Welcome Friends: Ahlan wa sahlan!
'The Great Constellations’
From Introduction of Yusuf Ali:
"This is one of the earlier Makkan Surahs, chronologically cognate with S.91. The subject matter is the persecution of God's votaries. God watches over His own, and will deal with the enemies of Truth as He dealt with them in the past."
From Introduction of Muhammad Asad:
"REVEALED after surah 91 ("The Sun")...
We are about to embark here, at the 'IQRA' challenge, upon breakthrough historic insight, so get ready!!
PAGE 590 Arabic Qur’an
- This Chapter begins with THREE oaths, to draw attention to something VERY important. We've already encountered such oaths, and we know that they may be about the Time of Resurrection, or our inevitable mounting of 'plateau upon plateau' of existence, and most often they are about the authenticity of the Qur'an. Here however, the 3 oaths draw attention to something quite different; they draw attention to people doing a deed so heinous, it merited three oaths to highlight their impending suffering for that deed!-'By the Exalted Expanse of the 'Burooj' /Constellations/ Towering celestial compositions' ('burooj' mentioned 4 times in the Qur'an).-By the Promised Day/ Time اليوم الموعود'.. (i Promised Time relates to Resurrection and Judgement; see 13 verses).-By the Witness and the Witnessed:Witness: Muhammad himself, peace upon him, as four other verses show -see belowii... as well as possibly each 'witness' to the heinous act to be mentioned.Witness-ED: In life, it's the Qur'an; in the Afterlife, it's the Day of Gathering' (HQ 17:78; 11:103)... as well as possibly the act itself that is being witnessed and about to be mentioned.
- And now, in Verse 4, we get the all-important object of the four oaths:
Regular Readers will remember that 'Qutila' is a word berating a person who is committing a misdeed by saying: ‘Disgraced and destroyed/ killed' is this person for doing this...’ see its 5 occurrences in the Qur'an.
So here, it obviously is about certain people who dug-out a Ditch, filled it with fire, and fueled it by.... wait... let's see:
This is what these verses SOUND like in Arabic:
‘Destroyed are those responsible for the dug-out Ditch
The Fire of human Fuel
As they are intent upon it
And they, over what they are inflicting upon The Faithful,
are Full Witnesses!'
This is just a 'loose' explanation to help Readers get the horrible feel of these verses!
Q. How do we know that its 'fuel' is 'human bodies?'
A. Take a look here: Whenever the word 'waqood/ incendiary-fuel' is mentioned in the Qur'an, it is about humans!
Keeping to the linguistic meaning of a word PLUS its context PLUS cross-referencing in the Qur'an.... give us all the clues we need to understand something.
These people are 'Shuhood/ Witnesses' (plural of 'Shaahed). They 'sit firm' upon what they have built... intently tending its fire. They are the ones who fully witness every detail of what they are doing (fa'ala/فعل NOT 'amala/عمل), and they shall be the best to bear witness against themselves on the Day of Judgment.
Note that the sufferers are named 'The Faithful,' having obviously earned the title!
Before we ask ourselves, 'WHO were these Faithful, and WHAT were they condemned for?' Verse 8 tells us that the only thing which they (their persecutors) condemned them for, was that they (the Faithful) had faith in God The Invincible, The Worthy of all Praise.
But why was that so condemnable? When we put the combination in the Search-Engine we realize that in both other verses with the identical combination it was the 'SiraaT' which the people of Mecca objected to... the entire path with all it entails... the 'package' which would necessitate them to treat all people as equals, abandon their idols, give up their revenue, let go of their 'status' and prestige among other tribes AND believe in resurrection and accountability.
Q. So WHO were the Persecutors and Persecuted?
A. Commentators have advanced a multitude of suggestions, all in the distant past. Yusuf Ali almost says it like it is, while Muhammad Asad sees it as a parable:
"In order to explain this parabolic passage, the commentators interpret it – quite unnecessarily – in the past tense, and advance the most contradictory legends meant to “identify,” those evildoers in historical terms."
But why look into such possibilities, believing that these 'Faithful' were followers of Moses or Jesus? Why not look at followers of Muhammad, peace upon all God's Messengers?
Correlation, using our modern-day 'search-engines' provides us with another CLUE, other than what we've already seen above:
The expression 'maa-naqamu/نقموا' which appears here, also appears in the Qur'an relating to THE HYPOCRITES AT THE TIME OF REVELATION and their feelings towards the Faithful. Based on all the above it is highly unlikely that the persecutors were any other than the Deniers of the day: Qureish itself.
This is all 'gheyb/ unseen,' and we can only speculate, however, we do see politics getting in the way of Truth every day, diverting it here and tweaking it there to suit its version of how things should be seen.
If you still find this account difficult to believe, dear Reader... please contemplate Qur'an Chapter 111:
'Perished be both hands of the Father of Flame, and perished be he!
Of no avail was his wealth, and what he had earned
He shall be bonded (yaSlaa) to a Fire of Blazing Flame!
And his wife, the carrier of firewood
And his wife, the carrier of firewood
- Verse 10 continues to provide us with evidence of what was really happening as it includes all who were imposing upon the Faithful 'a trial by Fire/ fitnah'... and says that unless they repent, theirs is the suffering of the abyss and theirs is the suffering of the Blaze.How could this 'trial by Fire' not be related to the first few verses?How could the invitation to Repentance not be directed at Qureish when revealed?After Dissuasion comes Persuasion in Verse 11 as we find that, to Those who had attained Faith and performed goodness belong the Gardens beneath which rivers flow, and that is THE Great Deliverance.
- Then, Verses 12- 16 speak directly to the listener, giving him 5 statements about 'your Lord,' from the severity of His 'forceful seizure, to the fact that He initiates (Creation) and repeats (it), to His being THE Oft-Forgiving, THE Loving/ Al-Wadood, the (Possessor) of the Supreme Arch (structure of creation- put 'Arch' in 'Search'), and full 'Accomplisher/ Doer' of what He wills.These endearing verses make us think, not about God's Omnipotence, but about His Love. He is THE Loving. And when we attain Faith and perform good deeds, we generate the love He has promised to 'render/ ja'ala'... in areas where such a transformation would have seemed impossible (HQ 19:96):'Indeed, Those who attained Faith and performed good deeds,the Unique Creator/ Al RaHmaan shall render for them: LOVE.'Indeed, love for God's Creation and all creatures is a sign of Faith.Your presence itself generating love in your surroundings is a sign of your faith... and also a reference for your need for 'faith renewal' when the mercury of 'love' around you goes down!Regular Readers will remember the Qur'an having indicated to us that the word 'Al RaHmaan' is of similar 'weight' to 'Allah' (HQ 17: 110) to which all Beautiful Attributes refer (so Al RaHmaan is not an attribute). Furthermore, its distinct grammatical form of 'fa'laan' indicates superlative features which are current and active, which we have understood in today's terminology as 'interactive.' This 'interactiveness' is obvious between the three nouns who all share the 'fa'laan' form: RaHmaan- Qur'aan- Insaan (we spoke of this earlier. Put words in 'Search').
- Verses 17- 18 ask the listener whether the 'Hadeeth' of 'the Forces/ Agents,' Pharaoh and Thamood, had come to him? A similar reminder, in conversational tone, appears 5 times in Qur'an. We already know that the Qur'an mentions previous Messengers and Peoples, providing historic lessons, showing both the Deniers as well as Those who attained Faith the outcome of stances they take. The parallels are clear in despots -anytime anywhere- denying God's Messages and belying His Messengers.New Readers: Please put 'Hadeeth' in 'Search.''Hadeeth' is 'new' or 'live' communication, broadcast to living Cognizant Humans (reading or listening to it at any moment).Direct from God, transmitted in His Arabic words of choice: 'This' Hadeeth is the Qur'an, to which nothing compares.It is the TRUEST of Hadeeth (HQ 4:87).It is the BEST of Hadeeth (HQ 39:23).In fact, the question hangs in the air for EVERYONE to answer, then and now:
Everyone knows who Abu Lahab was. He was the Prophet's paternal uncle who made his two sons divorce their two wives (who were also sisters) when their wives' father announced that he was sent as a Messenger of God.
Indeed, it is almost laughable to note the reason Commentators have given for the Qur'an calling him 'Father of Flame;' they say it is in reference to his red beard OR bright face (no one is sure). But then what did his hands commit, and why the severe consequence of being fused to Hell-Fire? Furthermore, they say that his wife, whom the Qur'an called 'the carrier of firewood,' is given this description- according to them- because of some thorns she carried to throw at the Prophet. Come on:
The Qur'an says 'Firewood,' and they tell us, it is 'thorns.'
He is called the 'father of flames' whose hands committed something horrendous... and no one says he is somehow responsible for digging or commissioning the ditch of flames.
Why did the earliest commentators whitewash this issue, speaking of only a few incidents of persecution and killing? Did they divert people's attention elsewhere, and not mention that the ditch of fire was one of the 'punishments' Qureish had devised for less influential members of the faith, probably heralding the Faithful's mass exodus out of town to the barren valleys, where they had to live on grubs and tree-bark, as some of them fled to Ethiopia?
Was the whitewash an intentional political move, since the Abbasids were direct descendants of al-Abbas Ib Abd-al Muttalib, brother to 'Abd al Uzza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib, a.k.a. 'Abu Lahab?' Or was it to make the Prophet's story 'child-friendly,' as we mentioned earlier (vii).
If people had dared question 'tradition,' this would have been dealt with a long time ago. Perhaps the time is today.
In what 'Hadeeth' after this will they have faith?
- Verses 21- 22 conclude this amazing Chapter by referring to the Qur'an as it asserts that it is indeed'a Supreme Qur'an in Secured Radiance.'(Put 'secured radiance' in 'Search.')
Verses 19-20 are about the Deniers' belying (the Qur'an), and the announcement that God is from 'behind' them (pursuing), encompassing them.
Peace unto all!
The following appears 6 times in the Qur'an.
'And they say, "When will this Promise come to pass, if you are indeed Truthful?"
-In response to doubts voiced by Qureish, listeners are asked a rhetoric question as to to 'someone who is upon Evidence from his Lord and is reciting it, a Witness from Him (HQ 11:13).
-Qureish was told directly that God had sent this Messenger as Witness over them '... just as We sent a Messenger to Pharaoh' (HQ 73:15).
-Muhammad was told directly (in his capacity as Prophet) that he was sent (as) a Witness, a Bearer of glad tidings, and a Warner (HQ 33:45).
-Muhammad was told directly that he was sent (as) a Witness, a Bearer of glad tidings, and a Warner (HQ 48:8). The following verse tells listeners to have faith in him as God's Messenger.
صحب: يدلُّ على مقارَنة شيءٍ ومقاربته. من ذلك الصَّاحب والجمع الصَّحْب، كما يقال راكبٌ ورَكْبٌ. ومن الباب: أصحب فلانٌ، إِذا انقاد. وأَصْحَبَ الرَّجُل، إذا بلغَ ابنُهُ. وكلُّ شيءٍ لاءم شيئاً فقد استصحبه. ويقال للأديم إِذا تُرِكَ عليه شَعَرُه مُصْحَبٌ. ويقال أَصحبَ الماءُ، إذا علاهُ الطُّحْلَب
'Khadda' means to 'make an indentation/ to dig-out,' while 'ukhdood' is the dug-out indentation (small) or ditch (large).
حبل: يدلُّ على امتداد الشيء. ثمّ يحمل عليه، ومَرْجِع الفروع مرجعٌ واحد. فالحبل الرَّسَن، معروف، والجمع حِبال. والحبل: حبل العاتق. والحِبالة: حِبالة الصائد. ويقال احتَبَلَ الصّيدَ، إذا صادَهُ بالحبالة.
ويقال للواقف مكانَه لا يفرّ. "حَبِيلُ بَرَاحٍ"، كأنّه محبولٌ، أي قد شُدّ بالحِبال.
ومن الباب الحَبَل، وهو الحَمْل، وذلك أن الأيّام تَمْتَدُّ به. وأمّا الكَرْم فيقال له حَبْلة وحَبَلَة، وهو من الباب، لأنه في نباتِهِ كالأرشية. وأما الحُبْلَة فثمر العِضاه. وقال سعد بن أبي وقّاص: "كنا نَغزُو مع النبيِّ صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم وما لنا طعامٌ إلاّ الحُبْلَة وورق السَّمُر". وفيما أحسب أنّ الحُبْلَة، وهي حَلْي يُجعَل في القلائد، من هذا، ولعلَّه مشبَّه بثمرِهِ.
مسد: يدلُّ على جَدْل شَيءٍ وطَيِّه. فالمَسَد: لِيفٌ يُتَّخذ من جريد النَّخل. والمَسَدُ: حبلٌ يتَّخذ من أوبار الإبل. قال:
ومَسَدٍ أُمِرَّ من أياَنِقِ
وامرأةٌ ممسودةٌ: مجدولة الخَلْق، كالحبل الممسود، غير مسترخية. وعبارةُ بعضهم في أصله أنَّه الفَتْل. والمَسَد: اللِّيف، لأنَّ من شأنه أن يفتَلَ للحَبْل.
We must realize that ‘History’ is always biased towards the mentality/ knowledge/ standpoint of the person(s) who recorded it. Unless we have several independent narratives to compare with, we can never know so-called ‘historic’ details for certain.
As any scholar would know, this applies to accounts of the Prophet’s life-history (Seerah), peace upon him. The most distinguished narrative was authored by Ibn Ishaq - ابن اسحاق(85-153 A.H./ 703-767 A.D.), and abridged later by Ibn Hisham (d. 218 A.H./ 833 A.D) ابن هشام- . What is extant today is the latter’s, while Ibn Ishaaq’s full narrative is lost.
Now, what is interesting, is that Ibn Ishaaq’s narrative was commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph Al Mansour أبو جعفر المنصور[i], for a child, his young son Al Mehdiالمهدي -. Knowing this detail will help us understand why some reported incidents may read like a fairy-tale, and why much unpleasantness (related to the Prophet’s suffering at the hands of Qureish) was barely mentioned.
Originally compiled from oral tradition, Ibn Ishaaq himself says in his introduction: ‘Only God knows which of these narratives are true.’
It is therefore not surprising that, while we read ample accounts of mundane things, we find vague mention of ‘أذى’ injury to the Prophet, his family members and close companions, some of whom had to flee to Ethiopia, while most fled into the wilderness where they spent three years, eating grubs, leather, leaves, and bark. Yet, it is because of this suffering that many of his supporters died, most notable among whom were both his uncle, and his wife, Khadija. We are told that, after the death of his two main supporters, things only got worse -but we also have no record of that.
This is why, when we seek general Truths about the Prophet’s life, we should look to the Qur’an.