Thursday, May 5, 2016

A brief Quranic overview of History, Civilization and Priorities: Soorah Yuunus [10:10-20]

دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّـهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلَامٌ ۚ وَآخِرُ‌ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَ‌بِّ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿١٠ وَلَوْ يُعَجِّلُ اللَّـهُ لِلنَّاسِ الشَّرَّ‌ اسْتِعْجَالَهُم بِالْخَيْرِ‌ لَقُضِيَ إِلَيْهِمْ أَجَلُهُمْ ۖ فَنَذَرُ‌ الَّذِينَ لَا يَرْ‌جُونَ لِقَاءَنَا فِي طُغْيَانِهِمْ يَعْمَهُونَ ﴿١١ وَإِذَا مَسَّ الْإِنسَانَ الضُّرُّ‌ دَعَانَا لِجَنبِهِ أَوْ قَاعِدًا أَوْ قَائِمًا فَلَمَّا كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُ ضُرَّ‌هُ مَرَّ‌ كَأَن لَّمْ يَدْعُنَا إِلَىٰ ضُرٍّ‌ مَّسَّهُ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ زُيِّنَ لِلْمُسْرِ‌فِينَ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٢ وَلَقَدْ أَهْلَكْنَا الْقُرُ‌ونَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَمَّا ظَلَمُوا ۙ وَجَاءَتْهُمْ رُ‌سُلُهُم بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَمَا كَانُوا لِيُؤْمِنُوا ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَجْزِي الْقَوْمَ الْمُجْرِ‌مِينَ ﴿١٣ ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ خَلَائِفَ فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ مِن بَعْدِهِمْ لِنَنظُرَ‌ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ ﴿١٤

وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ ۙ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَرْ‌جُونَ لِقَاءَنَا ائْتِ بِقُرْ‌آنٍ غَيْرِ‌ هَـٰذَا أَوْ بَدِّلْهُ ۚ قُلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِن تِلْقَاءِ نَفْسِي ۖ إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلَّا مَا يُوحَىٰ إِلَيَّ ۖ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَ‌بِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴿١٥ قُل لَّوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ مَا تَلَوْتُهُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَا أَدْرَ‌اكُم بِهِ ۖ فَقَدْ لَبِثْتُ فِيكُمْ عُمُرً‌ا مِّن قَبْلِهِ ۚ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ ﴿١٦ فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَ‌ىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ كَذِبًا أَوْ كَذَّبَ بِآيَاتِهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الْمُجْرِ‌مُونَ ﴿١٧ وَيَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا يَضُرُّ‌هُمْ وَلَا يَنفَعُهُمْ وَيَقُولُونَ هَـٰؤُلَاءِ شُفَعَاؤُنَا عِندَ اللَّـهِ ۚ قُلْ أَتُنَبِّئُونَ اللَّـهَ بِمَا لَا يَعْلَمُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَلَا فِي الْأَرْ‌ضِ ۚ سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَىٰ عَمَّا يُشْرِ‌كُونَ ﴿١٨ وَمَا كَانَ النَّاسُ إِلَّا أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَاخْتَلَفُوا ۚ وَلَوْلَا كَلِمَةٌ سَبَقَتْ مِن رَّ‌بِّكَ لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ فِيمَا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ ﴿١٩ وَيَقُولُونَ لَوْلَا أُنزِلَ عَلَيْهِ آيَةٌ مِّن رَّ‌بِّهِ ۖ فَقُلْ إِنَّمَا الْغَيْبُ لِلَّـهِ فَانتَظِرُ‌وا إِنِّي مَعَكُم مِّنَ الْمُنتَظِرِ‌ينَ ﴿٢٠

This entire Soorah is very interesting, and while our focus is on ten verses, it is important to note that some of the themes preceding the above-mentioned texts include:  [1] Addressing the false charges made by the Kuffar [blinded rejectors] regarding God's choosing certain humans to function as his messengers. These same people believe in everything from Angels to Aliens, so why would it be so hard to see a normal man, such as Muhammad, as his Prophet? [2] The functions of the universe [which includes Prophets] all point to an all wise and powerful God .[3] Just as the physical universe exists, paradise and likewise exist, made by that same God.

This brief analysis omits translating all the aforementioned texts except when deemed necessary. 

"Their call therein [i.e. the paradise, garden] will be 'glorified is you, O Allah, and their greeting therein is 'peace' [salaam], and their last statement is 'praise be to Allah, the Caretaker of the Universe."[Q 10:10]

We begin by seeing that Paradise [described in the Qur'an by many words, the main one being Jannah, which means garden] is a place of rest and contentment. For those who remember the guidance of Allah, their reward is this paradise. 

In addition to this, let us note here that this verse gives us some of the traditional practices among Muslim writers and scholars, such as ending their speeches with "And the last of our summons is praise be to Allah, the Caretaker of the Universe." 

"And if God were to hasten to people the bad [sharr] as He hastens to them their benefit [Khayr], their term would have ended, yet We [Allah] leave those who do not have hope in meeting with us [God] in their transgression, wandering about blindly. And yet when am injury [durr] touches man, he calls to God, laying down, sitting and standing [as well]. Yet [again] when We [God] removes his affliction, he acts as if he never called to Allah to remove the injury touching him. Thus the actions of the Musrifeen seem pleasant [to themselves]" [VV. 11-12]

Allah gives a long lease on life, and the consequences of one's bad actions/beliefs/attitudes are typically not felt immediately. For the Musrifeen, those who are in the habit of being wasteful, God only exists [if God exists at all for them], to fulfill their own lusts. When they have their need met, they run away from Allah. This happens in our lives as well, long lost friends and relatives calling when they want money and the like. 

[VV.13-14]  The character of such folks is abusive, they are eventually destroyed because they are criminal [Mujrimeeen]  in nature. This is not simply a reference to someone convicted of a crime in modern society. The Qur'an looks at the big picture. It is talking on a civilization level. 

The Roman, Greek,&  Egyptian empires were great civilizations, yet they were eventually destroyed. Their artifacts, as well as much of their history, is recorded and available for all to see. 

The fate of those who are narcissists in their dealings, in their societal ethics, is that they are eventually swept away. The relics of the past are left behind, per God's will, in  order to serve as physical reminders- as lessons for the future generations. 

[VV.15-16]  The "criminal" types have been heedless of Allah, and they actually want to see the revelation change to suit their whims. The Prophet Muhammad, Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam, cannot and will not do such a thing. Indeed, Q 69:44-47 tells us that he would face Divine punishment if he would attempt such a venture.

Thus we believe Allah's Deen is perfect, Allah's Qur'an is perfect, and unchangeable. Our understanding can evolve, yet it is we-if we are truly believers- that have to change to conform to Allah's deen, and not vice versa. 

[V.17] The description as "criminals" once again appears in connection to those wanting to change around Allah's guidance. They are doing what is described as "the most unjust" [Adhlamu] of acts, and lying on the Divine. 

Such types, be they in political power or within cults, they don't succeed. David Koresh and Jim Jones were men of power and authority, but no one seeks to follow their "Sunnah" today.  

[V.18] In context, the meaning here can seemingly be expanded from that given in traditional discourse. "And they worship other than God those which neither gives benefit nor harm, and assert 'these are our intercessors [Shafaa'unaa] with God." 

So we can understand another layer of meaning in terms of intercession as being the Intercession [Shafaa'ah] and the Intercessor [Shaafi'i] of political and social trends, as well as being represented by the cult figures cited earlier. 

These trends and political decisions are used to filter or dictate what is "divine guidance".  Indeed, in today's world, homosexual behavior [condemned in both Bible and Qur'an] is tolerated, if not directly promoted in the religious world. Meaningless slogans and rhetoric are used to obfuscate truth and justice, and these are signs of a criminally inclined leadership and social culture. 

It is a way of saying that we know better than God. Thus, we have the response "Say: Do you inform God of something that he does not know about in the heavens and the Earth?"

Allah made his deen and his laws. He knows all and should not be diminished in our eyes. Thus, "Glory be his, he is above what the Mushriks associate with him."

So so far we have seen many appellations used to describe the situation of those who would destroy not only others, but their own souls. 

In an environment of confusion, it is natural to seek out guidance, and often the first step is knowing one;s own roots. The Qur'an acknowledges here that the Mujrimeen exercise some control, even over the processes of gaining information, and seeks to empower the reader by taking them to mankind's beginnings.

[V.19] Tafseer Jalalayn interprets "And Mankind was one Ummah" as meaning "upon one deen, i.e.  Islam".

So Islam is not founded with Muhammad and the Qur'an, it was primordial. Sociologist Rodney Stark, [himself a critic of Islamic teachings] refers to what the Qur'an says here [" And mankind was one Ummah, then they differed.."] as "early trends towards monotheism are reversed and lush polytheism is reasserted.."[Ft.1]

"Then they differed". They got caught up in the cults, in following what is popular, even though it is quite harmful. They got caught up in Shirk in one form or another. Shirk is more than worshipping an idol, it is the removal of God's guidance to the extent that not only is God outright denied, he is seen as giving irrelevant rules. 

God says here that had not a decree [Kalimah] came before, the judgement would automatically be made. The majority of Mufassiroon assert that this refers to Allah's statement "And We [Allah] punish them not until We raise a messenger." { Q 17:15].

Imam Shawkanee [Fat-hul Qadeer] phrases as "None is taken to account until evidence [hujjah] comes."

So even though people do shirk by ignoring and ridiculing God, taking his presence as a joke and his regulations as a toy, they still have access to Divine Mercy till they are able to access and act according to the truth.

The truth is not necessarily in books or sermons. One's own healthy soul can often recognize what is right, even though social trends say the opposite. 

[V.20] Even though Allah is telling us things that are to generate personal and societal reform, the criminally minded are still looking to him for magic tricks. We are to know that Allah is above and beyond that.


We began by looking for and hoping for Paradise, a place where we will have peace and serenity. We have to begin, as a species, in today's world, to think about how to create Jannah here. We begin by seeking out God, obeying him, repenting our bad actions and wrong thinking as influenced by the criminals that influence us, be they politicians, cult leaders, musicians or Hollywood. The Qur'an almost always looks to the big picture, by asking us to use our minds and be students of important subjects such as history  and likewise, Islam, the deen completed and perfected with the coming of the Final Prophet, has within it all the elements we need to overcome despotic influence, to create human beings who are enlightened, tolerant, easy-going and full of mercy, wanting to live right and desiring never to bring harm to the environment or other human beings. This is not a pipe-dream or simply rhetoric. Prophet Muhammad proved this within his life, A people of debauchery reformed, almost completely. 

May Allah make us benefit from the Qur'an, make it for us a leader, a source of light, knowledge and mercy. Ameen!



Tuesday, May 3, 2016

World religions class: University of Toledo department

Recently two groups of students paid us a visit and we had a class presentation on Islam.