaceful interaction and the spreading of faith).
New Readers: Put ‘straight path’ and also ‘siraat’ in ‘Search this Site.’
3. It is interesting to note how verses 20-25 are addressed to the Messenger AND the Faithful/ Believers.
Verses 22-23 tell them/us about the ‘sunna ([ii])' of God, His Modus Operandi/ His Way which never changes:
Here we note that, with regard to MUTUAL combat/fighting between The Faithful and Those who Deny:
Deniers cannot stand their ground in front of the Faithful; they shall turn on their heels and find none to assist them.
Before we begin questioning the truth of this general rule, or compare it with real life and groups we might consider ‘Believers,’ please note that this verse is specific to a group of persons who have EACH earned the label in accordance with the definition of ‘The Faithful’ in HQ 23:1: ‘The Faithful have indeed succeeded. Those who…. قد أفلح المؤمنون* الذين هم....-’ (see earlier post).
Furthermore, in this case, their advantage over the Deniers is ascertained due to a Messenger of God being present among them, in line with the statement HQ 58:21:
‘God has compiled: I shall of a certainty overcome, I and my Messengers. Indeed God is Strong, Invincible.’
كَتَبَ اللَّـهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ ﴿المجادلة: ٢١﴾
But success is always ours for the taking without a Messenger in our midst, as long as we follow specific steps in ‘The Formula for Success’ which God gave us. Our Regular Readers will remember how one Qur’anic verse showed us where we went wrong and why success has so far been eluding us.
PAGE 514 Arabic Qur’an.
4. For Verses 24-26 see Ali/ Asad, and note that in Verse 24, despite the Believers upper hand, God held both parties back, ‘staying their hands’ from each other. Then in Verse 25 the Meccans are accused of denying and barring the Believers from visiting the Inviolable Mosque or sending their offerings, yet we are presented with the REASON behind God preventing the Believers’ march upon Mecca at that point:
This prevention was so that ‘whoever wills/ whomever God wills’ can enter His Mercy in time, due to having averted the possibility that the Believers might inadvertently injure men and women in Mecca who had secretly embraced the faith. Such a deed would discredit the Believers and ‘deal them a lingering blow of disgrace on account of such persons’ فتصيبكم منهم معرّة- ([iii])… and then the verse ends by telling us that, had they been differentiated/ set apart (and been safe from harm), the Deniers would have seen painful suffering.
5. Verse 26 continues, showing us the vast discrepancy between the two parties: ‘Those who Denied,’ in whose hearts/minds was the ‘turbulent passion/bias of ignorance’ (حمية الجاهلية - ‘jahl’ -[iv]) on one hand… and the Messenger and ‘The Faithful,’ upon whom God had sent Tranquility ‘sakeena,’ on the other. The verse then tells us that God had caused the latter to adhere /‘alzama’ ([v]) to the word of ‘Awareness’ to which ‘they were most entitled…’
What an honor to have been labeled ‘the Faithful/ Believers’ by God!
What a reward to have received entitlement to Awareness!
What a challenge to have to continue at such high standards!
What a humble, heart-felt request we should ask at this time:
‘Dear God: Grant us their company in the Hereafter….’
6. Verse 27 speaks of the VISION رؤيا the Messenger had had earlier, where he saw himself entering the Inviolable Mosque in pilgrimage… and ends by telling the Faithful that God had rendered for them, before that was to take place, a closer, sooner ‘Fat-Hh,’ which was the Treaty of Hudaybiyya, a crucial turning point in the history of the Faith.
(Remember, ‘Fat-H’ means ‘Opening,’ ‘break,’ and referred to the OPPORTUNITY to spread the Message, thanks to the Peace Treaty.)
7. Verse 28 contains an assurance - with God ‘sufficing as Witness’- that the Messenger (Muhammad) was sent with Guidance and the ‘Just/ True’ standard of Accountability which shall prevail over all accountability.
New Readers: Please put ‘accountability’ in ‘Search this Site’ and note that in the old Arabic Lexicon, ‘deen’ has no plural since each of us has only one accountability, and God only accepts one, which is ‘pure’ and free of all faults… ‘unflawed.’
Regular Readers already know that all Messengers (Abraham, Moses, Jesus..) delivered the same standard of accountability to their people, which leads us to the final verse in this chapter, which should be read in its entirety (Ali/ Asad).
Verse 29 not only presents us with the beautiful characteristics of the Messenger and his Companions, but also says that they have been EXEMPLIFIED IN THE TORAH, and then describes their example in THE EVANGEL…
This particular reference to both previous renderings of God’s Message delivered by Prophets Moses and Jesus, peace upon them, is worthy of our attention!
The chapter then concludes by promising absolution and great reward to those of them who have attained Faith and performed good deeds.
Our next Reading is from HQ 49: 1-18; a NEW Chapter!
[i] حرج: تجمُّع الشيء وضِيقُه. فمنه الحَرَج جمع حَرَجة، وهي مجتمع شجرٍ. ويقال في الجمع حَرَجات. ويقال حِراجٌ أيضاً.
Note that in matters of Faith and moral behavior we find a statement within the same verse asserting that this is ‘His way which never changes,’ while in the matter of the Prophet’s marriage to more than one wife (HQ 33:38) we do NOT find this statement, but rather we are told that this is ‘God’s way’ with PREVIOUSLY BYGONE peoples, which means that this ‘sunna’ was the Prophet’s alone at the time of Revelation (none of his companions have license to marry as he did), and this ‘sunna’ is relevant to the past (not to the future). See earlier post.
[iii] العُرَّة. وإنما سُمِّيَ بذلك لأنّه كأنَّه لطْخٌ بالجسَد. قال ابنُ الأعرابيّ: العَرُّ الجَرَب. والعُرّ: تسلّخ جلد البعير. وإنما يُكوَى من العَرّ لا من العُرّ.
[iv] جهل: أصلان: أحدهما خِلاف العِلْم، والآخر الخِفّة وخِلاف الطُّمَأْنِينة.
فالأوّل الجَهْل نقيض العِلْم. ويقال للمفازة التي لا عَلَمَ بها مَجْهَلٌ.
والثاني قولهم للخشبة التي يحرك بها الجَمْرُ مِجْهَل ويقال استجهلت الرِّيحُ الغُصْنَ، إذا حرّكَتْه فاضطَرَب.