Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Quranic Study Notes ( 10: 101-109) Understanding the results of faith

( Note: The following is a summary of my notes from which we have addressed blocks of verses in the Qur'an's tenth chapter. This article should be read as a continuation of our other Study notes (Comparing Faith and its opposite) at [url][/url] . As in previous Study NOTES, the translation has not been provided, unless otherwise stated. This allows the reader to focus on the text itself. If the reader is unable to read Arabic, they can consult the translation of their choice. In these STUDY NOTES we have avoided referencing translations because we recognize that the terms selected by the translator(s) may create limiting or even incorrect understandings.)

( Q 10: 101)
قُلِ انۡظُرُوۡا مَاذَا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ؕ وَ مَا تُغۡنِی الۡاٰیٰتُ وَ النُّذُرُ عَنۡ قَوۡمٍ لَّا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ

Mental sobriety is needed to attain authentic spiritual reward/guidance. As previously discussed in verse 100, those who don't use their minds to the potential available are placed in a loathsome position, even if those under that position have deluded themselves otherwise.

The Qur'an repeatedly tells us to investigate, observe, contemplate the creation. Creation itself is an evidence of the Creator. In this regards, it is also good to understand that if we see God's artistry in the world, that should make us become open minded, willing to benefit from the diversity of the world. This would destroy the attitudes of racism, xenophobia, and arrogance that we are currently seeing on the rise, even in "Muslim" circles.

It is interesting that Allah (Soobhaanahu wa ta'alaaa) says here that those without Imaan (faith) benefits neither from ayaat (signs, evidences) nor Nudhur (warnings).

This seems to indicate that Imaan itself, an awareness of God's existence, is in itself generally a  prerequisite for guidance. This is speculation on the part of this writer, that this is a normative rule. This is "speculation" because we know personally about people who were self-declared atheists and agnostics who-through no effort on their own, and without believing in God initially, were guided to faith.

In the Qur'an (3:190) it says that the universal existence, the presence of night and day, serve as "signs for people of understanding " (uulil-al-baab).

It seems that we actually have a sequence of how things are normally suppose to go when it comes to these issues. The formula being IMAAN + OBSERVING=GUIDANCE.

It can also be written as OBSERVING+ IMAAN=GUIDANCE.

Thus, some can enter into faith due to encounters with "miracles", while others are inspired by intellectual arguments.

It is also interesting that in connection to "warnings", all of us are in need of that sometimes, including God's own servants who are already striving to be conscious ( Q 16:2).

(Q 10:102)
فَہَلۡ یَنۡتَظِرُوۡنَ اِلَّا مِثۡلَ اَیَّامِ الَّذِیۡنَ خَلَوۡا مِنۡ قَبۡلِہِمۡ ؕ قُلۡ فَانۡتَظِرُوۡۤا اِنِّیۡ مَعَکُمۡ مِّنَ الۡمُنۡتَظِرِیۡنَ

An address to those who reject faith and arguably for Muslims as well. Their time is coming to a conclusion, they need only wait.

I should point out here that the word for "look" (Undhur) and "wait"
  (Untadhir) are from the same root, and makes logical sense, you sit around ("wait"), looking around. What will you see?

ثُمَّ نُنَجِّیۡ رُسُلَنَا وَ الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کَذٰلِکَ ۚ حَقًّا عَلَیۡنَا نُنۡجِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ

You will see Allah "saving" the prophets and believers. This also carries, more importantly, the meaning that the message, the cause of Imaan will be vindicated and that the cause of rejection will perish naturally.

This interpretation is admittedly unusual but it is made keeping in mind that believers, even Prophets, are sometimes killed or die in battle. So when we see "save" , we should not read it in some SUPERMAN sense!

قُلۡ یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ فِیۡ شَکٍّ مِّنۡ دِیۡنِیۡ فَلَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ الَّذِیۡنَ تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ وَ لٰکِنۡ اَعۡبُدُ اللّٰہَ الَّذِیۡ یَتَوَفّٰٮکُمۡ ۚۖ وَ اُمِرۡتُ اَنۡ اَکُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ
وَ اَنۡ اَقِمۡ وَجۡہَکَ لِلدِّیۡنِ حَنِیۡفًا ۚ وَ لَا تَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الۡمُشۡرِکِیۡنَ
Ultimately we are to worship Allah alone.  That was the cause of Prophet Muhammad and indeed of all of the Prophets (peace be upon them).

وَ لَا تَدۡعُ مِنۡ دُوۡنِ اللّٰہِ مَا لَا یَنۡفَعُکَ وَ لَا یَضُرُّکَ ۚ فَاِنۡ فَعَلۡتَ فَاِنَّکَ اِذًا مِّنَ الظّٰلِمِیۡنَ

وَ اِنۡ یَّمۡسَسۡکَ اللّٰہُ بِضُرٍّ فَلَا کَاشِفَ لَہٗۤ اِلَّا ہُوَ ۚ وَ اِنۡ یُّرِدۡکَ بِخَیۡرٍ فَلَا رَآدَّ لِفَضۡلِہٖ ؕ یُصِیۡبُ بِہٖ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ مِنۡ عِبَادِہٖ ؕ وَ ہُوَ الۡغَفُوۡرُ الرَّحِیۡمُ
Idols bring no benefit, whereas Allah, the source behind creation, is the All-Powerful.


قُلۡ یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ قَدۡ جَآءَکُمُ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکُمۡ ۚ فَمَنِ اہۡتَدٰی فَاِنَّمَا یَہۡتَدِیۡ لِنَفۡسِہٖ ۚ وَ مَنۡ ضَلَّ فَاِنَّمَا یَضِلُّ عَلَیۡہَا ۚ وَ مَاۤ اَنَا عَلَیۡکُمۡ بِوَکِیۡلٍ
The "guidance" is the Qur'an itself. It functions as an eternal warning. It is for our best interests to follow that guidance, and to be patient with regards to the Divine decrees.

It is important here to remember that the Quranic word usually translated as "patience" (Sabr) has within it the meaning of perseverance. In other words, keep going, keep striving, don't surrender one's faith, morals and relationship to the Divine.

Quranic Study Notes: Comparing faith and its opposite ( 10: 95-100)

Note: The following is a summary of my notes which form the core of regular presentations on the Quranic scripture. Unless otherwise stated, the translation has NOT been included. This allows the reader to focus on the explanations given, and to consult the translation of their choice when the need arises.

( 10:94-95)

 فَاِنۡ کُنۡتَ فِیۡ شَکٍّ مِّمَّاۤ اَنۡزَلۡنَاۤ اِلَیۡکَ فَسۡـَٔلِ الَّذِیۡنَ یَقۡرَءُوۡنَ الۡکِتٰبَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکَ ۚ لَقَدۡ جَآءَکَ الۡحَقُّ مِنۡ رَّبِّکَ فَلَا تَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الۡمُمۡتَرِیۡنَ

 وَ لَا تَکُوۡنَنَّ مِنَ الَّذِیۡنَ کَذَّبُوۡا بِاٰیٰتِ اللّٰہِ فَتَکُوۡنَ مِنَ الۡخٰسِرِیۡنَ

The immediate audience of the Prophet-Sall Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam-  were-despite the regularity of it now coming to him,  still found Revelation to be an unusual experience. His audience is reminded that this is actually something which has been experienced by other communities as well, and are, in essence, told to ask the members of other communities about those experiences.

This comes to the point that revelation of scripture comes with the purpose of empowering those who have faith. THIS is phased in other places as "guidance" ( Q 2:2), "light" ( 5:15), etc.. . All of these terms show that there is benefit to all of this, and ignoring it only works to do us harm.

 اِنَّ الَّذِیۡنَ حَقَّتۡ عَلَیۡہِمۡ کَلِمَتُ رَبِّکَ لَا یُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ

 وَ لَوۡ جَآءَتۡہُمۡ کُلُّ اٰیَۃٍ حَتّٰی یَرَوُا الۡعَذَابَ الۡاَلِیۡمَ

The narcissists, those who are "in too deep" will not accept truth, regardless of the powerful evidence presented.

It is difficult for the sincere adviser when his words are not heeded. He cares for his audience, especially when they are his family or loved ones. Those loved ones are so immersed in their destructive lives, behavior and thinking that they are simply blinded to truth. The Prophet Muhammad is told in another place " Do not let their words cause you to grieve" ( Q 10:65).

If certain audience members are blind and oblivious to the warnings, to the truth, the Prophet, and those who follow him, are to simply move on.

( 10:98)
 فَلَوۡ لَا کَانَتۡ قَرۡیَۃٌ اٰمَنَتۡ فَنَفَعَہَاۤ اِیۡمَانُہَاۤ اِلَّا قَوۡمَ یُوۡنُسَ ؕ لَمَّاۤ اٰمَنُوۡا کَشَفۡنَا عَنۡہُمۡ عَذَابَ الۡخِزۡیِ فِی الۡحَیٰوۃِ الدُّنۡیَا وَ مَتَّعۡنٰہُمۡ اِلٰی حِیۡنٍ

It is not always a lost cause, as this verse points us to. As the expression goes "Lose the battle, win the war!". Jonah, or Yunus in the Quranic language, is an example of the war being won!

Jonah-' alayhis salaam-  is commissioned for Nineveh,  a civilization which had its center in Southern Iraq. He was a Prophet sent forth to them, and they- as a social unit, heeded the warnings, rectified their attitude and behavior,  and as a result, their civilization was revived!

Islam - as found in the Qur'an and as lived by the Prophet Muhammad, comes with a similar mission. This has been found to be true historically as well as within the lives of great individuals. This writer often cites as wonderful examples persons as diverse as Umar Ibn Al-Khattab and Malcolm X.

In any case, if we are to have any civilization model, let it not be Pharaoh's  Egypt, but rather that of Jonah's Nineveh.

( 10:99-100)
 وَ لَوۡ شَآءَ رَبُّکَ لَاٰمَنَ مَنۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ کُلُّہُمۡ جَمِیۡعًا ؕ اَفَاَنۡتَ تُکۡرِہُ النَّاسَ حَتّٰی یَکُوۡنُوۡا مُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ

 وَ مَا کَانَ لِنَفۡسٍ اَنۡ تُؤۡمِنَ اِلَّا بِاِذۡنِ اللّٰہِ ؕ وَ یَجۡعَلُ الرِّجۡسَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ لَا یَعۡقِلُوۡنَ

Imaan (faith) is life-saving, and a new injection of life is delivered to a society which accepts that Imaan. However, it cannot be done at gunpoint. It has to be voluntary, done with full awareness and sincere acceptance.

The latter statement in v.100 is quite powerful in the original Arabic. A rather rough sounding translation is as follows "And He( Allah)  makes 'Rijs' for those who don't use their minds".

Rijs means that which is abhorrent, disgusting, loathsome. In other words, when the mind is not used, particularly in areas of faith, God will put on them signs of being abhorrent.

While contextually this is faith-related, I believe we can see this outside of that as well. Rejection (Kufr), a topic which has been addressed here comes as a result of blindness, arrogance, tyranny and the like. In other words, they have been unable to use their minds, not only in a limited "religious" sense, but in the social and political as well. The rather frightening populism gripping not only the USA but UK to a limited sense has daily, often filmed, examples of irrational xenophobia. Spanish speakers are most often singled out, harassed and even physically attacked when heard conversing in their native language.

In the Qur'an (5:90) the same term Rijs is used in connection to intoxicants, gambling and the like. These things have destructive capacities which are well known. Mainly, these items are not only addictive, they affect the minds of its captives ( a carefully chosen word) in a negative way.

So faith should be- at its core- intellectual- having arrived at it via careful study and research. IT should translate into a broad mind, it should be transforming, certainly to the extent that a person should be able to be more open minded and not easily becoming mentally captivated as we are unfortunately are witnessing today. Racism, xenophobia, and the like seem to be clear cut characteristics of Kufr.

In these regards, there is a Prophetic Supplication which reads, in part:  "O Allah, I seek refuge with you from Kufr". If we understand Kufr in its broad definition as outlined in the Qur'an, as being the core of various social and personal diseases ( in thinking), we can see the import of that supplication, as well as what Imaan itself should manifest.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cultivation Of The Garden: An Islamic View

Note: The following is a video of our Friday Khutbah (sermon) which mainly deals with the implications of three Quranic supplications, as well as gives an explanation of the concepts of Paradise and Hell as being both initially created and experienced in this life by our own hands.

Comments are welcome.