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Archive for October, 2014

Usury and Interest? – Rather, Fury and Disinterest of Quran in an Illusory Wealth

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Usury and Interest? – Rather, Fury and Disinterest of Quran in an Illusory Wealth

Can a religion help in the untangling of the economic mess that the civilized world finds itself in today? No, would say almost every Muslim today. Suggest it to a Westerner and he would scoff at you, as if you wanted him to believe in a miracle. And yet only little study of the economics of Islam would convince you that this religion has all the best economic principles incorporated in its injunctions, or rather, it goes beyond the stage which modern economic theories have yet reached…the economic problems of today have eluded the grasp of all and whenever you take stock, you rarely fail to get a surprise of one sort or another. Either, some industry misbehaved, the consumption fell off more than was expected, a defense program was launched and sometimes even an unexpected tension upsets the prices, and the net result is always that the economic calculations are frightfully disturbed. There is depression, then inflation, and then again fear of deflation. Inflation brings in its wake as many problems as does deflation. It is as difficult to adjust the economic fabric of a nation to the needs of war as it is again to bring it down to a peace footing…The highly developed countries think that the under-developed countries are a menace to the world and everything would be all right if only they were developed. The underdeveloped countries, though coveting "development ", reply with simple logic. Have the developed countries been able to solve all their problems by material development? If material development is the only panacea for all the economic troubles, why should the West have any troubles at all, when it is so developed? The result of all this is that the world today finds itself in the whirlpools of a conflicting mass of economic theories and values. What the American economist thinks and believes in is out and out commercialism, but this is not palatable to his British contemporary, who prefers a Welfare State…[1]

In the economic system dominated by money markets and speculative conjectures, banks and insurances, whose business model is solely based upon raking in interest; where the transactions are only of capital, there are always associated inexorable greed and unbridled exploitation. Every new loan creates money out of thin air, which is essentially an entry with a pen on someone's account as there is no corresponding inflow of actual money or assets into the account. Value of currency too is based upon speculations rather than any material standards, such as gold. Currency bill, instead of being an official receipt for an equivalent asset, is now more of a derivative that derives its value from non-tangibles which include war machine of nations, ironically nations whom no one threatens. The have-not segments and nations first become the killing fields, financially if not militarily, and then are protected as grazing grounds for the ever usury hungry cud chewing ‘holy cows’, the banks. The financial institutions that are ‘too big to fail’[2] are worshipped and protected under the garb of national security interests that factually are no more than selfish commercial policies that find their way into national policies sanctified by parliaments that act as board rooms of these financial megaliths. The laws passed to protect the commercial interests are essentially forethought and the interests of the masses are merely an afterthought. These financial centers act as global vacuum cleaners sucking in the usury by direct or indirect taxes paid by all the peoples of world. These banks take the first bite from each morsel swallowed the world over.

Banks lend money against fractional reserves[3], naively assuming that there is no such thing as greed in human species. On the contrary, greed is a reality and banks and their usury are mere instruments to cater to that greed. The purported intention of modern banking system is to transform money into wealth via investments in various projects in the community that in their wake expand the economy. If expansion of the economy is the goal, then banks should be at the forefront of owning the assets on the ground, but they do not, instead it is only the liquid assets[4] which are of interest to them. Why?

The definition of wealth for banks is unique to them only which is to create fictitious money and to expand it with a multiplicative effect. Such an effect only balloons with time into unavoidable pyramidal schemes that are beyond the regulatory controls. Overtime such a facade cannot avoid the run on the bank that culminates in tax payer bail out. If the loans issued are (hypothetically) ten times the actual reserves then an apparent 8% interest (in crude estimation) earned by the first bank is factually more than 80% windfall for all the banks in the chain, besides the ten times of actual money recovered by the series of banks from fictitious money loaned. Paradoxically, banks recover real money with interest from the consumers for fictitious money they loaned. Banks loan money, something they do not have to begin with, against real assets of the debtor as collateral. Why?

The exit from such economic system creates an even more of a paradox that is in direct opposites for the consumer and the bank in which the deck is clearly stacked against the former. For an insolvent bank it is the tax payer, not the bank that pays through bailouts, whereas for a bankrupt debtor his assets are unflinchingly taken over by the bank, a working model of 'mine is mine and thine is mine.' Banks and  laws of the land call it an honest business for their creating fictitious money for a fictitious purchasing power, by permissive rules that are no less than sleight of hand, in the garb of ‘commercial credit’, while the banks themselves remain immune from all risks. Societies under the sway of fictitious wealth complemented with unbridled greed inevitably fall into the trap where they spend without saving, import without exporting and consume without producing[5].

The exuberant interest by the bank on its loan sets into motion a vicious cycle of a downward spiral where the loanee tags on the interest paid to the bank into the price of its product, which depending upon the market dynamics might not sell enough due to its higher price because of higher ‘production costs’, which in turn creates a backward pressure to cut cost by cutting wages and laying off employees, which then decreases purchasing power in the market, which on the reverse creates shrinking of the economy of a nation. Artificial supports of consumer credit are then erected with incentives for the cash strapped consumers to “buy now, pay later,” but with interest, which is factually an insult to injury. Still, the individual in a ‘free society’ can absorb only so much debt. This is where the military muscle comes in handy to find newer markets, mostly in poorer countries for the surplus goods. Thus, the problem initially localized to one region becomes the world problem. No wonder the cyclical expansion and shrinking of ‘bubble’ economies and their consequent wars and global turpitudes have been the bane of the societies under the sway of interest and usury. The interest on the loans that governments take creates the very basis for income taxes that only go up with time for ordinary people. Banks are not only eager but drool on funding wars, many a times on both sides of the conflict, where loans in trillions are issued on drop of a hat, as such loans are secured to be paid back by the governments. Ironically, the same banks and governments are averse to fund basic societal needs at a fraction of the cost of war such as healthcare and education. Everyone suffers, but the bank. Why?

In such financial models, gains of one are inevitably due to losses of another. Speculative bubbles rise and burst, financial markets ebb and flow as gambler's instincts which in turn are dignified by labels of bear and bull-run in the ‘financial markets’. It is insult to the very name ‘market’ because by their very definition these so called markets have no goods and services but are only a venerated name for gambling tables. The magnitude of gambling in derivatives is mind boggling. According to US Federal reserve – “the derivatives market expanded from $87 trillion in June 1998 to $454 trillion in June 2006.”[6],[7],[8] To add insult to injury, the derivatives are not even regulated; essentially it is free for all. Some might even say that the boom and bust of the stock and bond markets too is staged because following every bust there is a winner, who earlier sold it high and later bought it low. Everyone else perished but certain families in the guise of faceless corporations, the sole survivors of crash after crash. Why?

In this speculative chaos, pundits show up with Op Ed pieces and experts prophesize with the 'insider' instincts to the markets. Even 'propriety' mathematical models are developed which try to 'predict' the future based upon hundreds of variable from around the globe. Leveraged returns are exploited against 'cheap money'[9] which is unreal to begin with. The only game in town is to salivate at non-labored gains and how to dodge the loss, a loss which could be anybody's guess, and it better be of someone else's. Risk is passed around as a hot potato under various names till it hits the saturation point, before it unravels the common man's life earnings and retirement. Such speculated profits are what every deck holder wishes and yearns for and a loss that he prays against in an otherwise godless Ponzi world of capital markets. Why?

The Quran too outlines a financial system sans greed in which it fully addresses the trade of goods and services, lending and borrowing minus interest, contractual obligations of the parties, preempts the misuse of administrative powers, displaces usury with charity, and replaces income tax with asset tax. Property, bequest and inheritance rights and laws are extensive in which equity of women, children and the survivors are assured, but will not be delved into in this chapter. In summary, Quran advocates equitable distribution of wealth by inheritance, charity, bequeathal and annulling of usury. Once the wealth is equitably distributed, only then the wealth achieves its purpose, the equality of opportunities for mankind, else it is the same wealth that creates ever increasing multitudes of poor in bondage of a few rich that was only highlighted by Oxfam in its recent report:

Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population. The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population. The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world. Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years. The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012. In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.[10] [Emphasis added]

In summary, Quran lays down the foundations of its economic order based on a fundamental moral principle in which the humans have to strive for wealth and not the wealth to create itself:

53:39. And that a human being will have (to his account) what he strives for.[11]

Quran assures the individual the rights not only of the life and liberty, but the equal and assured pursuit of wealth besides happiness:

59:7. … (It has been) so (ordained) that the (wealth) should not circulate (only) among your rich people…[12]

The exploitation of a common man is run amok in an interest bearing banking system. The depositor is taken for a ride by the banks. Little do the depositors know that it is they, who are the actual capitalists, the capital source for the bank and it is the bank that is the borrower of the money from the depositor. When an average consumer deposits an amount he gets a paltry interest but when the same depositor asks for a loan, he will be slapped with an interest that is many magnitudes higher than what he received from a deposit. Essentially, this gap is what the bank skims off many folds from the depositors. Bank that was factually supposed to be no more than an agent for the depositor actually becomes the controller and the capitalist. For all intents and purposes, bank usurps the rightful power and the rights of the depositor. Why it is so and why is it allowed? This relationship of the bank and the depositor is paradoxically like that of a master who hires a servant on the condition that the servant will use his own money and tools to earn money for the master. Why? Such institutional double standards are put on notice in Quran. Interest bearing banking system fails this simple moral test that Quran outlines:

83:1. Woe be to those who make a default in any of their duties and give short measure.

83:2. When they receive measure from other people they receive in full (not allowing the least shortage and loss),

83:3. But when they give by measure to others or weigh to them they give them less (than what is due).

83:4-15. Do not such people realize that they will be raised (to life again), to face (and hear the Judgment of) that Great Day? The Day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds? Nay, (not at all as they believe) the record of (the deeds) of the wicked is in Sijjîn (- the register of a prison). What should make you know what that Sijjîn is? (It is) a book written (distinctly and comprehensively). On that Day woe shall befall those who belie (the truth); Those that belie the Day of Requital. No one can treat it as a lie except every sinful transgressor, (Who) when Our Messages are recited to him says, `(These are) mere fables of the ancients.' Nay (not at all so), the truth is that their (evil) deeds have rusted their hearts. Nay (We repeat, not at all so). Verily, they shall be debarred from (the sight and mercy of) their Lord that day. Then they shall surely enter into the flaming Fire, Then it shall be said (to them), `This is that (very punishment) which you used to cry lies to.' [13]

Quran also admonishes against speculations on money:

2:219. They ask you concerning intoxicants and games of chance. Say, `In both of them is a great sin and both are harmful too, and they have some uses for people, but the sin inherent in them is even more serious than their usefulness.' They ask you how much they should spend [–in charity, in the cause of Allah]. Say, `The surplus (- what you can spare after spending on your basic requirement).' Thus does Allâh make clear His commandments so that you may reflect –[14]

For business transactions and loans, Quran gives the following contractual guidelines:

2:282. O you who believe, if you borrow debt for a future period, then you shall record it. And let a scribe of justice record it for you; and let not the scribe refuse to record as God has taught him. Let him record and let the person who is borrowing dictate to him, and let him be aware of God, and let him not reduce from it anything. If the one who is borrowing is immature or weak or he cannot dictate himself, then let his guardian dictate with justice; and bring two witnesses from amongst your men; if they are not two men, then a man and two women from whom you will accept their testimony, so that if one of them becomes occupied [with issues unique to her gender], then the one can recall the other. And let the witnesses not refuse to come if they are called. And do not fail to record it no matter how small or large until its maturity. That is more just with God and better for the testimony, and better that you do not have doubts; except if it is a trade to be done on the spot between you, then there is no sin upon you if you do not record it. And have evidence if you trade. No scribe shall be harmed nor any witness; for if you do so then it is vileness on your part, and be aware of God and [that] God teaches you and God is aware of all things.[15]

2:283. And if you be on a journey and do not find a scribe, then (let there be) a pledge with possession (of some article to secure your debt). If one of you entrusts something to another let him who is entrusted deliver his trust, and let him take Allâh, his Lord, as a shield. Do not conceal the evidence, for whoso conceals it, his heart is certainly sinful. Allâh is Well-Aware of all that you do.[16]

Quran outlines the recompense for labor. If taken literally, the following verse gives a concrete example of the magnitude and manifold reward inherent in nature for a good effort. For example, a seed when sowed and taken care of is rewarded in one crop cycle by many ears of corn:

2:261. The attribute of those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allâh is like the attribute of a grain (of corn) which sprouts seven ears, each ear bearing a hundred grains. And Allâh multiplies further for whomsoever He pleases, for Allâh is Bountiful, All-Knowing.[17]

It is because of such incentives in nature that a farmer tills the land under the scorching sun, tirelessly takes care of the field and finally harvests the yield. The reward is not limited to the farmer alone. The humanity at large benefits from the toils of the farmer when he sells the produce in the market place, where a baker turns that corn into a loaf that a consumer buys. Such a chain of transactions is gainful each step of the way for both, the seller and the buyer. The former gets a profit for his goods, while latter lives off the nourishment. No wonder Quran encourages trade in which needs of humanity are in congruence with the value of goods and services:

2:275. … Allah has made trade lawful…[18]

The above example can also be applied to any lawful profession for the services it provides. Both the provider and the client mutually benefit from the transaction as the skills of the former are beneficial for the latter.

However, if we contrast these examples with the money lender, we see that the debtor is at a clear disadvantage, in which the loss of the latter is manifold gain of the former. Unlike a trade where there is one time transaction which covers the cost of goods and services along with the profit, the interest is a repeatedly occurring transaction, month after month, year after year and decade after decade. There is no theoretical end to profit making, while the money given to the debtor was one time only. The very basis of money lending as a profession is tied to usury, in which money generates the money without any toil of the lender or exchange of goods or services. It is to prevent the exploitation of the debtor that Quran states:

3:130. O you who believe! do not practise usury and interest involving multiple additions, and keep your duty to Allâh and take Him as a shield so that you may prosper.[19]

The above verse can be easily understood by the apparently innocuous example of borrowing a loan of only one dollar at 10% annual interest. The calculations are as follows:

Base amount: $1.00
Interest Rate: 10%
Effective Annual Rate: 10%
Calculation period: 500 years
(interest compounded yearly – added at the end of each year)

Year Yearly Interest Total Interest Balance
1 $ 0.10 $ 0.10 $ 1.10
2 $ 0.11 $ 0.21 $ 1.21
3 $ 0.12 $ 0.33 $ 1.33
4 $ 0.13 $ 0.46 $ 1.46
5 $ 0.15 $ 0.61 $ 1.61
6 $ 0.16 $ 0.77 $ 1.77
7 $ 0.18 $ 0.95 $ 1.95
8 $ 0.19 $ 1.14 $ 2.14
9 $ 0.21 $ 1.36 $ 2.36
10 $ 0.24 $ 1.59 $ 2.59
100 $ 1,252.78 $ 13,779.61 $ 13,780.61
200 $ 17,264,116.04 $ 189,905,275.46 $ 189,905,276.46
300 $ 237,910,090,562.59 $ 2,617,010,996,187.46 $ 2,617,010,996,188.46
400 $ 3,278,546,729,775,056.00 $ 36,064,014,027,525,600.00 $ 36,064,014,027,525,601.00
500 $ 45,180,381,521,022,484,480.00 $ 496,984,196,731,246,739,456.00 $ 496,984,196,731,246,739,457.00

In another example, a penny borrowed by Jesus Christ 2012 years ago at an annual interest rate of 5% would have accrued a debt of $4,290,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00[20] which exceeds the wildest imagination, but still might not be enough to satisfy the greed of the lender.

The above numbers which are even beyond the capacity of the planet earth to produce speak for themselves and explain the basis of how certain banking families flourished in a few generations in recent centuries by lending to the governments in the West. No loanee or the lender could live beyond a few decades to payoff and collect the loan but governments and lending institution do survive longer periods. Not too surprisingly there is no end to the loan that a government can acquire for a war, but when it comes to provide for its moral obligation to its masses it has to scrap the bottom of the barrel to fund social programs. Government essentially is a function of the people in the country, who are the ultimate debtors, whereas the money lenders are only a few individuals or corporations with the sole purpose to make profit, not loss. If a loan shark needs a bouncer to break legs to recover the debt, the banking institutions control governments and their institutions which include armies, intelligence agencies and media to collect from the nations unable to pay back the bone crushing interest which inevitably swells manifolds than the principal. The scruple-less money lenders shy not of demanding the 'pound of flesh' [21]of the debtor:

“All that we had borrowed up to 1985 was around $5 billion, and we have paid about $16 billion; yet we are still being told that we owe about $28 billion. That $28 billion came about because of the injustice in the foreign creditors’ interest rates. If you ask me, what is the worst thing in the world? I will say it is compound interest.” – Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo speaking after the G8 Summit in Okinawa, Japan in the year 2000. [22]

It is necessary to remove the veneer of difference between usury and interest. The apologists argue that usury in prohibited because it is excessive interest, whereas interest is permissible. This is a bogus argument which tries to draw justification of moderate drinking over heavy alcohol drinking. For the apologist, simply put, social drinking even by the clergy is okay, but alcoholism is not acceptable. Just like gradations of alcoholism, this distinction between excessive and moderate interest probably has its origins in Christendom. In Quran, there is no distinction between usury and interest and its consequent evils that the society suffers from. Islam does not hinder the rich from their riches, but does not allow richness at the expense of ordinary citizens. Usury robs masses of their dignity, freedom, rights and opportunities, preservation of which is the purpose of Islam. On the other hand, there is no Robin-hood-ness either in Quran as well. Islam does not abolish Capitalism but remedies its evils[23], for example:

It may he questioned why the prohibition [of interest] assumed a religious form; this law of the country should have been left free-handed to operate on the merit of individual cases instead of entire prohibition. In this connection it may be noted that the universal prohibition, is based on the universal harm of the usury. For instance a business man who borrows money cannot guarantee that the business will fetch profit; yet the money lender will take interest in all circumstances. The other side of commercial interest is the bargain when ready payment is not made by the buyer of goods. It is also equally rather more harmful for the interests of Society. The buyer [seller] of goods who is more properly the borrower of money, must sell the goods at an increasingly high rate [i.e. higher price] to meet the swelling sum of interest as allowed in the transaction. The burden of increased rates would, therefore, fall upon the public.[24]

The verse 3:130 above unambiguously banned usury and its subsequent verse not only points to turmoil from interest for the debtor that is hidden in the usury practices but also draws attention to the equal in magnitude, the Fire of greed that likewise engulfs the usurer:

3:131. Be on your guard against the Fire which has been prepared for the disbelievers.[25]

Divine prohibition of usury and interest is not unique to Quran:

Leviticus 25:36-37. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. [New Kings James Version]

The money lenders of the yore and their modern day equivalents, the banks, project themselves as honorable profession, but by the standards of Quran, they are touched by the devil. They might call themselves a business, but requirements for business are exchange of goods and services which they have nothing to do with:

2:275. Those who practice usury and interest, (their condition is such as) they will not be able to stand [i.e. fall into immorality] except like the standing of one who has lost his reason under the influence of satan. That is so because they say, `Trade is just like usury and interest.' Whereas Allah has made trade lawful and made interest unlawful. Then whosoever has received (this) admonition from his Lord and keeps away (from usury and interest) he may keep whatever (interest) he has taken in the past. His matter rests with Allâh. As for those who revert (to the practice of usury and interest) it is these who are the fellows of the Fire, therein shall they live for long.[26]

Whereas Allah has made trade lawful and made interest unlawful for the mere fact that – Trade is doubtlessly as prosperous to the country and nation as usury is shocking for the society and the masses.[27]

Not only that the usury and interest are unlawful, Quran actually annuls them altogether and replaces them with charity:

2:276. Allâh annuls usury and interest and promotes charity. Allâh does not love any persistent and confirmed disbeliever and an arch-sinner.

2:277. Verily, those who believe and do deeds of righteousness and regularly observe the Prayer and go on presenting the Zakât [–charity] shall have their reward from their Lord; they shall have no cause of fear, nor shall they ever grieve.

2:278. O you who believe! take Allâh as a shield and forgo all outstanding gains from usury and interest if you are indeed believers.

2:279. But if you do (it) not, then beware of war from Allâh and His Messenger [because the burden and exploitation of interest is equivalent of an already declared exploitative war on the society]. But if you turn away (from such an unlawful transaction) then you shall have your principal (without interest) back. (Thus) you shall neither deal unjustly nor be dealt with unjustly.[28]

Usury, moreover, promotes habits of idleness, since the usurer, instead of doing any hard work or manual labour, becomes like the parasite, living on the labour of others. In the great struggle that is going on between capital and labour, Islam sides with labour, and, by its prohibition of usury, tries to restore the balance between the two, not allowing capital to enthral labour. It is in reference to the honourable place that Islam gives to labour that the Holy Qur'an says that "Allah has allowed trade and forbidden usury", for while trading requires the use of labour and skill and elevates the morals, usury promotes habits of indolence, cunning and oppression. To help the distressed one who is in straits is the object of the social structure of Islam, and to reduce him to further straits is the end of usury; hence usury is called "war with Allah and His Messenger" (2:279).[29]

Jesus Christ in his capacity did no different than verse 2:279 when he stood up against the currency dealers of his time and ‘overturned the tables of the money changers’:

Mark 11:15-18. On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

The selective allowance to charge usury by Israelites from non-Israelites, the foreigners, is allowed in the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 23:20. You may charge a foreigner interest, but not a fellow Israelite…[New International Version]

Quran takes away the vestige of above argument altogether when it makes the mankind a single nation and removes the discrimination of a foreigner altogether:

10:19. And mankind were but a single nation, then they fell into variance…[30]

The debtor is under the contractual obligation to return the debt, but if for some reason it becomes impossible to repay the loan, then unlike a usurious banking system that takes over the assets of the bankrupt, Quran gives the following relief:

2:280. If any (debtor) be in straitened circumstances there shall be respite (for him) till (his circumstances) ease. But that if you remit (the debt) by way of charity (for the sake of God), it is better for you, if you only knew.[31]

It is for this reason too that the social order of Islam does not allow usury. The prohibition of usury is clearly associated in the Holy Qur'an with charity, for inasmuch as charity is the broad basis of human sympathy, usury annihilates all sympathetic affection. The usurer is likened to one whom the devil has prostrated by his touch so that he is unable to arise [verse 2:275]. Such is, in fact, the usurer who would not hesitate to reduce the debtor to the last straits if thereby he might add a penny to his millions. He grows in selfishness until he is divested of all sympathetic feelings, and greed rules his heart. Islam is basically opposed to this.[32]

All the injunctions above would not be worth their value than the piece of paper they are written on, unless the administrative authority carrying out these commandments is just as well:

2:188. Do not appropriate one another's property with inequity (and by false means) nor seek to gain access thereby to the authorities so that you may appropriate a portion of (other) people's property by sinful means (and bribery) and that (too) knowingly (that you have no right to do so).[33]

In terms of finance, if nothing else, the above verse squarely draws attention to 'insider trading' on any forum whose sole intention is to appropriate a portion of (other) people's property by sinful means (and bribery) and that (too) knowingly (that you have no right to do so). Even the recent history bears witness to devastation in the world from usurious borrowing and funding of the wars over past several centuries including the world wars which resulted from usury practices by certain classes from the people of the Book:

4:160. Then (by way of punishing them) on account of the transgression of those who judaised, We made unlawful to them certain of the good and pure things which had been allowed to them before, and that too on account of their causing hindrances to many (people, and their own staying away) from Allâh's way;

4:161. And (also on account of) their taking interest and usury though they were forbidden it, and because of their misappropriating people's belongings. And We have prepared a woeful punishment for those among them who disbelieve.[34]

5:62. And you will find many of them vying one with another in committing sin and transgression and being too much given to eat things forbidden [– including the usury and interest]. How evil is that which they practise!

5:63. Why do not the teachers of divine knowledge and those learned in the Law prohibit them from their blasphemic talk and deeds and their being too much given to eating things forbidden? Evil indeed is their machination.[35]

Of note is that one of the foremost things forbidden is the usury and interest. The next corresponding verses separate the righteous people of the Book from usurers of above verses:

4:162. But those among them who are firmly grounded in knowledge and the faithful who believe in that (Divine Message) which has been revealed to you and that which was revealed before you, and (especially) the observers of Prayers, and those who go on presenting the Zakât, and believe in Allâh and the Last Day, it is they We will certainly bestow on them a great reward.[36]

5:65. And if the people of the Scripture had only believed and guarded against evil, We would surely have absolved them of their sins and We would surely make them enter Gardens of bliss.

5:66. If they had only observed the Torah and the Evangel and that which has been revealed to them (now) from their Lord, they would surely have eaten (of good things) from above them [i.e., spiritual gains] and from under their feet [i.e., material gains], (thus would have enjoyed the boons of the heaven and the earth). Though there is amongst them a community who is moderate (and of balanced mind), yet a large number of them are such that evil are their deeds.[37]

It is the usurers that are admonished repeatedly in Quran:

2:168. O people! eat what is lawful and pure (of the produces) of the earth and follow not the footsteps of satan for he is your enemy severing you (from Allâh).

2:169. He (- satan) only bids you to indulge in evil and to (do) things foul and obscene and that you say against Allâh things you do not know.[38]

The ancestral money-lenders, in the garb of financial institution of our times are addressed in Quran:

2:170. And when it is said to them (- the disbelievers), `Follow what Allâh has revealed.' They say, `We would rather follow such things as we found our forefathers (doing and believing).' (Would they do so) even though their forefathers could not refrain (from evil), nor they could achieve their goal.

2:171. The case of (one that calls) those who refuse (to obey the commandments of God) is like the case of one who shouts to that (animal) who hears nothing, but a mere call and a cry (of a shepherd). (They are) deaf, dumb and blind, moreover they do not use their reason.[39]

However, those 'believers', living in a financial system beyond their control, might have to partake the interest obligations, the flesh of swine, to survive. They can draw some solace from the next verses and may seek mercy from their Lord:

2:172. O you who believe! eat of the good and pure things We have provided you with, and render thanks to Allâh, if it is He alone whom you really worship.

2:173. He has forbidden you only (to eat carrion) that which dies of itself, the blood, the flesh of swine and that over (the sacrifice of) which the name of someone other than Allâh has been invoked. Yet he who is constrained (to use them) without desiring (them) nor going beyond the limits (of bare necessity), incurs no sin. Surely, Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.[40] [Emphasis added]

To those governments, where they have the power to annul usury in their land, but instead hide which Allâh has revealed in this perfect Book about admonitions against interest and usury and take a paltry price (- worldly gains) from usury and interest bearing institutions, Quran forewarns with the following:

2:174. Surely, those who hide (any part of the teaching) which Allâh has revealed in this perfect Book and take a paltry price (- worldly gains) for it, it is these who feed their bellies with nothing but fire [of usurious debt and all its ill consequences for the society], and Allâh will not speak to them (with affection and mercy) on the Day of Resurrection, nor He will treat them as pure, and there awaits them a grievous punishment. [Emphasis added].

2:175. It is these who have preferred error to guidance and punishment to protection. (The onlookers of these sufferers will say,) `How very enduring they are at (the punishment of) the Fire!' [This is a glaring example of the burden of interest borne by citizens of the developing world at the hands of the global banking system, a never ending servitude]

2:176. That (punishment) is because, whereas Allâh caused the perfect Book to be revealed to suit all the requirements of truth and wisdom (they have rejected it outright). Surely, those who dissented from the perfect Book have indeed gone far astray in enmity (of the truth) and in obstinacy.[41]

The dilemma of a Muslims who live in a usury infested system is summed up as follows in an article written in 1925:

[42]We are living in an age in which usury is common, and, do and declare what we will, we are nearly all of us tainted with it. It is a sin, but Muslims must trade, and Muslims must not fall back. They are already far too backward. If Turkey has natural resources which she cannot develop out of her revenues, and if she cannot obtain money without paying interest to develop those resources, then her only course is to borrow at interest. This does not mean that the transaction thereby becomes lawful. It only means, as the Holy Qur-an says :—

2:173. …But whoever is driven to necessity, not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin shall be upon him.

Unless Muslims want to become extinct and leave the earth to others, they must trade; and trade nowadays usually means both the taking and paying of interest. Let each man be his own judge. Let no one be a fanatic or a fool. God is Reasonable, and Islam conforms to the dictates of true reason. It is easy for the doctrinaire to condemn all trade and all civilization; and it is equally easy for the greedy person, under the cloak of business, to live on usury. The right course is to desist from the paying or taking of interest, wherever possible; and in other cases to go only so far as necessity compels us to go. "Whoever is driven to necessity," says God, "not desiring, nor exceeding the limit, no sin shall be upon him."What is "necessity"? What is the "excess"? What is the "limit"? These are questions to be decided by each man or institution in each particular case. No general rule or rules can be laid down. But God has given us eyes, ears and hearts. And He has also provided us with the all-important mind. The heart of man acting on the mind of man is responsible for the deeds of each individual, and God alone is the Great Judge. The first tradition quoted by Imam Bukhari from the Prophet is Al-Aamal-o-bin-niyyat-e— "All deeds are judged by their intentions." The man who thinks he can save himself by a show of keeping the letter of the law, but really infringing the whole object of the ordinances of God, cannot really save himself, for God knows all. On the other hand, what shall it profit me if I never take a penny in interest, but when it comes to helping a needy person I thrust my hands into my pockets, and leave the poor man in his need? My piety in not taking interest shall not avail me aught in the sight of God. Socrates used to say that the opposites could only be understood by putting them together—pain with pleasure, and virtue with evil. Charity and usury are the opposite extremes of human conduct. The first is a divine ordinance, and the second is an institution of the devil. In showing the beauties of charity God shows us the ugliness of usury. But everything is relative. The absolute is with God alone. We are human beings and necessarily weak.

53:32. Those who avoid grave sins and open shameful deeds but (who are sometimes guilty) only (of) minor offences (will find) your Lord is Lord of immense protection (and resorts to His mercy in such cases). He knows you full well (since) when He created you from the earth and when you were embryos in the wombs of your mothers. So make no pretensions to the purity of your souls. It is He Who knows best who (truly and fully) guards against evil.[43][Nooruddin]

Some may scoff at an earlier quoted verse i.e. 2:279. But if you do (it) [i.e. usurious practices] not, then beware of war from Allâh and His. While reading this verse, let’s not forget that Europe since its dark ages and the West as a whole continues to fight wars, which have been funded by usurious loans. Some may even say that West goes to war because of it bowing to usury. It is anybody’s guess about future wars.

In summary, temptation of usury for its abundance and its profits flowing to the usurer are contrasted with apparent misperception of loss from charity and it is against this overwhelming enticement of bad and impure that one has to seek protection from:

5:100. Say, `The bad and impure e.g. usury and interest], and the good and pure [e.g. charity] are not alike even though the abundance of the bad and impure [e.g. usury and interest] may charm you.' Take Allâh, therefore, as a shield (seeking refuge in Him), O you people of pure and clear understanding! so that you may attain the goal.[44]

It is to this never ending cycle of abundance of the bad and impure interest that might have been in the prophecy about Adam and Children of Adam:

2:35. And We said, `O Adam! dwell you and your wife in this garden and eat freely and plentifully from it as you will [that you can afford]. But you shall not go near this tree (- evil [113:2. `From the evil of that which He has created which includes usury and interest]) lest you should be of the unjust.'

2:36. After sometime the satan caused them both [individually and nations collectively] to slip from this (order of not going near evil) and thus brought them out of (the happy state) which they were in. And We said (to them), `Go forth, some of you are enemies of others and for you there is a sojourn in this land and a provision for a time.'

2:37. After that Adam received from his Lord certain (useful) commandments and He turned to him with mercy. He, indeed is Oft-returning with compassion, the Ever Merciful.

2:38. We said, `Go forth from this state, all of you, and when there comes to you a guidance from Me, then, those who follow My guidance shall have nothing to fear and nothing to grieve at.'[45]

Quran is fully cognizant of the human tendency to acquire and hoard wealth to which it draws attention:

3:14. It has been made fairseeming to the people the love of the desired things comprising women, sons, stored up heaps of gold and silver, well-bred horses, cattle and tilth. That is the provision of the present life. Whereas with Allâh is the fairest goal (of life).

3:15. Say, `Shall I inform you of something better than these? There are with their Lord Gardens served with running streams for those who become secure against evil. There they shall abide forever, and (there will be the righteous) companions perfectly purified and (above all they will enjoy) the good pleasure of Allâh.' And Allâh is Mindful of (His) servants,

3:16. Who say, `Our Lord! we have certainly believed, therefore protect us against (the consequences of) our sins and save us from the punishment of the Fire.'[46]

Quran does not abhor the wealth of the individual, but it brings to fore the consequences of hoarding it:

104:1. Disaster is (decreed) for every slanderer, defamer,

104:2. Who amasses wealth (instead of spending it for the good of humanity), counts it over and over and depends upon it as a safeguard (against his future possible hardships).

104:3. He thinks that his wealth will make him immortal.

104:4. No, never! he shall surely be cast into the crushing torment (of Hell).

104:5. And what should make you know what the crushing torment is?

104:6. (It is) the Fire set ablaze by Allâh,

104:7. And which rises over (the feelings of) the hearts (- the origin of a man's hell).

104:8. It (- Fire) will be closed in on them (so as not to let them escape from it and also increase for them the torture of heat).

104:9. (The flames of the Fire will rise) in (the form of) huge outstretched columns.[47]

3:180. And do not let those, who behave niggardly in (spending) what Allâh has granted them of His bounty, think that it is good for them, nay it is bad for them. They shall certainly have the things they were niggardly about, hung about their necks like halters on the Day of Resurrection. And to Allâh belongs the heritage of the heavens and the earth. Indeed, Allâh is Well-Aware of all that you do.[48]

The walk away argument of wealth in Islam is the similitude of blood in a body. The more it circulates, the healthier the body is. However, the illness and death sets in when the circulation of blood slows down and it clots. For a clot the treatment is naturally a clot buster. Similarly, when the wealth is taken out of circulation and hoarded in assets, the clot buster in Islam is the Zakat, the asset tax which historically is about 2.5 percent, a rate which is neither too taxing for the asset holder nor is mandated on those without assets. Whereas, the income tax of capitalism does not differentiate between the haves and have-nots, it does not take into account the liabilities of the one taxed. Since the tax laws are heavily influenced by the haves, the loopholes thus created in the laws disproportionately benefit them at the detriment of the have-nots. History is witness to the pervasive bloody struggle between the two, the drooling greed on one side and the shuddering cries of deprivation of the majority.

A great advantage of the elimination of interest will be that dormant capital will not be able to create wealth, which will mean that either it will have to invest itself for protection or surrender itself for State use for the benefit of the society. In either case it will have a beneficent effect on the production and consumption of the country. The attraction of hoarding will be completely gone, as even hoarded money will be subjected to zakat, and there will be no alternative left for capital but to invest, produce and consume. This eternal cycle alone can ensure full employment and not wars and armament drives, on which the Western world has come to depend so pathetically nowadays.[49]

Charity replaces Usury and Interest in Quran

The temptation of direct money lending with interest or lending it by proxy via financial institutions is based upon a 'guaranteed' return on investment. In contrast, Quran declares the opposite and assures return on charity. Individual experience from time to time tells us of monetary losses from bank failures, but has anyone yet to claim him ending in poverty by being charitable? The answer is no, and to that Quran states:

30:39. And that which you lay out as interest and usuary with a view to increase the wealth of the people does not help increase it in the sight of Allâh. But that which you present as Zakât (purifying dues) with a view to seek (thereby) the pleasure of Allâh, it is they (- the regular payers of Zakât) then who will increase (their wealth) many times over. [50]

Usury is both a source and manifestation of greed. There is enough in the world for all to live, but there is not enough for one man's greed[51]. Those schools of thought that abet interest, almost as a matter of faith are thus identified in Quran, some more than the others:

2:96. And you shall of course find them the greediest of all people for (this base) life and even more (greedy) than those who set up equals (to God). Each one of them would love to be granted a life of a thousand years [because of their intoxication from power that comes with a usurious wealth], yet his being spared for a long life shall, by no means keep him away from the punishment. And Allâh is Watchful of all their doings.[52]

It is because of this greed out of interest that Quran further states:

4:160. Then (by way of punishing them) on account of the transgression of those who judaised, We made unlawful to them certain of the good and pure things which had been allowed to them before [i.e. the blessings and favors. Note: no prophet after Moses was law bearing to forbid material things to Israelites[53]], and that too on account of their causing hindrances to many (people, and their own staying away) from Allâh's way;

4:161. And (also on account of) their taking interest and usury though they were forbidden it, and because of their misappropriating people's belongings. And We have prepared a woeful punishment for those among them who disbelieve.[54]

Usury by its very nature creates miserliness. Quran makes a historical reference to Israelites who after Solomon had been deprived of a kingdom because of usury driving their miserly behaviors:

4:53. They have no share in the kingdom. If they had they would not give the people (even so much as) the little groove in a date-stone.

4:54. Or do they feel jealous of the people for which Allâh has granted them out of His bounty and grace? (Let them remember) We surely gave the Children of Abraham the Scripture and the Wisdom, and We also gave them a grand kingdom.[55]

As to the morality and rewards shadowing charity, Quran thus speaks quite eloquently which needs no comment but to quote it directly:

2:261. The attribute of those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allâh is like the attribute of a grain (of corn) which sprouts seven ears, each ear bearing a hundred grains. And Allâh multiplies further for whomsoever He pleases, for Allâh is Bountiful, All-Knowing.

2:262. Those who spend their wealth in the cause of Allâh, then follow not up what they have spent with a show of obligation, nor (with) injury, they shall have their reward with their Lord. They shall have no cause of fear, nor shall they ever grieve.

2:263. A fair word and forbearance are better than charity followed by injury. Indeed, Allâh is Self-Sufficient (having no want), Ever Forbearing.

2:264. O you who believe! Do not render void your charities by (a show of) obligation and injury, like him who spends his wealth to be seen by people and does not believe in Allâh and the Last Day. So his case is like the case of a smooth rock with some soil thereon, when heavy rain hits it leaves it bare and hard. They shall not be able to gain anything of what they accomplished. And Allâh does not guide such disbelieving people to the way of success.

2:265. But the case of (charity on the part of) those who spend their wealth seeking the good pleasure of Allâh and for their own consolidation and with firm faith, is like the case of a garden situated on a highly fertile land. It is hit by heavy rain so it yields its fruit manifold; but even if heavy rain does not hit it then a mere drizzle (is sufficient) for it. And Allâh sees well what you do.

2:266. Would anyone of you wish that while he has a garden of date-palm trees and vines served with running streams, he has therein each and every kind of fruit, while he is stricken by old age and has children who are (yet) feeble, a whirlwind carrying fire should smite it (– the garden) so that it is all burnt up? (No, not at all.) Thus does Allâh explain to you His Messages so that you may give thought.

2:267. O you who believe! spend (for the cause of Allâh) a portion of good and pure things, that you have yourselves earned and out of that which We have produced for you from the earth. Do not intend (upon spending) the bad and inferior. You would spend that (bad and inferior for the cause of Allâh) which you would not accept at all (for yourselves) unless you connive at it. And know that Allâh is Self-Sufficient, Ever Praiseworthy.

2:268. Satan threatens you with poverty and incites you to niggardliness. But Allâh promises you forgiveness from Himself and affluence. And Allâh is Bountiful, All-Knowing.

2:269. He grants wisdom to whomsoever He will. Indeed, he who is granted wisdom has been granted an ample good. And none would take heed except those endowed with to you and you shall not be treated unjustly.

2:270. Whatever things worthy to be spent you spend and whatever vow for the performance of a non-obligatory act of goodness you take, Allah knows it well. As for the wrongdoer they shall have no helpers.

2:271. If you give (your) alms openly it is well and good (in itself). But if you keep them secret and give them to the needy it is better for your own selves and He will (thereby) acquit you of some of your evil deeds. Allah is fully aware of what you do.

2:272. You are not responsible for their guidance to the right path but Allah guides (him) who wishes (to be guided). (Believers!) whatever wealth you spend (in doing good) will be fully credited to you and you shall not be treated unjustly.

2:273. (These charities are meant) for those needy who are (so) confined in the way of Allâh that they are unable to move about in the land (for providing their sustenance). The person ignorant (of their condition) thinks them free from want, because of (their) abstaining (from begging). But you shall know them by their appearance (that they are in need). They do not beg of people with importunity. And whatever good thing you spend (for their help) Allâh knows it surely well.

2:274. Those who spend their wealth by night and by day (for the cause of Allâh) privately and publicly have their reward with their Lord, they shall have no cause of fear, nor shall they ever grieve.[56]

End Note: To get an insight into philosophy of financial system of Islam as contrasted against the Capitalism and Communism, reader is encouraged to read: “The New World Order” by Maulana Muhammad Ali (link).


[1] The Islamic Economic System and the Process of Change Over By "Ariel", Islamic Review, p. 10, November 1952.
[2] Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_big_to_fail
[3] Video: “Fractional reserve banking”. Link: https://www.khanacademy.org/economics-finance-domain/macroeconomics/monetary-system-topic/fractional-reserve-banking-tut/v/overview-of-fractional-reserve-banking
[4] An asset that can be converted into cash in a short time, with little or no loss in value. Link: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/liquid-asset.html#ixzz3HEmk6QSW
[5] Der Spiegel. Note: the actual article could not be located. The closest reference is “Playing With Fire: America and the Dollar Illusion”. Link: http://www.spiegel.de/international/playing-with-fire-america-and-the-dollar-illusion-a-440054.html
[6] Link: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bulletin/2007/articles/crossbordersecurities/default.htm
[7] Office of the Comptroller of the Currency – OCC’s Quarterly Report on Bank Trading and Derivatives Activities Fourth Quarter 2013 (pdf) – see Table 12 (on the last page). Link: http://www.occ.treas.gov/topics/capital-markets/financial-markets/trading/derivatives/dq413.pdf
[8] Link: http://demonocracy.info/infographics/usa/derivatives/bank_exposure.html
[9] The Real—and Simple—Equation That Killed Wall Street, by Chris Arnade, Scientific American Blogs, January 30, 2013. Link: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/01/30/leveraged-yield/
[10] “WORKING FOR THE FEW, Political capture and economic inequality”, 178 OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER, 20 JANUARY 2014.
[11] Al-Najm – Parts of the Qur'ân: Nooruddin
[12] Al-Hashr – The Banishment: Nooruddin
[13] Al-Mutaffifîn – The Defaulters In Duty : Nooruddin
[14] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[15]Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Free Minds
[16] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[17] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[18] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[19] Al-Imran – Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[20] Example of Compound Interest – Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compound_interest#Example_of_compound_interest
[21]The pound of flesh, which I demand of him,
Is dearly bought; 'tis mine and I will have it.
If you deny me, fie upon your law!
There is no force in the decrees of Venice.
I stand for judgment: answer; shall I have it?
Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice. Shylock – Act IV, Scene 1, Venice. A court of justice.
[22] Link: http://www.businessdayonline.com/NG/index.php/law/legal-insight/26439-a-nigerian-approach-to-islamic-banking
[23] The Living Thoughts of the Prophet Muhammad by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter 9: Wealth
[24] “Usury or Interest”, The Light, Vol II, No. 16, August 16, 1923, p. 2, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore.
[25] Al-Imran – Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[26] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[27] “Usury or Interest”, The Light, Vol II, No. 18, September 16, 1923, p. 3, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore.
[28] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[29]“The New World Order” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 51-52, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore,1944.
[30] Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
[31] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[32]“The New World Order” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 51, Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Ishaat Islam Lahore, 1944.
[33] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[34] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[35] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[36] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[37] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[38] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[39] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[40] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[41] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[42]“Islam, Usury and Interest” by Al-Haj Hafiz Ghulam Sarwar, M.A., p. 27-29, The Islamic Review, January 1925.
[43] Al-Najm – Parts of the Qur'ân: Nooruddin
[44] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[45] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[46] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[47] Al-Humazah – The Slanderer: Nooruddin
[48] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[49] The Islamic Economic System and the Process of Change Over By "Ariel", Islamic Review, p. 10, November 1952.
[50] Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
[51] The Islamic Economic System and the Process of Change Over By "Ariel", Islamic Review, p. 10, November 1952.
[52] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin
[53] Excerpt from Quran’ Five Volume Commentary – footnote 624, p. 686, by Ahmadiyya Movement.
[54] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[55] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[56] Al-Baqarah –The Cow: Nooruddin

Berlin Mosque Open Day announcement on Berlin TV

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

See:

http://mediathek.rbb-online.de/rbb-fernsehen/abendschau/nachrichten-ii?documentId=24311102

It is the second news item in this bulletin, and it was filmed by them on Saturday 25th October.

You can see Hazrat Ameer Dr A.K. Saeed in a scene (there is a brief glimpse of me as well). As a result of the announcement, a large number of people came to the mosque Open Day today, Sunday (from where I am posting this).


Update on 8 November: The above link, being to a news bulletin, worked only for a few days after the broadcast, and no longer works.

Council of Islamic Ideology, Pakistan

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Submitted by Tariq.


The Council on Islamic Ideology (CII) a government body in Pakistan created to bring the laws in harmony with Quran and Sunnah, recently sent a list of recommendations to that country’s parliament labeled “Code of Conduct”. This code of conduct is what it wants the parliament to adopt. Among them is the following – a news report about it can be read at this link:

“It is an un-Islamic and condemnable act to declare any Muslim sect a disbeliever and deserving of death,”

Does it also apply to all of the members of the parliament from 1974 who declared Ahmadis to be non-Muslims? Does it apply to the members of the CII itself who declare Ahmadis to be non-Muslims? Of course not!! It only applies to some other people who declare other sects of Muslims as disbelievers. Whom they themselves declare as disbelievers are as such.

How ironic!

Section I — Miracles

Sunday, October 19th, 2014
Section I – Miracles

“…miracle is: that what appears impossible to man is possible for God.”[1]

7:203. When you do not produce a miracle [Arabic: biāyatin[2] – a Sign] that they demand, they say, “Why not ask God for it?” Say, "I simply follow and convey what is revealed to me from my Lord." These verses are the enlightening miracle from your Lord, the guidance and grace for those who accept them. [emphasis added]

7:204. When the Qur’an is read, listen to it with full attention [to comprehend it], and listen to it silently, that you may receive mercy [of a miraculous and blissful understanding and deeper insight].[3]

Miracles as commonly understood are based upon ‘supernatural’ events that allegedly were witnessed by everyone else and oddly not reported by the actual performer of that miracle. It is the ‘supernatural’ aspect of an alleged miracle which is usually put forth as the basis of truth and an implied argument for existence of God as if God is bereft of a primary proof and needs secondary proofs for His existence.

… what miracle can be more wonderful than human thought? If human thought cannot satisfy persons of the existence of God, how can any miracle?[4]

The God of Islam does not need ‘supernatural’ miracles to prove His existence. Miracles can only prove a physical aspect but He is non-physical. On the contrary, the logic in Qur’ân is a manifest proof of Him. Such a God is experienced through human thought, contemplation and seeking. On a physical and moral plane He is experienced in our own persons and in our daily lives by observing His attributes at play in the world we live in:

51:20. There are signs on the earth for the people of knowledge and assured faith.

51:21. And (you have signs) in your own persons. Have you no eyes to perceive[5]

One common theme in all such reported miracles is that they defy the laws of physics as if physics is ungodly and is supposed to disprove God. The proponents of miracles in their advocacy forget that laws of physical universe are made by none other than God Himself. Under Unity of creation, all moral, spiritual and physical laws are in perfect harmony free of any mutual conflict. To justify the miracles, the proponents fail to realize that the alleged miracles could only happen if their God broke His own laws willy-nilly, a laughable preposition. The proponents of miracles will also agree that breaking of law is commonly called as kufr, and the breaker a kafir, be it by breaking the physical law of gravity by jumping from a height and breaking one’s leg or indulging in a moral turpitude. Does God break his own Laws? Not so:

10:64. …There is no changing the words of Allâh; …[6]

Even though human understanding of laws of physics is still evolving, but such an emerging awareness is incremental where each newer theory is based upon the previously validated laws. A phenomenon does not have to be ‘supernatural’ to be called a miracle; rather the miracle is the outcome of an otherwise non-plausible set of events surrounding the occurrence of that miracle. Miraculous outcomes as laid out in Qur’ân are the outcome of the loggerhead questions in which moral laws trump the physical laws. For example, every law known to man governing physical strength, organizational numbers, economic assets, logistics and resources, social pressures and political alliances, which are needed for success of any system, they were one and all working against Prophet Muhammad. His message had not the remotest chance to succeed, but it did. Now that is a miracle. Just like a physicist who discovers (not creates) laws of physics by experimentation, so does a prophet brings to fore the moral laws by actually living them and history reports the manifestation of those laws which by any secular analysis are miracles. These miracles of prophets are not a transient awe of and illusionist but remain as a working model of virtuous success expected to be repeated in one’s own struggles because the moral and spiritual laws are not the sole prerogative of a prophet rather they exist for the whole mankind.

Whether the supposed ‘supernatural’ events happened or not are not the focus of discussion in this book. Everything and every event in the universe in natural, but is only ‘supernatural’ to the mind of the novice and ignorant. What this book tries to refute are the physics defying details of those events, evidence of which is not found in Qur’ân. Whereas, Qur’ân is full of miracles of ‘extraordinary’ events that otherwise were not possible in the historical context of their occurrence. Miracles in Qur’ân are not physics defying but definitely history setting for their impact that we see in survival of Noah; escape of Abraham from his persecutions; destruction of the pharaoh and exodus of Moses, Aaron and Israelites from Egypt; survival of Jonah from a drowning death; disappearance of Jesus, a convicted man from the midst of Roman Empire; Kaaba remaining intact despite the onslaught on it by a mighty army with elephants and success of Prophet Muhammad despite all odds, to name a few.

The key to understanding miracles from within Qur’ân is for the readers to remove from their minds the historical hearsay. Instead of finding from within Qur’ân the ‘supernatural’ rather one must seek the ‘extraordinary’ events that it brings to light as an example of survival of its truth both in the past and for the reader in the present. It is this assurance of ‘extraordinary’ which gives basis for message of Qur’ân and the principles and laws that it defines which must be used for future course of one’s life individually and for the society collectively. The miraculous end result despite all odds of one standing for the cause of truth, honesty, bravery, patience, perseverance, chastity, equity, equality, charity, morality and justice are at times nothing short of a miracle that otherwise might defy the ordinary rationale and a jaded view that is influenced and enticed by power and the might of the transgressing forces in the society.

“Even today these miracles happen in the sense that, not necessarily an individual, but the cause of truth is always rescued by Allah from destruction by its opponents.”[7]

Qur’ân even rejects the notion of Miracles or supernatural ‘signs’ as a means to convince the non-contemplating skeptic:

6:109. And they swear by Allâh their most solemn oaths that if there comes to them a (particular) sign they would invariably believe in it. Say, `'(Not to speak of a single sign) there are indeed many signs with Allâh, but what is there to assure you that when that (sign) comes, even then, they will not believe.'

6:110. We shall confound their hearts and their eyes, since they did not believe in it (-God's signs) in the first instance, and We shall leave them alone wandering blindly in their transgression.

6:111. Even if We should send down the angels to them, and the dead should speak to them, and even if We should bring all things together face to face (to them), they would not believe unless Allâh had (enforced) His will. The thing is that most of them persist in ignorance. [8]

Objectively, the ‘supernatural’ miracles attributed to Qur’ân have their roots from outside of the Qur’ân. Qur’ân is then erroneously used as a validation of the commonly pervading myths in the minds. Vain efforts are made to justify mythology from Qur’ân. This slippage is usually the outcome in interpreting of references in Qur’ân to some event in history, but the soothsayers instead of using the linguistics of Qur’ân for the ‘extraordinary’ instead seek it for the ‘supernatural’ reasons. This folly is mostly due to lack of understanding of the use of metaphor in the Book. This misunderstanding shall be removed by various examples in the chapters that follow in current section.


[1] 'Ahmadiyya view of miracles in the Quran' – Reply to an objection, by Dr. Zahid Aziz., The Light & Islamic Review. July–September 2003, Volume 80, Number 3. http://www.muslim.org/light/light033.htm#3
[2] Âyatun – Sign; Apparent sign; Mark; Indication; Message; Evidence; Proof, Miracle; Communication; Verse of the Holy Qur’ân (as each of which is a miracle); Previous revelation; Monument; Lofty building that should acquire renown as a sign of greatness. It properly signifies any apparent thing inseparable from a thing not equally apparent so that when one perceives the former, he perceives the other which he cannot perceive by itself, e.g."The party came out with their whole company." Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 38.
[3] Al-Araaf – The Height of Discernment: Shabbir Ahmed.
[4] 'Muhammad The Sign of God' by Shaikh M. H. Kidwai, Islamic Review & Muslim India, p. 521, Vol. V, No. 12, December 1917, The Mosque, Woking, Surrey, England.
[5] Al-Dhâriyât – The Scatters: Nooruddin
[6] Yûnus – Jonah: Nooruddin
[7] 'Ahmadiyya view of miracles in the Quran' – Reply to an objection, by Dr. Zahid Aziz., The Light & Islamic Review. July–September 2003, Volume 80, Number 3. http://www.muslim.org/light/light033.htm#3
[8] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin

Eid-ul-Adha, October 2014

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Further to below, I have now uploaded my khutba. Please see this link.

At the end of the khutba you will find photographs of the Pakistan Moon Sighting Committee trying to observe the new moon at various occasions in the past two years.

Zahid Aziz


I extend Eid greetings to all our Blog readers and wish them Eid Mubarak.

At this link is the Eid-ul-Adha message by Hazrat Ameer Dr A.K. Saeed, Head of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement.

Our UK Jamaat is holding Eid tomorrow, Sunday, 5th October, prayers starting 11.00 a.m. UK time. This time it is my turn to deliver the khutba. I will upload it later the same day or on the following day.

Zahid Aziz

Abraham the Upright — But what about parricide?

Friday, October 3rd, 2014
Abraham the Upright – But What About Parricide[1]?

“…sacrifice means that you lose something which you possessed so that you then have to undergo hardship and loss because of that deprivation.”[2]

One of the prevalent myths is that Prophet Abraham had repeating dreams to sacrifice his dearest thing. Abraham believed that these dreams are a vision from God. Therefore he complies by sacrificing his various domesticated animals herds, but the dreams keep recurring, till he realizes that his dearest thing is his first born Ismail, who by then had grown up probably into his early teens. Abraham first shares his dream with his wife Hagar and with her consent divulges it to his son, who in turn being an obedient one obliges to be ‘slaughtered’ to the wish of God. Both father and son while on their way to the altar are dissuaded by Satan three times from their ‘holy’ mission. Each time, Abraham throws stones towards Satan to deter its pursuit. When both father and son are at the altar, Abraham covers the face of his son, Ismail and just before he could be slaughtered God commands Abraham to stop, that his sacrificial intention and effort has been accepted, and a ram instead replaces Ismail for the sacrifice. Ever since, the followers of Abraham and Ismail and later the pagan Arabs kept the symbolic sacrificial tradition alive. This practice continued after advent of Prophet Muhammad and is religiously followed in Islam to this date. Essentially, on the day of Eid-ul-Adha, at end of the Hajj, animals are sacrificed to commemorate the sacrifice of Abraham and Ismail. While performing Hajj, the pilgrims throw pebbles at the three symbols of Satan who had tried to deter the sacrificial act of Abraham.

The above account is eerily similar to that of Torah in which it is Isaac instead of Ismail. Abrahamic tradition of sacrifice as commonly believed begets the fundamental question – are Muslims following Torah in terms of a nonsensical slaughter of a son at the hands of his father; that too in the name of a God who needs offerings like Jews, Christians, Hindus and other religions; and above all the sacrifice of human flesh like gods of Incas, Aztecs, Mayas and others[3]; and all for what moral purpose? Does it not present a moral paradox that Satan was ethically right for the first and only time when it tried to stop Abraham, the prophet from a parricide? The account of Issac’s sacrifice in Torah is as follows:

Genesis 22:1-19. Sometime later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.” Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. [New International Version]

Among Muslims the misunderstanding of the said sacrifice emanates from misread of the following verses of Quran:

37:100. (And he prayed,) `My Lord! grant me (an issue who is) of the righteous.'

37:101. So We gave him the good tidings of (the birth of) a wise and forbearing son.

37:102. Now, when that (son, Ismâîl) was (old enough) to work along with him, (his father, Abraham) said, `My dear son! I have seen in a dream that I sacrifice you [Arabic: adhbaḥuka]. So consider (it and tell me) what you think (of it).' (The son) said, `My dear father! do as you are commanded. If Allâh will you will find me of the calm and steadfast.'

37:103. Now, (it so happened) when both of them submitted themselves (to the will of God) and he (- Abraham) had laid him (- Ismâîl) down on his forehead [–an act of prayer, submission],

37:104. We called out to him (saying), `O Abraham!

37:105. `You have already fulfilled the vision.' That is how We reward those who perform excellent deeds

37:106. That was obviously a disciplinary test (crowned with a mighty reward,)

37:107. And a great sacrifice was the ransom with which We redeemed him (- Ismâîl)..[4]

These verses bring to fore certain aspects in Quran that when clarified individually and then understood collectively expunge from minds the Torah like story of a potential human sacrifice.

The aspects touched upon by the incidence of Abraham and Ismail in Quran (verses 37:102-107) are – concept and spirit of sacrifice, test of Abraham, visions of Prophets, the actual sacrifice of Abraham and his family.

Concept of Sacrifice in nature:

The nature as understood by human experience provides a working example of concept of sacrifice outlined in Quran. The inanimate soil sacrifices itself to the plants, which in turn present themselves to animals. Each step of the way, a lower form in nature transforms into next higher and complex formation, till the time that it reaches the human stage. Not an atom is wasted in this food chain. Each atom becomes part of an ever intricate biochemistry and physiology. The inorganic elements transform into organic molecules. The inorganic carbon atoms rearrange themselves into carbon chains, benzene rings and a carboniferous life evolves along the way that has ever increasing volitional quality to it.

Concept of Sacrifice in humans:

Once through sacrifice lower forms reach the human stage, the only higher stages thereafter are the stages of human physicality, morality and spirituality. On the incremental ladder the next higher stage in humans is only achieved when one volitionally sacrifices the previous lower stage. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in his landmark lecture while answering certain questions brings to fore the said stages and their transitions outlined in Quran as follows[5]:

The first question relates to the physical, moral and spiritual conditions of man. The Quran observes this division by fixing three respective sources for this threefold condition of man, that is, three springs out of which these three conditions flow. The first of these in which the physical conditions of man take their birth is termed the nafs al-ammara which signifies the "uncontrollable spirit", or the "spirit prone to evil". Thus the Word God says: "Surely (man's) self is wont to command (him to do) evil"–12:53.

It is characteristic of the nafs al-ammara that it inclines man to evil, tends to lead him into iniquitous and immoral paths, and stands in the way of his attainment of perfection and moral excellence. Man's nature is prone to evil and transgression at a certain stage in his development, and so long as he is devoid of high moral qualities, this evil nature is predominant in him. He is subject to this state so long as he does not walk in the light of true wisdom and knowledge, but acts in obedience to the natural inclinations of eating, drinking, sleeping, becoming angry or excited, just like the lower animals.

As soon, however, as he frees himself from the control of animal passions and, guided by reason and knowledge, he holds the reins of his natural desires and governs them instead of being governed them when a transformation is worked in his soul from grossness to virtue he then passes out of the physical state and is a moral being in the strict sense of the word.

The source of the moral conditions of man is called, in the terminology of the Quran, the nafs al-lawwama, or the "self-accusing soul": "Nay, I swear by the self-accusing spirit !"[6]–75:2.

This is the spring from which flows a highly moral life and on reaching this stage, man is freed from bestiality. The swearing by the self-accusing soul indicates the regard in which it is held. For, the change from the disobedient to the self-accusing soul being a sure sign of its improvement and purification makes it deserving of approbation in the sight of the Almighty.

Lawwama literally means "one who reproves severely", and the nafs al-lawwama (self-accusing soul) has been so called because it upbraids a man for the doing of evil deeds and strongly hates up-bridled passions and bestial appetites. Its tendency, on the other hand, is to generate noble qualities and a virtuous disposition, to transform life so as to bring the whole course and conduct of it to moderation and to restrain the carnal passions and sensual desires so as to keep them within due bound.

Although, as stated above, the "self-accusing soul" upbraids itself for its faults and frailties, yet it is not the master of its passions, nor is it powerful enough to practice virtue exclusively. The weakness of the flesh has the upper hand sometimes, and then it stumbles and falls down. Its weakness then resembles that of a child who does not wish to fall but whose legs are sometimes unable to support him. It does not however, persist in its fault, every failure bringing a fresh reproach. At this stage, the soul is anxious to attain moral excellence and revolts against disobedience which is the characteristic of the first, or the animal stage, but does, notwithstanding its yearning for virtue, sometimes deviate from the line of duty.

The third or the last stage in the onward movement of the soul is reached on attaining to the source of all spiritual qualities. The soul at this stage is in the words of the Quran, the nafs al-mutmainna, or the "soul at rest": "O soul that art at rest, return to thy Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing, so enter among My servants, and enter My Garden! – 89:27-30.

The soul is now freed from all weaknesses and frailties and is braced with spiritual strength. It is perfectly united with God and cannot live without Him. As water flows with great force down a slope and on account of its great mass and the total absence of all obstacles, dashes down with irresistible force, so does the soul at this stage, casting off all trammels, flow unrestrained towards its Maker.

It is further clear from the words "soul that art at rest with thy Lord, return to Him" that it is in this life, and not after death, that this great transformation is worked and that it is in this world, and not elsewhere, that access to paradise is granted to it. Again, as the soul has been commanded to return to its Master, it is clear that such a soul finds its support only in its Supporter. The love of God is its food, and it drinks deep at this fountain of life and is therefore, delivered from death. The same idea is expressed elsewhere: "He is indeed successful who causes it to grow, and he indeed fails who buries it" – 91:9-10.

In short, these three states of the soul may be called the physical, the moral and the spiritual states of man, Of these, the physical state that in which man seeks to satisfy the passions of the flesh is most dangerous when the passions run riot, for it is then that they deal a death-blow to the moral and spiritual qualities of man, and hence this state has been termed the "disobedient spirit” in the Holy Word of God.

Concept of animal sacrifice:

Islam means submission. All rituals in Islam including daily prayers, fasting, hajj (pilgrimage) and zakat (charity) essentially formalize this ‘submission’ of hearts in outward physical actions as well because body and soul are inseparable and mutually influence each other. This relationship between body and soul can be experienced in a common example – when one’s “soul cries” it manifests itself physically as tearful eyes; a smile “warms a heart.” Similarly, five time daily prayers rekindle the prayerful state that a Muslim lives throughout the day. In this formalization, prostration in payer is the penultimate act of physical submission which naturally creates humbleness of soul before the Almighty. On the reverse, a humbled soul naturally yearns for a physical prostration as well i.e. both body and soul are in total submission. In the same manner, the sacrifice of an animal is symbolic formalization of sacrificing the animal-self as discussed in the lecture above. Further, the sacrificed animal is to be consumed for good of mankind and not be offered as a burnt offering like in Torah:

22:36. We have made the sacrificial animals among the Symbols appointed by Allâh for you. They are of immense good to you. So (whenever you offer them for sacrifice do it) in the name of Allâh (while they) stand (drawn up) in lines. When their flanks collapse, (on being slaughtered), eat from (the meat of) them and feed him who is (in need but) contented and him who begs. In this way We have made these (animals) subservient to you so that you may render thanks.

Unlike Torah, the sacrifice of an animal in Quran is NOT done to please God, Who is beyond all imagined needs. Once the animal-self is annihilated only then can the righteousness take root in oneself:

22:37. It is neither their flesh nor their blood (of these sacrifices) which matters to Allâh but it is guarding against evil and devotion to duty on your part that matters to Him…There does not reach Allah their flesh nor their blood, but to Him is acceptable righteousness…[7]

Spirit of Sacrifice:

“Quran presented the true concept of sacrifice. It is that God does not need anything from man. The Quran says:

“He (God) feeds and is not fed” (6:14),

“I (God) desire no sustenance from them, nor do I desire that they should feed Me.” (51:57)

What God wants is for you to sacrifice your lower and material desires for a higher purpose. We all want to have physical comforts and to satisfy our material desires, but God tells us that for our moral and spiritual progress, for the betterment of our character, and to make us real human beings, there are times when we must sacrifice, willingly and voluntarily, some of our material possessions for a good cause.

The sacrifice of the animal that is carried out is an expression of our willingness to sacrifice our own animal desires. The Quran clearly says that it is not the flesh nor the blood of the animal that reaches God, but the dutifulness on your part. The sacrifice is accepted if it leads you to be more dutiful, to make a sacrifice of your own self and not of just the animal.” [8]

Test of Abraham by God:

While trying to impress upon believers the heart wrenching test and obedience of Abraham and Ismail to God, the synthesized story creates contradictions of its own. For example:

Firstly, it begets a fundamental question, i.e. did not God know the depths of the minds of Abraham and Ismail for which He allegedly had to put them to test for such an inhuman effort? Whereas, on the contrary Quran states:

35:38. Verily, Allâh knows the hidden realities of the heavens and the earth. He knows full well the innermost secret of the minds (of the people).[9]

64:4. He knows whatever lies in the heavens and the earth and He knows what you conceal and what you do publicly. Allâh knows the innermost thoughts of the hearts.[10]

Secondly, to begin with, was not Ismail an innocent potential victim? Whereas, Quran forbids victimizing the innocent and no one can be killed unless for the sake of justice, a condition that does not fit in case of Ismail:

6:151. Say, `…(Allâh has also enjoined upon you that you) … that you kill no soul which Allâh has made sacred, except in the cause of justice.’ This has He enjoined you with, so that you may (learn to) abstain (from evil).[11]

Thirdly, planning to kill an innocent is contrary to character of Abraham, because according to Quran even a follower of Abraham is a doer of good to others, and the doer of good to others does not kill the innocent:

4:125. And who is better in faith than one who submits his whole attention to Allâh and he is a doer of good to others and follows the religion of Abraham, the upright? And Allâh had taken Abraham for a special friend.[12]

Fourth, for Ismail, a future prophet with his own subsequent mission of a life full of sacrifice, for him to accede to his own killing without a cause, it runs contrary to injunction of Quran where there is a clear commandment against self-immolation:

2:195. … do not cast yourselves to destruction with your own hands…[13]

Fifth, for Abraham to kill his own innocent son would be violation of Divine will:

4:29. O you who believe…do not kill your people…[14]

Sixth, such an infantile test to kill one’s innocent son does not fit the man of a high stature and a prophet of the like of Abraham who had already passed much greater tests of putting his own personal life at risk for his mission of prophet-hood at the hands of Nimrod and the clergy in Mesopotamia. Quran confers the status of Imam to Abraham for good of the people, which includes the good for his own son Ismail as well. By any moral standards, killing of an innocent son is not good:

2:124. (Recall) when his Lord put Abraham to test with certain commandments, so he carried them out. (God) said, `Verily, I will make you an Imâm (- a religious leader) for the good of the people.' (Abraham) said (inquiringly), `And from among my progeny (too, do You promise to raise leaders)?' (God) said, `(Yes, but) My (this) covenant does not embrace the wrongdoers.'[15]

Seventh, it is not even in the very nature of Abraham to imagine hurting anyone, be it his own son, as exemplified by the following verses where he even pleads for forgiveness of the transgressing people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were soon to face the Divine wrath for their evil ways of life:

11:74. And when awe departed from Abraham and the good tidings came to him, he started pleading with Us for the people of Lot.

11:75. Surely, Abraham was gentle, tender-hearted and oft-returning (to Us).[16]

Abraham is a highly regarded Prophet in Quran which can be inferred from the following sample verses:

2:135. And they (the Jews and the Christians respectively) said, `Be Jews or be Christians, then you shall be on the right course.' Say, `Nay, but (ours is) the faith of Abraham, the upright, and he was not of the polytheist.'[17]

3:67. Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was upright who had submitted (to the will of God), and he was not one of the polytheists.

3:68. The people nearest to Abraham are surely those who followed him (in the days of his prophethood) and this Prophet and those who believe (in him). Indeed, Allâh is the Patron of the believers.[18]

6:161. Say, `As for me, surely my Lord has guided me to the exact straight path, the ever true faith, the creed of Abraham the upright, and he was not of the polytheists.' [19]

16:120. The truth of the matter is that Abraham was a paragon of virtue; obedient to Allâh, upright, and he was not of the polytheists,

16:121. Highly thankful for His favours. He chose him and guided him on to the exact right path.

16:122. And We granted him great success (and all comforts) of this life, and in the Hereafter he is most surely among the righteous.

16:123. Again, (Prophet! to complete Our favours on Abraham) We have revealed to you (saying), `Follow the creed of Abraham (who was an) upright, (devotee of God) and was not of the polytheists.'[20]

Essentially, the message given to Prophet Muhammad is same that was given to Abraham, which makes sense in that spiritual and moral needs of whole human race are the same and the prophets came into the world to full fill these very needs of mankind:

2:136. Say, `We believe in Allâh and in that (the Qur'ân) which has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismâîl, Isaac, Jacob and his children, and what was given to Moses and Jesus and (we believe) in what was given to (all other) Prophets from their Lord. We (while believing in them) make no discrimination between anyone of them, and to Him do we submit ourselves entirely.'[21]

Since the message is the same for all the prophets, then Abraham had to conform to same moral standards that Quran advocates. Unlike pagan rituals, human sacrifice has no place in Islam. Under Islamic standards it is totally absurd to even think of killing an innocent human and that too of children:

6:137. Just (as their associate-gods turned the polytheists away from Allâh) so did they make (even so monstrous a deed as) the killing of their children seem fair to a large number of the polytheists, with the result that they ruin them and that they obscure for them their religion. And if Allâh had (enforced) His will they would not have done so, so leave them alone and that what they forge.

6:140. Certainly, they suffer a loss (those) who kill their children in folly (and) ignorance, and forbid (themselves) what Allâh has provided for them; forging lies in the name of Allâh. They have indeed gone astray and they are not rightly guided.[22]

It becomes obvious that the make believe slaughtering story creates contradiction against the spirit of Quran. Prophets are not tested by God by them killing others. They are tested by their missions that they undertake in which they themselves could be persecuted and even threatened to be killed by the opposition to their message:

5:70. Surely, We took a covenant from the Children of Israel and We sent Messengers to them. Every time there came to them a Messenger with that (Message) which did not suit their fanciful desires, (they defied him so that) some they treated as liars and others they sought to kill.[22a]

Visions of Prophets:

Fact is that Prophets are recipients of visions, but there is no confusion for them in those visions, else it could be construed that the medium of Divine communication is flawed. A vision is essentially a prophecy about a future event and not a commandment that is conveyed in a revelation (wahy). A vision is allegorically veiled in symbols and it is within the capacity of prophets to interpret it for its actual meanings.

For example, in the following verses, Joseph while still young of age and much before his prophethood sees certain symbols in his vision that he cannot comprehend and discloses it to his father, Jacob (v. 12:4). Whereas, Jacob, the prophet, fully interprets his son’s prophecy (v. 12:5, 12:101), which finally fulfills later during the life of both when, Joseph, as a grown up and an established prophet is in the high office of the king and his brothers, who had earlier abandoned him, submit in his presence (v. 12:99-100):

12:4. (Remember the time) when Joseph said to his father, `My dear father! I have seen (in a vision) eleven stars and the sun and the moon. I saw them falling down prostrate (before God) because of me.'

12:5. He said, `My dear son! relate not your vision to your brothers lest they should intrigue against you, for satan is to a human being an enemy disuniting.

12:99. And when they all came to Joseph he betook his parents to himself for a restful lodging (making them his personal guests) and said, `Enter the city, if Allâh will, you shall always be safe and secure.'

12:100. And he took his parents to the royal court and they all fell down prostrate (before God) because of him and he said, `My father! this is the real fulfillment of my vision of old. My Lord has made it come true. He has been gracious to me, indeed, when he released me out of the prison and brought you from the desert. (This all happened) after satan had stirred up discord between me and my brothers. Surely, my Lord is Benignant to whomsoever He pleases. He it is, Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.'

12:101. (Addressing his Lord, Joseph then said,) `My Lord! You have bestowed a part of the sovereignty upon me and it is You Who have imparted me true knowledge of the significance of (divine) sayings. O You, the Originator of the heavens and the earth! You alone are my Patron in this world and the Hereafter. Let it be that I die in a state of complete submission (to You), let it be that I join the righteous.'[23]

Dreams of non-prophets can be confusing to the recipients because they are hidden in allegory and symbolism, for example, the king of Egypt at the time of Joseph saw one:

12:43. Now (it so happened that one day) the king said, `I saw (in a dream) seven fat kine which seven lean ones were eating, and seven green ears of corn and (as many) others withered. You nobles of the court! explain to me the real significance of my dream if you can interpret dreams.'

12:44. They said, `(These are) confused dreams and we do not know the interpretation of such confused dreams.'[24]

For prophets, dreams are clear messages and prophecies that they can interpret not only for themselves but even for others that we see when Joseph interpreted king’s dream:

12:45 And of the two (prisoners) the one who had got his release and who (now) recalled (Joseph) to his mind after a long time, said, `I will inform you of its (true) interpretation, therefore send me (for the purpose to Joseph in prison).'

12:46 (So he [-the released prisoner] went to Joseph in the prison and exclaimed,) `Joseph, you, the man of truth, explain to us the (real) significance of (a dream in which) seven fat kine which seven lean ones devour; and (of) seven green ears of corn and as many others withered, so that I may return to the people and they may know (the interpretation and thereby your exalted position).'

12:47. He (- Joseph) replied, `You shall sow for seven years working hard and continuously and let what you have harvested remain in its ear excepting a little whereof you may eat.

12:48. `Then there shall follow seven (years of famine) of great severity (and) these (years) shall consume all the stores you have laid by in advance for them except a little which you may have preserved.

12:49. `Then, thereafter shall come a year of rains in which people shall be relieved and in which (season) they will press (fruit and seeds).'[25]

Similarly, Abraham saw an impending sacrifice of his son which he shares with him. Once both are in agreement to undertake the mission that required to live in Makkah and build the Kaaba, both bow down before God in a thanksgiving prostration. This mission was no less than a lifelong undertaking and a sacrifice for the son to make the desolate Paran as home:

37:102. Now, when that (son, Ismâîl) was (old enough) to work along with him, (his father, Abraham) said, `My dear son! I have seen in a dream that I sacrifice you [Arabic: adhbaḥuka]. So consider (it and tell me) what you think (of it).' (The son) said, `My dear father! do as you are commanded. If Allâh will you will find me of the calm and steadfast.'

37:103. Now, (it so happened) when both of them submitted themselves (to the will of God) and he (- Abraham) had laid him (- Ismâîl) down on his forehead [–an act of prayer, submission],[26]

Sacrifice of Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Hagar and Ismail – an example to be followed in spirit, individually and collectively:

As a prelude to the discussion about ‘sacrifice’ of Ismail, reader must keep in mind that Ismail was the grandson of Pharaoh of Egypt through his mother, Hagar (– the Egyptian princess[27]). The mere notion to choose to live forever in the arid Makkah for the cause of monotheism instead of the royal abode that Ismail was entitled to by inheritance in Levant/Egypt[27a], is no less than a lifelong sacrifice that he submitted to in fulfilment of vision of his father, Abraham. Thus Abraham ‘sacrificed’ his son and the dutiful son submitted to that ‘sacrifice.’

Similar to Jacob, Abraham, the prophet, too would have interpreted the vision that he saw about his son in some future sacrifice of theirs. If it was supposed to be the actual slaughter of Ismail in the dream or vision of Abraham, then at least in the said verses 37:102-107, it did not happen. In Quran there is no mention of slaughter, slaughtering instrument or the ram replacing the son for slaughter, whereas all of that we find only in Torah (Genesis 22:1-19). With this line of thinking a natural question arises about the verse 37:105. If it was a slaughter, then there is a contradiction for the mere fact that Quran states You have already fulfilled the vision (v. 37:105), which Abraham did not because the slaughter did not happen. The key words are already fulfilled the vision, i.e. Abraham had fulfilled some mission already.

37:106. That was obviously a disciplinary test (crowned with a mighty reward,)

37:107. And a great sacrifice was the ransom with which We redeemed him (- Ismâîl).[28]

Obviously, both father and son did pass some disciplinary test with a great sacrifice that we see in secular history in which Abraham under Divine guidance and vision had to relocate from Palestine/Levant to the desert of Makkah (–Paran[29]), to be specific mount Marwah (–Moriah[30]), which is a hillock next to Kaaba, a desolate place. Ismail who is still young, consents to live permanently in Arabia with his parents and essentially sacrifices his whole life for the Divine Mission and to establish monotheism, an ever-lasting spiritual sacrifice with its virtuous returns to this day:

37:108. And We left behind him (- Abraham) among the succeeding generations (the noble salutation to invoke blessings upon him).[31]

37:109. `Peace be upon Abraham!'

37:110. Thus indeed do We reward those who perform excellent deeds.[32]

Yes! the succeeding generations after Abraham and his son Ismail and his wife Hagar, pay homage to the sacrifice of the noble family by travelling from far and wide, on foot, by air and by sea, and by any means of any transport they congregate in Makkah during the annual pilgrimage of Hajj in the manner this noble family walked from Levant to Makkah:

22:27. (Prophet!) call on people to make the Pilgrimage, they will come to you on foot and riding on all sorts of lean and fast (means of transport), coming from every distant deep highway (and mount track).[33]

The pilgrims run between mounts Saffa and Marwah in the footsteps of the mother (–Hagar searching for water, back forth, for his infant, Ismail, till she finds the spring of Zamzam that flows till this day) and pray towards and circumambulate the Kaaba that the father and son later built as the everlasting symbol of Unity of God:

2:158. The Safa and the Marwah are truly among the signs of Allah*; so whoever makes a pilgrimage to the House or pays a visit (to it), there is no blame on him if he goes round them. And whoever does good spontaneously — surely Allah is Bountiful in

rewarding, Knowing.[34]

22:26. And (recall the time) when We assigned to Abraham the site of the (Holy) House (bidding him), `Associate none with Me and keep My House clean and pure for those who (go round it to) perform the circuits and for those who stay in it (for worshipping Me) devotedly, and for those who bow down, (and) fall prostrate (in Prayer before Me).'[35]

The pilgrims culminate their spiritual journey with a thanksgiving sacrifice and festivity of slaughtering of animals. It is the symbolic sacrifice for annihilation of the animal-self that they had been actively pursuing all along when they left the comforts of their homes, bore the anguish of travel for weeks and months and had been walking for days in and around Makkah under the scorching sun while covered in only two pieces of unstitched cloth and bowing in unison, shoulder to shoulder next to each other while eliminating all racial, gender or economic divides among themselves. Before the slaughter of animals, they also symbolically throw pebbles at the symbols of Satan to expunge its influences on the minds for the rest of their lives. Towards the end of the pilgrimage, men shave their heads to remove even the last vestige of difference that might emerge from outward appearance between people. The purpose of Hajj is to achieve the unity of mankind under Unity of God and a rebirth of the soul which is free of any blemishes and has a rekindled vigor centered on pristine monotheism in full manifestation of Kalima – ‘There is no God, but Allah, Muhamad is his Messenger’ in every sphere of their remaining lives and the lives they will influence.

This tradition to circumambulate the Kaaba is kept alive by Muslims all over the world when they pray five times daily towards the same House built by father and son. Those who cannot travel to Makkah for Hajj, they celebrate the traditions of the sacred family by performing special Eid-ul-Azha prayers in open grounds in large congregations and sacrifice animals that they enjoy in a festive mood and distribute them as charity. They invoke blessings on Abraham, his family and his creed in each set of daily prayers and the prayers they recite otherwise.

If for a moment we accept that Abraham misinterpreted his dream or the vision in the manner that is attributed to him of trying to actually slaughter his son, then is it not a shame that the whole Islamic world in history and the present had been celebrating, year after year, for fourteen hundred years the ‘mistake’ of the prophet’s interpretation of a vision? Nay, never can a human error of understanding and interpreting a prophecy be a celebrated institution. Rather, it is should be a moment to overlook the error of human judgment.

Yes! `Peace be upon Abraham!' (37:109) and his family who left behind for the world the ultimate personal examples of sacrifices when Abraham, his first wife Sarah and his nephew Lot first fled the persecution first from Iraq to Levant in fulfillment of a vision for establishment of monotheism that we see in the Judaic chain of prophets, the descendants of Abraham and Isaac.

Yes! `Peace be upon Abraham!' and his family – Abraham, his second wife Hagar who moved from Levant to barren Makkah and his first born Ismail who chose to live in Makkah, only with one purpose and that was to uphold and institute the pristine monotheism in letter and spirit and built its symbol, the Kaaba. The Kaaba was subsequently restored to represent perfect and universalized monotheism to this day and till the end of times by Prophet Muhammad, the descendent of Abraham and Ismail:

43:28. And he (- Abraham) made it (- the Divine Unity) a word to abide (as a permanent legacy) among his posterity, so that they might turn (to One God).[36]

Of note is that first migration of Abraham from Mesopotamia to Levant was to escape persecution:

37:97-99. (His opponents) said, `Build up a pyre for him and throw him into the blazing fire.' Thus they designed a plan against him, but We made them to be the most humiliated. (Abraham) said, `I shall go where my Lord bids me. He will surely guide me right (to the path leading to success in my mission).'[37]

It is this sacrifice of Abraham’s own sacrifice that Quran acknowledges that he had already done before the sacrificial life-mission of Ismail begins:

37:104. We called out to him (saying), `O Abraham!

37:105. `You have already fulfilled the vision.' That is how We reward those who perform excellent deeds.[38]

The import of above verses is the next defining moment of Abraham’s ongoing efforts in service of monotheism when he is about to embark on his second mission that needed from his wife Hagar and their son Ismail the sacrifice of their comforts to establish Kaaba. It is the culmination of the vision of Abraham and actual lifelong sacrifice of his son Ismail that we see in the prayers of Abraham in which he acknowledges the settlement of his family in the barren valley of Makkah:

14:35. (Recall the time) when Abraham said, `My Lord, make this (would be) city (of Makkah) secure and a haven of peace, and keep me and my children away from worshipping idol.

14:37. `Our Lord! I have settled some of my children [excluding Sarah and Isaac who were left behind in Levant] in an uncultivable valley (of Makkah), in the vicinity of your Holy House. Our Lord! (I have done) so that they may observe prayer. Then make the hearts of the people incline towards them and provide them with fruits so that they may always give thanks.

14:39. `All true and perfect praise belongs to Allâh Who has given me despite my old age (two sons) – Ismâîl and Isaac. My Lord is of course, the Hearer of prayers.[39]

Other views…

Refuting the myth of attempted slaughter described at beginning of this chapter, Shabbir Ahmed in his translation of Quran has the following narration:

37:100. (Abraham migrated to Syria and prayed), “My Lord! Grant me a healthy child.”

37:101. So We gave him the good news of a clement son (Ismail ).

37:102. And when he was old enough to strive along with him, Abraham said, “O My dear son! I have a vision that I must give you to a life of test and tribulation for a Noble cause (37:107). So look, what do you think?” He said, “O My father! Do what you are commanded. God willing, you will find me of the steadfast.” [Zibh and Zabh = Sacrifice = Disregard comfort for a Noble cause. Just as Qatl = To subdue, kill, fight, humiliate, bring low]

37:103. As both of them had surrendered themselves (to God), he made Ismail further submit in gratitude.[Contrary to popular tradition, Abraham never envisioned or intended to slaughter his son. God does not play games with His servants. Literal ‘forehead to ground’ = complete submission in gratitude]

37:104. We called unto him, “O Abraham!

37:105. You have already affirmed the vision. We – This is so – We must reward the doers of good.”

37:106. This was a trial, clear in itself. [Leaving the prestigious office of Chief Priesthood in Babylon and now the comfort of Syria for the wilderness of Makkah]

37:107. We exchanged his life for a Momentous Sacrifice. [Please notice here the absence of the Biblical and the traditional myth of a ‘ram’ sent from the heavens. Also, note that slaughtering of a sheep or goat, by no means, can be considered a Momentous Sacrifice. 14:37, 37:102][40]

As regards to pilgrims stoning the Satan during the Hajj, if for a moment it is accepted to be true that it is done in memory of Abraham stoning the Satan who tried to dissuade him from slaughtering his son, and prevented a murder, then at least in secular logic for once Satan and God were on the same side of morality, which is impossible. Shabbir Ahmed in his translation of the Quran explains it quite logically in Author's Note and Footnote to the Surah Feel:

… As we have seen in the history of the Empire of Sheba (Surahs An-Naml 27, Saba 34, and Qaaf 50), the Kingdom of Sheba had collapsed in 115 BC. They were overtaken by the Himairis who ruled until 300 CE when other tribes overtook the control of Yemen. They were in turn defeated by the Christian Kingdom of Ethipoia-Abyssinia when they invaded Yemen in 525 CE. Abrahah was then appointed Viceroy of Yemen. The Roman and the Abyssinian Christians longed for converting the idolaters of Arabia to Christianity. They also sought control of the trade routes between Arabia, Persia and the Western Roman Empire. They saw Ka’bah in Makkah as a hindrance to their imperialistic and religious designs. Abrahah, the Viceroy of Yemen made a smart move. Between 550 and 555 CE he built a gorgeous cathedral EKKLESIA in San’aa, Yemen, and invited people and neighboring countries to come for pilgrimage there instead of going to Makkah. When Ekklesia remained unpopular, Abrahah decided to invade Makkah and demolish the Ka’bah. Since he correctly anticipated the presence of hostile tribes en-route, he came up with a 60,000 Strong army aided by thousands of horses, camels and thirteen elephants … As Abrahah’s army approached Makkah, the Makkans who had been alerted by some travelers beforehand, saw flocks of birds that normally fly over caravans in search for food. The Makkans mounted the hills around and threw stones on the troops. The elephants, and in turn, other rides panicked and trampled the soldiers. This incident took place in 570 CE when the exalted Messenger was born. The event carried such significance that the Arabs, in their Calendar, marked it as the “Year of the Elephant” (‘Aam-il-Feel) as a point of reference in history… Three Arabs had guided Abrahah on his way to Makkah through the desert. The pre-Islamic Makkans humiliated the traitors and made out three statutes of them in today's plains of Mina outside Makkah. Then they used to stone those statues every year at the time of Pilgrimage. This ritual was 'Islamized' by Muslim historians naming them as three places where the 'Satan' tried to prompt Prophet Abraham to defy God's command to 'sacrifice' his son. And so, to this day during Pilgrimage, Muslims stone the three pillars calling them the Great, the Medium, and the Small Satan!

 


[1] par·ri·cide: noun \ˈpa-rə-ˌsīd\
1[Latin parricida killer of a close relative, from parri- (perhaps akin to Greek pēos kinsman by marriage) + -cida -cide] : one that murders his or her father, mother, or a close relative
2[Latin parricidium murder of a close relative, from parri- + -cidium -cide] : the act of a parricide
Link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parricide
[2] “Sacrifice of Abraham” by Dr. Zahid Aziz, The Light & Islamic Review May – June 1998.
[3] Human Sacrifice – Wikipedia. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice
[4] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
[5] “The Teachings of Islam, a Solution of Five Fundamental Religious Problems from the Muslim Point of View”, by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, p. 1-2, translated into English by Maulana Muhammad Ali – It was read at the Great Religious Conference held at Lahore (Punjab) in December 1896 by Maulvi Abdul Karim. The paper discusses from a Muslim's point of view the five subjects selected for discussion by the conveners of the conference. These five subjects related to (1) the physical, moral and spiritual conditions of man, (2) the state of man in the after-life, (3) the real object of the existence of man and the means of its attainment, (4) the effect of actions in the present life and the life to come, and (5) the sources of Divine knowledge.- pages 22-27, 1968 Edition. Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mga/teachingsislam/teachingsislam1968.shtml
[6] [footnote from original publication] I. That is, on every dereliction of duty or on the slightest act of disobedience, being conscious of having offended.
[7] Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[8] “Sacrifice of Abraham” by Dr. Zahid Aziz, The Light & Islamic Review May – June 1998.
[9] Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
[10] Al-Taghâbun – Manifestation of Loss: Nooruddin
[11]Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin.
[12] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[13] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[14] Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[15] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[16] Hud – Hud: Nooruddin
[17] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[18] Al- Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[19] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin.
[20] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[21] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[22] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin.

[22a] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin.
[23] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[24] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[25] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[26] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
[27] Hagar: Family Connections—While the Bible gives us no record of Hagar’s genealogy, legend has supplied her pedigree, as being the daughter of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, the same who coveted the possession of Sarah in vain. This legendary source affirms that the Egyptian princess became so attached to Sarah that she told her royal father that she would accompany her when she returned to Abraham. “What!” cried the king, “thou wilt be no more than a handmaid to her!” “Better to be a handmaid in the tents of Abraham than a princess in this palace,” the daughter replied.[Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Hagar]
[27a] Wikipedia: Levant [Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Levant]

[28] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
[29] Genesis 21:19-21. Then God opened her [–Hagar’s ] eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy [–Ishmael] a drink. God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran[–Makkah], his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. [New International Version]
[30] Genesis 22:2. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [New International Version]
[31] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
[32] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
[33] Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[34] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz[*Footnote: The Safa and the Marwah are two mountains near Makkah. They were the scene of Hagar’s running to and fro in quest of water when left alone with Ishmael in the wilderness. These two mountains now serve as two monuments of the reward which patience brought, and it is as a memorial to Hagar’s patience that they are now gone round by the pilgrims.]
[35] Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[36] Al-Zukhruf – The Ornaments: Noorudin
[37] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
[38] Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
[39] Ibrahim – Abraham: Nooruddin
[40] As-Saffaat – Soldiers in Ranks: Shabbir Ahmed