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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 265; Qur’an 58: 1-22, pages 542-545

Day 265; Qur’an 58: 1-22, pages 542-545

Welcome Friends:  Ahlan wa sahlan!
Today, by the Grace of God, we begin part 28/30 of the Qur’an.  May God ease our way and help us do our best in service of His words.  Amen.
Yusuf Ali’s Explanation of this Chapter.
Muhammad Asad’s Explanation of this Chapter.

Their commentaries can be read in ‘verse by verse’ view.

سورة المجادِلة/ المجادَلة
‘She who Argued / The Debating’

From Introduction of Yusuf Ali:

“Its subject matter is the acceptance of a woman's Plea on behalf of herself and her children…, and a condemnation of all secret counsels and intrigues in the Muslim brotherhood.
The date is.., between A.H. 5 and A.H. 7.”

From Introduction of Muhammad Asad:

BEGINNING with an allusion to the wrongs done to woman in pre-Islamic times, followed by a divine reductio ad absurdum - and thus, a prohibition - of the pagan method of divorce known as zihar…, the surah proceeds to questions of faith and its absence as well as their repercussions on man's social life, to the problem of hypocrisy, and ends with a discussion of the attitude which believers should adopt towards non-believers.”


This is one of those chapters which remind us of the difference between us and the earliest Believers:
For us, the novelty and impact of the 1,400 year old ‘Revelation’ is dictated by personal perception and interaction, whereas for them:
‘Revelation’ was always new, and it intervened to change their reality!

The title of this chapter can be read with the diacritic mark above or beneath the ‘d’ sound, which changes the noun from referring to the woman who was debating/ arguing with the Prophet, to the debate/ argument itself (mentioned below).
The root verb ‘jadala[i]’ appears in 27 verses of the Qur’an, and is related to the Cognizant Human’s dialectic nature, and our tendency to analyze and seek logical reference for everything (discussed when we read HQ 18:54.  Put ‘dialectic’ in ‘Search’). 
‘Jadal’ is therefore innate in us, differentiating us from other creatures.  It becomes a negative connotation however, when we ‘argue/ dispute/ question’ the Truth or God’s Sign, after it has been made evident to us, without providing authoritative evidence to back our contentions.   

 PAGE 542 Arabic Qur’an

1.  Verses 1- 4 discuss and remedy an issue known among the Arabs (before the advent of Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him) as ‘thihaar,’ whereby a husband would place the wife (he no longer desires) in limbo by announcing that she is, from now on, to him as forbidden as his own mother.  This means that she will be neither divorced nor married, and must stay in his household (some commentators have said that this was the way people ‘divorced’ at the time, without women having any option to remarry). 
The words themselves are shown to be false and mutually objectionable (munkar), and the practice is made both offensive and costly, necessitating the perpetrator to suffer either two months consecutive fasting before he can touch his wife again, or the freeing of a yoke.
Notice, dear Reader that, right at the very first words, we are reminded of what we’d learnt in our last Reading:
God is WITH us wherever we may be!  Here Prophet Muhammad is told (as are we) that God had indeed heard the communication of the woman who was arguing with him about her husband and complaining unto God (‘ila’ indicates her seeking God’s help).  The verse asserts that God hears ‘your (bilateral) taHaawur/ conversation,’ which seems to indicate that their exchange was not overheard by anyone else. 
Please note dear Reader that the word ‘taHaawur’ is of the same root as ‘Hoor,’ see cross-reference of this root-verb in Qur’an.  Isn’t it therefore possible that ‘Hoor’ is about someone communicative and ‘conversant?’

2.  Verses 5-6 warn Those who ‘contend with/ strive’ against God and His Messenger, assuring them that after He had sent down evident Signs (which they obviously ignored), He shall subdue[ii] them just as He subdued those before them, and for the Deniers there shall be painful suffering. At the time when they shall all be resurrected, He shall inform them of what they had done; He had evaluated/reckoned their every deed, while they had forgotten it, and God is of everything Witness (see difference between ‘aHSaa and ‘adda’[iii]). 
It is interesting to note that out of the 4 times the word ‘Haadda/ contend’ is mentioned in the Qur’an, three are in this Chapter!

PAGE 543 Arabic Qur’an

3.    Then comes Verse 7, where the Messenger/ the listener is assured that God -who knows all that is in the Exalted Expanses and on Earth- is PRESENT as one of them when people are holding secret counsel/ najwa!  He is the fourth present when they are three, and the fifth when they are four… and that no matter how many or few they might be, He is WITH them and shall INFORM THEM AT THE TIME OF RESURRECTION regarding what they were doing, for He is fully Knowing of everything!  This verse reminds us of HQ 57:4 which stated that God is WITH you (plural) wherever you may be {....وهو معكم أين ما كنتم....}... This verse, dear Reader, should stop us before we say anything unworthy of being heard!

4.  Verse 8 continues on the topic of ‘secret counsel/ najwa,’ telling us that this is something which they were forbidden to do (we had mentioned earlier that ‘secret counsel’ was what the Hypocrites were conducting, so these verses are addressed to them).  Then God, their Witness, tells us what their conversations were aiming at: 
·      Hindering (themselves/ others from what is right).
·      Aggression.
·      Disobeying the Messenger.  
We are also shown the disrespect with which they greeted the Messenger, and what they were saying to themselves as they did so.  Here, God promises them that they shall suffer for what they say, ending up in the Pit, having made it their destination.
Words can be as harmful as deeds (put ‘wholesome word’ in ‘Search’)!
Then, Verse 9 calls upon Those who had Attained Faith, telling them/us that when we do hold secret counsel, we should not be self-defeating or hostile… we should not speak of Hindrance or Aggression, but rather of being ‘genuinely forthcoming/foremost in Goodness’ (Bir) and of Awareness (Taqwa).  The verse also commands us to be Aware of God to Whom we shall be gathered.
Regular Readers will remember that ‘Bir’ and ‘Ithm’ are opposites, just as are ‘Taqwa’ and ‘Udwaan.’  Isn’t it amazing that so few of us realize that?  The best way to counter our own hindrance is to be forthcoming, and to counter our aggressiveness is to be aware.  It is a situation where one negates the other: 
We cannot be Aware and Aggressive at the same time.  Aggressive persons have no awareness.  People of Faith do not hinder themselves/others from goodness.  People of Faith are not aggressive.
New Readers: Please put any of these words in ‘Search.’ 
Verse 10 shows us the SOURCE of self-defeating or hostile ‘najwa.’  It is from the Deviant/ Satan with the purpose of saddening Those who attained Faith, but it cannot harm them unless God ‘permits/ lets it be known/ lets it take its course.’ 

‘Ithn’ is commonly understood and translated as ‘to permit,’ but it is more than that; it has to do with ‘publicizing’ something and letting it run its course.. which leads us to assume that their covert exchanges seem to be about spreading false rumors in order to discourage people from the faith.  It is no wonder then, that at the end of this section they are branded as ‘Liars.’
The verse ends by stressing upon the Faithful that they should rely on God (remember that ‘Eman/ Imaan/Faith’ includes full TRUST; see 7 instances in Qur’an).

5. Verse 11 continues the lessons we learnt on manners and public etiquette in previous chapters, hinting at the fact that people’s faith and knowledge do, in fact, lift them to higher standards of behavior.  When individuals in a congregation make room for others to join, and then disperse when asked to, they show exemplary behavior.   The verse ends by saying that God is, in all that ‘you’ are doing, ‘Khabeer’ (All-Knowing and fully acquainted with the subtleties).

PAGE 544 Arabic Qur’an

6.  Verse 12 continues the lessons on etiquette, this time on how The Faithful should conduct private counsel with the Messenger.  The fact that Muhammad, peace upon him, is mentioned here in his capacity as Messenger probably means that these private consultations are related to the Qur’anic instruction people might be seeking from him, to help them in their lives and advance their faith.   Here we learn that before they approach such counsel, they should advance a ‘Sadaqa,’ an genuinely-given gift extended to those less fortunate, which would serve as a powerful Spiritual-Purifier.  God would be Forgiving and Unceasingly Compassionate if they sought and failed to find such a gift (this shows us the importance of ‘Sadaqa,’ especially for people who can afford it!).  Remember that in HQ 9:103 the Messenger himself was told to: “Take, of their wealth, a ‘genuinely-given gift’ by which you would purify them and help them grow…” see below [iv]
Verse 13 asks listeners a direct question in the first person plural ‘you,’ urging them again to gift the poor, and guiding them after that, telling them that, in case of having failed to give, and after having been forgiven by God, they should establish ‘Salaat/ prayer/ relationship, extend ‘zakaat/ purifying dues (which, by definition, would keep on growing. Put ‘zakaat’ in ‘Search’).  Also, to obey God and the Messenger, for God is ‘Khabeer’ in all that they are doing (similar to ending of verse 11, but with reversal of ‘you are doing’ and ‘Khabeer’).
7.   Verses 14-17 draw the Messenger’s / listener’s attention to a group of people who have taken, as their protectors and intimates, a community that has earned God’s severity, and who are neither part of that community nor part of the Faithful (in another verse -HQ 4: 142- 146- we were told that they are Hypocrites who ‘waver between the two’).  Here we learn that they knowingly swear false statements (rumormongering, it seems), that they obstruct people from the path of God, that neither their wealth nor their offspring shall avail them, that severe suffering is prepared for them, and that they are the companions of the Fire destined to be ‘stuck fast/ khaalid’ therein. 
Verses 18- 19 take listeners to the Hereafter, to the time when such persons shall be resurrected, and shall again swear falsely… it is they who are THE Liars (the label now clothes them, for they have earned it!). 
Remember, dear Reader, that God does NOT guide those who are denying liars (HQ 39:3), but rather, takes them by their lying, wrongdoing forelock (HQ 96:16)!
Then we are told how they had become so misguided: 
The Deviant/ Satan took swift, subtle hold of them (Hawatha- حوذ), making them FORGET THE REMEMBRANCE OF GOD, it is they indeed who are the ‘Party of the Deviant/ Hizb-al-ShayTaan,’ indeed the party of the Deviant are THE Losers (put ‘Hizb’ in ‘Search’)!
Notice the importance of remembering God, dear Reader.  See all 10 instances of ‘thikrul-Lah’ in Qur’an, and note that it is the ‘Deviant/ Satan’ that attempts to make us FORGET God, sometimes using his strongest weapon against us: Addiction.  Also see how our own preoccupation with buying and selling, and how our attachment to our material possessions AND our children… how all of these can become DIVERSIONS from the remembrance of God.
Then Verses 20- 21 give listeners two WARNING statements of fact, saying that:
·      Any people who contend against God and His Messenger shall be in the ranks of THE Most Humiliated.
·      And God has compiled/ ‘kataba’:
‘I shall of a certainty overcome, I and my Messengers.
Indeed God is Powerful, Invincible.' 

PAGE 545 Arabic Qur’an

8.  Here we note again that, out of the 4 times the word ‘Haadda/ contend’ is mentioned in the Qur’an, three are in this Chapter (Verses 5, 20, 22).  It therefore comes as no surprise that the final verse in this chapter, Verse 22, wraps up with this important issue:
Here the verse tells the Messenger/ the listener that he would not find people who believe in God and the Last Day ‘condescending to/ showing affection or love to’ Those who Contend with God and His Messenger, even if they were their parents, children, or peers.  Also, that ‘in the hearts/ minds of such Believers, God has compiled Faith/ Trust, and strengthened them with a Spirit from Himself, and that He shall admit them into Gardens beneath which rivers flow, comfortable therein….and finally that God is well-pleased with them, AND THEY WITH HIM; These are the ‘Party of God,’ indeed it is the ‘Party of God’ which is successful (Ali/Asad calls it the ‘Partisans/ Fellowship’ of God).
It is unfortunate and misleading when political parties wear Qur’anic names!  All Believers hope to be considered in God’s ‘Hizb’… Hizb-Allah, but the fact remains that this description has gained notoriety due to its misuse by certain political parties. 
‘The Party Of God/ ‘Hizb-Allah’ is mentioned twice in the Qur’an, here and in HQ 5:56.

Dear Reader,
The uplifting concept of ‘God being well-pleased with certain people, and they with him’ is mentioned 4 times in the Qur’an … and as we see, these people are:
·     The Truthful (HQ 5:119).
· The Forerunners among the Emigrants and Helpers and Those who followed in their footsteps (HQ 9: 100).
·    Those who do not condescend/ show affection to Those who Contend with God and His Messenger (HQ 58:22).
·  Those who have attained Faith and performed good deeds (HQ 98:7-8).

May we be among them... say ‘Amen!’

Peace unto all!

 جدل: هو من باب استحكام الشيء في استرسالٍ يكون فيه، وامتدادِ الخصومة ومراجعةِ الكلام. وهو القياس الذي ذكرناه. [i]

 كبت: من الإذلال والصَّرفِ عن الشيء. يقال: كَبَتَ اللهُ العدُوَّ يَكْبِتُه، إذا صَرَفَهُ وأذلَّهُ.[ii]

[iii] There is a distinct difference between ‘adda’ and ‘aHSaa’ in the Arabic language.  While the first means to count just the number of recurrences, the second means to evaluate that entity with reference to its whole.  The first is enumerating number, the second is evaluating worth; BIG difference!

[iv]  “The doors to God’s forgiveness are open wide.  Always.  
And He has given us treading-stones, on the path to Him.
One of these treading-stones is the remedial value of a genuine, heart-felt, Charitable-gift, or sadaqa, as we see in HQ 9:103. Readers who know Arabic would notice its root-verb صدق, which denotes honesty and genuineness.  I was amazed to find that it also denotes strength!  Nothing is as powerful a Spiritual-Purifier, as Repentance followed by a genuinely-given Charitable-gift extended to those less fortunate than ourselves.
Actually, when the wealthy support the needy from their side, then the needy, from their side, see the wealth in other people’s hands as a personal blessing to them as well, this impacts positively upon everyone, opening the channels of Purification(تطهرهم)  and Growth(تزكيهم) , not only in the physical, mental, or spiritual sense… but also in the socio-economic sense.
That is why the Prophet is told:

“Take, of their wealth, a ‘genuinely-given gift’ by which you purify them and help them grow, and involve yourself with/ pray for them; your involvement/prayer is comfort to them, and God is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”
This verse is informing Prophet Muhammad, peace upon him, of the comforting effect which his hands-on involvement and prayers would have upon the people, especially those who are now repenting after have blended good deeds with bad!”
For complete meaning of ‘sallaa’ see original post.

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