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.


NB said...

Hi Waheed.

I have to say that I don't really understand what seems contradictory to me. On the one hand, Allah has decreed that not all of us will have faith, but at the same time, we are expected to use reason to gain faith, but at the same time, some of us will never believe until we see the painful punishment. Why was Jonah successful while other prophets were not? But that isn't the point I wish to make...

I look at teachings to see what I can learn about the nature of the universe and how to use that knowledge to guide my choices. I don't find thinking in the terms of these verses at all helpful.

Let me explain to you a different view, based on my understanding of Divine Laws:

I don't think there can be any disagreement that humans are tribal in their nature. Everywhere you look, in every culture and at every time, we see distinct forms of tribalism. Because of this universal nature, I consider tribalism to be a Divine Law. If tribalism was bad, we wouldn't be tribal, whether you consider it from a Divine Creation perspective or a Darwinian perspective. However, like most human attributes, there is the possibility of excess. Excessive tribalism is bad. Most cultures advocate a philosophy of a "middle way"; not too much, but not too little, either. This is an important example.

I also see tribalism as a fundamental characteristic, that is, it is not a manifestation of something else. In your articles you mention such things as racism, xenophobia, and narcissism. These are often rooted in our tribalism, in other words, by understanding tribalism, we can better understand the source of these ills. They don't exist in isolation.

By understanding that we are tribal and by recognizing tribal behaviours in ourselves and in others, we are better able to confront excesses, again, both our own and when we see it in others.

I don't know if we are witnessing an increase in excessive tribalism or not, but it is apparent that there are some manifestations which are cause for serious concern. It is important that we are able to stand by fundamental principles even when doing so might not be in the best interests of our tribe. This is the lesson that needs to be taught.

One of my main criticisms of Islam is that its emphasis is the exact opposite of this. It very much promotes tribalism and contains many, many texts which are exceedingly tribal in their message.

I have seen over and over again one of the main manifestations of tribalism, namely, the inability to be honest when facing criticism of your tribe. Just as you are no doubt outraged by the dishonesty that you see on the contemporary political field, I am outraged that Muslims are not able to disavow the brutality of the early Muslims.

Shamsuddin Waheed said...

Hello NB,

I can agree that tribalism (in whatever manifestation) is a root cause of things such as xenophobia and the like, however that is something not promoted by Islam.

In terms of religious teachings, Islam asserts that all humans have their origin in the same source, created by the same Creator. It further asserts that God intentionally made people to be different, and thus does not find differences to be inherently problematic.

Finally, you say that you have outrage regarding Muslims "inability to disavow the brutality of the early Muslims".

Please understand that the vast majority of things you have pointed to in the past on this blog are incidents I don't believe actually happened, or that they have been reported in exaggerated form, for one reason or another.

If we don't accept a particular assertion, why should I waste time to validate it or give it credence?

The above statement is not based on whimsical dismissal of things I don't like, rather, the above statement regarding how I see the report is based upon what I know of the Qur'an and what I know of overall history.

NB said...

Hi Waheed,

I can only think that we don't understand "tribalism" the same way. Admittedly, the word has both scientific and popular meanings and is open to misunderstanding. I think the Qur'anic word "Ummah" parallels this, and likewise has a range of meanings, beginning in the early Surahs with a broad meaning and gradually narrowing to refer specifically to the Muslim community.

Saying that "all humans have their origin in the same source" and "God intentionally made people to be different" may sound like it means something, but it does not. I think that all people believe these to be true, though atheists and others might frame it slightly differently.

The incidents that I refer to are from Islamic sources, and in most cases, I haven't cited one unless you or another Muslim cites it first. Since you, yourself, brought up the story about Mu'adh b. Jabal, it seems wrong that you will now say that you don't believe that the incident actually happened. In fact, it's irrelevant to me whether you believe the story to be real or fictional. What matters is that you teach the story as a lesson in how to live as a Muslim.

This principle applies to all ancient stories. We can't know which are true stories and which are not. However, we can question why the stories are still being told today. Muslims have preserved stories of brutality not to condemn the brutality. You could have responded to my comments on Mu'adh by saying that his actions were wrong and that the killing of the Jew was not "decreed by Allah", but you did not. My conclusion is that stories like this have been preserved to justify brutality and to sanction more brutality. Modern day extremist cannot be challenged when they use these examples to justify their own brutality.

It is not a waste of time for you to truly act according to the principles that you claim to hold. However, I don't think it is possible. It is impossible for you to criticise these stories without undermining your belief in Muhammad. There is only one clear way for you to act that is true to your belief in God.