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Adam Who? But, son of Adam i.e. you and me – At least According to Quran

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Adam Who? But, son of Adam i.e. you and me – At least According to Quran

Prelude: The reader is encouraged to preview the chapter ‘Adam’ in the book “History of the Prophets” by Maulana Muhammad Ali.1 The Maulana combs through Quran and concludes that: “The story of Adam as narrated in the Holy Qur'an, is really the story of man as also the story of the superman, the prophet. It is really a picture of human nature. The Holy Qur'an does not state when Adam was born or how he was born; it does not even state that he was the first man.” Verses from Quran that emphasize in generality and particularity that every human is created from the extract of dust are quoted by the Maulana. The human evolves into an intelligent being, possessing not merely the organs but the intellectual faculties of the heart, eyes and ears. Such intelligent composition is the receptacle of Godly faculties that are imbued into it. With this entire physical, spiritual and physical wherewithal, the Adam, the human, has the capacity to understand and acquire knowledge, both material and moral. Iblis, the proper name for devil/satan in Quran, represents all baser instincts and obstacles that are impediment to human progress and must be subdued. The Maulana goes on to explain the parable of Adam in Quran where any human, including Adam, is in a content state, the paradise. The deceptions of Iblis shadow him till he stumbles, loses the paradise, and through remorse and corrective actions by following the Divine light of the time that he receives either by direct inspiration or from the scripture of the reigning prophet, or both, is able to return to the lost paradise.

Adam, instead of a symbol of humankind, is considered as the first human of our civilization. This myth is centered on the Biblical narrative of Genesis, not Quran. Before we try to understand Adam as the symbol rather than the first human it begets us to read the Bible.

In summary, according to Bible,2 Adam was created from dust after God breathed into him through his nose and he dwelled in the Garden of Eden, the fertility of which was created for him, the land of four rivers – Tigris and Euphrates among them. Adam worked therein and took care of the Garden. He was allowed to benefit from the fruits with the exception – “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

To avert Adam’s loneliness and to help him, birds and animals too were created from the dust and they all gathered in his presence whom Adam gave names. None of the animals was a suitable helper, hence a female was created from Adam’s rib while he was asleep, and whom he named as ‘woman’ because – “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” While living in the Garden of Eden and being innocent – Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Enter the serpent, who woos the woman into eating the forbidden fruit with the logic – “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Thereafter, the woman eats the forbidden fruit and Adam too partakes of it and – “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”

After that, God arrives in the Garden from whom Adam is hiding due to his nakedness and shame, the blame for which he attributes to – “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” God turns towards the serpent and curses it forever. To the woman, and by implication all women, God punishes her – “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” God turning towards Adam, and by implication all men were punished and ordains death for humanity – “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

“Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.” Thereafter, God makes clothes of animal hides for Adam and Eve. Both are banished forever from the Garden of Eden for the mere fact that – “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” To prevent their return back into the Garden, God – placed on the eastern side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Quran in one of its premises makes the claim for itself of a guardian of truth of previous scriptures – And We have revealed to you this perfect Book comprising the truth and wisdom, fulfilling (the prophecies of) the Scripture which was present before it and stands as a guardian over it… (5:48).3 In this guardian role Quran corrects the myth of Genesis. In Quran, Adam symbolizes humanity. In the parable of Adam, various aspects of humanity come to fore, the human cognitive abilities, disposal of good forces at his hands and the threats of counter forces that he must endure, his vacillation between vice and virtue and the ever-present divine guidance and acceptance of repentance to restore the Garden of Eden for the lost souls.

The parable of Adam is repeated in various places in Quran. We will traverse through each of the verses and try to understand the parable while using Quran itself and the common knowledge of science as its exegesis. When this parable is read in full context of Quran, instead of a vertical read where it might remain as an unsolved story, each verse acts as a gateway into the depths of Quran, and ideas thus triggered at times are unfathomable. In our approach, the verses of the parable in Quran will act as the main stem of the discussion below and nested paragraphs and other verses are laid out in an effort to explain the parable in context of Quran.

Verses 2:26-384

The early verses below consecutively lead up to the parable of Adam and they should all be read in context. Stripped of verses 2:26 to 2:29, the parable of Adam can easily deteriorate into a fantasy.

2:26. Indeed, Allâh does not disdain to cite a parable of (a thing) even (as small as) a gnat or (of something) smaller than that. (Be it as it may) those who have believed know that this is a true (parable) from their Lord. As for those who disbelieve say, `What could Allâh mean by (citing) such a parable?' Many does He adjudge to be erring because of these (parables) and many does He guide through them. Yet it is only the transgressors whom He adjudges to be erring because of them.

2:27. (Transgressors are the people) who break the covenant (they have made) with Allâh after its solemn binding, and sever the ties which Allâh has bidden to be joined and create disorder in the land. It is they who are the losers.

The readers usually miss out on the preceding verses 2:26-28. The prelude in these verses clearly categorizes Adam as a ‘parable’ rather than the ‘story’ that follows in 2:26-38 and elsewhere. Additionally, these verses give out the reason for citing the parable of Adam which is directed towards the transgressors to draw a lesson from the template of Adam, the central character of the parable. Adam in the parable represents the whole human race which each reader can relate to, individually, and collectively as a family or a nation.

2:28. (O people!) how can you deny Allâh? When you were without life He gave you life, then He will cause you to die and again raise you to life and you shall be made to return to Him.

Creation of every living thing, including humans, follows the prevalent laws of nature in both physical and moral domains. Adam’s story is also the story of the early Israelites after Moses. The Israelites, similar to Adam, were living in paradise, consuming Manna and Salwa, became morally inept, lost the paradise for two generations, before they were revived, and given the kingdom. The following verse is about the Israelites losing their paradise, so to speak. This is a repetition of the story of Adam, once again bolstering the argument that Adam represents human race in general.

2:243. Have you not considered the case of those (Israelites) who (in their exodus) fled from their homes (in Egypt with Moses) and they were (a congregation of) thousands, for fear of death? Then Allâh said to them, `Die', (with the result that this generation perished while wandering in the wilderness for forty years). Then (from the next generation) He revived them, (and made them inherit the Promised land). Allâh is Munificent to people; but most of the people give (Him) no thanks.5

2:29. It is He Who created for your benefit all that is in the earth. Moreover He turned Himself towards the space and fashioned seven heavens perfect (- denoting the multiplicity of cosmic system). He has full knowledge of all things.

This verse, in the same series of verses leading up to Adam, brings the parable of Adam in line with our general understanding of life and the universe. It is a clear indication that creation of life on the earth is on a continuum of an evolving universe with a hint of multiverses.6 Qur’ân not only endorses the evolution of the species but takes evolution further into the lifespan of the member of the species; this includes the moral and spiritual evolution that continues beyond life, thus giving control to the individual on the otherwise purposeless life and death cycle. Thus Qur’ân bridges the theist and atheist divide – Do those who disbelieve not see that the heavens and the earth were (once) one mass all closed up, then We rent them apart. And it is from water that We created all life [in the universe]. Will they not believe (in the face of all this)(21:30).7 It is Allâh Who has created seven [-countless] heavens and (He has created) as many earths (65:12).8 And it is He Who drew forth the earth (from another heavenly body) and made it productive and fertile by means of particles (of other planets)…. (13:3).9 And Allâh has created every animal from water (24:45).10 All things therein (in the Universe) are ever changing (55:26).11 There did pass over a human being a while of a long space of time when he was not a thing worth mentioning (76:1).12 It is We that have ordained death for all of you. And We cannot be stopped from (it), From replacing you with beings similar to you, (or from) evolving you into a form which is unknown to you (at present). And you certainly know of the first evolution. Then, why do you not reflect (56:60-62)?13

2:30. And (recall) when your Lord said [–Arabic: qala]14 to the angels, `I am (according to My usual practice) going to appoint a supreme religious head [–Arabic: khalīfatan] in the land (to convey My Message to human beings and to execute My will in the universe).' They said, `Will You create (also) therein such (people) as will cause disorder in it and shed blood while we already glorify You with Your true praise and extol Your holiness.' He (- God) answered, `I know that which you do not know.'

This figurative conversation highlights a fundamental question – how did the angels know in the first place that such (people) as will cause disorder in it and shed blood? They could not have stated unless they had witnessed such human cycle(s) before as well. Lo and behold, Quran gives us the pointer to other earths populated with implicit intelligent life forms, perhaps each with their own Adam, if those earths have water on them:

65:12. It is Allâh Who has created seven heavens and (He has created) as many earths. The (divine) law permeates through them. (He tells this to you) so that you may know that Allâh is Possessor of all power to do every desired thing and Allâh encompasses everything in His knowledge.15

21:30…And it is from water that We created all life…16

24:45. And Allâh has created every animal from water. 17

25:54. And it is He Who created human being from water…18

If Adam indeed signifies start of humanity, then Quran also prophesizes the end of our own earth, and by implication humans:

14:48. Beware of the day when this earth will be changed into another earth and the heavens (as well shall be superseded by other heavens) and they (- all people) shall appear before Allâh, the One, the Most Supreme.19

Incidentally, it will be a mistake to take Adam as the only khalīfatan – supreme religious head in the land. There are others in Quran as well, implying that Adam in Quran was possibly both a head of his own tribe and/or is a figure representing all of humanity:

38:26. (We said,) `O David! verily We have made you the [khalīfatan –] ruler in this land…20

10:14. Then We made [the ordinary people like –] you [khalāifa –] inherit the land after these (generations) that We might see how you would act.21

2:31. And He taught Adam the names, all of them, then He presented (the objects of) these names to the angels and said, `Tell Me the names of these (things) if what you say is right.'

Verse 2:31 points to earlier stages of language development, both, in the evolutionary stages of human species and in the life of everyone:

55:3. He created human being;

55:4. And taught him (the art of) intelligent and distinct speech.22

A child learns nouns, the names, first before verbs, adverbs and adjectives take hold. Verse 2:31 also points out the fundamental human quality to acquire knowledge, which is recognized by the very first sentence of Quran that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad:

96:1. Read in the name of your Lord Who creates.23

Once the language took hold the human species moved on to the next stage of communication and acquiring knowledge by reading and writing:

96:4. Who taught by the pen,

96:5. taught man what he did not know.24

Once the knowledge is acquired, yet the achievement is in its infancy. It is at that pivotal evolutionary moment when skepticism takes hold and humankind starts disassociating itself from the source spring of its spiritual nurturance. It is this crack between humanity and God that Iblis, the rebellious, exploits, finds a foot hold and the drives a wedge between baser and godly instincts of mankind that we find very clearly in the parable of Adam:

96:6. Nay! (it is not at all as these people think), this human being does indeed indulge in transgression,

96:7. Because he thinks himself to be independent (of God).25

2:32. They said, `Glory be to You, we have no knowledge except that which You have given us; You, indeed, only You are the All-knowing, the All-wise.'

This verse outlines the passive role of Angels.

2:33. He said, `Adam! tell them (- the angels) their names (- names of the objects).' So when he had told them their names He said, `Did I not tell you that, indeed I know the unseen things of the heavens and of the earth, and I know what you reveal and what you conceal.'

This is a paramount stage of evolution of human species when it had developed the language. This stage was achieved after a very long time of hundreds of millions of years before human species was even worth mentioning:

76:1. There did pass over a human being a while of a long space of time when he was not a thing worth mentioning.26

It is to this evolved faculty of speech that Quran alludes to in the debating nature of humans, which represents the progression of language from its early form which apparently was confined to names/nouns and now into full speech:

16:4. He has created human being from a mere drop of fluid, (a small life germ) then look! what a perspicuous and sound debater he has turned out to be.27

2:34. And (recall) when We said to the angels, `Make obeisance [–Arabic: us’judū] to Adam.' So they obeyed [–Arabic: fasajadū] except Iblîs, he refused stubbornly and waxed proud, and he was already one of the disbelievers.

Make obeisance to Adam in no way, as commonly interpreted, implies Angels prostrating before Adam for the mere reason, only Allah is to be prostrated before and none else:

41:37. … Pay no homage to the sun or the moon, rather pay homage to Allâh Who created them, if it is Him Whom you really worship.28

16:2. He sends down the angels with the revelation by His command to such of His servants as He will, (saying,) ` Warn the people that there is no other, cannot be and will never be One worthy of worship but I, therefore take (only) Me as a shield. 29

Angles making obeisance to Adam signifies their service to humanity. Through Quran we know that Angles, the medium of execution of God’s will, do come to the aid of humanity. Prophet Muhammad, despite living among his blood thirsty enemies and their incessant scheming, plotting and inflicted battles, died a natural death, points to his angelic protection:

13.11. He (- the Messenger) has companies (of angels) successively ranged before him and behind him. They guard him by the command of Allâh…30

It is not only the angels, but there are many other elements that are subservient to Adam/humans, for example subjection of sun and the moon by modern technologies for solar energy and lunar mining proposals:

16:12. And He has made subservient to you the night and the day and the sun and the moon. And (similarly) the stars (too) are made subservient to you by His command. Surely, in that there are many a sign for a people who make use of their understanding.31

Iblis, the proper name of rebellious tendencies in an individual and collectively in the society, is a constant obstacle to harmony and peace. Exegesis of Iblis is pervasive in our individual experience which does not need any esoteric religious debates. Without much ado, every folklore, fairy tale, mythology, story, comic, novel, movie, chapter in a history book, news headlines, blog discussions, one and all are a constant reminder of the obstructive forces, the Iblis, which abounds and the consequent human struggles against it. If there were no Iblis, there would be no heroes. Thus, for human development, we need both the angels and the devil concurrently in the arena of life.

The phrase except Iblîs, he refused stubbornly and waxed proud, and he was already one of the disbelievers – separates Iblis from the category of angels. It is clearly pointed out at the beginning of this verse that God asked the angels for obeisance to Adam whereas the same verse also states that Iblis was already one of the disbelievers, which is opposite of Angels who by their very definition are ever submitting to God. This verse rejects the myth of ‘Fallen Angel’ of Bible.

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. But you shall not go near this tree (- evil) lest you should be of the unjust.'

This verse alludes to the natural state of human existence to adequately utilize provisions of food, clothing and shelter that Quran expounds in another place:

20:116. And (recall the time) when We said to the angels, `Make obeisance to Adam (and his sons).' They (all) made obeisance, but Iblîs (did not), he refused (to submit).

20:117. At this We said, `Adam! surely this fellow is an enemy to you and to your wife. Take care that he does not turn you both out of the garden (of earthly bliss) lest you fall into trouble.

20:118. `It is (provided) for you that here you shall not feel hunger, nor shall you go naked,

20:119. `And that here you shall feel no thirst nor will you be exposed to the sun.'32

Interestingly, in modern societies, those who due to mental defect cannot appropriately utilize food, clothing and shelter, the basic elements of the garden, are considered gravely disabled and even face forced banishment into mental asylums.33

The mention of a particular – this tree, in the parable of Adam frequently evokes Biblical understanding of it. Whereas, the Qur’ân distinguishes the good from the evil deeds by way of parables of trees:

14:23. And those who believe and do good are made to enter Gardens, in which rivers flow, abiding in them by their Lord’s permission. Their greeting therein is, Peace!

14:24. Do you not see how Allah sets forth a parable of a good word as a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are high,

14:25. yielding its fruit in every season by the permission of its Lord? And Allah sets forth parables for people that they may be mindful.

14:26. And the parable of an evil word is as an evil tree pulled up from the earth’s surface; it has no stability.

14:27. Allah confirms those who believe with the sure word in this world’s life and in the Hereafter; and Allah leaves the wrongdoers in error; and Allah does what He pleases.34

In the verse 2:35 above this tree is an allegorical reference to evil, which by its nature has no stability to keep one in his natural blissful state. In other places in Quran trees are allegorical references to bliss:

56:26. But (all that they hear on all sides will be) good and pure words (of salutation) – `Peace be, peace be.' [– Peace, that's what Islam means, seeks and provides]

56:27. Those that are blessed – how (lucky) the blessed will be!

56:28. They shall abide amidst (the land of thornless) Sidrah (- Lote tree, a symbol of bliss);

56:29. And (in the Garden of) clustered bananas;

56:30. And (in) extended shades;

56:31. And (near) water falling from heights;

56:32. And (amidst) abundant fruit;

56:33. (The season of) which is not limited, and (they are) never forbidden.35

Yet it other places, trees symbolize knowledge, both material and spiritual:

31:27. And if all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea with seven more seas added to it (were ink), the words of Allah would not be exhausted. Surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.36

17:60. And (Prophet! recall the time) when We said to you, `Surely, your Lord has encompassed all people (for destruction) and has power over them (still they remained indifferent).' We made the vision which We showed you (being carried to Jerusalem from Makkah by night) and also the tree (- evil word; see 14:26) disapproved of in the Qur'ân, a means of distinction between the good and the bad for the people. (Despite the fact that) We have been warning them (by sending Our signs), this (warning from Us) only leads them to unrestrained inordinacy.37

2:36. After sometime the satan caused them both 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.'

When this verse is read in toto, it becomes obvious that the stated banishment from paradise is not of a couple, but at least of a tribe, if not the whole human race.

Additionally, in the parable, Satan made Adam not to pay heed to what he had been instructed to by God. Such non-listeners, according to Quran, naturally then slide into a lower moral stage, the stage of animals who are devoid of understanding:

8:21. And be not like those who say, `We listen' while they do not listen and do not accept.

8:22. Surely, the worst of animal that walk or crawl in the sight of Allâh are those that are deaf and dumb and who are devoid of understanding.38

Further, the verse 2:36 also brings to attention that like parable of Adam, nations that following in the footsteps of Satan face a moral devolution into lower animalistic beliefs and behaviors that Quran refers to as ‘apes’ and ‘swine’:

5:60. Say, `Shall I inform you of those who shall receive from Allâh a recompense worse than that of those (who try to find fault with Us)? They are those whom Allâh has deprived of His blessings and upon whom He brought His displeasure and indignation and of whom He has made (as) apes and swine and who serve the transgressor (- the devil). It is these who are indeed worse-placed and farther astray from the right path.'39

7: 166. So when they insolently refused to keep away from that which they were forbidden, We condemned them to be (as) apes despised.40

In sum-total, according to Quran those not listening to Divine logic and reason, just like Adam, degrade themselves into the level of cattle:

They have hearts that they use not to understand. They have eyes with which they see not, and ears with which they hear not. They are like cattle. Nay, they are even worse. Such are the people who have chosen to live through life in total darkness of ignorance. (7:179).41

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 [-i.e. humankind], 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.'

In a nutshell, verses 2:30-38 are the allegorical story of every human and every couple where each one of us vacillates between hope and hopelessness, hate and love, remorse and forgiveness, misguidance and guidance. This is where it becomes obvious that the parable of Adam represents a template of human experience of paradise granted, lost and regained.

Verses 7:10-2542

Here is another set of verses of Quran that repeat the parable of Adam, but from a different angle. As the following verse reveals, Quran frequently repeats its message, but each time it touches upon a different aspect:

39:23. Allâh has revealed the best Message (the fairest discourse), this wonderfully coherent Book (the verses of which are mutually supplementing and) repeated, (narrating both sides of the case in various ways to drive home the divine injunctions to human minds…43

Quran uses different aspects of the story of Adam to highlight its own role as the spiritual guide for the entire human race. Whenever the story of Adam is repeated in Quran, it focuses on a different human trait. Keep in mind that Adam is not one specific individual, but personification of the entire human race. Thus, the story of Adam is sometimes narrated to emphasize the innate rebelliousness of people, the thankless nature of man, and sometimes to bring to light the inner good of humans who ultimately indulge in self-reflection, repentance and self-correction.

As before, verses 7:10 – 7: 25 are about the parable of Adam. These first few verses set the stage for a description of Adam as a depiction of human nature. The verses are quoted verbatim and discussion is in nested paragraphs:

7:10. (People!) We have indeed established you in the earth (giving you power therein), and provided for you therein (various) means of subsistence. How little thanks you give!

Right before discussing Adam, the thankless nature of humankind is highlighted. This ungratefulness of humankind is also elaborated elsewhere in Surah Al-Adiyat (– The Chargers):

100:1. I call to witness the panting and snorting chargers (of the warriors).

100:2. And those that strike sparks of fire dashing (their hoofs) against the stones,

100:3. And those that make raids at dawn,

100:4. And raising up clouds of dust therewith.

100:5. They penetrate thus right into the middle of the (enemy) ranks,

The verses 100:1-5, as explained by Nooruddin, point to the thankful nature of a battle steed that in return for simply water and hay, responds to the call of his master, day and night, and who willingly penetrates the enemy ranks and defenses without caring for his own injuries or life. In contrast to this thankful steed, the thankless humankind, just like Adam in paradise, despite being showered with countless blessings remains ungrateful:

100:6. That (good for nothing) human being is indeed very ungrateful to his Lord.

100:7. And he himself bears witness to all this (by his conduct).

100:8. And he is, truly speaking, the extreme limit in (his) love for wealth.

100:9. Does not, then, such a one know (the time) when all those in the graves will be raised up (in the Hereafter);

100:10. And (the time when) what is (hidden) in the bosoms (of people) shall be made known.

100:11. Verily, their Lord is, of course, fully Aware of (all regarding) them that day.44

After discussing the thankless nature of all humans, the subsequent set of verses 7:11-25 below cast Iblis as the source of thanklessness, in the context of Adam, the humans.

7:11. We did determine you, then We gave you shape, then said to the angels, `Make submission to (the Children of) Adam,' so they all submitted. But Iblîs (did not), he would not be of those who submit.

The parable in verse 7:11 draws attention to the nature of Iblis, the rebellious. Like Adam who symbolizes humankind, Iblis symbolizes the rebellious tendencies that seed the law violating forces, in the moral, spiritual, social and material domains.

7:12. (God) said, `What prevented you from submitting when I commanded you (to submit)?' (Iblîs) said, `I am better than he (- the human being). You created me from fire whereas You created him from clay.'

Adam, the mankind, created from clay, symbolizes qualities that are commonly attributed to clay i.e. ability to sound a pottery – the faculty of speech, shaping of pottery – the pliant and moldable character, baked pottery – the firm nature of humans. Specifically, to creation of humans and their certain attributes that distinguish them from animals, Quran mentions:

55:14. He created human being from the essence extracted from dry ringing clay like a piece of baked pottery [that can make a sound] (-with the faculty of speech and possessing pliant and submissive nature).45

15:26. Surely, We created human being from dry ringing clay, (transformed) from black mud moulded into shape [i.e. essentially possessing a moldable character, of both body and mind].46

37:11. Therefore, ask them (- your opponents) whether it is they (- the worldly people) who are harder in creation or those (spiritual beings) whom We have created. Them We have created out of adhesive sticking clay (so of firm and strong character).47

Iblis claiming – You created me from fire, signifies the fiery destructive nature which led Adam astray in the parable. Like Iblis being made from fire, Adam too is made from non-material haste:

21:37. …Man [Arabic: insānu] is created of haste…48

As stated earlier, besides clay and haste, mankind is also made from water:

25:54. And it is He Who created human being from water…49

In sum total humankind is made from attributes common with clay, water and haste and then baked by exposure to the rebellious fire of Iblis.

7:13. (God) said, `Get down from this (haughty state) for it is not proper for you to behave proudly here, so be gone. Surely, you are of those who have agreed to remain in an abject position.'

7:14. He (- Iblîs, in impertinent defiance) said, `Grant me respite till the day when they are raised up again.'

7:15. (God) said, `Surely, you are of those (already) given respite.'

7:16. (Iblîs) said, `Now, since You have adjudged me to be perverted and lost, I will assuredly lie in wait for them (- the Children of Adam) on the straight and exact path that leads to you.

7:17. `There will I come upon them from their front and from their backs and from their right and from their left so that You will not find most of them grateful (to You).'

7:18. (God) said, `Get out from this (state), despised and driven away. Be sure, whosoever of these (human beings) follows you I will certainly fill Gehenna with you all.'

Just as other verses have the parable of Adam, so do the Verses 7:13-18, are parable of Iblis. These verses summarize the attributes of Iblis and how Iblis negatively impacts humankind.

Just like Adam is exposed to Iblis, each and every human, too, is exposed to Iblis. To protect oneself from the exposure to the rebellious and destructive nature of a fiery Iblis, the cause for one’s expulsion from a natural state of bliss into distress, Quran teaches us the following prayer:

114:1. Say, `I seek refuge in the Lord of People,

114:2. `The Sovereign, the Controller of all affairs of People,

114:3. `The God of People,

114:4. `(That He may protect me) from the evil (of the whisperings) of the whisperer, the sneaking one.

114:5. `Who whispers evil suggestions into the hearts of People,

114:6. `From among the jinn (- fiery natured, houghty) and the (ordinary) people.'

The jinn, in verse 114:6, the last verse of Quran refers to the Iblis:

18:50. And (recall the time) when We said to the angels, `Submit to Adam.' So they all submitted (bowing), but Iblîs (did not); he was one of the jinn, he disobeyed the command of his Lord. (People!) would you (then) take him and his progeny (and cohorts) for friends rather than Me while they are your enemies? How evil is the substitute (of God) the unjust have chosen!

7:19. And (We said), `O Adam! dwell you and your wife in this garden, then eat you both when and where you like but do not (even) approach this tree or you both will become of the transgressors.'

7:20. Then satan made an evil suggestion to them both, with the result that their shortcomings which were hidden from them, became manifest to them, and he said, `Your Lord forbade you from this tree only lest you should become angels or become of the immortals.'

7:21. And he ardently swore to them both (saying), `Most certainly, I am one of your sincere advisers.'

7:22. Thus he led them on the way of guile and deceit. And when they tasted of the tree (and committed the things forbidden to them), their shortcomings became manifest to them. They (in order to cover themselves) began to stick the leaves of the garden over themselves and their Lord called out to them both (saying,) `Did I not forbid you from (approaching) that tree, and tell you that satan is to you an enemy disuniting (from Me)?'

This verse clearly points to evolutionary state of Homo sapiens when they become aware of their privacy, which is commonly depicted in cartoons as cavemen covered in loin cloths and furs. Humans are the only species on earth who are cognizant of their physical ‘nakedness’ and by culture and their own made social laws cover their private parts.

The fig leaves in the garden of earthly abode that helped early humans cover their shortcomings, their mistakes, symbolize the first of the formal scriptures that were revealed for guidance of mankind and Quran refer to it and series of other similar symbols after it:

95:1. I call to witness (four periods of human evolution including) the Fig (symbolic of the era of Adam when the foundations of the human civilization were laid), and the Olive (that of Noah, the founder of sharî`at),

95:2. And Mount Sinai (that of Moses when the details of the Sharî`at were revealed),

95:3. And this Town of security (of Makkah where with the advent of the Prophet Muhammad, the divine law was perfected and finalized),50

Quran, in its own words, is a cover for the moral shame of a spiritually void and exposed humanity, and restores the moral dignity:

7:26. O Children of Adam! We have given you a raiment that covers your nakedness and is a source of (your) elegance and protection. Yet the raiment that guards against evils [–the Quran], that is the best (of robes). That is one of the commandments of Allâh so that they may attain eminence.51

While divine guidance covers the spiritual nakedness and restores dignity, it is the satanic tendencies that remove the spirituality and expose the humanity, both metaphorically and literally:

7:27. O Children of Adam! do not let satan put you in trouble (in the same way) as he turned your parents out of the garden, stripping them of their raiment (of innocence) with the result that their shortcomings were made manifest to them both. Verily, he (- satan) sees you, he and his tribe, in such a way as you see them not. Verily, We have made satans friends of those who do not believe.

7:28. And when they (- the disbelievers) commit an act of indecency, they say, `We found our forefathers (practising) on it, and it is Allâh Who has enjoined it upon us.' Say, `Surely, Allâh never enjoins indecencies. Do you attribute to Allâh what you do not know (that it is from Him).'52

7:23. Both of them said, `Our Lord! we have done injustice to our souls, and if You do not protect us (against the consequences of our faults) and do not have mercy on us, we shall surely be of the losers.'

7:24. (God) said, `Get down (from this land). Some of you are (indeed) enemies of others, and there will be for you on this earth a habitation and (enjoyment of) provision for a while.'

7:25. And (He added), `In this (very universe) you shall live and therein you shall die and from it you shall be brought forth (in the Hereafter).'

In summary these verses, 7:23-25, are story of humankind, told in a parable, that abounds in human mistakes, remorse, moral degradations, while heading towards afterlife.

Rest of the Story: Considering the discussion so far, the following sets of verses 17:61-65, 18:50-51 and 20:115-124 are self-explanatory as an extension of parable of Adam.

Verses 17:61-6553

17:61. And (recall the time) when We said to the angels, `Submit to Adam!' Then they all submitted. But Iblîs (who too was told to do the same, did not), he said, `Shall I submit to one whom You have created out of clay?'

17:62. And he added, `What do You think? This is he whom You have honoured and placed above me. If You grant me respite till the Day of Resurrection, I will most certainly bring his progeny under my sway, having overpowered them, I shall destroy them for sure, except a few.'

17:63. `Be gone!' said He; `As for those of them who follow you, Gehenna is the recompense of you all, an ample recompense.

17:64. `And beguile whomsoever of them you can with your speech and rally your horsemen against them, and your foot men (- fast riders and slow walkers in disobedience, with all your might) and share with them their wealth and children and hold out promises to them (what you like).' Indeed, satan promises them nothing but mere fraud.

17:65. `As to My true servants, you shall have certainly no authority over them. And sufficient is your Lord as Disposer of affairs.'

Verses 18:50-5154

18:50. And (recall the time) when We said to the angels, `Submit to Adam.' So they all submitted (bowing), but Iblîs (did not); he was one of the jinn, he disobeyed the command of his Lord. (People!) would you (then) take him and his progeny (and cohorts) for friends rather than Me while they are your enemies? How evil is the substitute (of God) the unjust have chosen!

18:51. I did not call them (- Iblîs and his cohorts) to make them witness and to help at (the time of) the creation of the heavens and the earth nor at (the time of) their own creation. I would never take those who lead (others) astray for (My) helpers.

Verses 20:115-12455

20:115. We had given a stern command to Adam before this but he forgot; and We found no resolve on his part (to disobey Us).

20:116. And (recall the time) when We said to the angels, `Make obeisance to Adam (and his sons).' They (all) made obeisance, but Iblîs (did not), he refused (to submit).

20:117. At this We said, `Adam! surely this fellow is an enemy to you and to your wife. Take care that he does not turn you both out of the garden (of earthly bliss) lest you fall into trouble.

20:118. `It is (provided) for you that here you shall not feel hunger, nor shall you go naked,

20:119. `And that here you shall feel no thirst nor will you be exposed to the sun.'

20:120. But satan made an evil suggestion to him. He said, `Adam! shall I direct you to the tree which leads to eternal life and a kingdom which never decays.

20:121. So they (Adam and his wife) ate from that (tree), so that their shortcomings became unveiled to them and they began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden. Adam did not observe the commandment of his Lord, so he became miserable.

20:122. Then (it came to pass that) his Lord chose him (for His benedictions) and turned to him with mercy and guided (him) to the right path.

20:123. (The Lord) said, `Go hence! both parties one and all, you being enemies one to another. There shall most certainly come to you guidance from Me, (bear in mind the law that) he who follows My guidance shall not be lost, nor shall he be unhappy.

20:124. `But he who turns away from My remembrance, he shall surely lead a straitened life. And (what is more,) We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection.'


1 History of the Prophets: by Maulana Muhammad Ali – As Narrated in the Holy Quran, Compared with the Bible. http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/mali/historyprophets/historyprophets.shtml
2 Genesis 2:4-3:24 – New International Version (NIV). https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+2%3A4-3%3A24
3 Al-Mâ'idah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
4 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
5 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
7 Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
8 Al-Talaq – The Divorce: Nooruddin
9 Al-Ra`d – The Thunder: Nooruddin
10 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
11 Al-Rahman – The Beneficent: Shabbir Ahmed
12 Al-Insân – The Human Being: Nooruddin
13 Al-Wâqi`ah – The Great Event: Nooruddin
14 Qala – “He said” is the use of figurative speech to describe an event or a state of affairs without there being any actual speech or dialogue in any human language. This linguistic device may allow even inanimate object to “speak” e.g. “When the tank was full, it said to stop!” It may also be used to convey that which is not spoken in words, but in motions or actions, or in situation in which logical argument is to be presented. The poet writes “Her two eyes said: We listen and we obey.” – excerpted from Exegesis of The Holy Quran, Commentary and Reflections, Explained by Nooruddin. p. 339, 1st edition 2015.
15 Al-Talaq – The Divorce: Nooruddin
16 Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
17 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
18 Al-Furqân – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
19 Ibrâhîm – Abraham: Nooruddin
20 Sâd – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
21 Yûnus – Jonah: Nooruddin
22 Al-Rahmân – The Most Gracious: Nooruddin
23 Al-`Alaq – The Clot: Muhammad Ali, Zahid Aziz
24 Al-`Alaq – The Clot: Muhammad Ali, Zahid Aziz
25 Al-`Alaq – The Clot: Nooruddin
26 Al-Insân – The Human Being: Nooruddin
27 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
28 Fussilat – Detailed and Clear in Exposition: Nooruddin
29 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
30 Al-Ra`d – The Thunder: Nooruddin
31 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
32 Tâ Hâ – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
33 “gravely disabled” means an inability to provide for his or her basic personal needs for food, clothing, or shelter. HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE – HSC DIVISION 2.5. EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES [1797 – 1799.207] ( Division 2.5 added by Stats. 1980, Ch. 1260. )
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=HSC&sectionNum=1799.111.
34 Ibrahim – Abraham:
35 Al-Waqiah – The Great Event: Nooruddin
36 Luqman – Luqman: Muhammad Ali
37 Isrâ – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
38 Al-Anfal – The Spoils of War: Nooruddin
39 Al-Mâ'idah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
40 Al-A`râf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
41 Al-A’raaf – The Heights of Discernment: Shabbir Ahmed
42 Al-A`râf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
43 Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin
44 Al-Adiyat – The Chargers: Nooruddin
45 Al-Rahman – The Most Gracious: Nooruddin
46 Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
47 Al-Sâffât – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
48 Al-Anbiya – The Prophets: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
49 Al-Furqân – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
50 Al-Tîn – The Fig: Nooruddin
51 Al-A`râf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
52 Al-A`râf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
53 Isrâ' – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
54 Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
55 Tâ Hâ – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
 

The Triad of Death, Heaven and Hell – All in a Day’s Work

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

The Triad of Death, Heaven and Hell – All in a Day’s Work – a Living Experience and Self-Diagnosis

29:64. The life of this world is nothing but futile and frivolous and the abode of the Hereafter is the real life (being eternal). If they but knew (they would have paid heed).1

The verse 29:64, by stating – If they but knew, puts all the conjectures to rest and shifts the burden to explain the next life squarely on Qur’ân itself. In common understanding the Heaven and Hell come into existence only in the Hereafter. Not so in Qur’ân. Qur’ân gives us an understanding of the principles and experiences of Death, Heaven and Hell in this very life. According to Qur’ân each of the three, the death, the heaven and hell are daily human experiences. The understanding these esoteric concepts comes fundamentally from personal experiences that are referred to by the Quran. Once one begins to understand these simple analogies, one can develop ‘blind faith’ in the manner of a child who has blind faith in the ever present love of his mother. Qur’ân is replete with metaphors and similitudes for its prophecies because prophecies are about the future and future can only be visualized through the lens of the present. For example, humans wished to fly and in The Arabian Nights one finds flying carpets. Same applies to the similes for death, heaven and in hell in Qur’ân. Qur’ân also gives us self-diagnostic tests to identify if one is already in a state of heaven or hell, and in doing so it steers one away from a fool’s paradise.

The common thread between the here and hereafter is our deeds in the here. It is important to understand the role of deeds in the here before one understands the concept of heaven and hell. According to Qur’ân, our physicality is merely an instrument to do deeds:

28:88. … Everything is liable to perish but those (righteous deeds) by means of which you seek His attention…2

These deeds are not only preserved in history, but also into the hereafter.

36:12. Surely, it is We alone Who raise the dead to life. And We shall preserve (their noble deeds) which they send forward and their prints (of virtue and knowledge which they leave behind for others to emulate). Everything We have comprehensively preserved in a clear record.3

83:6-9. The Day when people 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). 4

83:18-20. Behold! verily the record (of the righteous deeds) of the virtuous will be in `Illîyyîn (- the register of those enjoying the most exalted ranks). And what should make you know what `Illîyyûn is? It is a book (distinctly and comprehensively) written 5

Life for life is replaced with another member of species in the here, whereas, the identity of here is preserved into the hereafter in which physicality will evolve into spirituality:

56:59-62. Is it you that create it yourselves, or are We the Creator (of it)? It is We that have ordained death for all of you. And We cannot be stopped from (it), From replacing you with beings similar to you, (or from) evolving you into a form which is unknown to you (at present). And you certainly know of the first evolution. Then, why do you not reflect?6

75:3-4. Does a human-being think that We will not assemble his bones? (We will indeed.) No doubt, We have the power to reproduce him to a complete form even to the very tips of his fingers.7

Just like carbon atoms that form the infrastructure of life in the here, it is the deeds from the here that form the basis of our spiritual identities in the hereafter, consisting of ‘light’ or ‘fire’ representing the elevated and debased respectively:

57:12. (Think of) the day when you will see the believing men and the believing women that their (faith having become a torch of) light is advancing rapidly in front of them and on their right sides. (It will be said to them,) `Glad tidings to you this day. (There await you) Gardens (of Paradise) served with running streams.' (The recipients of glad tidings) will abide therein (forever). This indeed is a mighty achievement!8

14:50. Pitch will form their raiments and the fire shall envelop their faces;9

It is also a no brainer that sooner or later, the physicality of present life fails us:

29:57. Every living being shall encounter death, then you shall be made to return to Us.10

Verse 29:57 is a human experience in which every living being faces its physical death followed by recycling into next cycle of life, physical life for an atheist and spiritual life for a theist. Just as unwanted foliage recycles into dirt or into ashes by prairie fires by lightning strikes, so does human body by its burial into dirt or burning in an incinerator. With every physical death the soil becomes fertile for next generation to sprout forth. Previous generations have to give way to newer generations for fresher ideas to emerge:

29:19. Out of the dead He brings forth the living and out of the living He brings forth the dead. And He gives life to the earth (making it look green and flourishing) after its death. That is how you shall be raised (to life from the state of death).11

Handling of death in any household is quite similar to recycling truck picking up unwanted items from our door steps. Physical death is quite a poignant moment and a moment to self-reflect. Ounce for ounce, the deceased has not been lost, but for sure something has been lost for the survivors, who ironically while mourning, do not take long to get rid of the useless body, a useless instrument that cannot do any more deeds, and dispose it either into dirt or incinerate it away like any waste. It is only the deeds of the deceased that survive and are recounted in the memorials and that too only if they are righteous, else no one bothers to lay wreaths and hold memorial services for Korahs, Pharaohs, Mussolinis, Hitlers, Stalins, Saddams and Qaddafis – Everything is liable to perish but those (righteous deeds) by means of which you seek His attention (28:88).

According to Qur’ân, the full spectrum of life is not bracketed between birth and death as commonly understood, but, extends beyond present life into afterlife, where one literally, as most obituaries state, “meets one’s Maker”:12

32:7. Who made perfectly well all that He created. And He originated the creation of a human being from clay.

32:8. Then He created his seed from an extract of an insignificant fluid (derived by his consuming food produced from clay or soil).

32:9. Then He endowed him with perfect faculties (of head and heart in accordance with what he is meant to be) and breathed into him of His spirit (thus made him the recipient of the Divine word). And He has given you hearing, eyes and hearts. Yet little are the thanks you give.

32:10. And they say, `Shall we really be (raised to life as) a new creation when we are lost in the earth (after being buried in it)?' The truth is that they are disbelievers in the meeting with their Lord (that is why they are talking like this).

32:11. Say, `The angel of death who has been put in charge of you will carry your soul off, then to your Lord you will be made to return.'13

In a spiritual sense, just like physical life, the heavenly water, inspiration, is needed to push the latency of life from its death into the threshold of life, both in the here and hereafter:

29:63. And if you question them, `Who rains water from the clouds and thereby breathes life into the earth after its death (making it fertile and green)?' They will certainly say, `Allâh.' Say, `All sorts of perfect and true praise belongs to Allâh.' Yet most of them do not make use of their understanding.14

To a casual reader the transition of human body from life into death is easily understood. But, it is the afterlife that baffles most. Death is the threshold where the factuality of life transitions into theories of afterlife about which countless conjectures abound in history, theology and mythology. For example, the pharaoh’s made sure that they used state machinery for the travel of the king into next life by underground river voyage. Historically, the theologies theorized and then the artist depicted the imaginative hell and heaven, all of which can be seen by any tourist to Vatican by gazing skywards on to the domes above. Some of imbecilic minds take the depictions of heaven and its bounties outlined in writings, preaching from the pulpits or murals in a literal sense and then race to ‘martyrdom’ by self-annihilation while annihilating the victims into a perceived hell.

Death – Qur’ân tells us that the death and resurrection are actual living experiences. It states:

39:42. Allâh takes away the souls (of human being) at the time of their death and (also) of those who are not (yet) dead during their sleep. He detains (the souls of) those against whom He passes the verdict of death and sends (back those of) others till a fixed period of time. There are signs in this for a people who would reflect.15

Interestingly, if for any reason one does not face the daily ‘death’ of sleep to one’s satisfaction, soon that person might be opening up one’s wallet and is willing to pay only to get the ‘death’ in exchange. In search of the metaphorical death, that person might be found scouring the displays of a mattress company for a comfortable bed, browsing the internet for a soothing music, signing up for a yoga class for self-relaxation, scanning the shelves of the pharmacy for a remedy or waiting in line for a doctor to get a prescription only to experience the ‘daily’ death in its full galore. By nature, and metaphorically speaking, one runs to death rather than away from it. Running away from the ‘death’ is a sign of mental pathology, mania. For the first time reader of Qur’ân, the juxtaposition of sleep and death might seem poles apart. But, once one develops the understanding about this relationship, over time one internalizes this fact and this relationship sinks into one’s psyche and the death becomes part of one’s life, nightly on a temporary basis to refresh, at the end of life on a permanent basis – the final rest and refresh.

In another place Qur’ân explains the similitude of sleep and death further:

25:47. It is He Who has made the night as a covering mantle for you and (Who has made) sleep for (a short) rest (as well as a sign of eternal rest – the death), and (has made) the day for rising up and going about (to seek livelihood and also a sign of Resurrection).16

After a physical death takes hold, the hereafter starts for the deceased. Qur’ân refers to this transition as follows:

30;50. Look, therefore, at the evidences of Allâh's mercy! how He breathes life into the earth (making it green and flourishing) after its (state of) death. Surely, He (it is), the same (God), Who will raise the dead to life (in the Hereafter), for He is the Possessor of power over every desired thing.17

Whether one is an atheist or a believer, death is inevitability. For an atheist, the death is the end all of everything, whereas for a believer, it is the beginning of the eternity and the present life a mere stepping stone. Clearly the believer is at an advantage over an atheist, not only in the apparent hypothesis of afterlife, but, fact of the matter is that concept of hereafter is a must for a balanced present life. Those of us, who learnt to ride bicycle as kids, know very well that they learnt to balance faster when they fixed their gaze into distance rather than looking down into their pedals. Metaphorically speaking, if one’s goals are into the distance of future, the mundane daily stressors are no more than ignorable potholes and pebbles in one’s path. Looking beyond horizon of current life is the ultimate stabilizer for the emotional and physical turmoil of the present life. Concept and belief of the eternal hereafter is pivotal to distract away from and ultimately tame one’s inner beast that essentially lurks in the here and now only.

Heaven – Astronomical truth, as currently accepted, leaves no room for a geographical Heaven.18 According to Qur’ân and then as explained by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Heaven and Hell have no physical dimensions:

3:133. Wing your way to the protection of your Lord and to the Paradise whose expanse is as (vast as) the heavens and the earth. It is prepared for those who become secure against evil;19

57:21. (Mankind!) advance quickly, outstripping one another, towards the protection from your Lord and (towards) a Garden the extensiveness of which is (beyond measure) as the extensiveness of the heaven and the earth. It has been prepared for those who believe in Allâh and His Messengers; that (protection) is Allâh's grace and bounty. He grants it to such of those who wish to attain it (and strive for it). Allâh is the Lord of immense grace and bounty.20

…we have a reliable tradition on record that a messenger of Heracleus [Byzantine Emperor, born c. 575 – died February 11, 64121] asked the Prophet, “If the paradise were as extensive as the heavens and the earth, where would be hell?” “He replied, “Glory be to Allah, where is the night when the day comes?” The verse and the incident recorded clearly show that heaven and hell are not the names of two places, but actually two conditions, because if paradise were the name of a particular place, hell could not exist, as paradise would then extend over the whole of the space. This conclusively gives us a rational view of “heaven,” and is confirmed fully by the trend of modern thought which rejects the conception of the “geographical heaven” as primitive and irrational. Is not Modernism then indebted to the Qur’ân?22

Heaven and Hell in Qur’ân are metaphorical constructs understood by allegorical references to the present life experiences. While understanding these concepts the limitations are in our imagination which is time and space bound. The Heaven and Hell as described in Qur’ân are more of a state than a space or a place:

32:17. And no soul knows what (comforts) lie hidden for them (–the believers in the form) of a joy to the eyes as a reward for their righteous deeds.23

The nature of the Qur’ânic Paradise has been widely misunderstood. It has often been depicted as sensual; but in fact, there can be no paradise imagined which is not sensual, because man can entertain no idea except through the medium of his senses. Human mind is, therefore, forced to interpret the spiritual phenomena in the ultimate terms of concrete, material objects. Hence the necessity of “free use of symbols taken from space and time,” for a description in human language of life on a non-material plane is quite obvious. This is at least the verdict of Psychology. The Qur’ân anticipates all these limitations of the human mind and describes all the spiritual phenomena with a picturesque imagery peculiar to itself… Thus the description of paradise in such terms as a delightful garden full of running streams of transparent water is as much appealing to a desert Arab as to a cultured westerner and is merely symbolic.24

It would be a tall order if Qur’ân promised the idea of Heaven for which one has to die first to experience it. On the contrary, according to Qur’ân, the sampler of heaven is experienced in this very life and is exemplified as:

2:25. And give good tidings to those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, that there await them gardens from beneath which the streams flow. Every time they are given any kind of fruit from them (– the gardens) to eat, they will say, `This is the same we were given before.' They will be given it (– the fruit) in perfect semblance (to their deeds). They shall have therein companions purified (spiritually and physically), and will abide therein for ever.[emphasis added]25

Thus, in light of verse 2:25, the experience of heaven starts in this very life. The key phrase – This is the same we were given before, points as clear as daylight that Heaven starts in this very world.

The bliss of heavenly state in the Here and Hereafter is further mentioned as:

55:46. There are two Gardens (of bliss here and the Hereafter) for such as fear (the time) when they will stand before (the judgment seat of) your Lord (to account for their deeds).

55:47. Which of the benefactions of your Lord will you twain, then, deny?

55:48. Both (the Gardens of Paradise) are abounding in varieties (of trees and rich greenery accompanied with delightful comforts).26

The metaphorical design of the heavenly abode is described as:

88:10. (They will live) in a sublime Garden,

88:11. Wherein you will hear no vain talk.

88:12. It shall have a running spring,

88:13. It shall have thrones raised high,

88:14. And goblets properly set,

88:15. And cushions (beautifully) ranged in rows,

88:16. And velvety carpets (tastefully) spread.27

Heavenly state as contrasted to hell is described as:

47:15. (Here is) a description of the Garden promised to those who guard against evil. Therein are streams of water (which is) unstaling, and streams of milk the taste and flavour of which does not change, and streams of juice extracted from grapes, a delight to the drinkers, and streams (too) of clarified honey, and they will have in it all kinds of fruit, and (a provision of) protection from their Lord. Can (those who enjoy such blessings of this Garden) be like those who shall abide in the Fire for long and who will be given boiling water to drink so that it tears their bowels into pieces.28

All in a day’s work in a heavenly state:

76:11. So Allâh will guard them from the evil of that day and will bestow on them cheerfulness (of face) and happiness (of mind).

76:12. And will reward them for their having persevered, with (a blissful) Garden (to live in) and silk (to wear).

76:13. (They shall be) reclining on raised couches. They shall experience therein neither excessive heat of the sun nor intense cold.

76:14. There shall be spreading close over them the shades of it (– the Garden full of trees), and their clustered fruit brought low within their easy reach.

76:15. They shall be served round in vessels of silver and goblets of crystal,

76:16. (Looking) crystal clear (but made) of silver, made in special mold determined (by the agents of the Lord of judgment and measure).

76:17. And therein they shall be given to drink a cup which is tempered with ginger (a symbol of strength),

76:18. (Which flows from) a spring therein called Salsabîl (– inquire about the way).

19. Sons of perpetual bloom shall go round (waiting upon) them. When you see them you will take them to be pearls scattered about.

76:20. When you look (considering the Garden as a whole) you will find therein blessings abounding everywhere and (all the equipment of) a splendid kingdom.

76:21. Over them shall be robes of fine green silk and of thick brocade, and they shall be given bracelets of silver as ornaments. And their Lord shall give them to drink a purifying beverage.

76:22. (It will be said,) `This is indeed a reward for you, and your striving has been fully appreciated.'29

Subjective experience of such a heavenly state is summarized as follows:

15:45. `Surely, those who guard against evil and are dutiful (to Me and mankind) shall live amidst gardens and fountains.

15:46. `(It will be said to them,) "Enter therein (to live) in peace (and be) secure"‘.

15:47. And We shall remove every vestige of rancour that may be in their hearts. They will be like brothers (seated cheerfully) on raised couches (of happiness), face to face.

15:48. They shall suffer no fatigue, nor shall they ever be ejected from there.30

Apparently, there will be no boredom therein:

18:108. Wherein they shall abide forever, having no desire to be removed from there.31

As to how long this heavenly state will last?

43:71. (Then it will so happen that) there they will be served in a round with bowls of gold and drinking cups and there, (in Paradise) will be (present) all that (their) souls desire and (their) eyes find delight in. And you will be abiding therein forever.32

For a contemporary mind the allegory of heaven is that of a perpetual, all expenses paid vacation, except that it is a reward earned though righteousness and not by chance or quick wit on a sponsored game show. To win a seat in heaven is an equal opportunity moment for all based on individual performance in this life alone, regardless of any civil liberty issues:

By obvious analogy, the principle of a "comparison through allegory" applied in the Qur'ãn to all references to paradise – i.e., a state of unimaginable happiness in afterlife – must be extended to all descriptions of otherworldly suffering – i.e., hell – in respect of its utter dissimilarity from all earthly experiences as well as its immeasurable intensity. In both cases the descriptive method of the Qur'ãn is the same. We are told, as it were: "Imagine the most joyous sensations, bodily as well as emotional, accessible to man: indescribable beauty, love physical and spiritual, consciousness of fulfillment, perfect peace and harmony; and imagine these sensations intensified beyond anything imaginable in this world – and at the same time entirely different from anything imaginable: and you have an inkling, however vague, of what is meant by 'paradise'." And, on the other hand: "Imagine the greatest suffering, bodily as well as spiritual, which man may experience: burning by fire, utter loneliness and bitter desolation, the torment of unceasing frustration, a condition of neither living nor dying; and imagine this pain, this darkness and this despair intensified beyond anything imaginable in this world – and at the same time entirely different from anything imaginable: and you will know, however vaguely, what is meant by 'hell'."33

Heavenly state – a self-diagnosis: The pivotal signs of heavenly state are elucidated in the following verses:

15:45. `Surely, those who guard against evil and are dutiful (to Me and mankind) shall live amidst gardens and fountains.

15:46. `(It will be said to them,) "Enter therein (to live) in peace (and be) secure".'

15:47. And We shall remove every vestige of rancour that may be in their hearts. They will be like brothers (seated cheerfully) on raised couches (of happiness), face to face.

15:48. They shall suffer no fatigue, nor shall they ever be ejected from there.34

 

10:62. Behold! the friends of Allâh, neither fear shall overwhelm them, nor shall they (ever) remain in grief.

10:63. (It is) those who believed and ever kept on guarding against evil.

10:64. They shall have glad tidings (for they commune with their Lord) in the present life and (also) in the Hereafter. There is no changing the words of Allâh; that indeed is the supreme achievement.35

In light of the above sets of verses, at any time, one can self-access one’s degree of heavenly state. Just as the vital signs of pulse, temperature, blood pressure and weight point to degree of one’s health or lack thereof, the level of one’s lack of peace and security and presence of rancor, fatigue, fear or anxiety and grief or depression point to degree of lack of heavenly state for a person in this very life and on any given day.

In all this discussion of Heaven, Qur’ân assures the Heaven dweller the ultimate prize, their commune with Allah – They shall have glad tidings (for they commune with their Lord) in the present life and (also) in the Hereafter. Since God in Qur’ân is limitless, beyond metaphor, thus this commune with Allah is a pointer to limitless spiritual progress for a heaven dweller, both in the Here and the Hereafter.

Hell – Just as bliss of heaven, the torment of hell too is experienced in this very life. According to Qur’ân, before being exposed to the actual Hell there are warning shots across the bow in the present life for those who are hell bound:

32:21. And of course We will let them suffer the minor and nearer punishment before the greater punishment befalls them so that they may turn to Us (in repentance).36

Since the hell is generally perceived to follow the final hour, the prevailing state of the (final) Hour is outlined in Qur’ân:

22:1. O people! take your Lord as a shield (for) as a matter of fact the shock of the Hour is a tremendously dreadful thing;

22:2. On the day you behold it, you will find every woman giving suck abandoning (even) her suckling (in the confusion), and every pregnant one miscarrying, and people will appear to you to be drunk while they are not actually drunk; the punishment of Allâh will be (so) severe (that it will leave people in a terrible state of horror and dread).37

As to what the torment of Hell is, Qur’ân gives a metaphorical explanation:

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.38

47:15. … Can (those who enjoy such blessings of this Garden) be like those who shall abide in the Fire for long and who will be given boiling water to drink so that it tears their bowels into pieces.39

20:74. Verily, he who comes to his Lord in a state of sin, he will surely be consigned to Gehenna, where he shall neither die nor live.40

Both Fire and boiling water have the property of intense heat. Thus the extent of the heat can be a metaphor for that common intense feeling of “living in burning hell” or “gut wrenching” mental anguish without physically experiencing the heat. Linguistically, the Heart is the seat of emotions. It can, therefore, be reasonably implied that the Fire of crushing torment or crushing torment like Fire is a metaphor for a state of persisting misery, loneliness, hopelessness, despair and restlessness; common, yet excruciating human emotions.

If Hell’s Fire and boiling water are similar to their earthly counterparts in their physical properties, then their ferocity (104:5-9, 47:15) should result in a sudden death under the laws of Allah because:

35:42. …And you will find no change in that law of Allâh, nor will you ever find the law of Allâh shifting from its course41

Verse 47:15 prophesizes a long punishment of continuous burning (which is an impossibility if taken literally) and if Allah does not change His Laws as affirmed in verse 35:42, then it would appear to be a contradiction. Thus, we do not have a choice, but to take the fire in verses 104:5-9 and 47:15 metaphorically and only then 20:74 the state of neither death nor life can exist. Of course, this begs the question whether the Laws of Physics as we know them would still apply in Hell or if a new set of laws would take effect. The derived interpretation of a metaphor can change with time as human experience. Perhaps the reader can expound this concept further or differently.

51:12. They ask, `When will the Day of Requital be?'

51:13. (Say), `It shall be a day when they will be tormented at the Fire.'

51:14. (It will be said to them), `Taste your torment. This is what you used to ask to be hastened.'42

Thus the Fire is concurrent with or subsequent to the Day of Requital. The next natural goose chase for the mind is – “when is that Day of Requital?”

101:1. The Disastrous Rattling (of this life as seen in warfare is sure to visit the world).

101:2. How very terrible is the Disastrous Rattling!

101:3. What should make you know how very severe and destructive the Disastrous Rattling is!

101:4. On that day people shall be (in great confusion and distress) like moths scattered,

101:5. And the mountains shall look like carded wool.43

One of the signs of the Day of Requital is Disastrous Rattling which will be terrible, severe and destructive to the extent that mountains will be like limp and fluffed up carded wool and that there will be great confusion in the land. Would the Rattling be physical like global earth quakes, nuclear infernos or celestial collisions or metaphorical as in the mountain like empires of the British, Nazis, Soviets or Lehman Brothers that ended up like carded wool, leaving behind great confusion? Or would it be in the hereafter, the example of which is metaphorically given so that we may understand it with our earthly analogies? Still, “what is the purpose of Hell and if so, then how long is the stay therein?”

2:81. The truth is that, those who do evil and who are encompassed by their sins, are the inmates of the Fire and therein they shall abide for long.

2:82. But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, it is they who are the owners of Paradise, therein they shall abide forever.[emphasis added]44

From the above verses, Qur’ân is at least clear about the impermanence of hell (i.e. long) and permanence of heaven (i.e. forever). As for the utility of hell and conditions for exit from it, Qur’ân has this to say:

101:8. But as for the person whose scales (of good deeds) are light (and of no account),

101:9. The abyss (– Gehenna) shall then be a (nursing) mother to him (until the souls are completely cleansed of the taint of sin and they are reborn).

101:10. Ah! what should make you know what that (abyss) is!

101:11. It is a blazing Fire (for burning out all the dross that people collect by leading a sinful life in this world).45

Thus the nature of Hell is like a bottomless abyss of blazing Fire. In one’s life earthly fire can be quite useful. Heat furnace is at the very basis of human progress – whether it is steel manufacturing or baking of bread or the autoclave that sterilizes the surgical instruments. Implicitly, Hell will act like the lap of a nursing mother for a child who is sick and will not let go of the child until he attains to full health. Then it maybe, after all, that the Hell is not too bad nor is it eternal. Obviously that function of Hell is to cleanse the moral and spiritual dross, and once the souls are purified the function of the Hell ends. Thereafter, the reborn souls have nowhere to go but to Heaven via the allegorical gateway in the wall that initially separated the dwellers of the Hell from the residents of Heaven, a separation indicated below:

57:13. That day the hypocritical men and hypocritical women will say to those who believe, `Wait for us so that we might obtain some illumination from your (this) light’. It will be said to them, `Go back (if you can) and seek for light’. Then a wall with a gateway will be set up separating them (and the believers). The inside of it will be all mercy (where the righteous have to go) and the outside of it shall be facing torment (where the hypocrites have to stay)46

A wall with a gateway clearly alludes to the possibility of entry into heaven from hell via a gateway; otherwise there is no point in mentioning gateway. Instead, it would have been more appropriate to setup a wall end-to-end.

The Last Day is still an enigma for a believing mind because it becomes a faith in the unknown. Due to its intense allegorical connotation, the ultimate personal understanding and imagery of the Last Day is more subjective than objective in nature. Logically it is a leap of faith since its nuance can be more easily internalized than externalized. Still the question remains, is Hell physical or emotional or both; in this world or the next? Whatever it maybe, it sure is Hell!

Hellish state – a self-diagnosis: The construct of hell is premised on a mind that is hell-bent. Such a mind is identified in Qur’ân as:

17:72. But whoever remained (spiritually) blind in this world shall also be blind in the Hereafter. Rather he will be even farther removed from the right path.

This verse identifies the core attribute of Hell which is blindness from truth and logic and we know blindness is an attribute of this very life. Hence, Hell also starts in this very world. The moral blindness that Qur’ân refers to is essentially a self-earned ignorance:

2:6. As for those who are bent upon denying (the truth), they would not believe, because it is all the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them.

2:7. (With the result that) Allâh has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and on their eyes is a covering. And a mighty punishment awaits them.47

The next logical question is how to identify whether one is spiritually blind. Qur’ân gives us an easy self-diagnostic method, which is as simple as looking into one’s own nature:

30:30. So pay your whole-hearted attention to (the cause of) faith as one devoted (to pure faith), turning away from all that is false. (And follow) the Faith of Allâh (-Islam) to suit the requirements of which He has made the nature of humankind. There can be no change in the nature (of creation) which Allâh has made. That is the right and most perfect Faith, yet most people do not know (it).

Just like any corrective lens which is used to restore 20/20 vision, so does the above verse 30/30 restores the moral vision of a person. Anything or an idea which is contrary to human nature is neither in the teachings of Qur’ân, nor is part of Islam or Sunnah. For example, someone might justify one’s anger because it is part of his/her nature, but when similar anger is unloaded by someone else on that person, then it is rejected by its earlier advocate, who then finds anger unnatural. Someone might justify beating of one’s wife by referring to misinterpreted Qur’ân, but chances are that such a person will not accept it as normal for his daughter to be beaten by his son-in-law. It might feel fruitful to take gains of usury, but same usury will be a source of deep anguish for a person or a family when given away in payouts. Thus, in light of verse 30:30 it can be safely stated that anger, hate, prejudice, usury, exploitation etc. are not part of human nature but are part of spectrum of blindness that one dons on oneself that verses 2:6-7 above refer to. One can always use verse 30:30 as a litmus test to determine one’s moral blindness and by implication the hellish state in this very life:

32:21. And of course We will let them suffer the minor and nearer punishment before the greater punishment befalls them so that they may turn to Us (in repentance).48

Conclusion – Even though the metaphorical connotations in Qur’ân for death, heaven and hell are self-explanatory, but those interpreting these constructs literally, will never be able to reconcile. For those Muhammad Iqbal, an Urdu poet, considered Dante of the East, has this to say about here and hereafter:

Khudaaya meri qudrat meh nah yeh dunya nah woh dunya

God! none fits my nature; neither here, neither hereafter

Yahaan marney key pabandee, wahan jeenay key pabandee

(the mere idea that) Death is binding here; whilst eternity there

To recap:

30:40. It is Allâh Who has created you, then He provides for you, then He will call you to death, (and) then He will bring you to life. 49

30:50. Look, therefore, at the evidences of Allâh's mercy! how He breathes life into the earth (making it green and flourishing) after its (state of) death. Surely, He (it is), the same (God), Who will raise the dead to life (in the Hereafter), for He is the Possessor of power over every desired thing.50

 


1 Al-`Ankabût – The Spider: Nooruddin
2 Al-Qasas – The Narrative: Nooruddin
3 Ya Sin – O Perfect Man! – Nooruddin
4 Al-Mutaffifîn – The Defaulters in Duty: Nooruddin
5 Al-Mutaffifîn – The Defaulters in Duty: Nooruddin
6 Al-Waqiah – The Great Event: Nooruddin
7 Al-Qiyamah – The Resurrection: Nooruddin
8 Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
9 Ibrahim – Abraham: Nooruddin
10 Al-`Ankabût – The Spider: Nooruddin
11 Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
13 Al-Sajdah – The Prostration: Nooruddin
14 Al-`Ankabût – The Spider: Nooruddin
15 Al-Zumar – The Multitudes: Noorddin
16 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
17 Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
18 Hints to Study of the Quran, by Khwaja Kamal-ud-din, Islamic Review and Muslim India, Vol. XVIII, No. 3 & 4, March – April 1930, p. 93, The Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, The Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, England
19 Al-Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
20 Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
22 Dean Inge’s Homage to Muhammad, by S. Hamid Raza B.A. (Alig), p. 322, Sept & Dec, 1934, The Muslim Revival, Ahmadiyya Buildings Lahore (India)
23 Al-Sajdah – The Prostration: Nooruddin
24 Dean Inge’s Homage to Muhammad, by S. Hamid Raza B.A. (Alig), p. 322, Vol. III, Nos 3 & 4, Sept & Dec. 1934, The Muslim Revival, Ahmadiyya Buildings Lahore (India)
25Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
26 Al-Rahman – The Most Gracious: Nooruddin
27 Al-Ghâshiyah – The Overwhelming Event: Nooruddin
28 Muhammad – Muhammad: Nooruddin
29 Al-Insan – The Human Being: Nooruddin
30 Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
31 Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
32 Al-Zukhruf – The Ornaments: Nooruddin
33 “Appendix 1: Symbolism and Allegory In The Qur'an” – The Message of the Quran by Muhammad Asad, Copyright 1980, Dar al-Andalus, Gibraltar
34 Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
35 Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
36 Al-Sajdah – The Prostration: Nooruddin
37 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
38 Al-Humazah – The Slanderer: Nooruddin
39 Muhammad – Muhammad: Nooruddin
40 Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
41 Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
42 Al-Dhâriyât – The Scatterers: Nooruddin
43 Al-Qariah – The Disastrous Rattling: Nooruddin
44 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
45 Al-Qariah – The Disastrous Rattling: Nooruddin
46 Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
47 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
48 Al-Sajdah – The Prostration: Nooruddin
49 Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin
50 Al-Rum – The Byzantines: Nooruddin

‘Apes and Swine’ – Metamorphosis of Jewish or Metaphorical change of Islam into Judaism?

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

'Apes and Swine' – Metamorphosis of Jewish or Metaphorical change of Islam into Judaism?

Although the Quranic verses that contain the analogy of ‘apes and swine’ should have been self-explanatory, the Middle Eastern politics has somehow catapulted it to the very forefront of theological mud-slinging. The victims of Israeli occupation use it to vent against the occupiers.1 Their sentiments may be understandable, but the distortion of the Quranic verses is not acceptable. This distorted interpretation gives the Islam haters more ammunition against Muslims2 and the Muslims use it to ridicule the Jewish people, one and all.

This reference is to certain Israelites in Chapters 7:163–169 who did not observe the Sabbath, instead continued the commerce of fishing on the mandated day-off, and consequently were turned into ‘Apes and Swine.’ These people, through historical accounts, lived in the fishing village of Eila on the shores of Red Sea, now called Eilat,3 which is located at Israel's southernmost tip in proximity to Jordan and Egypt's Sinai region. The discussion of this topic in Quran is spread across a spectrum of historical events intertwined with moral decay of individuals, distortion of scriptures, blind fellowship, self-righteous and arrogant behaviors, and the consequent doom of spiritually devoid societies. Quran clearly states that followers of all Prophets are Muslims:

22:78. … (so follow) the creed of your father Abraham. He named you Muslims (both) before this and (again) in this (Book the Qur'ân), so that the Messenger may be a guardian over you and that you may be guardians over people…4

Thus, the parable of ‘apes and swine’ is fairly and squarely aimed at Muslims, both after Prophet Moses (PBUH) and those after Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with a clear message of how Islam turns into Judaism.

Question – In Quran did the Israelites transform into apes and swine? Was the change by metamorphosis5 or in metaphor? For those of us who believe that in Quran there are messages indeed for people who think (13:03),6 the answer is obvious – it is metaphorical. This metaphor applies equally to the Israelites and the modern age Muslims. Can the Muslims today, who blindly imitate ignorance like apes, and reek of spiritual and moral uncleanliness like swine, absolve themselves of this similitude?

Animal Metaphors – We are all too familiar with animal metaphors applied to humans in various languages. Whereas a lion is associated with bravery, a fox is associated with cunning behavior. An animal metaphor expresses resemblance between someone or something and a particular animal or animal class. True metaphors are single words, such as the noun tiger, the verb hog, and the adjective chicken. Phrasal metaphors combine true metaphors with other words, such as blind tiger, hog the road, and chicken colonel. Other animal metaphors take the form of similes, such as rats leaving a sinking ship and prickly as a hedgehog. Still others take the form of proverbs, such as ‘Don’t count your chickens before they hatch’ and ‘Let sleeping dogs lie.’ The horse is the animal most frequently referred to in metaphors, followed closely by the dog. The Bible is the most prolific literary source of animal metaphors, followed closely by Shakespeare.7 ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ refers to learning without understanding or mimicry, usually with limited knowledge and/or concern of the consequences8 and forms the basis of children story “Caps for Sale.”9

Linguistics of Quran, the parables – Quran frequently uses parables10 and metaphors to drive home a point. For example, Quran uses the metaphor of paradise in the likeness of gardens, streams and fruits in the following verse and in the very next verse it explains such usage as a metaphorical construct:

2:25. And give good tidings to those who believe and do deeds of righteousness, that there await them gardens from beneath which the streams flow. Every time they are given any kind of fruit from them (- the gardens) to eat, they will say, `This is the same we were given before.' They will be given it (- the fruit) in perfect semblance (to their deeds). They shall have therein companions purified (spiritually and physically), and will abide therein forever.

2:26. Indeed, Allâh does not disdain to cite a parable of (a thing) even (as small as) a gnat or (of something) smaller than that. (Be it as it may) those who have believed know that this is a true (parable) from their Lord. As for those who disbelieve say, `What could Allâh mean by (citing) such a parable?' Many does He adjudge to be erring because of these (parables) and many does He guide through them. Yet it is only the transgressors whom He adjudges to be erring because of them.

The key point is that a metaphor or parable has to be read for its implied meaning and message for guidance, else a wrong interpretation and its consequent nonsensical message will be a source of error – Many does He adjudge to be erring because of these (parables) and many does He guide through them. Yet it is only the transgressors whom He adjudges to be erring because of them. This is further explained in another verse, in context of the Jewish people (-also read: Muslims), by using the metaphor of a donkey, a symbol of stupidity:

62:5. The case of those who were charged to observe (the law of) Torah but did not carry out (its commandments in its true spirit), is like the case of a donkey that carries (a load of) volumes (of Books; he neither understands them nor gathers any advantage from them). Wretched is the case of the people who cry lies to the Message of Allâh. And Allâh guides no unjust people to success.

Can Muslims absolve themselves from the above verse in which they have been carrying loads of Quran, Hadiths and other exegetical works? Is it not a daily experience witnessing a Sheikh or a Mullah on the pulpit or YouTube whose case is like the case of a donkey that carries (a load of) volumes (of Books; he neither understands them nor gathers any advantage from them)? Is it not fair to describes state of Muslim world, not only in terms of some of what they utter but also in terms of their actions, some individually, and some collectively – Wretched is the case of the people who cry lies to the Message of Allâh. And Allâh guides no unjust people to success? When one hears the arrogant rants from pulpits, would it not be fair to assume a donkey braying in a human form that Quran refers to?

31:19. … Surely, the most repugnant of voices is the braying of the donkey.'

Quran does not stop at referring to stupidities of donkey, it also refers to the greed of the dog, if none else, and at least it is referring to the Muslims of our times who in their thoughts and actions have withdrawn from the Quran:

7:175. And relate to them the news of him to whom We gave Our commandments but he withdrew himself therefrom, the satan followed him with the result that he became one of those led astray (and became a pervert).

7:176. Had We so willed We would have exalted him (in ranks) thereby (- by means of these Our commandments), but he remained inclined to (the material things of) this world and followed his low desires. His case therefore is like that of a dog, if you bear down upon it, it lolls its tongue out or if you leave it alone, it still lolls out its tongue. Such is the case with the people who cry lies to Our commandments; (they do not give up their evil ways whether you warn them or not). So narrate to them the account (of the people of old) that they may reflect.

In another place, Quran uses the analogies of blindness and deafness, at least historically, for the hypocrites of Medina in the Prophet’s time:

47:23-24. Such are the people whom Allâh has deprived of His mercy, so that He has made them deaf (to hear the truth) and has made their eyes blind (so they cannot see the right way). Is it that they do not earnestly seek to understand the Qur'ân? Rather (their) hearts are securely locked up by their own locks.

For the sake of argument, at least in Medina, no one, individually or collectively, became blind or deaf during the Prophet’s time. But, for sure, Quran makes the claim that Allah made them deaf and has made their eyes blind. Either Quran is wrong or the verse has to be read for its metaphorical meaning, but not both. Of course, it is metaphorical deafness and blindness that is pervasive in Muslims even today, and is of a colossal magnitude. The metaphorical interpretation of deafness and blindness is obvious in the next verse:

22:46. Why do they not travel in the land so that they should have hearts that help them to understand and ears which can help them hear? As a matter of fact (when going astray) it is not the (physical) eyes that are blind but blind are the hearts which lie in the bosoms.

Under the standards of Quran can the Muslims remit themselves from belonging to cattle class, herded from one barren pasture to another, from one morally and intellectually bankrupt polemics to another, by the clergy that they blindly follow?

7:179. …They have hearts wherewith they do not understand and they have eyes but they do not see with them (the truth), and they have ears but they do not hear (the Messages) with them. They are like cattle, nay, they are (even) worse. It is these who are utterly heedless (to the warnings).

For those Muslims who left interpretation of Quran to the ignorant Sheiks and Mullahs, and the consequent illogic that is then spewed in the name of Islam creates nothing but revulsion for the Quran. No wonder then such audience flee from Quran rather than being attracted to it:

74:49. What is the wrong with them, then, that they are thus turning away from the exhortation (of the Qur'ân),

74:50. (They behave) as if they were frightened donkeys (making others frightful too),

74:51. Running away from a lion?

With the discussion so far, we have seen that Quran, by its own words, uses metaphors, parables and similes to convey its message and guidance, uses examples from history to prove a point and foretells the decay of the followers of previous Prophets repeating in the followers of the Final Prophet, Prophet Muhammad. Interestingly, according to Quran, the followers of previous prophets or the Final prophet, they are, one and all, Muslims – (so follow) the creed of your father Abraham. He named you Muslims (both) before this and (again) in this (Book the Qur'an) (22:27).

Muslims may be familiar with the intellectually deaf and the morally blind in their midst – people who have attributes of the dogs, the donkeys and the cattle. Then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Muslims of yore, i.e. followers of Moses, decayed into people who had attributes of apes and swines.

Sabbath, in Judaism and Islam, the Similarities – The Jewish fishing village of Eila, on the Red Sea, fished in violation of the Sabbath and became apes and swine. The key issue in this entire ruckus is Sabbath, which was violated. What is Sabbath, why is it so important and is Sabbath only for the Jewish? Is there Sabbath or the likes of Sabbath moments in Islam? The answer to the latter question is yes. But, let’s explain what Sabbath is in general.

Sabbath was ordained on Israelites after their Exodus from Egypt – Six days ye shall gather it [the livelihood i.e. Manna]; but on the seventh day is the sabbath, in it there shall be none [i.e. a temporary halt of commerce]. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that there went out some of the people to gather [– the Manna, the commerce], and they found none (Exodus 16:26-27).11 Torah tells us that Sabbath was a temporary break from daily activities for Israelites to focus on their spiritual revival – To-morrow is a solemn rest, a holy sabbath unto the LORD (Exodus 16:23).12

A mandatory aspect of Sabbath is that it requires planning ahead of time so that there is no distracting hunger or activities in it – See that the LORD hath given you the sabbath; therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.' So the people rested on the seventh day (Exodus 16:29).13

In summary, the Israelites fasted from their commerce on the Sabbath i.e. they refrained from otherwise lawful activities to focus on their inner-self. Since the Quran claims to be the guardian over the truth of the previous scriptures, it gives us the full picture of what the Sabbath entails. Sabbath was ordained for the spiritual revival of these people and to lift them from the nadir of a spiritual void after they had escaped out of Egypt and were in Sinai, after they were stopped from cow worship by Moses, and before entering the land of Canaan:

4:154. And We raised the Mount above them while taking their covenant (at the foot of the Mount), and We said to them, `Enter the gate (of the town) submissively [i.e. with Islamic values],’ and We said to them, `Do not violate the (law of) Sabbath.’ And We took from them a solemn covenant [of not only observing the ritual but also following the purifying purpose of Sabbath].

In Islam there is no dedicated weekend of Sabbath. Rather, it has sabbatical moments and periods throughout in daily prayers, during the month of Ramadhan and once in a lifetime Hajj pilgrimage, when certain lawful activities are to be refrained from temporarily and resumed soon thereafter. Each of five daily prayers is a period of solitude, meditation, self-reflection and one is removed away from material side of life. Commercial activity is paused during Friday congregational prayer. Eating, drinking and intimacy are put on hold during the daytime fast in the month of Ramadhan. Like Jewish Sabbath, it is a requirement to accumulate means to sustain oneself beforehand during the pilgrimage of Hajj when people travel from afar.

2:197. The months of performing the Hajj are well Known; so whoever undertakes to perform the Hajj in them (should remember that) there is (to be) no obscenity, nor abusing, nor any wrangling during the (time of) Hajj. And whatever good you do Allâh knows it. And take provisions for yourselves. Surely, the good of taking provision is guarding (yourselves) against the evil (of committing sin and begging). Take Me alone as (your) shield, O people of pure and clear wisdom!

Similarly, on the journey for Hajj, the pilgrims are forbidden from recreational hunting on the land because such activity distracts from the spirit of Hajj. The spirit of Hajj is reflected in the recitation – Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik. Labbaik, La Shareek Laka, Labbaik. Innal Hamdah, Wan Nematah, Laka wal Mulk, La Shareek Laka – Translation: "Here I am at Thy service O Lord, here I am. Here I am at Thy service and Thou hast no partners. Thine alone is All Praise and All Bounty, and Thine alone is The Sovereignty. Thou hast no partners."14:

5:1. …Yet you are forbidden (to kill) game whilst in a pilgrim's garb or in the Sacred Precincts…

5:9. O you who believe! kill no game while you are in a pilgrim's garb or in the Sacred Precincts. And whosoever amongst you kills it intentionally he shall recompense by sacrificing a domestic cattle, the like of the animal he has killed, the same to be determined by two just persons from among you, and (the same) to be brought as an offering to the Ka'bah, or the expiation (of his sin) is the feeding of a number of needy persons, or the equivalent in fasting, so that he may suffer the penalty of his deed. Allah has pardoned whatever might have happened in the past, and whoso does it again Allah will punish him (for his offence), for Mighty is Allah, Lord of retribution.

5:96. It is made lawful for you (even when you are in a Pilgrim's garb to hunt) the game of the sea (and water) and to eat its food [while on a voyage to Makkah]; a provision for you and for the travellers (who can make it a provision for their way), but unlawful for you is the game of the land as long as you are in Pilgrim's garb or in the Sacred Precincts. Keep your duty to Allah, to Whom you shall be gathered.

Thus, Quran and Torah, in unison, set the stage for what Sabbath entails, spiritual rejuvenation, whether it is observed as a day, a moment or a period. Quran speaks highly of certain Jewish people, which readers must keep in mind before painting all Jewish people with a broad brush:

3:113. They (- the people of the Scripture) are not all alike. Among these people of the Scripture there are some upright people. They rehearse the Message of Allâh in the hours of the night and they prostrate themselves (in His worship).

3:114. They believe in Allâh and the Last Day and enjoin good and forbid evil, and they vie one with another in (doing) good deeds. And it is these who are of the truly righteous.

Before starting a discussion about the Jewish Sabbath breakers, we must pay attention to Muslim Sabbath breakers first. In Quran there is no day set aside for Sabbath but rather has sabbatical moments, for example, Friday prayers are a brief interruption in the daily commerce for spiritual revival:

62:9. O YOU who believe! When the call is made for (the Congregational) Prayer on Friday then hasten to extol the name of Allâh and leave off all business. That is best for you if you only knew.

62:10. And when the Prayer is finished, disperse in the land and seek Allâh’s grace and bounty (and restart your business), and go on remembering Allâh much that you may achieve an all-round success [both spiritual and material].

62:11. But (Prophet!) when some people see some merchandise or any form of amusement, they run for it and leave you standing (on the pulpit), say, ‘That (reward of worshipping Allâh) which Allâh has (for you) is far better than any amusement or merchandise, and Allâh is the Best of Providers.

The above verse 62:11 applies to all Sabbath breakers, Jews and Muslim alike, and to all those who prefer merchandise or any form of amusement over reward of worshipping Allâh. The next verse emphasizes the metaphorical transformation of Sabbath breakers, both Jews and Muslim alike, into apes:

2:65. And indeed you have come to know (the end of) those of you who transgressed regarding the Sabbath. Thereupon We said to them, ‘Be you (as) apes, despised.’

In another place, Quran refers to certain materialistic tendencies and behaviors which indelibly transform morals of a person or a nation into those of debased apes and swine, which are essentially lower stages of humanity – the ‘Nafs-e-Amara,’15 the animal-self in Quran that is akin to ‘Id’ of Freud:

5:57. O you who believe! do not make those who take your religion lightly and consider it worthless, from among those who were given the Scripture before you and the other infidels, your allies. And keep your duty to Allâh if you are (true) believers.

5:58. And when you call (the people) to Prayer, they take it lightly and consider it worthless. They do so because they are a people who do not understand.

5:59. Say, `O People of the Scripture! do you find fault with us only because we believe in Allâh and in that which has been revealed to us, and in that which was revealed before (us)? Whereas most of you are disobedient (to God).'

5:60. Say, `Shall I inform you of those who shall receive from Allâh a recompense worse than that of those (who try to find fault with Us)? They are those whom Allâh has deprived of His blessings and upon whom He brought His displeasure and indignation and of whom He has made (as) apes and swine and who serve the transgressor (- the devil). It is these who are indeed worse-placed and farther astray from the right path.'

These verses equally apply to the modern day Muslims who undoubtedly take religion and prayers lightly and consider them worthless, thus falling into the same category as all those who have been made apes and swine and who serve the transgressor. In the Muslim world many believers of ‘Kalima Shahada’16 are brazenly victimized even though they believe in Allâh and in that which has been revealed to us, and in that which was revealed before. These are the very attributes that turn a nation into apes and swine.

Eila or Eilat, the Jewish town, is situated on the shores of the Red Sea. Like Muslims who are prohibited from conducting business during Friday prayers, the followers of Moses in Eila were prohibited from conducting their business, mainly fishing, on Saturdays, which was ordained a day of respite and spiritual focus.

7:163. And ask them as to (what happened to the people of) the township (- Eila) which was on the seashore (of the Red Sea) when they profaned the Sabbath. On the day of their Sabbath their fish appeared to them in shoals upon shoals on the surface (of the water), but on the day when they did not observe the Sabbath (and fishing was open), it did not appear to them. Thus did We go on making a distinction between the good [–those pursuing spiritual path on a Sabbath] and the evil ones [–those on the materialistic pursuits during a Sabbath] of them by means of their acts of disobedience.

7:164. And (ask them what happened to those people) when a section from amongst them said (to another section), `Why do you admonish a people whom Allâh is going to destroy completely, or whom He is going to punish with a severe punishment?' They answered, `We do it so that it may serve as an excuse (to be absolved from blame) before your Lord and that they may become secure (against the punishment).'

7:165. But when they disregarded the warning that had been given them, We saved those who forbade evil and We seized those who did wrong, with a serious punishment of extreme destitution because they were exceeding the bounds of obedience.

7:166. So when they insolently refused to keep away from that which they were forbidden, We condemned them to be (as) apes despised.

These verses are not limited to the followers of Moses but are equally applicable to the followers of Prophet Muhammad. The Muslim world is openly and fully immersed in this ‘apish’ behavior by not observing the injunctions of Quran in their daily living, thinking and conduct. Its consequent outcome is predicted in the following verses that equally apply to the modern day Muslims:

7:167. And (imagine the time) when your Lord proclaimed (to the Children of Israel) that He would certainly continue to subject them, till the Day of Resurrection, to the people who would afflict them with the worst torment. Verily, your Lord is Quick to punish the evil but He is (all the same) Great Protector, Ever Merciful.

7:168. And We broke them up into (separate) sections of peoples on the earth, of which some are the righteous and some otherwise, and We went on distinguishing the good among them from the evil ones, through prosperity and adversity (both) so that they might turn (to Us).

7:169. Then there succeeded them an evil generation who having inherited the Scripture (of Moses), go on taking the paltry goods of this base (life) and say, `We shall surely be protected.' And if the like of these goods (again) come their way, they will take them (and sin persistently). Were they not bound to the covenant mentioned in the Scripture that they would not say of Allâh anything but the truth? And they have read for themselves what it (- the Scripture) contains. And the abode of the Hereafter is better only for those who become secure against evil. Have you then no sense?

7:170. And (as to) those who hold fast to the Scripture and establish worship, (let them bear in mind that) We will not at all allow the reward of those who set things right to be lost.

Like the Jewish of past, the Muslims societies continue to be subjected to torment at the hands of colonial powers, dictators and tyrants for decades who – continue to subject them, till the Day of Resurrection, to the people who would afflict them with the worst torment. Like Jewish, Muslims are subjected for centuries in the past and possibly till the time of Resurrection under the clergy which preaches falsehood in the name of Allah – Were they not bound to the covenant mentioned in the Scripture that they would not say of Allâh anything but the truth? In the name of Allah the clergy is selling snake oil to the masses.

Sabbath breakers, a lesson unlearnt by Muslims – If we compare the current state of Muslim societies to Sabbath breakers of Eila and the Jews of Medina, we see certain similarities to which Quran draws our attention. History stands witness that spiritual decline with its corresponding emergence of hedonism leads to destruction of many civilizations. Quran similarly testifies to a section of Israelites who turned polytheistic and forged lies to the Scriptures and made tall claims of their fanciful self-righteousness.

4:47. O you who have been given the Scripture! believe in (the Qur’ân) which We have now revealed fulfilling such (prophecies) as you have, before We make extinct and destroy some of your leaders and deprive them of their glory or We condemn them as We condemned the people of the Sabbath (breakers); and (remember) the decree of Allâh is bound to be executed.

4:48. Surely, Allâh does not forgive (unless the sinner turns to Him with repentance) that a partner be associated with Him but He forgives everything short of it to whomsoever He will. And whoso associates a partner with Allâh has indeed committed a very great sin.

4:49. Have you not considered those who assert themselves to be pure? Nay, only Allâh purifies whom He will; and they shall not be treated unjustly, not even a whit.

4:50. Behold! how they forge lies [when they ‘They tear the words from their context’ 4:46; ‘those amongst them who were unjust changed the word to something different from that which they were told’ 7:162] against Allâh, and sufficient is that as a very flagrant sin (to prove their sinfulness).

4:51. Have you not considered the case of those who were given a portion of the Scripture? They believe in nonsense things devoid of good and follow those who transgress, and they say of those who disbelieve, `These are better guided in the (right) way than those who believe (in Islam).’

An example of those who tear the words from their context (4:46) and those amongst them who were unjust changed the word to something different from that which they were told (7:162) is Judaism, which tore the spirit of religion from God to a soulless ritualism and its exegesis. Below is an excerpt from ‘Activities prohibited on Shabbat.’17 This shows how a religion from God of Moses decayed into petty nitpicking of minute details leading to pointless and absurd debates. If these debates have any value this brings into question the intelligence of God Himself. We see parallels of this soulless ideology in Islam preached from the modern pulpits.

Trapping18 [Hebrew: צד]. Definition: Forcible confinement of any living creature.

The Mishna does not just write "trapping"; rather, the Mishna says "trapping deer". According to at least one interpretation, this teaches that to violate the Torah's prohibition of Trapping, two conditions must be met.

1. The animal being trapped must be a non-domesticated animal.

2. The "trapping" action must not legally confine the animal. For example, closing one's front door, thereby confining insects in one's house is not considered trapping as no difference to the insect's 'trappable' status has occurred. I.e. it's as easy or difficult to trap it now as it was when the door was open.

This creates questions in practical Halakha such as: "May one trap a fly under a cup on Shabbat?" The Meno Netziv says that an animal that is not normally trapped (e.g. a fly, or a lizard) is not covered under the Torah prohibition of trapping. It is however, a Rabbinic prohibition to do so, therefore one is not allowed to trap the animal. However, if one is afraid of the animal because of its venomous nature or that it might have rabies, one may trap it. If it poses a threat to life or limb, one may trap it and even kill it if absolutely necessary.

Animals which are considered too slow moving to be 'free' are not included in this category, as trapping them doesn't change their legal status of being able to grab them in 'one hand swoop' (a term used by the Rambam to define this law). One is therefore allowed to confine a snail or tortoise, etc. as you can grab them just as easily whether they are in an enclosure or unhindered in the wild. For these purposes trapping them serves no change to their legal status regarding their ease of capture, and they are termed legally pre-trapped due to their nature. Trapping is therefore seen not as a 'removal of liberty', which caging even such a slow moving creature would be, but rather the confining of a creature to make it easier to capture in one's hand.

Laying traps violates a Rabbinic prohibition regardless of what the trap is, as this is a normal method of trapping a creature.

Such trickery to what to ‘trap’ is against the basic sense and purpose of Sabbath. It is this bending of rules of spirituality only to preserve the outward shell of a religion while killing its soul that Quran alludes to above i.e. They tear the words from their context and say, ‘We hear and we disobey (4:46), those amongst them who were unjust changed the word to something different from that which they were told (7:162), They believe in nonsense things devoid of good and follow those who transgress (4:51). It is such behaviors which is characteristic of those who are judaised (4:46).This is how Quran admonishes Muslims against their own decay into Judaism, which they apparently have.

If the Muslim readers of Quran have even an iota of intelligence, then such readers will vividly see the thousand pound Gorillas, the apes and swine, among their own echelons, on the pulpits of their mosques, who spew hate and venom, who propagate ancient myths and who base their religion on lore of the ancient, and the coattail followers of such ignorance who are captured, usually after their self-immolation, in the headlines of daily news.

Objectively, in the present day Muslim world we see abundance of the Swine who hedonistically rule from palatial quarters while their people are drenched in poverty and illiteracy; and the all too gibbering Apes from Muslim pulpits who only teach their parish how to resoundingly beat their chests. 


4 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
6 Ar-Rad – The Thunder: Muhammad Asad
7 Speaking of Animals: A Dictionary of Animal Metaphors. https://books.google.com/books/about/Speaking_of_Animals.html?id=kSr4fO2zYrIC&hl=en
10 Quran 18.32 – "And relate to these (opponents of yours) the parable (and description of the conditions) of two men. We had provided to one of them two vine-gardens which We fenced with date-palms and We placed cornfields between the two."
Quran 22.73 – "O people! here is a parable, so listen to it. Those whom you call upon apart from Allah cannot create even a fly, though they may all join hands for it. And if the fly should snatch away something from them, they cannot recover it from it. Feeble indeed is the seeker (- the worshippers) and (feeble) the sought after (- the worshipped one)."
Quran 25.33 – "They bring you no parable (by way of an objection) but We have provided you with the true fact and perfect interpretation (of it, in answer to the objection beforehand)."
Quran 36.13 – "And set forth to them for their good a parable of a people of the town when the Messengers (of God) came to them."
15 12:53. `Yet I do not hold myself to be free from weakness, for human nature is surely prone to enjoin evil, except on whom my Lord has mercy. My Lord is of course Protector (against sins), Ever Merciful.' (Yûsuf – Joseph: Nooruddin)
16 La ilaha ill-Allah, Muhammad-ur rasul-ullah – "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah"
18 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activities_prohibited_on_Shabbat#Trapping
** All  verses of Quran are quoted from English Translation of the Holy Quran by Allamah Nooruddin

Solomon speaking to Ants? – Not too Antsy though!

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Solomon speaking to Ants? – Not too Antsy though!

This chapter will address and remove many misconceptions that are attributed to Prophet Solomon (PBUH), for example he spoke the language of insects and birds; subjugated the jinn, birds, mountains, seas and winds.

In other chapters, various allegations attributed to Solomon are refuted including his alleged practice of magic, making altars for his wives, association with Harut and Marut1 and leaning on his asa (-rod) at the time of his death and continuing to lean for an extended period of time till it crumbled due to termites.2

Solomon is discussed in various contexts in many chapters of the Quran. We will focus on chapters 21, 27, 37 and 38.

Justice, Wisdom and Knowledge

21:78-79. And (We bestowed Our favours on) David and Solomon. Behold! they gave their (respective) judgment in the disputed matter about a certain crop when the sheep of a certain people strayed into it at night, and We were bearers of witness to the judgment they gave (them). So We gave Solomon the true appreciation of it (- the matter); to each one of them We gave wisdom and knowledge…

Solomon is distinguished in history for his sense of justice, wisdom and knowledge that is reflected in various paintings depicting trial in which he decided the claim of motherhood by two women of the same child.3 His wisdom is evident when he interacts with Queen of Sheba and subtly persuades her to give up her pagan beliefs. Quranic narrations about the technological advancements and knowledge of metallurgy, mining, sailing, architecture, administration and military in his reign touch upon various angles. In this chapter, these Quranic references will be used to debunk the myths attributed to him.

Harnessing of technologies

21:79… And We had subjected the mountains [of Levant and its dwellers – Amalekites] and the birds which celebrated (Our) glory along with David. That is what We always do.

Subjection of mountains refers to Solomon building roads and gaining access into the mountains which he used for mining and building dams. For these projects, he employed the natives of Levant, the Amalekites, known as the jinn in Quran for their wild nature. Subjection of mountains by Solomon is no different than subjection of sun and the moon by modern technologies for solar energy and lunar mining proposals – And He has made subservient to you the night and the day and the sun and the moon. And (similarly) the stars (too) are made subservient to you by His command. Surely, in that there are many a sign for a people who make use of their understanding (16:12). Similarly, birds celebrating God’s glory at the time of David are no different from the birds of our own times, who are simply following laws of nature, in David’s times or ours. Celebrating God’s glory is a reference to abiding by the laws of nature, and should not be taken in a literal sense, as if the birds were actually singing some humanly decipherable hymns. Have you not pondered that it is Allâh Whose praises celebrate those who are in the heavens and on the earth, and (so do) the birds on the wings. Each one of them knows his own (way of) prayer and glorification (according to his or its own faculties). And Allâh knows well what they do (24: 4). This glorification is not limited nor is unique to the birds and David, but includes everything in the universe – The seven heavens, the earth and all those inhabiting them extol His glory. Infact, there is not even a single thing but glorifies Him with His true and perfect praise, but you do not understand their glorification. Verily, Most Forbearing is He, Great Protector (17:44).

Similarly, the subjection of birds refers to the fast and effective means of communication in Solomon’s kingdom by his carrier pigeons.

21:80. And We taught him (the art of) making coats of mail for you (people), that they designed to fortify you against (one another's) violence (in your wars). Will you then be grateful?

David brought Israelites out of Bronze Age into Iron Age. He borrowed iron smelting from Hittites of Turkey. Coats of mail refers to the well-equipped army of Solomon and the use of iron in his kingdom.

21:81. And (We subjected) to Solomon the violent wind; it blew according to his commandments towards the land (of Can`ân) which We had blessed and We have knowledge of all things.

Subjection of violent wind clearly alludes to Solomon perfecting the art of sail-making, keels and science of sailing for his fleet which could then sail into the wind instead of away from it. This technique is commonly called as 'Close Hauled'4 and ‘Beating’ or ‘Tacking’5,6

21:82. And (We subjected to him) some of the expert deep divers who dived for him and did other (sundry) works besides that; and it was We who kept watch over them [i.e. Solomon’s kingdom prospered under Divine help due to his just and knowledgeable rule].

Benediction on Solomon

Quran further gives glimpse of benedictions on Solomon and his deep appreciation:

38:30. And We gave (a pious son like) Solomon to David. How excellent a servant (of Ours) he was! For he turned to Us in obedience and repentance again and again.

38:31. (Think of the time) when towards the close of the day, steeds of the noblest breed and swift of foot were brought before him.

38:32. He said, `I prefer the love of good things because they make (me) remember (God), my Lord.' And (he remained busy in his devotion and prayer), when these (horses) disappeared (while passing by) behind the veil (of distance),

38:33. (He said,) `Bring them back to me.' Then (as they were brought) he began to stroke their hind legs and necks (with kindness).

Solomon’s appreciation for his steeds and stroking their hind legs and necks is no different from someone appreciating the automobiles by passing one’s hand over chrome and curves, colloquially termed as ‘kicking some tires.’

38:34. Behold! We tried Solomon (too) and We placed on his throne (of kingdom) a (mere) body (without any spirit or faith). Then he turned (to God seeking His mercy).

Solomon is tested like as any other king or ruler. What sets Solomon apart from the rest is that he believed in a righteous rule and not a meritless dynasty. Solomon rejected the principle of inheritance to power as explained in Quran:

38:35. He said (praying), `My Lord! grant me protection and bestow on me a kingdom that belongs to none (by inheritance) after me. You indeed are the Great Bestower.'

Verse 38:35 is discussed in detail in a separate chapter: ‘Staff of Solomon – a Throne, not a Termitarium.’7

38:36. So (We accepted his prayer and) We subjected to him a gentle wind. It blew gently according to his requirements in the direction he desired to go.

38:37. And (We also subjugated to him) the rebellious people (- the unruly Amâliqah people of far off lands), all (their) builders and divers;

38:38. And others (among them, who were) bound in chains [i.e. the rebellious Amaliqah that are addressed elsewhere in Quran as jinn, were probably for the first time in service of a Jewish king, Solomon. Historically, Amaliqah were always adversarial to Jewish rule].

38:39. (We said to him,) `This is Our gift that knows no measure. So give it freely or withhold it (from whomsoever you deem fit) without reckoning.

38:40. Behold! there is for him (- Solomon) Our close proximity and an excellent resort.

Quran gives some more glimpses of favors bestowed on Prophets David and Solomon:

34:10. And certainly We bestowed Our (gracious) favours on David. (We said,) `O (you dwellers of the) mountains, obey him.' And (We assigned) the birds and the swift footed horses (their duty); and We made the iron soft and pliant for him [when the Israelites moved from bronze to iron age after they borrowed iron smelting technology from the Hittites during the reign of his father, King David].

34:11. (We said to him,) `Make full length coats of mail (to cover the whole body) forging links of proper measure (for their smooth working).' (And We also said to him and his followers,) `Do righteous deeds. I am a keen Observer of what you do.'

34:12. And We made such winds serve Solomon the blowing of which in the forenoon (and thus help sailing of his ships) was equal to (a voyage of) a month (by the other ships); similarly its blowing in the afternoon was (also) equal to (a voyage of) a month (by them) [– alluding to technological advanced sailing methods of Solomon’s fleet]. And We made a spring of molten copper to flow for him. Also (given into his service were) some of the jinns (- wild and rebellious mountain tribes known as Amalaqites), who worked under him as trained craftsmen) by the command of his Lord. And (We also told them) whoever of them deviated from and disobeyed Our command (- that they should obey Solomon) We shall make him suffer the agony of burning.

34:13. Those (jinns -handy craftsmen) made for him (- Solomon) whatever he desired, places for worship and plans and basins (as large) as the tanks and large and heavy cooking pots well-set (on their trivets due to their large size). (And We said,) `Act gratefully, O people of David.' Yet few are My people who are (really) grateful.

34:14. And when We ordained death for him (- Solomon) the people only came to know of his death through a (worthless) creature of earth (- Solomon's son) that was eating away his (father's) staff (- ruling power and glory). So when it fell down [– the stable rule of Solomon after his death,] the jinn [– the subjugated Amalaqites] realized then plainly that had they known the secret (of the hollowness of the kingdom) they would have never remained in (a state of) humiliating torment.

The last verse above refers to Solomon's inept son, Rehoboam and his rule. It is not too uncommon for incompetent sons to bring the downfall of their father's rule. In recent history we see how the inept sons contributed to the downfall of a rule, rule of the tyrants – Gaddafi and Saddam.

As discussed elsewhere in this book, science is the knowledge governed by laws made by none other than God Himself. As the science is advancing it is only validating, rather than invalidating, Quran. In the context of extra-Quranic myths attributed to Solomon, science tells us that ants in particular communicate with chemical signals and not by sound.

The readers of Quran, at times, equate the genie of fairy tales with the jinn of Quran. The former is a creature of human imagination, whereas the latter is a human attribute – the fiery nature, haughtiness, well built, ability to perform extraordinary feats, people who are generally not visible in public so that others can only make conjectures about them e.g. kings or desert dwellers etc. A jinn is a person who stands distinct and separate from the ordinary people, such as a heavy weightlifter, basketball dunker, mesmerizing orator, actor or artist on stage. Such a distinct person usually is considered a notch above the rest. Even different laws apply to public figures as opposed to private citizens.

The superficial reader of Quran takes the distinct but erroneous impression that the birds are at par with humans in intelligence and supernatural beings exist among our midst. A contextual reading of the Quran with an open mind is a must to avoid such absurd deductions. No wonder, in any educational system of the world, reading and comprehension is emphasized in elementary schools.

Administration:

27:15. And We granted knowledge to David and Solomon, and they said, `All true and perfect praise belongs to Allâh alone Who has exalted us over many of His believing servants.'

History bears witness that both David and Solomon, were great prophets, law givers, judges, rulers, administrators, project managers, architects, personnel managers, generals, equestrian handlers, sailors, metallurgist and many others, as a consequence of the granted knowledge.

The Birds – Cavalry and Messenger Pigeons:

27:16. And Solomon succeeded David and he said, `O you people! we have been taught the language of the birds (and also the technique of horsemanship), and bestowed with everything (essential for us). This indeed is a distinct favour (of God and His grace).'

Before the reader is carried away by fancies of one's imaginations, Solomon used 'we' clearly establishing that the skill of language of the birds was prevalent amongst the people of the time. One can safely assume that there is nothing special about Solomon alone. Even in present times, anyone who has seen a pigeon trainer is surprised to see how the trainer controls the flight behavior of the whole flock by gestures and whistles. To the onlooker the trainer is, as if, talking to the birds and the birds are responding. Till very recently, pigeons were used to send messages. As recently as Waterloo, Nathan Rothschild, overnight became the richest person in the world by merely employing a pigeon as a messenger to find out the outcome of the battle, a day before rest of England. This teaches us the value of information as a commodity, which Nathan alone possessed about the Waterloo, and using it he manipulated London stock exchange into his overnight riches and elevated his status from a mere money lender to a nobility with full court access. No wonder, by some accounts, the Rothschilds subsequently purchased Reuters and then Associated Press, the modern day pigeons and thus mastered the – language of the birds¸ albeit on a global scale.

Disciplined force:

27:17. And there were gathered together before Solomon his hosts comprising of jinn (- haughty) and (ordinary) men and birds [– tair i.e. swift animal including cavalry] and swift footed horses, and they were then arranged in separate well-disciplined columns.

The above verse possibly alludes to some expedition that Solomon undertook that included a few distinguished commanders (–jinn), mounted cavalry (–birds) and supply trains (–horses).

Marching Army:

27:18. (Once he was marching with them) until when they (his armies) reached the valley [-Arabic: wadi] of (the tribe named) al-Naml, a distinguished Namlite [addressing his tribemates] said, `O al-Naml! get into your habitations lest Solomon and his hosts should crush you unknowingly.'

It is not unusual to name valleys and canyons after animals and tribes e.g. Coyote Canyon in the state of Utah and the state itself too is named after Ute tribe of Native Americans. If the above verse is read as if it were the ant rather than the human dweller of the Valley of Ants speaking about Solomon's army, then it would mean that the ants somehow have understood human affairs for centuries, yet we are still unaware of it! Imagine an ant versus Solomon, with Solomon bent upon destroying an ant colony with all his might. What an absurd interpretation. The verse is written about a Namalite, a human being and not an ant. As explained by Nooruddin in his exegesis of Quran, Arabs named tribes after animals e.g. Banu Asad (-lion), Banu Kalb (-dog) and in this case the tribe is named after insect, Al-Naml (-ant). The use of the term ‘wadi l-naml’ concretely means Valley of the Ants, whereas, it logically means the Valley of the Tribe al-Naml.

The miracle is supposed to be that Solomon could understand what the ant said (to other ants). But this implies that ants have an understanding of human affairs and communicate among themselves about those matters (as the ant here says: “O ants, go into your houses, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you” — 27:18). Solomon being able to understand the ant could be a miracle, but how did that ant and all the other ants addressed by it have the capacity of knowing who Solomon was? If those ants had this level of understanding then ants throughout history, even now, would have the same capacity of knowledge. There is no authority in the Quran for believing that such creatures have human-like knowledge of current affairs (that Solomon is the king who is coming with his army).”8

Allamah Nooruddin in his exegesis explains that Valley of Naml is located just south of Taif which in turn is south-east of Makkah. The dwellers of this valley were called ‘Ants’ i.e. Naml because their source of livelihood depended upon their picking gold dust from the sand in the manner of ants. This geographic clarification places Solomon and his army nearest to Yemen. That is where Solomon was stationed when his Intelligence Officer, Hudhud, made a short espionage trip to the Yemenite kingdom of Saba and returned with important news, discussed later.

Humbleness of Solomon:

27:19. Thereupon he (- Solomon) wondered and was pleased with (the good opinion the Namlite expressed about his own and his army's power and piety) and said (praying), `My Lord! rouse me up that I may offer thanks for the favours You have shown me and my forefathers and that I should do such deeds as are righteous and may please You, and count me through Your mercy with Your righteous servants.'

Clearly Solomon is humbled in the above verse by witnessing the awe his force is held in by the people. To be humble in victory and in distress is one of the attributes of the Prophets that this verse brings to fore. Later in history, we see Prophet Muhammad in same humbleness, head bowed, riding his camel he entered Makkah at the head of 10,000 strong army consisting of distinguished commanders (–jinn), cavalry (–birds) and mounted and supply trains (–horses). The narrative of Solomon’s army is repeated in history on the arrival of the Prophet and his army on the outskirts of Makkah. Abu-Sufyan, the Makkan chief, visited the camp of the Prophet and admitted to complete victory of the Prophet, just as the Nalamite chief had done for Solomon. As a term of general amnesty given by the Prophet, Abu-Sufyan returned to the city and announced that anyone who stayed in his home would be given amnesty. In effect, Abu-Sufyan, repeated the words of the chief of Namalites: `O Makkaites! get into your habitations lest Muhammad and his hosts should crush you unknowingly.'

The famous hoopoe:

27:20. And (once) he reviewed the birds and the (cavalry of) swift running horses and said, `How is it that I do not see (my officer named) Hudhud? Is he deliberately absent?

27:21. `I will certainly punish him very severely, rather I will execute him or else he must give me some valid excuse (for remaining absent).

Similar to jinn, some readers of the above verse take this to mean that hudhud (English: hoopoe) was an actual bird. They derive their support from the current and adjoining verses that refer to Solomon inspecting the 'birds'. If the reader of these lines has seen British TV comedy serial of early 1990s – 'Are you being served', he will be all too familiar with a character by the name of Captain Peacock9,10 who, although named after a bird, was in fact a human being. Similarly, Hudhud of Solomon, even though named after a bird, was in fact Captain Hudhud, a human. It is not uncommon for generals to call out their juniors by their name without using their rank. Similarly, in the above verse, Solomon is asking for an important officer, Hudhud, who is noticed by his mere absence. The reaction of Solomon reflects of a general who is perturbed by an apparent lack of discipline and possibly an AWOL (absent without leave) in his ranks.

Hudhud – apparently an intelligence officer:

27:22. But he (- Solomon) had not to wait long (before Hudhud came) and said, `I have acquired that information which you do not possess. I have come to you from (the territory of a Yemanite tribe) Saba' with sure and important news (to tell).

The key phrase in this verse is when Hudud says – I have acquired that information which you do not possess. This clearly points to intelligence information and not any other knowledge because earlier we quoted that Allah had already given knowledge to – to each one of them [-David and Solomon] We gave wisdom and knowledge (21:79).

27:23. `I found (there) a (wonderful) woman ruling over them (- the Sabaeans) and she has been given everything (she requires) and owns a magnificent throne.

27:24. `I (also) found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allâh. And satan has made their deeds fair-seeming to them (so that they take pride in their practices), and has thus hindered them from the right way, so that they do not follow true guidance.

27:25. `And (satan has done this) so that they do not worship Allâh while Allâh is He Who brings to light all that lies hidden in the heavens and the earth and knows all that you (O people!) conceal (in your minds) and all that you make known (of your designs).

27:26. `Allâh! there is no other, cannot be and will never be One worthy of worship but He, the Lord of the Mighty Throne.'

At times, intelligence agencies operate without disclosing their mission, even to their superiors. Apparently, Hudhud is a Muslim because he is able to point out polytheistic practices of the people he pried upon while he was on a reconnaissance mission to adjoining kingdom of Sheba. Being a subordinate of a Muslim king, Solomon, he notices which others will not notice, and that is the religious practices of the kingdom of Sheba and comments on their pagan customs and worships. He apparently has also made his way into the court of the Queen of Sheba that he is able to comment on her magnificent throne. He also comments on the qualities of the Queen, yet rejects it all in comparison with Lord of the Mighty Throne. Apparently, all this happened when Solomon was in the Valley of the Ants, in deep Arabia and near Yemen. Reaching out to monarchs of the world, getting to know them by sending ambassadors to the courts of Persia, Byzantium, Egypt and Yemen is what Prophet Muhammad also did. Solomon or Muhammad, it is the job description of prophets to reach out and spread the message far and wide.

Trust but verify:

27:27. (Thereupon Solomon) said, `We will now look into it and see whether you have spoken the truth or whether you are of the liars.

27:28. `Take this letter of mine, deliver it to them (-the people of Saba') then withdraw from them and wait what (answer) they make in return,

Being a king, Solomon needs to verify the single-source information from Hudhud. Hence, he sends a letter to Queen of Sheba at the hands of Hudhud. Again, it is ridiculous to imagine that before it was only Solomon who could converse with the birds, now it is the pagan Queen of Sheba who can also understand a bird and takes it seriously. Further, carrier pigeons can only fly one way – towards their home and never away from it. They are not Fed-Ex, going multiple ways. History tells us that similar to Solomon, Prophet Muhammad also sent letters to Byzantine king Heracles, Chosroe of Persian, Egyptian and Yemani kings inviting them to Islam while telling them to give up their pagan practices.

Queen – befitting her qualities, takes counsel:

27:29. (When the Queen saw the letter) she said, `Chieftains! there has been delivered to me a noble letter.

27:30. `It is from Solomon and it says, "With the name of Allâh, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful (I commence to write to you).

27:31. "Do not rise up against me but come to me (surrendering yourselves) in submission".'

27:32. She said, `Chieftains! give me your sound and mature advice in the matter which confronts me, (for) I decide no important matter except when you are present with me (to advise).'

27:33. They said, `We are a people possessing (extraordinary) power and are gallant fighters; but as for the decision it rests with you, therefore you may thoroughly consider what order you want to give.'

27:34. She said, `Surely, when the kings enter a township (as invaders) they ruin it and reduce its most honourable residents to the most degraded positions. And such indeed will be their (- of Solomon and his men's) ways.

27:35. `I am going to send them a (significant) gift and shall wait to see what (answer) the envoys bring back.'

Obviously the contents of the letter are noble, that makes Queen of Sheba send friendly presents to Solomon, who apparently is not impressed by the pomp of the gifts:

27:36. So when he (- the Queen's envoy) came (with the present) to Solomon he (- Solomon) said, `Do you mean to help me with (your) wealth? Well, what Allâh has given me is far better than what He has given you. You seem to be rather proud of your gift.

27:37. `Go back to them (and tell your people that), we shall certainly come down upon them with hosts they have no power to withstand and we shall, surely, drive them out from there (- their country) disgraced, while they are subjugated?'

Clearly Solomon is perturbed by the gift, which later verses clarify as a throne. Possibly the throne had some art work that was abhorring to the prophet, quite possibly idols or nudes engraved into it (Muhammad Ali).

Making of a throne for Queen of Sheba:

All the pieces are in place for making of a throne befitting Queen of Sheba: gift of the throne from Sheba, the description of her existing throne in her court from Hudhud, the craftsmen, the jinn, who can make even a better one, and the Israelitethe jeweler who could design it making the throne ornate with possibly precious metals and stones:

27:38. (Later on addressing his courtiers Solomon) said, `Nobles! which one of you will bring me a throne befitting her (- the Queen) before they come to me surrendering in submission.'

27:39. A stalwart from among the jinn said, `I will bring it to you (prepared as you desire), before you rise and depart from your place of encampment. Surely, I am strong and expert enough (to accomplish this task and can be) trusted (with it).'

27:40. One (Israelite) who had knowledge of the Scripture said, `I will bring it to you before your Yemanite (noble guests) come to you.' And when he (- Solomon) saw it (- the throne) set before him he said, `This is due to the grace of my Lord; so that He may reveal my inner self to show whether I am grateful (for all His favours) or ungrateful. Indeed, he who thanks, his thanksgiving is for his own good, and he who shows ingratitude (let him remember that) My Lord is truly Self-Sufficient (and is in need of no praise), Oft-Generous (and Noble in His own right).'

Contrary to the prevailing belief, nowhere in the above verse is any reference to the original throne of the Queen which is in Sheba, to be brought to the kingdom of Solomon. After seeing the first version of the throne made in the due course of time, Solomon suggests further improvements:

27:41. He (further) said, `Make her own (old) throne seem discredited to her (in her own estimation by making this new throne of a very excellent standard). We shall see (thereby) whether she follows the right way (by discarding her old idolatrous throne) or whether she is (one) of those who do not follow the right way.'

27:42. When she came (to Solomon) it was said to her, `Is your throne like this?' She said, `It is as though it were much the same. We had been given the knowledge (about your excellence and perfection) before this and we have already surrendered in submission (to you).'

27:43. And (Solomon) held her back from the things she used to worship apart from Allâh, for she belonged to an unbelieving people.

27:44. It was said to her, `Enter the palace.' And when she saw it she took it for a great expanse of water. She was greatly perturbed. (Solomon) said, `It is a palace paved smooth with slabs of glass.' She (realizing the truth that she worshipped outward objects like the sun in place of Reality, the true God,) said, `My Lord! I have done injustice to myself and (now) I submit myself through Solomon to Allâh, the Lord of the worlds.'

Obviously, Solomon treats the Queen as a revered guest. At the same time, using his wisdom and knowledge,11 he uses her own psychology of superficial perception of awe and grandeur, to convince her of the facade of worldly things that were apparently important for her faith and power, yet she was tricked by them in the first place. She realizes the deception of her own belief and converts to Islam. Solomon asking the Queen `Enter the palace' possibly refers to his marriage with the Queen of Sheba (-Bilqis).


8 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
11to each one of them [-David and Solomon] We gave wisdom and knowledge (21:79).
All  verses of Quran are quoted from English Translation of the Holy Quran by Allamah Nooruddin

Moon – Struck or Split

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Moon – Struck or Split

There is folklore that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on being challenged by his opponents split the moon with a gesture as a sign of his truthfulness. Verse 54:1 in Quran is used to validate the event by the proponents of the physical miracle – The hour drew near and the moon was split apart.1 In support of this claim Hadiths are quoted as well, some of which are attributed to Ibn-Abbas and Anas. The former was not even born at that time and by some accounts the latter was only four years old. It is interesting to note that we do not find anyone of significance in history that was moonstruck to convert to Islam by witnessing the awesome event, which in itself is an obvious negation of placing any value to physical splitting of the moon. If Hadiths are extrapolated in a literal sense, then it could possibly mean the incidental phenomenon of a partial moon eclipse in which, there is a transient splitting of the moon into lighted and dark parts for the duration of the eclipse, or another natural event for example an asteroid impacting the lunar surface and the resultant flash witnessed on the earth. It does not befit prophets to toy with the eclipse of the moon, rather such natural phenomenona are exploited by the likes of Christopher Columbus who fooled the natives of Jamaica for a secondary gain.1a

Can the moon be physically split and then rejoined later to its full whole, even for a so called miracle? At any time, if and when the moon is physically split, it will be a globally witnessed event. Why is there not an independent record of this mind shattering event in history from different regions of the world? Was there a separate moon for Makkah that split and another one for the rest of the world which remained intact? Countless questions could be raised for a physically splitting moon. Any such conjecture is rubbished by Quran when it refers to the stability and preset stages of the moon, all of which result passively from varying degree earth shadow falling on it:

36:39. And (think over the phase of) the moon, We have determined its various mansions, so that (after traversing these mansions) it returns (to the stage when it appears) like an old dry twig of a palm-tree.2

In the next corresponding verse Quran further negates even a ‘miraculous’ suggestion which disturbs the laws of nature, at least so far as the sun, moon and earth are concerned, unless it could be established that moon can naturally split and then rejoined:

36:40. It is not given to the sun to attain to (the purpose ordained for) the moon, nor is it given to the night to outstrip the day. All of these (luminaries) go on floating smoothly in an orbit (of their own).3

If by any chance, there is shifting of any of these celestial bodies from their ordained course and behavior as outlined in verses 36:39-40, then for sure it might be point of no return. We would have reached the end of times, and it would be pointless to carry this discussion any further of whether moon was split by the Prophet:

75:6-11. He [- the skeptic] asks (with contempt and doubt), `When shall the Day of Resurrection come to be?' (It shall be the day) when the sight (of a person) is confused (and he is confounded for being unable to find the right course). And the moon will eclipse. And the sun and the moon will be brought together. The human being shall say on that day, `Whither to flee?' To nowhere at all, there is no refuge.4

Moon referred to in Chapter/Surah Qamar was the national symbol of Arabia similar to the Sun for Persia. Moon symbolized the power centers in Arabia, foremost of which were the city of Makkah with the tribe of Quraish at its helm. This interpretation of the moon symbolizing the powers of Arabia is found in a Hadith about Safiyyah, the daughter of Huyyah ibn Aktab, chief of the Jewish tribe of Banu Nadir in Madina, a longtime opponent of the Prophet. Her tribe relocated from Madina to Khaybar after the Battle of Uhad. Safiyyah once dreamt that moon fell into her lap. When she narrated the dream to her father (and by some accounts to her husband), he contemptuously slapped her with scornful and quizzical interpretation that she intended to marry a king of Arabia. She was married to Kenana ibn al-Rabi, the treasurer of Khybar, who was killed during the siege of the city by Muslim army under the Prophet. After she became a war widow, she married the Prophet, the ‘King of Arabia,’ a prophecy thus fulfilled.

The context of the subject matter of verse 54:1 (Chapter: Qamar – Moon) is essentially a continuation of the topic in the last verses of the preceding Chapter: Najm – Star, which are quoted below:

53:56. This (Prophet) is a Warner (towards all the peoples of the worlds) from among the (series of) Warners (to one particular people) of old.

53:57. (The Hour of punishment) that was (promised) to come has drawn nigh.

53:58. None can avert this (doom) besides Allâh.

53:59. Do you then wonder at this announcement (and yet pay no heed to it),

53:60. (For on hearing the mention of the Hour of punishment) you laugh rather than weep.

53:61. And you remain proudly heedless and haughty.

53:62. You should better prostrate yourselves before Allâh and worship (Him).5

These verses draw attention to one of the functions of the prophet which is to warn people of the natural consequences of their moral depravity. Essentially, prophets by their very definition of making prophecies, also forewarn of a calamity. To prevent the disaster, the prophets educate and reform their audience to shore up their social and moral defenses with virtue and morality to avert the doom, just as a meteorologist forewarns with the data gathered from the realm of physical science and predicts the enormity and destruction of an impending storm. The said verses in context of pagan Makkans was a forewarning of an impending dissipation of their power against the apparent hapless Muslim who were suffering among their midst from incessant oppression at their hands. Quran forecast the fall of Makkans:

13:31. Had there been a Qur’ân whereby mountains could be moved, or whereby the earth could be torn asunder, or whereby the dead could be made to speak (it is this very Qur’ân indeed). Behold! The commandment and all power belongs to Allâh. Have not those who believe realized yet that if Allâh had (enforced) His will He would have indeed guided all humankind. And as for those who disbelieve, one calamity or the other will continue to befall them owing to their (evil) activities till you come to alight in their neighborhood, until the promise of Allâh (about the conquest of Makkah) comes to pass. Verily, Allâh will not fail (this) promise (of His).6

The prophecy in the verses of Surah Najm is furthered concretely in the subsequent Surah Qamar by specifically mentioning the destruction of the power of Makkan government, whose banner bore a full moon on it. Additionally, there is also an implicit reference to splitting of Makkan society, the flag bearers of the moon, which we saw in migration of Muslims from their midst to Madina:

54:1. The Hour (of doom of the enemies of the Prophet) has drawn nigh and (to indicate it) the moon is rent asunder.

54:2. Yet, whenever these (disbelievers) see a sign they turn away (paying it no heed) and say, `(It is) an oft-repeated and tremendous illusion.'

54:3. They have cried lies (even to this sign) and have followed their low desires. Yet every decree (of God) shall certainly come to pass.

54:4. And certainly there has already come to them the important accounts (concerning the fate of the ancients) in which there is provision of abstaining (from obstinately following the wrong course).

54:5. (And wherein is) profound and perfect wisdom but the warnings were of no avail (to them).7

In the same chapter 54 there are passages in verses 9 through 42 reminding the destruction of nations before who were similarly in moral abyss as Makkans and who did not reform despite being sent prophets as Warners e.g. Noah and his tribe – the flood, Hud and nation of Ad – furious winds and sand storms, Salih and his tribe – earthquake, Lot and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah – earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, Moses and Pharaoh and his people – drowning. With these examples Quran then challenges the Makkans in the same chapter for their false sense of security:

54:43. Are those of you who are disbelievers better than these? Or have you been promised amnesty (from punishment) in the (previous) Scriptures.

54:44. Or do (Makkan disbelievers) say, `We are a united force, capable of defending one another (against any calamity)? 8

Quran then goes on to foretell a sequence of events that history bears witness happened so in the battles of Badr, Uhad to certain extent, and finally the Battle of Trench:

54:45. Soon that united force shall surely be routed. They will turn (their) backs (and flee before the Muslims).

54:46. The (promised) Hour (of their complete discomfiture) is their appointed time. The fact is that the Hour will be grievously calamitous and most bitter.

54:47. Surely, the guilty are (involved) in clear error and (suffering from) insanity.

54:48. On that day they shall be dragged on their faces into the fire (of the battle, it will be said to them), `Suffer the smite of fire.'

54:49. Verily, all things have We created in correct proportion and measure.

54:50. Our command is (at once carried out by) only one (word) as quickly as the twinkling of an eye.

54:51. We have surely destroyed (gangs of) people like you (O disbelievers! before). But is there anyone who would take heed? 9

The final prophecy of this chapter in verse 54:51 fully materialized when Makkah was overcome by Muslims within eight years of their exile to Madina. The defeated citizens of the former were then summoned to the Holy Kaaba by the Prophet and rest is history when he forgave them all:

54:6. Therefore turn away from them, (and await) the day when the summoner will summon them to a most disagreeable thing,

54:7. While (with the sense of remorse) their eyes will be downcast, they will come forth from (their) graves as though they were (swarms of) locusts being scattered about,

54:8. Rushing headlong towards the summoner. The disbelievers will say, `This is a hard day.'10

For sure, the conquest of Makkah was a hard day for the natives, their pitiable state was like locusts scattered about, their eyes were downcast when they were summoned to the Holy Kabah by the Prophet, a most disagreeable thing that they could not have imagined, and their power symbolized by “Moon” on their banner/flag had been totally rent asunder by their victims of persecution and attacks of the previous twenty-one years.

It was this return to Makkah that was promised elsewhere in Quran as well to the Prophet and his companions:

28:85. (Prophet!) He who has made (the teaching of) the Qur'ân binding on you shall most surely bring you back to your ordained place of return, (the place of Pilgrimage – Makkah). Say, `My Lord knows him best who has brought guidance as well as those who are steeped in clear error.'11

With the above discussion in mind when we reread verse – Yet, whenever these (disbelievers) see a sign they turn away (paying it no heed) and say, `(It is) an oft-repeated and tremendous illusion' (54:2) 12 – it comes to fore that Quran is addressing the future generations after the time of the Prophet as well, who in hindsight are witness to sign of splitting of the ‘moon,’ the destruction of the mighty opponents of the Prophet and Islam.

The symbolism in Quran is according to common usage.13 For example, similar to moon, it uses the term ‘hands’ in reference to power of Abd al-Uzza, also known as Abu Lahab (a title given to him meaning – ‘father of the flame’, for both his reddish face and his fiery temper). Abu Lahab was the uncle and incorrigible enemy of the Islam. He wielded power because of his wealth and his priestly status from his association with the Kaaba. He too was prophesized to be destroyed in Chaper/Surah Masad – LET the two hands of Abû Lahab (the Prophet's uncle, one of his most inveterate opponents and other fiery tempered enemies of Islam) perish, and let he himself (also) perish! His wealth and what he has accomplished shall avail him naught. He shall soon enter a Fire full of leaping flames (to burn others of his kind as well)…(111:1-3.).14 He did not participate in the battle of Badr and literally perished a week later in Makkah from a contagion in a helpless state.

It is interesting to note that the destruction of moon and hands referred to in Chapters/Surahs Qamar and Masad are in the past-tense i.e. both moon15 and hands have been destroyed. Nooruddin interprets the usage of past-tense in his exegesis. The past-tense implies that the decisions of the destruction of Makkan powers had already been taken by Allah, hence the use of past-tense, whereas, the manifestation of prophecies was only a matter of time before they unfolded in history, repeatedly, after revelation of these verses.

In summary, Surah Qamar and Surah Masad are interrelated on a spectrum in the sense that former refers to the doom of organizational opposition against Islam and the latter refers to individual opposition undermining Islam.  Both chapters speak in the past tense, former about the symbol moon – the organizations. The latter refers to symbol of hands – the power of the individuals. The doom of both is predestined. History bears witness to the truth of this predetermination, irrespective of whether Muslim societies were overwhelmed and ruled by others, message of Quran and Islam always prevailed. Yet, some of us are still moon struck with conjectures while history is replete with moon splits.


1 Al-Qamar – The Moon: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
1a "March 1504 lunar eclipse": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1504_lunar_eclipse
2 Yasin – O Perfect Man!: Nooruddin
3 ibid
4 Al-Qiyamah – The Resurrection: Nooruddin
5 Al-Najm – The Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
6 Al-Rad – The Thunder: Nooruddin
7 Al-Qamar – The Moon: Nooruddin
8 ibid
9 ibid
10 ibid
11 Al-Qasas – The Narrative: Nooruddin
12 Al-Qamar – The Moon: Nooruddin
13 Quran frequently symbolizes power and capacity by using the term ‘hands’ e.g. And the Jews said, `Allâh's hand is fettered (from assisting the helpless Muslims).' Fettered are their own hands (from assisting the enemies of Islam), and they are deprived of blessings of Allâh for what they said. Nay, (the truth of the matter is that) both His hands are wide open (and free). He spends as He pleases. And that which has been revealed to you from your Lord will most surely increase many of them in inordinate rebellion and in disbelief. And We have kindled enmity and hatred among them till the Day of Resurrection. Every time they kindle a fire for war, Allâh puts it out, but they strive to create disorder in the land, whereas Allâh does not like the creators of disorder (5: 64). Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
14 Al-Masad – The Twisted Strands: Nooruddin
15 The hour drew near and the moon was split apart (54:1): Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

A Brief Philosophy of Jihad in the Quran

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

A Brief Philosophy of Jihad in Qur’ân1

A great misconception prevails, particularly among the Christians, propagated by their zealous missionaries, with regard to the duty of JIHÂD in Islam. Even the greatest research scholars of the West have not taken pains to consult any dictionary on Arabic, nor referred to the Qur’ân to find out the meaning of the word. According to the Arabic-English Lexicon of E. W. Lane and the great scholar of Islam Râghîb, the word Jihâd means: The use of or exerting of one’s utmost powers, efforts, endeavours or ability in contending with an object of disapprobation; this is of three kinds, namely: a visible enemy, the devil, against one’s own self. All these meanings are used in the Qur’ân when a reference to JIHÂD is made. The duty of JIHÂD is far from being synonymous with that of war, and the meaning of JIHÂD, ‘the Holy war’ as supposed by the western writers is equally unknown to Arabic and the fundamental teachings of the Holy Qur’ân. Even in the Traditions of the Prophet (Hadîth), this word was never synonymous with ‘the Holy war’. The Prophet of Islam called the greater Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) as JIHÂD (Bukhârî 25:4).2 [Emphasis added]

The penultimate achievement for a Muslim is to acquire the attributes of God, in whose image he is created to begin with:

2:138. (Assume) the attributes of Allâh! and who is fairer than Allâh in attributes? We are His worshippers ever.3

It then takes a laborious toiling from a Muslim to achieve that Divine rendezvous:

84:6. O Mankind! verily you are (by nature) toiling on towards your Lord a laborious toiling, then (through arduous service to Him) you shall surely meet Him.4

To understand the nature of toiling on toward your Lord, we first have to understand the human himself. Internally, a man is a composite of physical and non-physical aspects, i.e., body and soul. Externally he thrives in both the material and non-material world. Internally and externally, his physicality is inseparable from his spirituality. In the big scheme of things, ultimately he rules by mind over matter. Similar to this interplay of tangible and non-tangibles, Jihad, i.e., striving has its own components, physical and spiritual. But the interesting point is that since Jihad is the sum total of the physical and non-physical effort, its rewards are both physical and non-physical as well. Simplistically, a student has to physically and mentally strive in his or her studies before the spiritual and material benefits come forth as rewards, e.g., a doctoral degree with its material reward of salary and spiritual rewards of a social status and benefit to humanity. Factually, Jihad in Islam is inseparable from the life of a Muslim, since the ultimate goal of a Muslim is to assume Allah's attributes which essentially enable one’s striving to be a better human.

For a human to assume Allah’s attributes for oneself and spread them in society, Quran takes on the central role with the following parable:

25:48. And it is He Who sends the winds as happy heralds of His mercy, and We send down from above water (also representing Divine revelation) for the purification (of the souls as well).

25:49. That We may thereby bring the dead land to life and give it as a drink to (most of the things) whom We have created, beasts and mankind in large numbers.[-a parable of giving life to the spiritually dead by the Divine revelation, before by Torah, Bible, Vedas, etc., and now Quran]

25:50. And We have explained this (topic) to them in diverse ways so that they may take heed, but most of the people would refuse (to adopt any other attitude) except (that of) disbelief.

25:51. If We had so willed We would surely have raised (in place of universal Prophethood) a Warner in every town.

25:52. So do not follow the disbelievers [of spiritual awakening], and strive hard against them with the help of this (Qur'ân), a mighty striving.5

Thus it begets Quran to provide guidance for that mighty striving. And it does. Contrary to general belief, firstly, it unburdens man from prevalent dogmas:

22:78. And strive your hardest to win the pleasure of Allâh, as hard a striving as is possible and as it behoves you. He has chosen you and has imposed no hardship upon you in the matter of your faith, (so follow) the creed of your father Abraham. He named you Muslims (both) before this and (again) in this (Qur’ân)…6

Quran, while advocating for its message does not shy away from its own merits and distances itself from being a dogma:

2:256. There is no compulsion of any sort in religion (as) the right way does stand obviously distinguished from the way of error.7

Quran then assures success for those who strive hard in Our cause by being doers of good:

29: 69. And those who strive hard in Our cause We will certainly guide them in the ways that lead to Us. Verily, Allâh is always with the doers of good.8

Our cause, that is, Allah’s cause, is obviously the cause of doers of good.

Doer of good’ is the goal of Jihad. Like any good, Jihad can be pursued by physical and material efforts:

61:11. You should believe in Allah and His Messenger, and strive hard in Allah’s way with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if only you knew!9

Additionally, Jihad needs spiritual efforts as well:

9:112. They who turn (to Allah), who serve (Him), who praise (Him), who fast, who bow down, who prostrate themselves, who enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and who keep the limits of Allah — and give good news to the believers.10

Both the physical and spiritual components of Jihad are interlocked and inseparable. One is the inherent property of the other and has a mutual symbiotic effect.

Above is the gist of Jihad (or Striving in Islam), which is an individual effort for one to be near his God in both attributes and behavior. Under various chapter headings, this book11 has tried to draw attention to the concept of God and to the human spiritual stages, moral pathways and Divine laws that govern human progress both in material and mission as to what makes him godly. Any deviations from these general principles of Jihad are either man made or a smear against Quran. Whether from within or without Islam, one such smear is the synonymic view of Jihad and War.

Islam is not a mystical or racial cult and Muslims are not supposed to live in a vacuum disconnected from the rest of the world and other ideologies. In the real world, wars do happen between people and countries. Many times these wars occur between people of different faiths; this might be the ‘Crusades’ for some, but in Quran there is no concept of a ‘Holy War’. There is no allowance for an aggressive war neither a war for spreading the faith. On the reverse, In Quran there are strict rules for war prevention, defensive war, with peace preferred over war, religious freedom for all religions, and resistance to persecution.

Firstly, for all intents and purposes the word “Islam” means peace, both in letter and in spirit, within the person and within the society:

10: 25. Allâh invites (us all) to the abode of peace and He guides him who wishes to be guided to the exact right path leading to the goal.12

Secondly, in this abode of peace, there is freedom of faiths for all:

2:256. There is no compulsion of any sort in religion…13

Thirdly, this freedom of religion has to be preserved for all:

22:40. …If Allâh had not repelled some peoples by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques wherein the name of Allâh is mentioned very frequently, would have been razed to the ground in large numbers. And Allâh will surely help one who helps His cause. Allâh is, indeed, All-Powerful, All-Mighty.14

Of note is that one of His cause is, protection of cloisters and churches and synagogues besides mosques. While living among a multi-faith community, Muslims are deemed to follow the norms of fairness:

5:3. … And do not let hatred of a people — because they hindered you from the Sacred Mosque — incite you to transgress [The principle laid down here requires from Muslims equal treatment for all nations, for those whom we hate as well as for those whom we love. Only this principle of Islam can serve as the basis for an international code for the modern world and an international law.]. And help one another in righteousness and piety, and do not help one another in sin and aggression, and keep your duty to Allah [Editor’s note: Muslims ought only to cooperate with one another in matters of goodness, and are forbidden to help each other in wrongdoing against others. This injunction prohibits the evils of blind patriotism and unconditional support for one’s own people even when they commit injustices against others.]. Surely Allah is Severe in retribution.15

Fourth, arms may be picked up, but only in self-defense:

22:39. Permission (to fight in self-defense) is (now) given to those (Muslims) against whom war is waged (for no reason), because they have been done injustice to, and Allâh has indeed might and power to help them;

22:40. Those who have been driven out of their homes without any just cause. Their only fault was that they said, `Our Lord is Allâh…16

Fifth, on moral grounds, for the sake of persecuted humanity, Quran challenges the onlookers of any faith if its followers do not join a rightful defensive struggle:

4:75. What (excuse) have you (to offer) that you would not fight in the cause of Allâh and for (the rescue of) the weak and the down-trodden men and women and the children who all say, `Our Lord! take us out of this town of which the people are tyrants, and grant us a defender who comes from You and a helper by Your Own grace.'17

Once again it is noted that another cause of Allâh is the protection of (the rescue of) the weak and the down-trodden men and women and the children.

Sixth, Quran gives assurance of forgiveness to the aggressors if they desist in the future:

8:38. Say to these who disbelieve that if they desist (now from persecuting the Muslims) they will be protected against the past (misdeeds), but if they revert (to their old ways of mischief), then the example of their predecessors has already gone before (and they will meet the same doom).18

Seventh, war by Muslims can be initiated only if there is an existing persecution against them, since there are no preventive wars in Quran:

8:39. And (O Muslims!) fight them until there is no more persecution (in the name of religion) and adopting a (certain) religion is wholly for the sake of Allâh, but if they desist, then surely Allâh is Watchful of what they do (and they will not be done injustice to).

8:40. But if they turn back (and refuse all these terms and fight you) then know that Allâh is your Protecting Friend, what an excellent Protecting Friend! and what an Excellent Helper!19

Eight, once a defensive war is thrust on Muslims, then Quran enjoins steadfastness and unity among the ranks:

8:45. O you who believe! when you encounter a host, remain steadfast, and remember Allâh much that you may triumph.

8:46. And obey Allâh and His Messenger and dispute not with one another or you will be demoralised and your strength will depart (from you) and do persevere, for Allâh is surely with the patiently persevering ones.

8:57. Therefore if you find these (breakers of trust) in battle array, then (by inflicting an exemplary punishment upon them) disperse those behind them so that they may be admonished.

8:58. And if you fear (and have reasons to fear) treachery from a people, then annul (their pact) on terms of equality. Indeed, Allâh loves not the treacherous.20

Ninth, in Quran, at times peace has to be secured by preventing a war from strength, but without any aggression:

8:60. (Believers! it is your duty also that you) keep prepared to meet them with whatever you can afford of armed force and of mounted pickets at the frontier, to strike terror thereby into the hearts of the enemies of Allâh and your enemies and such others besides them that you do not know, (but) Allâh knows them. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allâh, it shall be repaid to you in full and you will not be dealt with unjustly.21

Tenth, despite an existing state of war, peace is to be preferred even at the risk of deceit by the enemy:

8:61. And if they incline towards peace, you should also incline towards it and put your trust in Allâh. Surely, it is He Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

8:62. But if they intend to desert you, (remember that) Allâh surely suffices you. It is He Who has strengthened you with His help and with the believers;22

Eleventh, no captives of the enemy are to be taken by the Muslims unless there is an actual battle, a war which can only be defensive to begin with. Even in a state of war, it is clearly prohibited to target any civilians or noncombatants:

8:67. It does not behove a Prophet to keep captives unless He has triumphed after a regular bloody fighting in the land. (If you take captives without warfare,) you desire the temporary and frail goods of this world, while Allâh desires (for you the good of) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.23

Twelfth, prisoners of war are to be dealt with mercifully:

8:70. Prophet! Say to those captives (of war) who are in your custody, `If Allâh finds any good in your heart, He will give you even better than that which has been taken away from you (as ransom) and will protect you (against your sins), for Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful [and so should be the Muslim captors],

8:71. But if they intend to play false with you, (remember that) they were false to Allâh before, but He delivered them into your control. And Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.24

Thirteenth, Quran encourages treaties with enemies and enjoins the respect of these treaties. Yet, if the enemy violates the treaty of peace and resorts to war then it gives full freedom to Muslims to defend themselves. While doing so, Muslims are mandated to provide protection and safety to enemy defectors and lead them to freedom. The following verses have both historical references as well as guidelines in general:

9:1. (This is) a declaration of complete absolution on the part of Allâh and His Messenger (from all obligations) to those of the polytheists with whom you had entered into a treaty (but they broke it repeatedly).25

9:2. So you may go about (freely O you breakers of the treaties!) in the land for four months (since the date of this declaration), and know that you cannot frustrate (the will of) Allâh, and (know) that Allâh will humiliate the disbelievers.

9:3. And this is a proclamation from Allâh and His Messenger to the people on the occasion of the Greater Pilgrimage (on the day of Sacrifice) that Allâh and His Messenger owe no obligation to these polytheists. If you (O polytheists!) turn to Him in repentance it is better for you. But if you turn away then know that you cannot frustrate (the will of) Allâh. And proclaim (O Prophet!) the news of a grievous punishment to these disbelievers;

9:4. Excepting those of the polytheists with whom you have entered into a treaty (and) who subsequently did not fail you in any manner, nor did they back up anyone against you. So abide by the treaty you had entered with them to the end of the term you have fixed with them. Allâh, surely loves those who keep their duty.

9:5. But when the prohibited (four) months ([according to Arab custom] when no attack on the breakers of the treaties was permissible) have expired, slay such polytheists (who broke their treaties) wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every place from which it is possible to perceive the enemy and watch their movements. But if they turn in repentance and keep up Prayer and go on presenting the Zakât, leave their path free. Indeed, Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.

9:6. And if any of the polytheists seeks your protection, grant him protection so that he may hear the word of Allâh, then conduct him to a place where he feels himself safe and secure. That (treatment) is (to be meted out to them) because they are a people who have no knowledge (of Islam).

9:7. There can be no treaty (on the part) of these Polytheists (after their repeated violations of the same) in the sight of Allâh and His Messenger. This, however, does not apply to those with whom you entered into a treaty near the Holy Mosque (at Makkah). So long as they keep true to (the treaty for) you, you should also keep true (in maintaining the treaty) for them. Allâh, surely, loves those who become secure (against the breach of trusts).

9:8. How (can there be a treaty with deliberate violators of agreements) while, if they get the better of you they would respect no bond, nor words of honour in dealing with you. They would try to please you with (mere words of) their mouths whereas their hearts dissent (from what they say), and most of them are perfidious.

9:9. They have preferred paltry gains (- this world) to the revelations of Allâh and thus have turned (people) away from His path. Surely, evil is what they do!

9:10. They observe no bond nor any word of honour while dealing with one who trusts (them). It is these who are the transgressors.26

9:11. But if (even) such (sworn antagonists) turn in repentance and keep up Prayer and go on presenting the Zakât, they are your brethren in faith. And We explain the commandments in detail for a people who know.

9:12. If they break their oaths after (they have ratified) their pledge and revile and commit aggression against your Faith, then fight such leaders of disbelief that they may desist. Indeed, solemn (binding) oaths have no value with them.

9:13. Will you not fight a people who have broken their solemn oaths and proposed to turn out the Messenger and were the first to commence (the fight) against you. Are you afraid of them? Nay, Allâh is more worthy that you should stand in awe of Him if you be (true) believers.

9:14. Fight them, Allâh will punish them at your hands and humiliate them and will grant you victory over them, and He will heal (the agonies of) the minds of a believing people.27

Fourteenth, even in actual war, Muslims are enjoined not to be aggressive:

2:190. And fight in the cause of Allâh those who fight and persecute you, but commit no aggression. Surely, Allâh does not love the aggressors.

2:191. And slay them (the aggressors against whom fighting is made incumbent) when and where you get the better of them, in [a] disciplinary way, and turn them out whence they have turned you out. (Killing is bad but) lawlessness is even worse than carnage. But do not fight them in the precincts of Masjid al-Harâm (the Holy Mosque at Makkah) unless they fight you therein. Should they attack you (there,) then slay them. This indeed is the recompense of such disbelievers.

2:192. But if they desist (from aggression,) then, behold, Allâh is indeed [the] Great Protector, Ever Merciful.

2:193. And fight them until persecution is no more and religion is (freely professed) for Allâh [note – in Qur’ân Allah uses his unique name as God for all peoples]. But if they desist (from hostilities) then (remember) there is no punishment except against the unjust (who still persist in persecution).

2:194. (The violation of) a sacred month [according to Arab tradition] may be retaliated in the sacred month and for (the violation of) all sacred things the law of retaliation is prescribed. Then he who transgresses against you, punish him for his transgression to the extent he has transgressed against you, and take Allâh as a shield, and know that Allâh is with those who guard against evil.28

Such are the guidelines above from Quran for peace, tolerance, freedom of religions, protection of the persecuted, avoidance of aggression, conforming to peace treaties, prevention of war, resorting to war only in self-defense, etc. All these universally accepted human values of Quran are primarily based upon the sanctity of life that it mandates:

5:32. …We laid down for the Children of Israel that he who kills a human being – unless it be for (murdering) a person or for (reforming) disorder in the country, it is as if he has killed [the] entire human race. And whoso saves a (human) life, it is as if he has saved the entire mankind. Certainly, Our Messengers had already come to them with clear arguments, yet (even after that) many of them were certainly those who committed excesses in the land.29

It is obvious from the discussion so far that there is no room in Quran for extra-judicial killing or murders or killing of civilians and non-combatants. As to any suicide bomber Quran has this to say:

Do not cast yourselves to destruction by your own hands.” — 2:195

Do not kill yourselves.” — 4:2930

The insinuators of terror who train the suicide bombers and abet carnages and the blind followers who follow such leaders and their misguidance as word of God are forewarned:

2:165. (Inspite of all these evidences in support of the unity of God) there are some people who take to themselves compeers as opposed to Allâh. They love them as they should love Allâh. But those who believe are stauncher in (their) love for Allâh. And if only those who committed this wrong could but see (the time) when they shall see the punishment, (they would realize) that the complete power only belongs to Allâh and that Allâh is Severe at inflicting the punishment.

2:166. (At that time) when those who were followed (- the leaders) shall disown and sever themselves from their followers and they shall see the punishment (with their own eyes) and all their ties and means shall be cut asunder.

2:167. And (at that time) the followers shall say, `If we could only return (to the life of the world) we would disown them and sever ourselves from them as they disowned and severed themselves from us.' Thus Allâh will make them regret their deeds and they shall never (of themselves) get out of the Fire.31

The question that arises is that are these teachings of Quran for a restrained sword a mere rhetoric or were they ever practiced? The answer is summed up by Khwaja Kamaluddin in his book ‘The Ideal Prophet’ in chapter – Right Use of the Sword32:

For the first time the world was taught by the Prophet the right use of the sword. Secular and sacred history alike show that the sword has never been dispensed with. It was unsheathed by the Hindu Prophets and the Hebrew Patriarchs for neither the Hebrew Law nor that of the Hindus is in any way favourable to "pacifism." The Prince of Peace [–Jesus] also declared that he came to send on the earth "not peace but a sword;" he came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets; the laws of his religion permitted it, and his prophets waged war. In fact he would have had recourse to the sword had a favourable occasion arisen, but it did not; and if he prevented Peter from drawing the sword, it was because the time was not propitious. Violence would but have entailed further trouble for him and for his followers. Besides, what Jesus himself could not do has been done with considerable thoroughness by his followers. His words have proved dangerously prophetic. A large portion of the wealth and the brain of Christendom is expended in discovering various ways in which they may send sword and fire more efficaciously into the world; and that, not for the furtherance of any humane cause, but to pander to the spirit of aggression and "grab."

I, however, maintain that at times it becomes one of our highest humanitarian duties to unsheathe the sword. We cannot conscientiously stand aside as indifferent spectators when the liberties of an oppressed people are being trampled upon, when religious freedom is at stake. There do arise situations when the use of arms becomes an unavoidable necessity. But the arms have often been abused, and it was the duty of a Prophet from God to tell us the right occasion when the sword can be wielded [The House Divided – by the author Khawaja Kamaluddin].”

Jesus was prepared to send sword and fire into the world, but Muhammad was compelled to do so. He allowed the use of arms on the following three occasions:

i. To save a house for the worship of God from destruction, be it Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim. (Holy Quran, 22:40)

ii. To establish freedom of conscience. Everyone, according to Quranic teaching, has the right to choose his own faith, and no one should force his religious beliefs on others by persecution or otherwise. And if a person does so, it is the duty of a Muslim to fight against such religious persecution, irrespective of whether the aggrieved be a Jew or a Christian and the persecutor a Muslim. (Holy Quran, 2:190-193)

iii. In self defence. (Holy Quran, 22:39)

But in each case a Muslim should suspend hostilities whenever the oppressor shows an inclination towards peace. (Holy Quran, 2:194)

Other Prophets of the world, especially the Hebrew, drew the sword for a cause of doubtful righteousness, as the Old Testament shows; but Muhammad did what righteousness demanded. Nevertheless, the Western mind has become so much poisoned by the prejudiced statements carped at Islam, that it will not care to hear what is true.


1 This chapter is reproduced from the book: Consumer Guide to God – A Muslim Perspective, In Light of Quran by M. Ikram Jahangiri
2 Adapted from “Jihad-Holy War – A Misconception” in the Introduction section of translation of The Holy Quran, p. 47A-48A: Nooruddin
3 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
4 Al-Inshiqaq – The Bursting Asunder: Nooruddin
5 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
6 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Noorddin
7 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
8 Al-Ankabut – The Spider: Nooruddin
9 Al-Saff – The Ranks: Nooruddin
10 Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin
11 Consumer Guide to God – A Muslim Perspective, In Light of Quran by M. Ikram Jahangiri
12 Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
13 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
14 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
15 Al-Maidah – Food: Muhammad Ali, Ed. Zahid Aziz
16 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
17 Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
18 Al-Anfal – The Voluntary Gifts: Nooruddin
19 ibid
20 ibid
21 ibid
22 ibid
23 ibid
24 ibid
25 Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin
26 ibid
27 ibid
28   Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
29 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
30 As quoted on p.52 in the book – Islam, Peace and Tolerance by Dr. Zahid Aziz
31 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
32 The Ideal Prophet by Khwaja Kamaluddin. Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam Lahore, Re-Published 1996, p. 145-147. Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/kk/idealprophet/idealprophet.shtml

Satan or Satanic – The Devil is in the Details

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

Satan or Satanic – The Devil is in the Details


In Nature things become energetic when facing their antagonists, so do we need some enemy to arouse our moral forces which otherwise would remain dormant. Thus Satan clearly ranks on the moral plane with the toxins of the physical plane. We find in the Qur’ân the same functions assigned to him as are allotted to toxins in the physical kingdom. Like them he introduces himself within us from outside. He acts as an enemy, and weakens our sense of morality and tries to destroy it. But if our moral nature asserts itself strongly enough and we follow the laws of God we become immune from all sin. The Devil, then, like toxins sub-serves a moral end. The two poisons, I mean toxins and Satan, assail our health and spirit on identical lines. Evil works on the same lines as those adopted by Satan according to the description of the Qur’ân. They are, indeed, one and the same. The only thing left to decide is whether it is the perversity of our own mind that we call Satan or is it some personality existent in the external world, who invites the mind to evil. In other words is Satan a mere faculty or a being who inspires us to use our faculties for evil?1


A human being lives in a physical, emotional, natural and social environment, interacting with it every moment of his or her life, and thus being exposed to a constant onslaught of foreign elements. Physically, the body has an immune system that provides a defense against such foreign elements. If the host defenses are strong then the outward outcome of this interaction is commonly noted as fever and allergies; otherwise the body will be consumed by these elements.

Similarly, on the psychological plane, we possess ego-defenses. When the human psyche is challenged by external reality, immature psychological defenses result in a state of anxiety, depression or, in extreme cases, psychosis and its accompanying distress. Mature defenses create humor, altruism or sublimation where negative influences are converted into positive outcomes and a blissful state.

On the moral plane, events or opportunities in one’s environment challenge the moral defenses. If the moral defenses are firm, the outcome is virtue and godliness of man. Otherwise satanic ideas, intentions, impulses and behaviors set in that work to one’s detriment, affecting one’s psyche, physical, and social environment. Qur’ân addresses these opposite moral extremes:

 

91:7. And the (human) soul and That (Mighty Lord) Who made it perfect,

 

91:8. Then He revealed to it (– the soul, the ways of) its evil and its righteousness,

91:9. (All these are cited to witness that) one who purifies it (– his soul), certainly succeeds,

91:10. And he indeed is ruined who corrupts it.2


Satanic attributes emanate from weak moral defenses. The satanic attributes and their manifestations are mentioned in Qur’ân under the collective name Satan or Iblis. Satan:

Abolishes an inherent happy state of man:

2:36. After sometime the satan caused them both to slip from this (order of not going near evil) and thus brought them out of (the happy state) which they were in…3 [both allude to Adam and his female companion. Of note is that in Qur’ân, Adam is a template representation of man]


Incites evil:

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.4

22:3. …every satan (who is) devoid of all good.5


Is the antithesis of spirituality:

2:208. …and do not follow the footsteps of satan, verily he is your enemy, severing (you from Allâh).6

6: 142. …and do not follow in the footsteps of satan, for he is indeed an enemy disuniting you (from Allâh).7

19:44. `My dear sire, do not serve satan, surely satan is disobedient to the Most Gracious (God). 8 [sire is Nimrod, who is being addressed by Abraham]

35:5. … so do not let the present life deceive you, and do not let the avowed seducer seduce you away from Allâh.9

36: 60. `O Children of Adam! did I not enjoin on you never to worship satan, for he is to you an enemy severing (your) ties (with Me).10

36:62. `Yet he (– satan) has certainly led astray a number of people from among you. Why do you not even then make use of your understanding (so as to rectify your error)?11

43: 62. Do not let the satan turn you away from following it, for he is your an enemy cutting off (your) ties (with God).12


Is hypocritical by its very nature:

59:16. Again, (the case of the hypocrites is) like (that of) satan. Behold! he says to a human being, `Disbelieve!' But when he disbelieves, he says, `I have nothing to do with you. I fear Allâh, the Lord of the worlds.'13


Incites fears of poverty:

2:268. Satan threatens you with poverty and incites you to niggardliness…14


Encourages monetary exploitation:

2:275. Those who practice usury and interest, (their condition is such as) they will not be able to stand except like the standing of one who has lost his reason under the influence of satan.15


Acts in cohorts:

3:175. (Now you have come to know that) it is satan, in fact, who merely threatens through his friends…16

35:6. Surely, satan is an enemy to you, so treat him as an enemy. He calls his party only (to follow him) …17


Nurtures selfishness:

4: 37. Regarding those who practise niggardliness and advocate to be niggardly and conceal that which Allâh has given them out of His bounty and grace, We have in store a humiliating punishment for such thankless people;

4:38. As well as for those who spend their wealth for public show and do not believe in Allâh and the Last Day. And whoso has satan for his companion (let him bear in mind that) an evil companion he is.18


Sustains tyranny:

4:75. What (excuse) have you (to offer) that you would not fight in the cause of Allâh and for (the rescue of) the weak and the down-trodden men and women and the children who all say, `Our Lord! take us out of this town of which the people are tyrants, and grant us a defender who comes from You and a helper by Your Own grace.'

4:76. Those who believe fight in the cause of Allâh, and those who choose disbelief fight in the cause of the transgressor; fight you, therefore, against the friends of satan, surely, the stratagem of satan is ever weak.19


Rumor mongering:

4: 83. And when there comes to them news (a mere rumour), be it a matter of peace or of fear, they spread it around. … And had it not been for the grace of Allâh upon you and His mercy you would all have followed satan, excepting a few.20


Arouses vain desires

4:119. `And certainly, I will lead them astray and assuredly I will arouse vain desires in them, and I will incite them (to polytheistic practices)…21


Sets in moral decay:

4:119. and I will most assuredly make them change (for the worse,) the things created by Allâh.'22


Evokes false hopes:

4:120. He (– satan) holds out promises to them and arouses false hopes in them. But satan promises nothing but vain things to them.23

17:64. …Indeed, satan promises them nothing but mere fraud.24


Incites hate and squander:

5:91. Satan only intends to precipitate enmity and hatred between you by means of intoxicants and games of chance and to stop you from the remembrance of Allâh and from (observing your) Prayer…25

17:27. Certainly, the squanderers are like satans and satan is always ungrateful to his Lord.26


Imbues arrogance:

6: 43. … (It was for the fact that) their hearts had hardened and satan had made their deeds seem fair to them.27

27: 24. … And satan has made their deeds fair-seeming to them (so that they take pride in their practices), and has thus hindered them from the right way, so that they do not follow true guidance.28

29: 38. …Satan made their (evil) deeds fair-seeming to them and (by making them take pride in their doings) turned them away from the right way, though they were enlightened and sagacious people.29 [them are the tribes of Ad and Thamud]


Creeps up unaware and incessantly:

7:6. (Iblîs) said, `Now, since You have adjudged me to be perverted and lost, I will assuredly lie in wait for them (– the Children of Adam) on the straight and exact path that leads to you.30

7:17. `There will I come upon them from their front and from their backs and from their right and from their left so that You will not find most of them grateful (to You)’.31

7:27. …Verily, he (– satan) sees you, he and his tribe, in such a way as you see them not…32

7:202. And their brethren (the human associates of satan) draw them into error and they do not relax (in their evil designs).33

17:62. …If You grant me respite till the Day of Resurrection, I will most certainly bring his progeny under my sway, having overpowered them, I shall destroy them for sure, except a few.'34


Sows discord:

7: 200. Should any imputation from satan (who spreads reports for sowing dissension) afflict you…35

7:201. Verily, (as for) those who (really wish to) guard (against calamities) when some (enraging) suggestion from satan assails them…36

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’.37[Here Jacob is conversing with his son Joseph]

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.'38[he is Joseph addressing his father Jacob about his brothers]

17: 53. …for satan (is keen to) provoke discord among them. Satan indeed is an enemy to the people, disuniting (one another).39


Seeds forgetfulness of moral obligations:

12: 42. And of the two, he knew to be the one who would be released, he said, `Mention me to your lord.' But satan made him (-the released person) forget to mention (Joseph) to his lord so that he (– Joseph) remained confined in the prison for a few years.40


Is transgressor by its nature:

16: 36. shun the transgressor (– satan).'...41


Is a source of deceit, misery and vice:

20: 120. But satan made an evil suggestion to him. He said, `Adam! shall I direct you to the tree which leads to eternal life and a kingdom which never decays.

20:121. So they (Adam and his wife) ate from that (tree), so that their shortcomings became unveiled to them and they began to cover themselves with the leaves of the garden. Adam did not observe the commandment of his Lord, so he became miserable.42

24: 21. …he (– satan) surely enjoins immorality and indecency…43


Hinders pursuit of virtue:

22: 52. And We have sent no Messenger, nor a Prophet before you but when he longed (to attain what he sought), satan (interfered and) put hindrances in the way of what he sought after…44

25: 29. `He indeed led me astray from this source of rising to eminence (– the Qur'ân) after it had come to me. And satan is ever a deserter of [a] human being (in the hour of need).45

There is longitudinal satanic experience by humans and the human suffering because of it:

7:27. O Children of Adam! do not let satan put you in trouble (in the same way) as he turned your parents out of the garden, stripping them of their raiment (of innocence) with the result that their shortcomings were made manifest to them both…46

Like any creation of His, Satan actually has a purpose and that is refinement of man on spiritual plane:

22:53. (Allâh permits the interference of satan) so that He may make (the hindrance which satan puts in the way of the Messengers) serve as a trial for those whose hearts carry disease (of hypocrisy) and for those whose hearts are hardened (because of disbelief). In fact the wrongdoers have gone far (in their antagonism).47

Practice makes it perfect; even to ingrain the satanic nature in man:

19:45. `My dear sire, if you went on serving satan, I fear lest some punishment from the Most Gracious (God) should seize you so that you should become an associate of satan.'48 [sire is Nimrod being addressed by Abraham]

22:4. About whom it is decreed that whoever makes friends with him, he will invariably lead him astray…49 [Satan is addressed as him]


Remorseless and repeated transgressions become self-perpetuating vices that seed and nurture satanic nature into man, becoming part of his persona. Therefore, to break His Laws is a sin against oneself:

43:36. As for him who forsakes the admonition of the Most Gracious (God), We appoint for him a satan who then becomes an intimate companion for him.

43:37. These (satans) turn the people away from the right path and the people think (about themselves) that they are following the right course of guidance;

43:38. Till when such a person comes before Us (on the Day of Judgment) he will say (to his respective satan), `Would that there had been the distance of the east and the west between you and me. What an evil companion is he!

43:39. (It will be said to the satanic people that Day,) `Now, when (it has been once proved) that you have acted unjustly, (the fact) that you are sharers in the punishment (with those who misled you) will be of no use to you at all this Day.

43:40. (In this state of theirs, Prophet!) would you make the deaf to hear, or guide the blind and him who is (engrossed) in glaring error.50


When the Law-breaker faces the consequences of his transgression the vices that he was attracted to and submitted to will disown him. For example, intoxicants cannot be blamed for acts committed under the influence, but the person who becomes intoxicated by his free will.

14:22 Satan (their selfish desires) will disown them after the Judgment has been issued, "Verily God promised you a true promise; and I promised you and failed you. And I had no power over you except that I called unto you and you obeyed me. So blame me not, blame yourselves. Neither can I help you, nor can you help me. I refuse to accept that you worshipped me ever." Surely, for those who displace trust with betrayal is a painful doom.51

Remedy to repel evil and distress from Satan:

41:33. And who speaks more fair than the person who calls people towards Allâh and (accordingly) does what is right and says, `I am invariably of those who submit (before God)’.

41:34. And good and evil are not alike. Repel (evil) with that (benign and graceful way) which is best, and lo, the person between whom and you there is enmity will behave as if he were your warm-hearted friend.

41:35. Yet it is only the steadfast and patiently persevering who are allowed this (grace) and it is only those who possess a large share of good who are allowed this (moral standard).

41:36. Should some sort of trouble from satan vex you, seek refuge in Allâh. For surely He, only He is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.52


Qur’ân provides a moral vaccination against the lurking satanic nature that pervades humans, many a times without their awareness:

113:1. Say, `I seek refuge in the Lord of the day break, and the plain appearing and emergence of truth.

113:2. From the evil of that which He has created,

113:3. And from the evil (that usually prevails in the times) of darkness when it overspreads (at night), [darkness and night also include the moral impoverishment]

113:4. And from the evil of those who try (and whisper evil suggestions) to deter (people) from doing their duty,

113:5. And from the evil of the envier when he envies.'53

 

114:1. Say, `I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,

 

114:2. The Sovereign, the Controller of all affairs of mankind,

114:3. The God of mankind,

114:4. (That He may protect me) from the evil (of the whisperings) of the whisperer, the sneaking one.

114:5. Who whispers evil suggestions into the hearts of mankind,

114:6. From among the jinn (– fiery natured haughty) and the (ordinary) people.'54

 


1 'Satan: A Moral Necessity' by Khwaja Kamal-ud-din, pp. 6-7, Woking Muslim Mission and Literary Trust, The Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, Surrey, England. This article is also attributed to K. Kudos in Islamic Review, pp. 324-5, Vol XX, No. 10, October 1932, Woking Muslim Mission and Muslim Literary Trust.
2 Al-Shams – The Sun: Nooruddin
3 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
4 ibid
5 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
6 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
7 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
8 Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
9 Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
10 YaSin – O Perfect Man! : Nooruddin
11 YaSin – O Perfect Man! : Nooruddin
12 Al-Zukhruf – The Ornaments: Nooruddin
13 Al-Hashr – The Banishment: Nooruddin
14 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
15 ibid
16 Al-Imran – The Family of Amran: Nooruddin
17 Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
18 Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
19 ibid
20 ibid
21 ibid
22 ibid
23 ibid
24 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
25 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
26 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
27 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
28 Al-Naml – The Tribe of Naml: Nooruddin
29 Al-Ankabut – The Spider: Nooruddin
30 Al-Araf – The Elevated Spaces: Nooruddin
31 ibid
32 ibid
33 ibid
34 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
35 Al-Araf – The Elevated Spaces: Nooruddin
36 ibid
37 Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
38 ibid
39 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
40 Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
41 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
42 Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
43 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
44 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
45 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
46 Al-Araf – The Elevated Spaces: Nooruddin
47 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
48 Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
49 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
50 Al-Zukhruf – The Ornaments: Nooruddin
51 Ibraheem – Abraham: Shabbir Ahmed
52 Fussilat – Detailed and Clear in Exposition: The Spider: Nooruddin
53 Al-Falaq – The Daybreak: Nooruddin
54 Al-Nas – The Mankind: Nooruddin

Case Study 5: Wife-Beating? Why Beat Around the Bush When There is No Validation in Quran!

Monday, February 1st, 2016
Case Study 5: Wife-Beating? Why Beat Around the Bush When There is No Validation in Quran!

The words wa-ḍribū hunna, used in the verse 4:34 of the Quran, are mistranslated as "and beat them" to justify wife-beating. Wa means "and", the word translated as "beat" is iḍribū, and hunna means "them" in the feminine tense. Translating iḍribū as "beat" is one of the most flagrant slaughters of a word in Quran.

(Note on terminology: The imperative iḍribū is a command in the plural to carry out the action known as ḍarb. Whenever a word occurs before an imperative such as iḍribū, the last vowel of that word replaces the initial i of the imperative; thus we have here: waḍribū. Note also that the Arabic letter represented by in modern transliteration used to be represented as dz, and is sometimes written as just d, as in some references below.)

The action of ḍarb has several meanings and connotations including to ‘seek away’ or ‘turn them away.’ Ignoring the Quran and Sunnah, some of the translators have chosen to use the most violent and the most out of context meaning of this word. Reading verse 4:34 in context of the immediately following verse 4:35, it becomes crystal clear, and leaves no room for any doubt, whatsoever, that this word is used here in its most non-violent and its most reconciliatory sense. Furthermore, all other verses in Quran addressing the exact same topic of a discord between a husband and a wife, one and all, in unison, prescribe civilized, community-based solutions and not violence.

The Prophet himself is on several records to have harshly condemned any and every sort of violence towards one’s wife. Since it is established that Prophet Muhammad was the ‘the Quran walking,’ it follows that he would never have condemned any act permitted by the Quran.

This word in itself is not the root cause of pain and suffering for women. Rather, the wrong meaning attached to it is what can become a justification for human rights violation in the name of Allah. Below are quoted its root, forms and meanings, all of which are far removed from its misuse to beat one’s wife:

Dzaraba – This word admits a great variety of meanings and interpretations as: To heal, strike, propound as an example, put forth a parable, go, make a journey, travel, mix, avoid, take away, put a cover, shut, mention, state, propound, set forth, compare, liken, seek away, march own, set, impose, prevent, fight, traffic with anyone’s property for a share in the profit, leave for sake, take away thing (with ‘an). Dzaraba bi arjulihî: He travelled. Dzarab al-ardza: Without or with : To travel. Dzaraba fulânun al-gha’ita: To go to relieve the bowels, go to privy, go for earning livelihood. Lâ tudzrabu akbâd al-ibili illa alâ thalâthati masâjida: La Turkal flâ yusaru ilaihâ: One must not ride to go but for three mosques. Adzrabu: To go and sworm. Dzârib: Depressed ground; Hard ground in a plain; sandy valley; Commissioner as he has to travel much. Dzarabtu lahû al-ardza Kullahâ: I went searching him everywhere. Dzarbun: Kind Manner; Lean; Thin; Similar; Alike; The act of striking; A blow; Going from place to place; Vicissitude of life; Affliction especially that which relates to one's person, as disease, death, degradation is common and general suffering. Dzaraba (prt. 3rd. p.m. sing.): He set forth, coined, propounded, compared, gave, mentioned, traveled, took away, avoided (with ‘An). Dzarabû (prf. 3rd. p.m. plu.): They set forth. Dzarabtum (prf. 2nd. p. m. plu.): Ye went forth, set forth. Dzarabnâ (prf. 1st. p. plu.): We have set forth. We put over a cover (with ‘Alâ). Yadzribu (imp. 3rd. p. m. sing.): He illustrates, sets forth, compares, likens. Confirms. Yadzribûna (imp. 3rd. p. m. plu.): They smite, travel. Yadzribna (imp. 3rd. p. f.plu.): She draws over, strikes. Lâ Tadzribû (prt. neg. m. plu.): Coin not. Nadzribu (imp. 1st. p. plu.): We set forth, narrate, will leave (with ‘An). Idzrib (prt. m. sing.): Strike; Go; Seek a way; March on. Idzribû (prt. m. plu.): You strike. Dzuriba (pp. 3rd. p. m. sing.): Held up; Will be set up. Dzuribat (pp. 3rd. p. f. sing.): They are smitted. Dzarbun (v.n. used in the sense of imperative to emphasize the command). Dzarban (v.n. acc.): Going about; Striking. (L; T; R; LL) The root with its above forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 58 times.1

The linguistic spread of the word Dzaraba is so extensive that the ‘Arabic-English Lexicon’ by Edward William Lane (London: Willams & Norgate 1863) allocates to it six pages of three columns each i.e. pages 1777 – 1783.2

At the end of this chapter are listed all the verses from Quran, a total of 53, in which the usage of Dzaraba is identified with all its variations and none of which mean corporal punishment. Even where Dzaraba is used for being ‘smitten’ or a physical ‘strike,’ that usage is fully qualified in the same or adjoining verses, with what, how to, how much and why, to smite or strike. However, it is never, ever used in the sense of beating or corporal punishment.

Wife-beating is an example where a disgusting behavior by men is justified by fishing in Quran for its validation. A barbaric meaning is injected ‘into’ Quran, rather than reading the decent rules of a civil society ‘out of’ Quran. Such abhorring reasoning is found not in Quran, but in certain translations, one of which is quoted below from Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi, the translator:

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has made one of them excel over the other, and because they spend out of their possessions (to support them). Thus righteous women are obedient and guard the rights of men in their absence under Allah's protection. As for women of whom you fear rebellion [Arabic: nushūzahunna], admonish them, and remain apart from them in beds, and beat them [Arabic: iḍ’ribūhunna]*. Then if they obey you, do not seek ways to harm them. Allah is Exalted, Great (4:34).

* This does not mean that a man should resort to these three measures all at once, but that they may be employed if a wife adopts an attitude of obstinate defiance. So far as the actual application of these measures is concerned, there should, naturally, be some correspondence between the fault and the punishment that is administered. Moreover, it is obvious that wherever a light touch can prove effective, one should not resort to sterner measures. Whenever the Prophet (peace be on him) permitted a man to administer corporal punishment to his wife, he did so with reluctance, and continued to express his distaste for it. And even in cases where it is necessary, the Prophet (peace be on him) directed men not to hit across the face, nor to beat severely nor to use anything that might leave marks on the body. (See Ibn Majah, 'Nikah', 3 – Ed.)

If you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbitrator from his people and an arbitrator from her people. If they both want to set things right, Allah will bring about reconciliation between them. Allah knows all, is well aware of everything (4:35).3

Irrespective of who said what in their translation and then tried to reconcile the stated meaning of allowance for beating of wife with lengthy apologies, the fact remains the same, that they all advocate wife beating. Additionally, even if for the sake of an argument ‘beat them’ is assumed to be the correct meaning, then nowhere in Quran will one find the extent and limits of the allowed beating of wives by their husbands. Such translations essentially give a vengeful husband the ‘license’ to beat his wife into disfigurement or death? It only nurtures the evil of ‘honor killings.’

Before we take the translation of verse 4:34, sanctifying wife beating, seriously, we also read in the same translation and in the same chapter –“Do they not ponder about the Qur'an? Had it been from any other than Allah, they would surely have found in it much inconsistency (4:82)”4 With this standard of Quran we have to make sure if this translation of verse 4:34 is inconsistent with other verses, which factually it is. We do not have to remind the translator of verse 4:34 above that according to his own translation of another verse‘…They [–wives] are as a garment to you [–husbands] and you [–husbands] are as a garment to them [–wives] … (2:187).’5 If both spouses are garments of protection and grace for each other and if per chance, according to verse 4:34, the wife sheds her obligation of being a garment for her husband, it still remains obligatory for the husband to remain the garment of protection and grace, not that of violation, for his wife and resort to beating her. In another verse from the same translator it states “…Live with your wives in a good manner. If you dislike them in any manner, it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good for you (4:19).6 Unless someone can justify wife beating as being consistent with living with good manner (that is enjoined on the husbands) translation of verse 4:34 flagrantly contradicts 4:19. In another place in the same translation we find “…who restrain their anger, and forgive others. Allah loves such good-doers (3:134).7 According to this translation, on the one hand Quran encourages suppression of anger and promotes forgiveness while on the other in verse 4:34 it perpetuates anger when it gives the option to beat one’s wife. By the standards of Quran, where there is no inconsistency therein (4:82), this translator woefully creates inconsistency when he allows beating of a wife by her husband and thus leaves us no option but to reject his translation of verse 4:34.

Inflicting physical punishment on women was sadly common in many societies, and, unfortunately, some men derive the legitimacy of punishing their wives from the word Adzribu stated in this verse [4:34]. Adzribu is derived from dzaraba a word with a great variety of meanings and interpretations in the Arabic language and in the Holy Qur'an. Such meanings include to heal, strike, put forward an example, put forth a parable, make a journey, move away, travel, mix, cover, impose, prevent, or take something away. This word has been used in the Holy Qur'an fifty-eight times with different meanings (cf. 30:28; 43:5; 2:273; 2:60; 2:61;18:11;57:13). Thus, adzribu does not mean here [in verse 4:34] to strike physically and it certainly does not mean to inflict physical punishment on women. Meanings such as “take something away” or “put forth an example” (symbolically) can be used as the translation of this word here. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) [–the first and foremost exegete of Quran,] is reported to have said, "You will not find these men as the best among you who punish their wives" (Daud 12/42). Also, He rhetorically asked, "Could any of you beat his wife and then lie with her in the evening?" (Bukhari).8

If the verse 4:34 allows for physical punishment of one’s wife in a marital dispute, no matter how mild the punishment inflicted, then such a husband who beats his wife is merely following the injunction in Quran. How is it then even possible for the Prophet to abhor such a follower of Quran, if the Quran allowed wife beating in the first place. We have two choices in this example, either Quran as translated above is wrong or the Prophet is misquoted, but not both could be right simultaneously. Obviously, neither Quran can be wrong for its actual message of non-violence towards anyone, especially the women, nor the Prophet could be wrong for hadith attributed to him of non-violence towards wives. Once again, without even discussing the linguistics, we are left with no choice but to reject wife beating as the utterly wrong meaning attributed to Quran. On the reverse we have the following hadith about the Prophet:

Abu Abdullah Al-Jadali narrated: "I asked 'Aishah about the character of the Messenger of Allah. She said: 'He was not obscene, nor uttering obscenities, nor screaming in the markets, he would not return an evil with an evil, but rather he was pardoning and forgiving."[Tirmidhi]9

We also have another verse from Quran about the sublime nature of the Prophet and a corresponding hadith attributed to Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, that the Prophet was “the Quran walking” in his character:

68:4. And you possess outstandingly high standard of moral (excellence).10

Narrated Sa'd bin Hisham: “…I said: Mother of faithful [-Aisha], tell me about the character of the Messenger of Allah (). She asked: Do you not recite the Quran ? The character of Messenger of Allah () was the Qur'an…” [Sunan Abu Dawud’]11

How is it possible for a walking talking Quran to not have followed its injunction, and allowed wife beating? Rather on the reverse, we have hadiths from Aisha which only prove that he was a man far removed from violence and follower of Quran in this matter:

"The Messenger of Allah () never beat any of his servants, or wives, and his hand never hit anything." [Ibn Majah]12

"Rasulullah Sallallahu 'Alayhi Wasallam did not hit anything with his mubaarak hands, besides the time when he made jihaad in the Path of Allah. He did not hit a servant nor a women (wife, slave girl etc.)"[ Shama’il Muhammadiyah (–Tirmidhi)]13

“Messenger of Allah () never hit anything with his hand neither a servant nor a woman but of course, he did fight in the Cause of Allah. He never took revenge upon anyone for the wrong done to him, but of course, he exacted retribution for the sake of Allah in case the Injunctions of Allah about unlawful acts were violated.” [Muslim]14

In marital discord, no matter how egregious, and alleged on the wife, it cannot be left in the hands of a husband to inflict corporal punishment. In another place a verse from the same translation removes the authority to arbiter in a dispute from individuals and vests it with the government, relegates to the example of the Prophet and if the matter is beyond the former two, it shifts it into the hands of Allah:

Believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those from among you who are invested with authority; and then if you were to dispute among yourselves about anything refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you indeed believe in Allah and the Last Day; that is better and more commendable in the end (4:59).15

At least in the example of the Prophet, there is no wife beating to be found, but this translator did find it in Quran. One of the worst allegations in a marriage is that of a charge of adultery on a spouse, especially the wife, which for an arrogant ‘honor killer’ husband is a trigger happy moment. Even in such an extreme situation Quran does not allow beating of one’s wife, as conceded by Mawdudi (see his translation of verse 24:6-10 below). But, none-the-less, ignoring this, Mawdudi, allows for violence for merely “rebelling” against the husband in verse 4:34, whereas in Quran the matter is required to be referred to Allah, as explained in the verses from the same translator:

As for those who accuse their own wives but have no witness except themselves, the evidence of one of them is that he shall swear four times by Allah and declare that he is true (in his charge). Then the fifth time he shall declare that Allah's curse be upon him if he be false (in his charge). (As for the woman), it shall avert the punishment from her if she swears four times by Allah that the man is false (in his charge) and the fifth time she invokes Allah's wrath upon herself, if he be true (in his charge). If Allah had not shown you His grace and mercy and if Allah had not been most Forgiving and All-Wise, (you would have been in a great fix because of accusing your wives)(24:6-10).16

Even if the adultery is witnessed or falsely alleged, the authority to punish is not in the hands of individuals, but can only be carried out by the state:

The woman and the man guilty of fornication, flog each one of them with a hundred stripes – and let not any pity for them restrain you in regard to a matter prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day, and let, some of the believers witness the punishment inflicted on them (24:2).17

As for those persons who charge chaste women with false accusations but do not produce four witnesses, flog them with eighty stripes and never accept their evidence afterwards, for they themselves are transgressors, except those who repent and reform themselves; Allah is Forgiving and Merciful (24:4-5).18

Under any law, there cannot be a double punishment for a given crime because according to the translator under discussion “…do not commit aggression because Allah does not like aggressors (2:190).19 However, according to the same translation it may be allowed so, first beating of the wife by the husband (4:34) and later lashing by the state (24:2).

The weakness of the translation of verse 4:34 quoted above can be ascertained for its meaning of another word ‘Nashuz’ which is also referred to in the same verse and also in another place quoted below from the same translation:

If a woman fears either ill-treatment [Arabic: nushūzan] or aversion from her husband it is not wrong for the husband and wife to bring about reconciliation among themselves (by compromising on their rights), for settlement is better. Man's soul is always prone to selfishness, but if you do good and are God-fearing, then surely Allah is aware of the things you do (4:128).20

This translation reeks of double standards. The word ‘Nashuz’ is taken for rebellion by a wife in verse 4:34 and ill-treatment by a husband in verse 4:128. In the former case, when allegedly wife is at fault, the quoted translation sanctions violence against wife first which essentially defeats any chance of reconciliation in the subsequent verse 4:35. In the latter case, in verse 4:128, it advocates reconciliation alone when the alleged fault lies with the husband. Whereas, we know that in Quran a wife has equal rights and at par with the husband ‘… And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner…(2:228)’.21 Should we then presume that to reclaim their equal rights, denied by said translator in marital discord, wives too must resort to inflict spousal abuse? This self-created contradiction in Quran can be expunged merely by using the correct and contextual implications of the word ‘Adzribu’ in verse 4:34 for its non-violent meanings e.g. ‘seek away’ or ‘turn them away’. These meanings pave way for reconciliation between the estranged couple enjoined in the subsequent verse 4:35. By such appropriate meanings for ‘Adzribu’, both verses 4:34 and 4:128 are normalized and their mutual contradiction is thus resolved along with the contradiction with verse 2:228 and many other verses that specifically mention kind treatment of wives in general any specifically in marital discord. Such sensible approach does not diminish message of Quran. It only diminishes violence in the society and increases reconciliation in a household in which the consequent victims might not only be the spouses themselves, but also the children and other family members.

Quran addresses marital discord from both ends of the spectrum. It addresses the view point of the husband, the likely head of household, in verses 4:34-35 and the aggrieved wife in verse 4:128.

Aggrieved husband – The ignorant justify violence towards women while relying on verse 4:34 which according to them allows wife beating. This assertion is similar to stoning to death. The sources for both maybe found elsewhere, but not in Quran. The following is a plain reproduction of verses 4:34-35 and their footnotes from English Translation of the Holy Quran, by Maulana Muhammad Ali in its revised edition by Zahid Aziz. By contrasting Muhammad Ali’s translation to Mawdudi’s, readers can judge for themselves how ignorantly Quran is misused by some, the likes of which include Mawdudi, to condone an ignominious behavior of wife beating for which there is no room in Quran in its plain read below:

4:34. Men are the maintainers of women22, with what Allah has given some of them above others and with what they spend out of their wealth. So the good women are obedient (to Allah)23,…

Obedience here signifies obedience to Allah. This significance of the word is made clear by a comparison with 33:31, 33:35, and 66:5.

33:31. And whoever of you [– Prophet’s wives] is obedient to Allah and His Messenger and does good, We shall give her a double reward [– greater reward], and We have prepared for her an honourable sustenance.

…guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded…

This refers to their guarding the husband’s rights. The two qualifications of a good wife as given here are her obedience to God and chastity.

…And (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish24 them, and leave them alone in the beds25

The word translated here as desertion, when used about a woman in connection with her husband, means her rising against her husband. This is explained by the commentators in a number of ways; for example, her leaving the husband’s place and taking up an abode which he does not like or that the wife resisted her husband and hated him and deserted him. The remedy for her correction is that she is to be admonished, but if she persists in the wrong course, her bed is to be separated, i.e. a cessation of sexual relations.

…and turn them away (from wrongdoing)…

Editor’s Note: The words translated as “turn them away” use the term darb, and have often been translated as “beat them”. Maulana Muhammad Ali rendered them as “chastise them” and explained that very slight chastisement was allowed only in extreme cases, which should not leave an impression, and further that this permission is meant only for the crass type of people in society among whom such chastisement is acceptable. However, as he pointed out in his footnotes on verses 2:60 and 2:73, the verb darb signifies “all kinds of actions except a few”; and apart from striking it is used to mean, for example, marching on, setting forth a parable, and likening. In these other senses it is commonly used in the Quran. It is used in 43:5 as meaning to turn (something) away: “Shall We then turn away the Reminder from you…?”, which is how Maulana Muhammad Ali and many other translators have rendered this verse. This sense seems to be applicable here. Thus the meaning here would be that by admonishing and, if necessary, breaking off sexual relations, the husband should turn the wife away from her wrong course, or it may mean that if these measures fail he should turn her away from himself, i.e. divorce her. It may be added that the Quran clearly forbids a man from causing injury to his wife. In its rules for divorce, husbands are told about their wives: “retain them with kindness or let them go with kindness and do not retain them for injury” (2:231), “retain them with kindness or part from them with kindness … do not injure them in order to impose hardship upon them” (65:2, 6). In fact, only a few verses prior to v. 34 above, in v. 19, husbands have been instructed as follows about their wives: “Nor should you cause them hardship… And treat them kindly. Then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it”.

…So if they obey you, do not seek a way against them. Surely Allah is ever Exalted, Great.

4:35. And if you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbiter from his people and an arbiter from her people. If they both desire agreement, Allah will effect harmony between them. Surely Allah is ever Knowing, Aware.26

This verse lays down the procedure for divorce. It is not for the husband to put away his wife; it is the business of the judge to decide the case. He is required to appoint two arbiters, one belonging to the wife’s family and the other to the husband’s. These two arbiters will find out the facts, but their objective must be to effect a reconciliation between the parties. If all hopes of reconciliation fail, a divorce is allowed, but the final decision for divorce rests with the judge who is legally entitled to pronounce a divorce. Cases were decided in accordance with these directions in the early days of Islam.

Of note is that verses 4:34-35 outline progressive steps in a married relationship gone sour, where each step essentially gives a pause to rethink, forebear and reconcile i.e. to give a verbal advice – admonish them; temporary separation – and leave them alone in the beds; symbolic termination of certain privileges – turn them away; mediation – if you fear a breach between the two, appoint an arbiter from his people and an arbiter from her people. If there was any remote possibility of allowance for ‘wife beating’ in verse 4:34, then for sure there is no residual chance for mediation as outlined in verse 4:35.

One of the criticism levelled against verse 4:34 is that it is male centric. Like any statue of law its narrative is that of male gender, but in no way negates the rights of the female gender. The reverse is equally applicable:

2:228. … And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner…27

The rights of women against their husbands are here stated to be similar to those which the husbands have against their wives. The change in this respect was really a revolutionizing one, for the Arabs hitherto regarded women as mere property. Women were now declared to have rights similar to those which were exercised against them. The equality of the rights of women with those of men was never previously recognized by any nation or any reformer.

Similarly, as pointed out in the footnotes quoted from Maulana Muhammad Ali above, other verses ensure as an injunction, explicit kindness towards wife even during the divorce process when each party might be expectantly hateful towards the other:

4:19. O you who believe, it is not lawful for you to take women as heritage against (their) will…

Among the pre-Islamic Arabs, when a man died his elder son or other relations had a right to possess his widow or widows, marrying them themselves if they wished, without settling a dowry on them, marrying them to others, or prohibiting them from marriage altogether. This is abolished by these words.

…Nor should you cause them hardship by taking part of what you have given them, unless they are guilty of manifest indecency…

This passage remedies another evil. Some husbands who were dissatisfied with their wives gave them trouble in order to force them to claim a divorce and remit the dowry (i.e., the legally-due nuptial gift from the husband to the wife). This is disallowed. If the judge finds that the fault lies actually with the husband, he will not allow the dowry to be remitted in his favour. It can only be taken back if the woman is guilty of immoral conduct. In such cases, when the fault is with the woman, she may be required to return it wholly or in part.

…And treat them kindly. Then if you hate them, it may be that you dislike a thing while Allah has placed abundant good in it.28

If per chance verse 4:34 is interpreted to allow ‘wife beating’ then such a deduction will create contradiction in Quran as the verse 4:19 above enjoins the husband quite clearly to treat them kindly always, even when there is property dispute during the divorce process:

4:20. And if you wish to have (one) wife in the place of another and you have given one of them a heap of gold, take nothing from it. Would you take it by slandering (her) and (doing her) manifest wrong?

Another social evil was that a husband, wanting to marry another woman instead, would accuse his wife of adultery or other gross immorality, thus compelling her to obtain a divorce by paying a large sum of money.

4:21. And how can you take it when you have been intimate with each other and they have taken from you a strong covenant?29

Marriage is here called a covenant or agreement between the husband and the wife. As there can be no agreement unless both parties give their consent to it, marriage in Islam can only be entered into with the free consent of the husband and wife.

In another place Quran ensures the kind behavior towards wife even at the conclusion of the divorce, a time when mutual hatred and apathy might run amok:

2:231. And when you divorce women and they reach their prescribed time, then retain them with kindness or let them go with kindness and do not retain them for injury so that you exceed the limits…

If the husband is proved to give injury to the wife, he cannot retain her, and she can claim a divorce. Injury to the wife may be of a general nature or one given with the object of compelling her to remit her dowry to obtain a divorce. It is for the judge to see that the husband is not taking undue advantage of his position. On the other hand, the husband is enjoined to show liberality to the divorced wife, and the judge would no doubt see that the injunctions of the Quran were observed. It is made clear in 4:35 that decision in matters of divorce rests with the judges appointed, not with the husband or the wife.

…And whoever does this, he indeed wrongs his own soul. And do not take Allah’s messages for a mockery,…

The injunctions relating to the kind treatment of women must not be taken lightly, we are told here. Retaining women to cause them injury has already been declared to be a transgression and emphasis is now laid on the proper observance of these injunctions by stating that these are most serious matters relating to the welfare of society as a whole.

…and remember Allah’s favour to you, and what He has revealed to you of the Book and the Wisdom, instructing you by it. And keep your duty to Allah, and know that Allah is the Knower of all things.30

If we read the above verses on a range of behavior expected of the husband towards his wife, then these verses quite vividly put the husband at the service of the wife i.e. Men are the maintainers of women (4:34) and treat them kindly (4:19). This benevolence is enjoined on husbands towards their wives even after divorce i.e. if…you have given one of them a heap of gold, take nothing from it (4:20) and when you divorce women and they reach their prescribed time, then retain them with kindness or let them go with kindness and do not retain them for injury (2:231).

Aggrieved wife Similar to verses 4:34-35 for aggrieved husband, the aggrieved wife is also given her equal and similar rights:

4:128. And if a woman fears ill-usage from her husband or desertion, there is no blame on the two of them if they effect a reconciliation between them. And reconciliation is better. And greed is met with in (people’s) minds. And if you do good (to others) and keep your duty, surely Allah is ever Aware of what you do.31

Quran addresses both husband and wife to be just in their marital dispute the cause of which might be beyond the individual spouses and extend to involve relatives and others, and the consequent arbitration requiring testimony, which it mandates in verses 4:35 and 4:128:

4:135. O you who believe, be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness for Allah, even if it is against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives — whether he is rich or poor, Allah has a better right over them both. So do not follow (your) low desires, that you deviate. And if you distort (the truth) or turn away (from it), surely Allah is ever Aware of what you do.32

In conclusion, there is no basis for aggression towards one’s wife in Quran and Sunnah. Quran does not allow any maltreatment of women even after their divorce. On the contrary, kind treatment must be shown towards women under all circumstances. If the dispute is beyond the prerogative of a household, the matter is referred to authorities, communal or governmental, who then have to arbiter in light of Quran and Sunnah.

—————————-

Listed below are all the verses from Quran, a total of 53, in which the usage of araba is identified with all its variations and none of which mean corporal punishment:

2:26. Surely Allah does not disdain to set forth [Arabic: yaḍriba] any parable — a gnat or anything above that. Then as for those who believe, they know that it is the truth from their Lord; and as for those who disbelieve, they say: What is it that Allah means by this parable? Many He leaves in error by it and many He leads aright by it. And He leaves in error by it only the transgressors,33

2:60. And when Moses prayed for water for his people, We said: March on [Arabic: iḍrib] to the rock with your staff. So twelve springs flowed from it. Each tribe knew their drinking-place. Eat and drink of the provisions of Allah, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the land.34

2:60. And (recall the time) when Moses prayed for water for his people and We said (to him), `Go with your people and smite [Arabic: iḍrib] that particular rock with your staff.' So (when he did so) there gushed forth from it twelve springs so that every tribe came to know of its drinking place. (We said,) `Eat and drink of sustenance provided by Allâh and commit not transgression in the land like peace-breakers.'35

2:61. And when you said: Moses, we cannot endure one food, so pray your Lord on our behalf to bring forth for us out of what the earth grows, of its herbs and its cucumbers and its garlic and its lentils and its onions. He said: Would you exchange what is better for what is worse? Enter a city, so you will have what you ask for. And degradation and humiliation were stamped [Arabic: ḍuribat] upon them, and they incurred Allah’s wrath. That was so because they disbelieved in the messages of Allah and would kill the prophets unjustly. That was so because they disobeyed and exceeded the limits.36

2:73. So We said: Strike him [Arabic: iḍribū-hu] with it partially. Thus Allah brings the dead to life, and He shows you His signs that you may understand.37

2:273. (Charity is) for the poor who are confined in the way of Allah, they cannot go about [Arabic: ḍarb-an] in the land; the ignorant man thinks them to be rich on account of (their) abstaining (from begging). You can recognize them by their mark — they do not beg of people demandingly. And whatever good thing you spend, surely Allah is Knower of it.38

3:112. Degradation will be [Arabic: duribat] their lot wherever they are found, except under a covenant with Allah and a covenant with people, and they shall incur the wrath of Allah, and humiliation will be made to cling [Arabic: duribat] to them. This is because they disbelieved in the messages of Allah and killed the prophets unjustly. This is because they disobeyed and exceeded the limits.39

3:112. Smitten [Arabic: ḍuribat] are they with ignominy wherever they are found unless they have a bond (of protection) from Allâh, or a bond (of security) from the people. They have incurred the displeasure of Allâh and have been condemned [Arabic: ḍuribat] to humiliation. That is so because they would disbelieve in the Messages of Allâh and would seek to kill the Prophets without any just cause. And that is so because they rebelled and had been transgressing as usual.40

3:156. O you who believe, do not be like those who disbelieve and say of their brethren when they travel [Arabic: ḍarabū] in the earth or engage in fighting: If they had been with us, they would not have died, or been killed; that Allah may make it a regret in their hearts. And Allah gives life and causes death. And Allah is Seer of what you do.41

4:34. Men are the maintainers of women, with what Allah has given some of them above others and with what they spend out of their wealth. So the good women are obedient (to Allah), guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded. And (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the beds and turn them away [Arabic: iḍ’ribūhunna] (from wrongdoing). So if they obey you, do not seek a way against them. Surely Allah is ever Exalted, Great.42

4:94. O you who believe, when you go forth [Arabic: ḍarabtum] (to fight) in Allah’s way, make investigation, and do not say to anyone who offers you salutation, You are not a believer, seeking the good of this world’s life. But with Allah there are abundant gains. You too were such before, then Allah conferred a benefit on you; so make investigation. Surely Allah is ever Aware of what you do.43

4:101. And when you journey [Arabic: ḍarabtum] in the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve will give you trouble. Surely the disbelievers are an open enemy to you.44

5:106. O you who believe, call to witness between you, when death draws near to one of you, at the time of making the will, two just persons from among you, or two others from among others than you, if you are travelling [Arabic: ḍarabtum] in the land and the calamity of death befalls you. You should detain them after the prayer. Then if you doubt (them), they shall both swear by Allah (saying): We will not take for it a price even for a relative, nor will we hide the testimony of Allah, for then certainly we shall be sinners.45

7:160. And We divided them into twelve tribes, as nations. And We revealed to Moses when his people asked him for water: March on [Arabic: iḍ’rib] to the rock with your staff; so out flowed from it twelve springs. Each tribe knew its drinking-place. And We made the clouds to give shade over them and We sent to them manna and quails. Eat of the good things We have given you. And they did not do Us any harm, but they wronged their own souls.46

8:12. When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, so make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So strike [Arabic: iḍ’ribū] above the necks and strike [Arabic: iḍ’ribū] every finger-tip of them.47

8:50. And if you could see when the angels cause to die those who disbelieve, striking [Arabic: yaḍribūna] their faces and their backs, and (saying): Taste the punishment of burning.48

13:17. He sends down water from the clouds, then watercourses flow according to their measure, and the torrent bears along the swelling foam. And a scum like it arises from what they melt in the fire for the sake of making ornaments or tools. Thus does Allah compare [Arabic: yaḍribu] truth and falsehood. Then as for the scum, it passes away as a worthless thing; and as for that which benefits people, it remains behind in the earth. Thus does Allah set forth [Arabic: yaḍribu] parables.49

14:24. Do you not see how Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable of a good word as a good tree, whose root is firm and whose branches are high,50

14:25. yielding its fruit in every season by the permission of its Lord? And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] parables for people that they may be mindful.51

14:45. And you dwell in the abodes of those who wronged themselves, and it is clear to you how We dealt with them and We made (them) [Arabic: waḍarabnā] examples for you.52

16:74. So do not coin [Arabic: taḍribū] likenesses for Allah. Surely Allah knows and you do not know.53

16:75. Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable: There is a slave, the property of another, controlling nothing, and there is one to whom We have granted from Ourselves a goodly provision, so he spends from it (on good works) secretly and openly. Are the two alike? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know.54

16:76. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable of two men: One of them dumb, controlling nothing, and he is a burden to his master; wherever he sends him, he brings no good. Is he equal with him who enjoins justice, and he is on the right path?55

16:112. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable: A town safe and secure, to which its means of subsistence came in abundance from every quarter; but it disbelieved in Allah’s favours, so Allah made it taste a pall of hunger and fear because of what they did.56

17:48. See, what they liken [Arabic: ḍarabū] you to! So they have gone astray, and cannot find the way.57

18:11. So We prevented [Arabic: faḍarabnā] them from hearing in the Cave for a number of years,58

18: 11. So We sealed [Arabic: faḍarabnā] up their ears (to cut them off from the outside world) in their Place of Refuge for (only) a number of years.59

18:32. And set forth [Arabic: wa-iḍ’rib] to them the parable of two men — for one of them We made two gardens of grape-vines, and We surrounded them with date-palms, and between them We made corn-fields.60

18:45. And set forth [Arabic: wa-iḍ’rib] to them the likeness of the life of this world as water which We send down from the cloud, so the vegetation of the earth becomes luxuriant by it, then it becomes dry, broken into pieces which the winds scatter. And Allah is the Holder of power over all things.61

20:77. And certainly We revealed to Moses: Travel by night with My servants, then strike [Arabic: iḍ’rib] for them a dry path in the sea, not fearing to be caught, nor being afraid.62

22:73. O people, a parable is set forth [Arabic: ḍuriba], so listen to it. Surely those whom you call upon besides Allah cannot create a fly, though they should all gather for it. And if the fly carry off anything from them, they cannot take it back from it. Weak are (both) the invoker and the invoked.63

24:31. And say to the believing women that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions and do not display their adornment except what appears of it. And they should wear [Arabic: walyaḍrib’na] their head-coverings over their bosoms. And they should not display their adornment except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husbands, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or harmless male servants, or the children who do not know women’s nakedness. And they should not strike [Arabic: walā yaḍrib’na] their feet so that the adornment that they hide may be known. And turn to Allah all, O believers, so that you may be successful.64

24:35. Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth. A likeness of His light is as a pillar on which is a lamp — the lamp is in a glass, the glass is as it were a brightly shining star — lit from a blessed olive-tree, neither eastern nor western, whose oil gives light, even though fire does not touch it — light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He pleases. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: yaḍribu] parables for mankind, and Allah is Knower of all things —65

25:9. See what parables they set forth [Arabic: ḍarabū] for you — they have gone astray, so they cannot find a way.66

25:39. And to each We gave [Arabic: ḍarabnā] examples and each did We destroy with utter destruction.67

26:63. Then We revealed to Moses: March on [Arabic: iḍ’rib] to the sea with your staff. So it parted, and each side was like a huge mound.68

29:43. And these parables, We set them forth [Arabic: naḍribuhā] for people, and none understand them but the learned.69

30:28. He sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] to you a parable about yourselves. Do you have, among those whom your right hands possess, partners in what We have given you, so that you are equal in it, you fearing them as you fear each other? a Thus do We make the messages clear for a people who understand.70

30:58. And certainly We have set forth [Arabic: ḍarabnā] for people in this Quran every kind of description. And if you bring them a sign, those who disbelieve would certainly say: You are only deceivers.71

36:13. And set out [Arabic: wa-iḍ’rib] to them a parable of the people of the town, when messengers came to it.72

36:78. And he strikes out [Arabic: waḍaraba] a likeness for Us and forgets his own creation. Says he: Who will give life to the bones, when they are rotten?73

37:93. So he turned upon them, striking [Arabic: ḍarban] with the right hand.74

38:44. And take in your hand [a] few worldly goods and earn goodness [Arabic: fa-iḍ’rib] therewith and do not incline to falsehood. Surely We found him patient; most excellent the servant! Surely he (ever) turned (to Us).75

38:44. And (We commanded him,) `Take in your hand a handful of twigs and strike [Arabic: fa-iḍ’rib] (the riding beast) therewith. And do not ever incline towards falsehood. Indeed, We found him steadfast. An excellent servant was he. He was always turning (towards God) in obedience.76

39:27. And certainly We have set forth [Arabic: ḍarabnā] for people in this Quran examples of every sort that they may be mindful.77

39:29. Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] a parable: A man belonging to partners differing with one another, and a man (devoted) wholly to one man. Are the two alike in condition? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know.78

43:5. Shall We then turn away [Arabic: afanaḍribu] the Reminder from you altogether because you are a people committing excesses?79

43:17. And when one of them is given news (of the birth) of that the like of which he ascribes [Arabic: ḍaraba] to the Beneficent, his face becomes black and he is full of rage.80

43:57. And when the son of Mary is mentioned [Arabic: ḍuriba] as an example, lo! your people raise a clamour at it.81

43:58. And they say: Are our gods better, or is he? They set it forth [Arabic: ḍarabūhu] to you only by way of disputation. Indeed, they are a contentious people.82

47:3. That is because those who disbelieve follow falsehood, and those who believe follow the Truth from their Lord. Thus does Allah set forth [Arabic: yaḍribu] their descriptions for people.83

47:4. So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, strike [Arabic: ḍarba] the necks; then, when you have overcome them, make (them) prisoners, and afterwards (set them free) as a favour or for ransom till the war lay down its burdens. That (shall be so). And if Allah please, He would certainly exact retribution from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never allow their deeds to perish.84

47:27. But how will it be when the angels cause them to die, striking [Arabic: yaḍribūna] their faces and their backs?85

57:13. On the day when the hypocrites, men and women, will say to those who believe: Wait for us, that we may borrow from your light. It will be said: Turn back and seek a light. Then a wall, with a door in it, will be raised [Arabic: faḍuriba] between them. Within it shall be mercy, and outside of it punishment.86

59:21. If We had sent down this Quran on a mountain, you would certainly have seen it falling down, splitting apart because of the fear of Allah. And We set forth [Arabic: naḍribuhā] these parables to people that they may reflect.87

66:10. Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] an example for those who disbelieve — the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were both under two of Our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards them, so they (the husbands) did not avail them at all against (the punishment of ) Allah, and it was said: Enter the Fire with those who enter.88

66:11. And Allah sets forth [Arabic: ḍaraba] an example for those who believe — the wife of Pharaoh, when she said: My Lord, build for me a house with You in the Garden and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from the wrongdoing people.89

73:20. Your Lord knows indeed that you pass in prayer nearly two-thirds of the night, and (sometimes) half of it, and (sometimes) a third of it, as do a group of those with you. And Allah measures the night and the day. He knows that (all of) you are not able to do it, so He has turned to you (mercifully); so read of the Quran whatever is easy for you. He knows that there are sick among you, and others who travel [Arabic: yaḍribūna] in the land seeking of Allah’s bounty, and others who fight in Allah’s way. So read as much of it as is easy (for you), and keep up prayer and give the due charity and offer to Allah a goodly gift. And whatever of good you send on beforehand for yourselves, you will find it with Allah — that is best and greatest in reward. And ask forgiveness of Allah. Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.90


NOTE: Many aspects of this chapter have been compiled with the help of online resource: http://corpus.quran.com/

1 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.328-329
3 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
4 ibid
5 Al-Baqarah: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
6 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
7 Al-I-Imran: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
8 ‘The Exegesis of the Holy Quran’ as Explained by Nooruddin, Excerpted from footnote to verse 4:34, p. 469.
9 ‘Jami` al-Tirmidhi’ – Chapters on Righteousness And Maintaining Good Relations With Relatives. Link: http://sunnah.com/tirmidhi/27/122
10 Al-Qalam – The Pen: Nooruddin
11 ‘Sunan Abu Dawud’ – Book of Prayer (Kitab Al-Salat): Voluntary Prayers. Link: http://sunnah.com/abudawud/5/93
12 ‘Sunan Ibn Majah’ – The Chapters on Marriage. Link: http://sunnah.com/urn/1263030
13 ‘Shama'il Muhammadiyah’ – Noble Character And Habits Of Sayyidina Rasoolullah. Link: http://sunnah.com/urn/1803300
14 ‘Riyad as-Salihin’ – The Book of Miscellany. Link: http://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/1/644
15 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
16 An-Nur: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
17 ibid
18 ibid
19 Al-Baqarah: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
20 An-Nissa: ‘Tafheem ul Quran’ by Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)
21 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
22 This is the contractual duty of husbands in marriage keeping in view that women on their part bear with issues unique to their gender, for example, menstruation, pregnancy, labor, postpartum, breast feeding, childcare and home maker, besides nurturing a home and its environment out which the husband is able to undertake his stated obligations outside the home.
23 Despite that Men are the maintainers of women, there is no reciprocity of obliged subjugation of women to their husbands, and rather they are to adhere to laws of Allah in matters of daily living and not of a man, the husband. This nullifies the apparent material advantage of a husband over his wife.
24 Merriam-Webster: 1 a: to indicate duties or obligations to. b: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner. 2: to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to.
25leave them alone in the beds’ – a temporary separation, for example, to live in a separate room. This also prevents any abuse of the wife that might emerge from the all too common escalating arguments and consequent rage when there is close proximity of the disagreeing parties.
26 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
27 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
28 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
29 ibid
30 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
31 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
32 ibid
33 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
34 ibid
35 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
36 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
37 ibid
38 ibid
39 Al`Imran – The Family of Amran: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
40 ibid
41 ibid
42 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
43 ibid
44 ibid
45 Al-Maidah – Food: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
46 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
47 Al-Anfal – Voluntary Gifts: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
48 ibid
49 Al-Rad – Thunder: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
50 Ibrahim – Abraham: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
51 ibid
52 ibid
53 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
54 ibid
55 ibid
56 ibid
57 Bani Israil – The Israelites: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
58 Al-Kahf – The Cave: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
59 Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
60 Al-Kahf – The Cave: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
61 ibid
62 Ta Ha: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
63 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
64 Al-Nur – The Light: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
65 ibid
66 Al-Furqan – The Criterion: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
67 ibid
68 Al-Shuara – The Poets: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
69 Al-Ankabut – The Spider: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
70 Al-Rum – The Romans: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
71 ibid
72 Ya Sin: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
73 ibid
74 Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
75 Sad: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
76 Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
77 Al-Zumar – The Companies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
78 ibid
79 Zukhruf – Gold: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
80 ibid
81 ibid
82 ibid
83 Muhammad: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
84 ibid
85 ibid
86 Al-Hadid – Iron: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
87 Al-Hashr – The Banishment: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
88 Al-Tahrim – The Prohibition: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
89 ibid
90 Al-Muzzammil – The one covering himself up: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

Case Study 7: Hijab, the Niqab and the Beard! On the Faces or on the Minds? A Case of Mistaken Identity

Monday, December 14th, 2015
Case Study 7: Hijab, the Niqab and the Beard! On the Faces or on the Minds? A Case of Mistaken Identity

7:26. O Children of Adam! Indeed We have sent down to you a garment which covers your shame [Arabic: sawātikum]…1

While addressing all Children of Adam i.e. both men and women, this verse lays down the basis of any article of dress in Islam, least of which covers your shame. The Quranic injunction for a garment essentially states that all those parts of the body, which, if exposed are a source of individual shame or embarrassment, must be covered. In the light of this fundamental guideline of Quran all wearers of Veil or Hijab under the pretext of Islam, have to ask themselves if exposing their scalp hair, forehead, ears or face is shameful. A universal answer is in the negative, rather on the reverse; all these are a source of one’s identity and dignity. If due to some cultural pressure or misinterpretation of Quran, the face and hair of a woman carry a shame that needs to be covered, then by implication, the faces and scalps of men are equally shameful, which too must be covered by equal standards that are applied on women. Contrary to general assumptions, Quran is liberal enough to allow for a personal choice for one to cover one’s head with Hijab, or the face with a Veil (Niqab) or a Beard.

Parts of the body which need garments to cover public shame are explicitly outlined in Quran and are limited to the private parts of both males and females and female bosoms. By reduction, Quran forbids uncovering of gender differentiating anatomical regions between men and women, which are none but sexual in their function:

23:5-6. And who guard their private parts, Except from their spouses, that is those whom they justly and rightfully own in proper wedlock, in that case they are not to be blamed.2

24:31. And tell the believing women … cover their bosoms…3

Additionally, as we will discuss below, the dress in Quran is not only to cover the nakedness, but also is a source of elegance and modesty, both at home and in public life for both men and women. Both males and females are expected to dress and adorn within limits that eliminates the basis of any unwanted insinuation, attention, ridicule or scandal mongering.

Globalization and the freedom of thought that it provides by breaking cultural boundaries, also gives us individual freedom to choose a dress of our liking. But, it becomes a problem when a given dress is worn and enforced in the name of Islam, for which the Quran gives no basis. The closest case that can be made for a Veil in the name of Islam is that it nurtures chastity. But this kind of chastity preservation is no different than the chastity belt of the Europeans in the dark ages.

The so called ‘Islamic veil’ and the Beard are nothing but a cultural baggage of the old world, mistaken as identity of Islam. No matter how one slices and dices the Quran, metaphorically or literally, there is neither mention of dress articles of Hijab or Veil nor covering of the heads nor the faces of women. But, if pursued in the cultural context, the practice of Veil is essentially perceived to maintain the modesty of women in public while preventing lustful glances of men. Instead of taking men to task, men seem to be given a leeway in their behavior, while putting women to misery. This is a safe deduction, because such women are unveiled in their homes and around their close family members including men. Of note is that in Quran, there is no home bound woman. On the reverse, in Quran, a woman is expected to be immersed in public life, all of which are the obvious deductions in the verses quoted later. At the same time what prevents the reverse lustful glances of females from behind their veils to the men around them?

40:19. He knows the treachery of the eyes even (when they commit sinful acts secretly) and what the hearts conceal.4

For our discussion we will differentiate, where needed, between a Hijab and Veil5. The term Hijab will be used to mean a headscarf that covers the head, part of forehead, the ears and the area around the neck. The Veil is just an extension of Hijab in that it additionally covers the face, and depending upon local culture, may or may not leave the eyes exposed. At times, both Hijab and Veil will be used interchangeably when the discussion is about any dress article that covers the head of the woman.

For the specifics of dress code that is misattributed to Islam, suffice is to read the relevant sections in the book ‘Religion of Islam’6 by Maulana Muhammad Ali that fully expunge face veil from a policy perspective, based upon Quran, Sunnah and Hadith.

The purpose of this chapter is different, which is to refute the underlying themes, both in the thought and culture that create the basis of the Hijab, the Veil and the Beard. Veil and its enforcement are essentially based upon the male chauvinistic tendencies, in which the male ego is guarded more than the modesty of the woman. In turn, women, the half of the population, pay a heavy price for the protection of that male ego, both, in limitation of their role in the society as well as their unwarranted isolation which prevents them from living their lives to the fullest. Both, the eyes and ears are not only anatomical features, but are gateways to the faculty of hearing and seeing that ultimately affect the thinking. Any impediment, both physical and intellectual, of these faculties to grow is factually against Quran:

67:23. Say, `It is He Who has brought you into being and made for you ears (to hear), eyes (to see) and hearts (to understand). Yet little thanks do you give!'7

Hiding, to any degree, of the ears, the eyes or the skin, the presumed acts of piety, is not a source of virtue in Quran. Rather, the intention and righteous behaviors drive one’s virtues:

2:177. It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East and the West [–the outwards acts], but righteous is the one who believes in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels and the Book and the prophets, and gives away wealth out of love for Him to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the traveller and to those who ask and to set slaves free and keeps up prayer and gives the due charity; and the performers of their promise when they make a promise, and the patient in distress and affliction and in the time of conflict. These are they who are truthful; and these are they who keep their duty.8

Hijab – The term Hijab as used in Quran has the following meanings to it:

Hajaba – To cover, veil, hinder anyone from access, shut out. Hijâb: Veil, curtain, screen; Barrier. Mahjûbûna: Veiled; Shut out; Blind. Hijâb (n.): Barrier. Mahjûbûn (pct. pic. m. plu): Blinds. (L; T; R; LL) The root with its above two forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 8 times.9

Nowhere in Quran is the use of the term Hijab in context of an article of dress. The term Hijab is found in the following verses:

7:46. And between them [–the dwellers of heaven and hell] is a veil [Arabic: ḥijābun]10

17: 45. And when you recite the Qur'ân, We place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter, an impregnable screen [Arabic: ḥijāban],11

19:17. so she [–Mary] screened [Arabic: ḥijābun] herself from them.12

33:53. O you who believe, do not enter the houses of the Prophet unless permission is given to you for a meal, not waiting for its cooking to be finished — but when you are invited, enter, and when you have taken food, disperse — not seeking to listen to talk. Surely this gives the Prophet trouble, but he forbears from you, and Allah does not forbear from the truth. And [similarly] when you ask of them [–Prophet’s wife while they are in their homes] any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain [Arabic: ḥijābin]. This is purer for your hearts and their hearts. And it is not fitting for you to give trouble to the Messenger of Allah, nor to marry his wives after him ever. Surely this is grievous in the sight of Allah.13

The verse 33:53 is often quoted to justify Hijab for women. What is missed in the reading of the verse is that it speaks of protecting the privacy of any house hold and upholding of moral and good manners in settings in which a non-family member approaches the woman of the house for borrowing of a favor while the man of the house may not be there. Any transaction thereof may happen without face to face contact as home is a private space and not a public place. It is a burden on the visitor to create the space and barrier from the lady of house and not vice-versa. In the stated verse there is not even a remote reference to a screen or a traditional Hijab to be placed on the face of the lady of the house. Even if for the sake of an argument, no matter how twisted that there is an implied Hijab as a dress code in the verse, then that piece of cloth rather be on the face of the visitor – And when you ask of them any goods, ask of them from behind a curtain.

Additionally, another verse establishes spiritual relationship between wives of the Prophet and the believers – The Prophet is closer to the faithful than their own selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers…(33:6)14. How is it even possible for a mother to hide from her children?

38:32. He [–Solomon] said, `I prefer the love of good things because they make (me) remember (God), my Lord.' And (he remained busy in his devotion and prayer), when these (horses) disappeared (while passing by) behind the veil (of distance) [Arabic: ḥijābi],15

41:5. And they [–who turn away from Quran] say: Our hearts are under coverings from that to which you call us, and there is a deafness in our ears, and there is a veil [Arabic: ḥijābun] between us and you…16

42:51. And it is not granted to a mortal that Allah should speak to him, except by revelation or from behind a veil [Arabic: ḥijābin], or by sending a messenger and revealing by His permission what He pleases. Surely He is High, Wise.17

Veil – As we have seen above that there is no dress article of Hijab in Quran, equally there is no injunction of Veil. By some convoluted logic, Hijab is extrapolated from the term Khimar, which is discussed next.

Khamira/Khamara – To cover over, conceal, veil, hide, ferment. Khamar: Any intoxicating thing; Any fermented drink; Grapes; Anything that clouds or obscure and covers the intellect. It includes all intoxicating substances. It is devil’s work (5:90). It is wrong to say that the moderate use of wine or such things is allowed and that only drinking to excess is prohibited. The Companions of the Holy Prophet never made use of a drop of such things after the prohibition was made known. The Holy Prophet said, A small quantity of anything of which a large quantity is intoxicating is prohibited (Abû Dâûd 25:5). Wine is also called Khamar because it covers or obscures or affects the intellect or the senses, or because it agitates and excites the brain so as to make it lose its power of control. Khumur plu. of (Khimâr): Head cover, scarf, covering and specially a woman’s head veil, screen. Khamar (n.): Any intoxicating thing. Khumur (n. plu. of Khimâr): Head cover; Scarf; Covering and specially a woman’s head veil; Screen. (L; T; R; LL) The root with its above two forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 7 times.18

In Quran, closest the term Khimar, which is confused with Hijab, refers to is the prevalent custom of headscarf in Arabs. Nowhere does Quran ordain to shroud one’s head with Khimar, the scarf or to befuddle it with Khamar – the intoxicant. Rather, Quran wants one to be clear headed, both literally and metaphorically:

45:23. Have you considered the case of him who has taken his own low desires for his god and whom Allâh has forsaken and adjudged as lost on the basis of (His infinite) knowledge, and whose ears and heart He has sealed and whose eyes He has covered with a veil? Who then will guide him after Allâh (has condemned him for his being given to evil ways)? Will you then pay no heed?19

Said terms do not ordain any covering, literal or metaphorical, for head or brain, male or female:

2:219. They ask you about intoxicants [Arabic: khumurihinna]20

5:90. O you who believe, intoxicants [Arabic: khamru]21

5:91. The devil desires only to create enmity and hatred among you by means of intoxicants [Arabic: khamri]22

12:36. And two youths entered the prison with him. One of them said: I saw myself pressing wine [Arabic: khamran]23

12:41. My two fellow-prisoners, as for one of you, he will serve wine [Arabic: khamran]24

24:31. And say to the believing women that they lower their gaze and restrain their sexual passions and do not display their adornment except what appears of it. And they should wear their [i.e. their existing] head-coverings [Arabic: khumurihinna] over their bosoms…25 – Before Islam women used to appear in public with their breasts partly uncovered. The khimar (pl. khumr) means a head-covering, and women were thus required to cover their breasts with a part of their head-covering.26

47:15. (Here is) a description of the Garden promised to those who guard against evil. Therein are streams of water (which is) unstaling, and streams of milk the taste and flavour of which does not change, and streams of juice extracted from grapes [Arabic: khamrin]…27

The tenets of the head coverings for women are only to be found in Judaism and Christianity. Jewish women cover their heads when visiting synagogues and scarf is part of regular dress of a nun. Fact is that the authority for covering a woman’s head is found in New Testament, not Quran, which symbolizes degradation of a woman below a man:

1 Corinthians 11:7–10. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.28

Beard – “…hadiths are quoted to justify the most extremes of behaviour. And the Prophet’s own appearance, his beard and cloths, have been turned into a fetish: so now it is not just obligatory for a ‘good Muslim’ to have a beard, but its length and shape must also conform to dictates! The Prophet has been reduced to signs and symbols – the spirit of his behaviour, the moral and ethical dimensions of his actions, his humility and compassion, the general principles he advocated have all been subsumed by the logic of absurd reduction.”29

Besides Veil, facial hair/beard and headwear also are becoming symbols of a Muslim. It is ironic that outward appearance is now regarded as the gateway to Islam. It is a sorry state that hereditary Islam has fallen into the same category where it can be identified by its dress or appearance just like a catholic priest or a rabbi. On the contrary, Islam stresses morality of intentions, behaviors and actions. Instead of following the principles of a dress code, a specific dress article or grooming has itself become the principle. It is a classic example of maintaining the outward shell of a religion while killing its soul that we find frequently mentioned in Quran in which extensive examples explain the decay that set in the Islam of the Israelites.

Beard is an outcome of not shaving. Quran has nothing to do with the personal choice to shave or not. Little does a Mullah know that the injunction not to shave is not in Quran but in Torah:

Leviticus 21:5 ‘They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh.30

The only reference in Quran for a beard is essentially of ridicule when Moses on his return from the Mount Sinai found the Israelites worshipping the cow effigy and he in a rage held his brother, Aaron, by his beard:

20:94. (Aaron) said, `O son of my mother! [–Moses] do not hold me by my beard nor (pull me) by my head. (If I was not strict to them it was because) I was afraid lest you should say, "You have caused a disruption among the Children of Israel and did not preserve my word".'31

While there is no authority in Quran for headwear or the beard, one finds references in Old Testament, for grooming standards and cultural values that they engender:

Leviticus 19:27. You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.32

Jeremiah 14:3-4. Their nobles have sent their lads for water; They went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; They were ashamed and confounded And covered their heads. Because the ground is parched, For there was no rain in the land, The plowmen were ashamed; They covered their heads.33

Ezekiel 44:20. They shall neither shave their heads nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed.34

2 Samuel 10:4. Therefore Hanun took David’s servants, shaved off half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, at their buttocks, and sent them away.35

1 Samuel 21:13. So he changed his behavior before them, pretended madness in their hands, scratched on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva fall down on his beard.36

Enforcement of the Hijab, the Veil or the Beard in the name of Islam is essentially a fanciful conjecture. And, we know that Quran abhors such fancies in the matters of faith:

5:77. Say, `O People of the Scripture! do not exaggerate in (the matter of) your religion falsely and unjustly, nor follow the fancies of a people who had gone astray before (you) and had led many astray, and (now again) who have strayed away from the right path.37

The requirements of Hijab, Veil and Beard as articles of faith are extra-Quranic fatwas of Mullahs. This is where the lines are blurred between a Mullah, a Priest and a Rabbi. To the Mullah, Quran admonishes against attributing to it any cultural inventions, including the infamous face veil and home bound women etc., all of which invariably are restrictions on women alone:

7:33. …and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’38

Quran ridicules the blind followers of such dogma pushers and all those who take such edicts at par with word of God:

They take their doctors of law and their monks for lords besides Allah (9:31).39 – This does not mean that they took them actually for gods; the meaning is that they followed them blindly in what they enjoined and what they forbade, attaching to them a Divine dignity. Muslims who accord a similar position to their ulama, spiritual leaders or saints are guilty of the same error.40

Those doctors of law who invent nonsense in the name of a religion and attribute it to Allah, Quran banes them in plain language:

2:79. Woe, then, to those who write the Book with their hands then say, this is from Allah; so that they may take for it a small price. So woe to them for what their hands write and woe to them for what they earn.41

Fact is that when the dogma mongers are confronted with authority from Quran negating their arguments for a Hijab, the Veil and a Beard, invariably it invokes their anger. No too surprisingly Quran also states the same about their reaction:

22:71-72. And they serve besides Allah that for which He has not sent any authority, and of which they have no knowledge. And for the unjust there is no helper. And when Our clear messages are recited to them, you will notice a denial on the faces of those who disbelieve — they almost attack those who recite to them Our messages. Say: Shall I inform you of what is worse than his? The Fire. Allah has promised it to those who disbelieve. And evil is the destination.42

Chasity is the goal and the Dress only one of its means – If Islam stands for modesty and chastity then for sure it also stands against ‘chastity belts’ and Masquerade Balls. The former is forced chastity, with or without intention of chastity of those that it is enforced upon. The latter can be non-chastity of intent under a veil. Veil, voluntary or enforced, which isolates a person from social life, is a concrete attempt in a ‘mobile’ monasticism:

57:27. …And We placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him [– Jesus], but as for monasticism they invented it themselves, We did not enjoin it upon them…43

In the stated verse, Quran clearly implies that it is a misconception that monasticism and self-renouncement leads to God. Veil and Hijab are a case in point. At least this verse rejects isolationism in the name of Islam. If the purpose of a veil is to promote chastity, then instead of a silly veil, Quran mandates chastity of thoughts and actions, one hidden, other open for both men and women:

6:151. Say, `Come, I will rehearse to you what your Lord has made binding on you; [i] it is that you shall associate not anything as partner with Him, [ii] and that you shall be good to parents, [iii] and that you waste not your children because of poverty. It is We Who make provisions for you as well for them too. [iv] (Allâh has also enjoined upon you that you) approach not indecencies, whether open or hidden, [v] and 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).44

7:33. Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin and aggression, which is never justifiable;…45

After establishing the above parameters, open and hidden, of thought and action as prerequisites for decency, Quran admonishes against attributing to it any dogmas, including the Hijab or the Veil or the Beard:

7:33. …and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’ 46

In its commands, Quran also mandates that while enforcing its injunction for decency in the society (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him). Hijab, Veil and Beard, find no authority in Quran.

One of the purposes of Quran is to promote collective social (Public) health so that morality and decency in the society is nurtured. Such attributes can emanate from voluntary rejection of unchaste intentions and behaviors and not from enforcement of chastity belts, nor from the Veil. Quran lays out the law of moral purity based upon intention to be pure:

24:21. O you who believe! do not follow the footsteps of satan. He that follows the footsteps of satan (should remember that) he (- satan) surely enjoins immorality and indecency. But for the grace of Allâh and His mercy (that rests) upon you, not one of you would ever have been pure, but Allâh purifies him who wishes (to be purified). And Allâh is All-Hearing, All- Knowing. 47

Besides explaining the relationship of the type of person and the corresponding deeds, Quran declares that good and bad are consequences of personal choices. Quran in its arguments creates intellectual space in the society for virtuous people by outlining the psycho-social principle governing their virtuous behaviors and vice versa:

24:26. The evil and impure deeds are (a characteristic) of impure people and the bad and impure people are (inclined) towards the bad and impure deeds. Similarly good and pure deeds are (a characteristic) of good and pure people and the good and pure people are (inclined) towards good and pure deeds. It is they (- the good and pure) who are innocent of all that they (- the accusers) may allege (about them). There awaits them protection and an honourable and generous provision.48

In promoting chastity in the society, Quran first focuses on the means of individual chastity for which, among other reasons, it enjoins recitation and meditation on Quran while observing the prayers:

29:45. Recite (preach, follow and meditate on) that which has been revealed to you of the Book (– the Qur'ân) and observe Prayer. Verily, Prayer restrains (the observer) from indecency and abominable things and loathsome deeds and from all that runs counter to reason and moral sense. Yet of all, the greatest thing is that Allâh will remember you and help you rise to eminence. And Allâh knows all that you do.49

Chastity can only be nurtured with chaste intentions and chaste environment. It has its roots in individual modesty. In order to prevent indecency, open and hidden, while expecting each gender to participate in public life, Quran addresses both men and women:

24:30. Tell the believers to restrain their looks (in the presence of women not closely related to them and so lawful for marriage) and guard their chastity. That is purer and best for them. Surely, Allâh is Well-Aware of what they do.

24:31. And tell the believing women to restrain their looks (also in the presence of men who are not near of kin and so lawful for marriage) and guard their chastity …50

While ensuring gender equality in public life, Quran prescribes a certain mode of dress for women, which in turn ensures their gender neutrality outside of home. The above verse continues:

24:31. … and not to disclose their (natural and make-up) beauty except such as cannot be helped (and is apparent) [as governed by the local customs and need of the hour e.g. in presence of a physician or in contemporary security checks] and draw their head coverings [that is still part of regular dress in certain cultures, and thus use it to] cover their bosoms [to avoid any sensuality that may be perceived. Note – head covering itself is not a must as it is more cultural than religious. The main purpose is to avoid low neck lines], and they should not display their beauty [of their figure] save to their husbands or to their fathers or to their fathers- in-law or to their own sons or to the sons of their husbands or to their own brothers, or to the sons of their brothers or to the sons of their sisters or their women (who are their decent companions) or to their bondsmen or to such of their male attendants as have no sexual appetite or to such young children as have yet no knowledge of the frailties of women. And let them not strike (the ground with) their feet so that which they (must) hide of their beauty or adornment [and to possibly avoid unnecessary attention to the jingle of their jewelry that is culturally worn around ankles]) may become known. And (O believers!) turn to Allâh; one and all, that you may attain (true happiness and) your ultimate goal. 51

The verse 24:31 gives a broad leeway taking into consideration the local customs which can change with time or need of the hour, e.g. in medical or security checks. Men and women are expected to lower their gaze viz-a-viz each other. If there are interposing veils between them, then the injunction to lower the gaze become superfluous. Lowering of gaze by itself implies that there is no veil between them. In the hadith of Asma,52 elder sister of Aisha – the prophet’s wife, who once wore a thin dress while visiting Aisha, the Prophet turned his face away, not lowered his gaze alone, points to necessity of dress to cover the nakedness of the body, else lowering the gaze would had sufficed for the prophet. The above verse essentially neutralizes the unintended sexual energy between genders. Besides the outward decorum, women are told to keep their voice firm; else they might be perceived weak and taken advantage of:

33:32. O wives of the Prophet [as model of character for others]! you are like no other women, if you would guard against evil, so be not soft in speech lest he who carries a disease in his heart should feel tempted, and you should speak decent words in a dignified tone.53

In the verses quoted so far there is an implicit public life for women which outline their behavior outside their homes. The following verse makes their public role even more explicit:

4:32. And do not covet the favours which Allâh has bestowed on some of you to excel others. Men shall have the share of the fruit of their labour, and for women is the share of the fruit of their labour. You had better seek from Allâh His bounty. Verily, Allâh has perfect knowledge of all things.54

In the verse 4:32 it is plainly clear that opportunity for labour and returns from labour for both men and women are at par without any distinction, though women may choose not to work, because:

4:34. Men are the maintainers of women, with what Allah has given some of them above others and with what they spend out of their wealth… 55

In Quran, chastity is a super-set of virginity. The best public policy for preserving the chastity is the institution of marriage, which is repeatedly emphasized in Quran as a societal duty, and is obvious in the following verses as well:

24:32. Arrange marriages for those of you who are single and for your male and female slaves as are deserving and fit (to lead a married life). If they are poor Allâh will grant them means out of His bounty; Bountiful is Allâh, All-Knowing.56

24:33. And those who find no (means of) marriage should (exercise restraint and) keep themselves chaste until Allâh grants them means (to marry) out of His grace and bounty. (There is another commandment,) as for those of your bondsmen (or women) as ask for a written contract (of freedom for themselves on payment of ransom), write this (deed of manumission for them) provided you find good capabilities in them and give them out of Allâh's wealth which He has given you. (Another commandment for you is that,) with a mind to gain (by this unrighteous means) the benefits of the present life do not constrain your slave-girls to unchaste life (by keeping them unmarried) when they desire (to marry) to preserve their virtue. But if anybody forces them (to abstain from marrying and to become unchaste) they will find, after they are forced, that God is Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful.57

In the verses 24:32-33, even slaves, males and females, are to be married. However, it is a separate topic as to how effectively Quran abolished slavery within one generation after advent of Islam, without resorting to civil wars that United States endured.

Quran acknowledges the spectrum of chaste and unchaste tendencies in a society. There will always be a segment in the society that will deliberately draw attention towards itself and in the process provoke harassment, no matter how much uncalled for. Thus to prevent the harassment of chaste women outside their homes Quran gives a remedy:

33:59. Prophet! tell your wives, your daughters and women of the believers that (while going out of their houses) they should draw lower upon them the portions of their (loose) outer coverings from over their heads on to their bosoms (so as to veil therewith the arms, the neck, the hair and ornaments worn over them). This practice is more likely to help them to be distinguished (from other women who make a display of their beauty and ornamentation) and so saves them from trouble. Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.58

In the stated verse, there is no mention of head coverings as mistakenly assumed in general understanding and practice. It only focuses on outer coverings to be drawn over the clothes that otherwise might have been revealing of form and figure of the body. Said verse also has historical context for women living in a hostile environment, where their appearance, stance and gait are scrutinized and can they be sexually taunted or harassed, and if not, then at least gawked at. When early Muslims were in exile in Medina, the local poets from opposing tribes are on the record for their compositions of sensual ridicule of Muslim women. One such poet, Ka'ab bin Ashraf, using his poetry even instigated the Battle of Uhad in which Makkans attacked Medina in the third year of migration.  As to how far Ka'ab went in his personal attacks against Muslim women can be deduced by the following verses that he composed in which he sexually insulted Lubaba – Umm al-Fadl bint al-Harith. Of note is that Lubaba is the second woman to embrace Islam after her friend Khadija (Prophet’s first wife), and twenty years before her husband Abbas (Prophet’s uncle) became a Muslim. It is she who came to the defense of Abu-Rafi, Abbas’s freed Muslim slave, who was overjoyed by news of victory of Badr for which he was being tortured by Abu-Lahab (Prophet’s uncle and brother of Abbas), she split open Abu-Lahab’s scalp with a strike, who then died a week later of unrelated causes.59 Ka'ab wrote:

Are you off without stopping in the valley
and leaving Umm Fadl in Mecca?

Out would come what she bought from the pedlar,
her bottles, henna and hair-dye.

What lies between elbow and ankle is in motion
when she tries to stand up and does not.

Like Umm Hakim when she was with us,
the bond between us strong and unbreakable.

She is the one Amirite [-her tribe] who bewitches my heart,
and if she wished, she could cure my sickness.

The glory of women and of a people is their father,
a people held in honour, true to their oath.

Never did I see the sun rise at night till I saw her
display herself to us in the darkness of the night!60

The verse 33:59 continues into the next where sexual harassment of women is mentioned:

33:60. If the hypocrites, those who carry a disease in their hearts and the scandal-mongers (who circulate false rumours to cause agitation) in the city, do not give over (their evil designs and stop their activities), We shall (one day) make you exercise authority over them, then they will not dwell long in this (city) with you (as your neighbours).61

Nowhere in Quran is there an injunction to enforce Veil as a dress code; rather it mentions only the guidelines for modesty. How can one enforce such a specific code in a secular work environment or on non-Muslims? Appropriate clothing is integral to modesty:

7:26. O Children of Adam! We have given you a raiment that covers your nakedness and is a source of (your) elegance and protection. Yet the raiment that guards against evils, that is the best (of robes). That is one of the commandments of Allâh so that they may attain eminence.62

As far as chastity is concerned, it is in intentions and actions, which is the raiment that guards against evils, that is the best (of robes). While elucidating modesty and dignity for both men and women, Qur’ân actually mandates that both genders pay attention to their elegance:

7:31. O Children of Adam! look to your elegance (by dressing properly) at every time and place of worship, and eat and drink but exceed not the bounds, for He does not love those who exceed the bounds.63

Thus, the whole mankind is addressed in Quran when it states to look to your elegance (by dressing properly) at every time and…eat and drink but exceed not the bounds in either liberalism or conservatism of dress because He does not love those who exceed the bounds. While enforcing dress code at times Muslim societies get carried away beyond reason into conservatism that Quran abhors and on the reverse encourages the society to adorn itself and to be elegant:

7: 32. SAY, ‘Who has made unlawful Allâh’s beautiful things of adornment and elegance which He has produced for His servants and the delicious and pure things of (His) providing?’ Say, ‘They are primarily meant for the believers (and for the disbelievers too) in this present life (but) exclusively for (the believers) on the Day of Resurrection [in a metaphorical sense].’ In this way do We explain the Messages for a people who would know. 64

Thus, who has made unlawful Allâh’s beautiful things of adornment and elegance which He has produced for women that the veil, Niqab, tries to prevent? At least from women’s point of view, it would be a fallacy that the world is for men only and to overcome their fetish and guilt to gawk at women, men have to force women to wear Niqab. Instead of veil, Quran states in the verse, requoted:

7:33. Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin and aggression, which is never justifiable; and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’ 65

Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin irrespective of Niqab, and aggression, which is never justifiable to enforce Niqab. Niqab being a point and case where (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).’

Preserving privacy, which is also integral to chastity, Quran lays out the following guidelines:

24:27. O you who believe! do not enter houses other than your own unless you have obtained willing permission and (mind!) you should greet the inmates of these (houses). That is better for you. You have been given this commandment that you may be heedful.

24:28. But if you find nobody in them do not enter therein, unless you have got (from the owners or the rightful care-taker previous) permission. And go back if you are told to go back, that would be pure and best for you. Indeed, Allâh is Well-Aware of all that you do.

24:29. It is no sin on your part to enter (freely) non-residential houses wherein your goods are lying [–places of business]. And Allâh knows all that you profess and all that you conceal.66

Privacy even within the family environment is to be respected:

24:58. O you who believe! it is binding on those whom your right hands possess (domestic servants) and those (of your children) who have not reached the age of puberty to ask your permission (before coming into your private rooms) in three instances, before the morning Prayer, and when you lay aside your clothes due to the heat (in summer) at noon and after the night Prayer. These are three times when your privacy should be respected. At other times no blame shall lie on you or on them (if they come to you without permission), for they have to move about (waiting upon you) some of you (attending) upon others (according to need). That is how Allâh explains to you His commandments, for Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

24:59. When the children among you reach the age of puberty they (too) should seek permission (to come to your rooms) just as those (elderly people mentioned) before them do. That is how Allâh explains to you His commandments and Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

24:60. And (as to the elderly spinsters who are past child-bearing age and) who do not hope for sexual intercourse, it is no offence for them to lay aside their outer garments provided they do not do it to display their beauty. But if they abstain (even from that) it is much better for them. Indeed Allâh is All-Hearing, All- Knowing.67

Thus, Quran not only gives the definition of modesty, it also outlines methods and public policy to enhance it. No dress code in Quran limits, rather encourages, each gender to be fully immersed in a productive public life. In can be safely deduced that the emphasis of Islam is to create a society in which each adult is connected with ties and perceives others through outcomes of a marriage, in which each adult male or female, barring a few exceptions, is married, and each person carries a relationship of belonging to a family as either a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a son, a daughter, a sister or a brother. No one is alone to be left as a target of harassment by others. A woman in Islam carries a dignified and loving existence as a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister.

With the discussion so far, we revisit one of the verses quoted earlier:

7:26. O Children of Adam! We have given you a raiment that covers your nakedness and is a source of (your) elegance and protection. Yet the raiment that guards against evils, that is the best (of robes). That is one of the commandments of Allâh so that they may attain eminence.68

Clearly, Quran defines basic standards for a dress – raiment that covers your nakedness; the purpose of dress which is to be – a source of (your) elegance and protection, both from the weather and any unwanted attention; goal of a dress – so that they may attain eminence.

Face veil defies the requirements of a dress in verse 7:26 i.e. it neither covers the nakedness nor is a source of elegance; yet in present times is a source of scrutiny for security purposes, thus denying any protection, except possibly against sunburn.  The Veil has yet to provide eminence in the work place, because it is a barrier to work in the first place.

The topic of the Veil once invoked the humor of Akbar Allahabadi (d. 1921), an Urdu poet from India:

Bay pardah nazzar aayeen joe chund bebe-yaan
Sighting of unveiled women

Akbar zameen mein ghayrat-e-quomi say garh gay-aa
Induced a chauvinistic guilt in Akbar (-the poet)

Poo-cha joe oun say aap kah pardah woh kaya hua
When I asked – what happened to your veil?

Keh-nein lugeen keh uqqal pay murd-oon key parh gay-aa
Women retorted, it’s now veiling the minds of the men

One cannot but agree with the response of the women. It is men, who mostly create, dictate and enforce dogmas. Veil is one of such dogmas. It can be safely extrapolated that Islam is nowhere to be found in a Hijab or a Veil or a Beard, though all three could be found in Islam of some cultures.


Note: There are many interwoven ideas drawn from ‘The Exegesis of the Holy Quran’ as Explained by Nooruddin, but could not be quoted due to their diffuse nature.
1 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi (Author), Zafar Ishaq Ansari (Translator)

2 Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin
3 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
4 Ghafir – Granter of Protection: Nooruddin
5 What's the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka? Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/24118241
6 ‘Religion of Islam’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali – Chapter 6: Marriage – Veil, Decent Dress; Chapter 10: General Regulations – Clothing.
7 Al-Mulk – The Supreme Power: Nooruddin
8 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
9 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 113
10 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
11 Isra – The Night-Journey: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
12 Maryam – Mary: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
13 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
14 ibid
15 Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
16 Ha Mim, also called Fussilat: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
17 Al-Shura – Counsel: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
18 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 166
19 Al-Jathiyah – The Fallen on the Knees: Nooruddin
20 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
21 Al-Maidah – Food: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
22 ibid
23 Yusuf – Joseph: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
24 ibid
25 Al-Nur – The Light: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
26 Footnote c (31-2) of verse 24:31 – Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
27 Muhammad – Muhammad: Nooruddin
29 RETHINKING ISLAM by Ziauddin Sardar, Professor of Postcolonial Studies, London, The Dawn, No. 7, 2002, p. 7-8, Surname. Link pdf: http://aaiil.org/suriname/dawn/2002_02.pdf
31 Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
37 Al-Maidah – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
38 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
39 Al-Bara’at – Immunity: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
40 Footnote c (31) of verse 9:31 – Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
41 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
42 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
43 Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
44 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
45 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
46 ibid
47 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
48 ibid
49 Al-Ankabut – The Spider: Nooruddin
50 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
51 ibid
52 Narrated Aisha (the Prophet's wife): Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) turned his attention from her. He said: 'O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands. Abu Dawud, Book 32, Number 4092
53 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
54 Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
55 ibid
56 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
57 ibid
58 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
61 Al-Ahzab – The Allies: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
62 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
63 ibid
64 ibid
65 ibid
66 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
67 ibid
68 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz

Flame, Fire, Shooting Star – or Shooting Down of the Nonsense with Quran?

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Flame, Fire, Shooting Star – or Shooting Down of the Nonsense with Quran?

Shooting stars in the night sky, also known as meteors, are a common experience. A myth prevails among Muslims that shooting stars occur when the angels shoot flames to chase away the Jinn, the Satan, when he tries to sneak into the heavens to listen into the whisperings of the angels and when he tries to steal secrets from the heavens. Such beliefs, though extra-Quranic, are somehow extrapolated from the various verses of the Quran. Barring a few, the exegeses of the verses referring to the shooting stars are preposterous, for example:

Before the prophethood of Nabi (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), the Jinn used to eavesdrop freely without being expelled from the upper terrestrial realms. They would listen to the discussions of the angels and learn about future events. They would return to the World and reveal this information to fortune tellers. When the future events transpired as foretold by the fortune tellers, they [–the people] would believe that the fortune tellers possessed knowledge of the unseen, thus, they were deceived by the fortune tellers.

However, when Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was sent to the World, the Jinn were barred from entering all the upper terrestrial realms and the flaming stars increased to an extent that it filled the terrestrial spheres, therefore, they could no more eavesdrop on the conversations of the angels. Whenever any Jinn would try to eavesdrop, it was pursued and struck by a flaming/shooting star which never missed its target.1

Such mythical interpretations provide fodder for the critics of Quran. One such critic uses the shooting star verses to disparage Quran. Instead of rebutting nonsense such as these myths it would be prudent to respond to the critic. In answering the critic, we shall put forth arguments from within Quran that will simultaneously remove the basis of the sarcasm of the critic and expunge the twaddle of an apologetic myth. The critic writes:

In order for a book to demonstrate a divine origin, it must possess the attributes that accompany such a claim. For example, it must refrain from making statements that are outlandish and indicative of an author who was a simply a product of his times, and who shared in the common superstitions, mythology, and misconceptions that afflict humans unaided by supernatural agency.

With this in mind, examine the Quran of the Muslim religion. The Quran makes several statements regarding heavenly “lamps” and their relationship to “devils.”

And verily in the heaven We have set mansions of the stars, and We have beautified it for beholders. And We have guarded it from every outcast devil, save him who stealeth the hearing, and them doth a clear flame pursue (Surah 15:16-18, emp. added).

Lo! We have adorned the lowest heaven with an ornament, the planets; with security from every forward devil. They cannot listen to the Highest Chiefs for they are pelted from every side, outcast, and theirs is a perpetual torment; save him who snatcheth a fragment, and there pursueth him a piercing flame (Surah37:6-10, emp. added).

And (the Jinn who had listened to the Quran said): We had sought the heaven but had found it filled with strong warders and meteors. And we used to sit on places (high) therein to listen. But he who listened now findeth a flame in wait for him (Surah 72:8-9, emp. added).

And verily We have beautified the world’s heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame(Surah 67:5, emp. added).

The reader is given the distinct impression that Allah uses shooting stars, or meteors, as missiles to drive evil spirits or demons away from heaven (to prevent them from listening to heavenly conversations) and to torment them. Such language cannot be dismissed as merely figurative, poetic, or phenomenal. Of course, Muslim apologists recognize the absurdity of the idea of physical objects being hurled at spiritual beings, so they offer an alternative explanation. They claim the verses in question refer to soothsayers and astrologers who seek signs from the stars, but who become frightened by meteorological phenomena (see Pickthall, n.d., pp. 408,417). We leave the reader to judge whether this interpretation accounts adequately for the wording of the quranic text.

REFERENCES: Pickthall, Mohammed M. (n.d.), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).2

Before we discuss the Quran, it is critical to trace the source of the myth of devil sneaking into heaven. We find that source in the apology of Justin Martyr3, the early second century Christian apologist. Justin Martyr was forced to admit that the so-called Christian rites had existed among the pagans, centuries before Jesus. Justin was asked by the Emperor of Rome to explain why he, the Emperor, should embrace Christianity and give up his ancestral faith if the various articles of Emperor’s own faith in the Mithraic Dispensation were the same as those in the new cult called after the name of Christ. Mithra, the Emperor thought, was the origin of Christ. Justin could not deny the Emperor’s contravention and tried to explain it away:

“And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter. [First Apology of Justin, Chap. XXI – Analogies to the History of the Christ.4]

5Justin’s explanation, however, is very interesting, as we read in his Apologia. He said that for centuries before, Satan went into the higher regions in heaven and overheard angels rejoicing over the appearance of Jesus Christ in the days to come. Satan thus came to be acquainted with all the features of the story of the coming Christ, and he, being the arch-enemy of truth, tried, therefore, to confound it with falsehood. With this foretold knowledge of coming of Christ, the Satan then visited numerous countries, from Persia to England, and all those that surrounded the birthplace of Jesus, and introduced cults each of which had the same story of its god as is now told of Jesus by the Church.

Official Christianity has been found to emanate from the cult of Mithraism, and not from the religion of Jesus. Paying attention to Christian doctrine would be an insult to intelligence. The Christians themselves have realized that the Church story of Christianity, from beginning to end, was only a faithful reproduction of the stories of several pagan gods. The original narrative of Jesus was purposely lost sight of by the Early Church Fathers, who portrayed the Lord of Christianity purely from the pagan point of view. They depicted him as the last of the generation of Pagan Christs – Nimrod/Baal, Heru Sa Aset and Bast – twins born of Aset i.e. Isis, Mithras, Horus, Attis, Dionysus the son of Zeus, Siris (Egypt), Adonis (Syria), Tammuz (Babylon), Hercules, Perseus, Helios, Bacchus, Apollo, Jupiter, Hermes, Orpheus, Sol Invictus – (The “Unconquered Sun”). Barring a few, all of these gods were reported to have been born of a Virgin on Christmas night. They all came in their respective periods of history, to redeem the condemned human race by their blood, and willingly went to the Cross or were killed on the Friday afternoon immediately preceding Easter Sunday. It has also been established that all these pagan gods were buried and remained for two days in the grave; they rose again on the Easter Sunday morning and ascended to heaven afterwards, with a promise of a second coming in the latter days; and that the pagans used to participate in meals on Sunday in commemoration of their crucified god, believing that they ate his blood and flesh.

Justin Martyr had to invent the reason behind the prevailing customs, rituals and beliefs of the pagans of the time by attributing it to the “advance planning” by the Devil:

“The devils, accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words, said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and gave out that he was the discoverer of the vine, and they number wine among his mysteries; and they taught that, having been torn in pieces, he ascended into heaven.” [First Apology of Justin, Chapter LIV – Origin of heathen mythology.6]

“And the devils, indeed, having heard this washing published by the prophet, instigated those who enter their temples, and are about to approach them with libations and burnt-offerings, also to sprinkle themselves; and they cause them [the pagans] also to wash themselves entirely, as they depart [from the sacrifice], before they enter into the shrines in which their images are set.” [First Apology of Justin, Chapter LXII.—Its imitation by demons.7]

Though the ingenious story by Justin could not convince the Emperor, it nevertheless explained the difficulties attaching to the new faith to its followers. A century later Christianity was accepted as the truth by Constantine for purely political reasons, and he then made it even worse.

In summary, the nonsensical belief that God and his angels only live in the heavens, where the devil tries to sneak into, is purely a Christian dogma to circumvent the simple question as to why Christianity is the same as old Pagan religions. Justin Martyr concocted that centuries before Christ or the pagan religions got established on the earth, the devil in one of his sneaking into heavens was able to overhear angels discussing the future coming of Christ. On his return to earth, the devil developed pagan religions ahead of time of coming of Christ. The practices of these pagan religions were the same as those of the Christianity of the future when it would arrive after the advent of Jesus. Hence, when Christianity arrived, the pagans were only practicing its rituals ahead of time and ordinary people are left with the question of why Christianity is following pagans, whereas, according to Justin Martyr, the former are following the latter, but only ahead of time.

The myth of devil sneaking into heavens is a Christian apology that has crept into Muslim thought as well. The Justinian apology is then read as explanation of certain verses of Quran, whereas the message of Quran is poles apart from such nonsense. Contrary to the myth, there is no division of God’s ‘world’ into the earth and heavens; it is all one master plan, of which earth is a small part. God of Quran does not live in a heaven, while the earth is left without His presence, the attributes of a physically limited God.

In the discussion to follow we will use the example of Christianity, only as a case in point, to understand the verses referred to in the criticism at the beginning of this chapter. However, the same verses of Quran have much larger implications that are aptly discussed by Maulana Muhammad Ali in his Urdu translation and commentary of the Holy Quran. The Arabic keywords, which create difficulty for some while reading the related verses, are Shihâb, Thâqib and Mubîn. These words along with their roots and meanings are outlined in Dictionary of the Holy Quran by Abdul Mannan Omar, with emphasis added in pertinence to current discussion:

Shahaba To burn, scorch, become of a colour in which whiteness predominates over blackness. Shihâb plu. Shuhub: Flaming fire; Bright blaze; Bright meteor, Star; Penetrating flame; Shining star; Brisk; Sprightly; Flame; Brand; Radiating or gleaming fire; Shooting or falling star; Star or the like of a star that darts across the sky. Shihâb al-herb: Dauntless warrior; One who is penetrating sharp and energetic in a war. Shihâb (n.): (15:18; 27:7; 37:10; 72:9). Shuhub (plu. of Shihâb ): (72:8). (L; T; R; LL).8

Thaqaba To shine, penetrate, perforate, pierce, spread (odour), soar aloft. Thâqib (act. pic. m. sing.) Bright shining; Piercing through darkness; Piercing brightness; Brightly shining. (37:10; 89:3). (L; T; R; LL)9

Bâna To be distinct and separate, far away, remote from, divorced (women), clear, obvious, appear, explain. Tabyyana: To be clear, easily understood, appear. Baina yadaihi: Before him; In his presence. Bayân: Declaration; Explanation; Argument; Rhetoric; Clear meaning; Intelligent and distinct speech. It applies to both thought and speech, in as much as it comprises the faculty of making a thing or an idea apparent to the mind and conceptually distinct from other things or ideas as well as the power to express the cognition in spoken or written language. Bayyinah plu. Bayyinât: Evidence; Clear proof; Argument; Precise testimony; Clear. Mubîn: Explaining clearly; Clear; Beyond doubt; Obvious; Parting; Cutting. Tabayyana: To be or become manifest, clear. With li or an or with le and an: To be distinct. With min: To be made known. With li: To perceive. Although the word Bainun generally rendered as ‘between’ is in reality a substantive meaning ‘interval’ or ‘connection’.10

Frequently, Quran draws analogies from physical phenomena, which all humans can independently experience and draw lessons from. Shihâb-e-Thâqib and Shihâb-e-Mubîn, relevant to current discussion, are some of the analogies. Dr. Basharat Ahmad explains why Quran draws moral implication from analogies to physical phenomena:

It is also a well-accepted principle among the intelligentsia that a direct parallel exists between the physical and the spiritual worlds in that a similarity of relationship runs through both spheres. So, if testimony is drawn from the physical world in regard to a particular matter, then a wise person, by using his initiative, can draw the conclusion that a similar law must reside in the spiritual world.11

The metaphorical reference to shooting stars will be easy to understand if the reader keeps in mind the following meanings of meteor:

‘any person or object that moves, progresses, becomes famous, etc., with spectacular speed’12

All such dogmas attributed to Quran must withstand the challenge put forth by Quran or else must be rejected. This challenge is to anyone, be it the soothsayer, a jinn, Satan, or an apologist like Justin Martyr, to bring forth any proof of what they claim is from God:

52:38. Have they the means through which they can overhear (the Lord)? If so, let their listener bring forth a clear authoritative proof (just as the Prophet of God does).13

Even though it is vain, the Apology of Justin Martyr and its devil sneaking into heavens is not a clear authoritative proof, but is the only escape hatch for Christianity to distance itself from its pagan roots. Still, with his apology in mind, when we read the rebuttal in Quran, we see the rug being pulled out from under the feet of Christianity when Quran uses the analogy of bright shining flame of logic of Quran pursuing the Christian dogma.

The critic took verses 37:6-10 out of context. The first four verses, 37:1-4, are the preamble to the subsequent verses, 37:6-10, quoted by the critic. The preamble verses were deliberately omitted by the critic. The preamble is significant in understanding the verses that follow. The preamble states that the illogic in the matter of faith will dissipate at the hands of the followers of Quran and believers in absolute monotheism. The later example of stars, quoted by the critic, is only a simile to the character of the people mentioned earlier in the preamble:

Quran as a source of guidance to drive away falsehood at the hands of its followers

37:1. Cited as witness are those who range themselves in close ranks (in various fields of life),

37:2. And those who drive away (the forces of evil) vigorously,

37:3. And those who recite and follow the Reminder (- the Qur'ân),14

In the next verse, 37:4, it is stated that the dissipation of falsehood at the hands of those who range themselves in close ranks is contingent upon their belief in absolute monotheism:

Monotheism as a requirement to stand guard over truth

37:4. Verily, your God is One [and not Trinity in this case],15

The subsequent verses 37:5-10, even if taken narrowly, expunge the basis of Justinian apology. Whereas, in a broader sense, these verses are about enlightened monotheists, the stars, decked against falsehood, the Satan, and pursuing all false claims, for example Christianity, by the bright and flaming arguments from Quran. Even if the following verses are read concretely, at least they expunge the apology by Justin Martyr and refute the basis of Christianity i.e. no Devil, no Satan or for that matter any Jinn can have access to the exalted assembly, both, physically or metaphorically. The Justinian access to heavens by Satan was not there before Christ nor after him. Of note is that the critic only quoted verses 37:6-10 and totally ignored the preceding verses 37:1-5, quoted above, which tell the reader who those stars actually are – the believers in monotheism and Quran:

Guarding of the truth by those who range themselves in close ranks, an allegory

37:5. Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that lies between them and Lord of the places of the rising and spreading of light.

37:6. Verily, We have beautified and embellished the nearer space (- the heaven visible to you) with an excellent embellishment, the stars and planets.

37:7. And (We have placed therein) an effective safeguard against every insolently disobedient satan.

37:8. They (having no access to the source of prophecy) cannot listen to (what goes on in) the exalted assembly (of the arch angels). They are reproached (for their false conjectures) from every side,

37:9. They are repulsed. A perpetual punishment awaits them.16

Finally, the verse 37:10 puts it quite succinctly that the pagan dogmas might invent fragments of some truth or spirituality but even that figment cannot stand up to the confrontation from any bright shining flame of an argument from Quran.

Destruction of falsehood

37:10. Yet if anyone of them snatches away but once (to find out something), he is pursued by a bright shining flame [Arabic: shihābun thāqibun].17 [Emphasis added]

With rebuttal to Justin Martyr out of the way let’s revisit the intended use of the term stars in Quran. Prophet Muhammad has used the word star for his companions:

“My companions are like stars.”

Similarly, Quran too uses the term star to denote humans, the example of which we find in the vision of Joseph and its fulfillment, where his brothers are symbolized as stars:

12:4. (Remember the time) when Joseph [in his childhood] 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.'

12:100. And [when Joseph was as an adult and in-charge of the treasuries of Egypt] he took his parents to the royal court and they all [father = sun, mother = moon, eleven brothers = 11 stars, all part of childhood vision of Joseph (verse12:4)] 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.'18

In the case of Joseph, not only the stars symbolize humans, but also the terms sun and the moon. Just as Jesus, the prophet of God, spoke in parables, so does Quran. To explain its message Quran makes use of parables, but with a caveat. Quran declares that correct understanding of its parables leads to guidance, whereas, incorrect grasp of its parables can be a source of error:

2:26. Indeed, Allâh does not disdain to cite a parable of (a thing) even (as small as) a gnat or (of something) smaller than that. (Be it as it may) those who have believed know that this is a true (parable) from their Lord. As for those who disbelieve say, `What could Allâh mean by (citing) such a parable?' Many does He adjudge to be erring because of these (parables) and many does He guide through them. Yet it is only the transgressors whom He adjudges to be erring because of them.19

Allah even uses a parable for Himself. The inventors of myths in Quran and the critics, alike, will agree that if God Almighty in Quran gives an imagery of Himself in its verses, then that imagery is not physical but a parable which can awaken in the mind of the reader an innate ‘God sense.’ Such a parable about God symbolized as star is as follows:

24:35. Allâh is the Extensive Light of the heavens and the earth. His light can be compared to a (lustrous) pillar on which a lamp is put. The lamp is inside a crystal globe. The globe of glass is as if it were a glittering star. It (- the lamp) is lit by (the oil of) a blessed olive tree which belongs neither to the east nor to the west (rather welds the whole world in its fold). Its oil is likely to glow forth of itself even if no fire touch it. This (lamp) is a combination of many lights over and over. Allâh guides towards His light whoever desires (to be enlightened). And Allâh sets forth excellent parables for the people, and Allâh alone has full knowledge of everything.20

Use of the term star in Quran has many blissful connotations. Illumination from Allah through Quran, the word of God, is also addressed as glittering star (note: the singular). The error of a concrete read of star is put to rest forever – Allâh sets forth excellent parables for the people, and Allâh alone has full knowledge of everything. Thus, the usage of the terms stars and heavens in Quran are excellent parables for the people to drive home its message. The correct understanding of its parables differentiates the erring ones from those who are guided through the Quran. The parable of heavens and bright fiery flame are just a case in point where its concrete read will be a source of error but those reading it for its intended message are guided aright.

In the story of Joseph (verses 12:4, 12:100), there is also a corresponding mention of Satan who for a while was able to disrupt the brotherhood of the starssatan had stirred up discord between me and my brothers. Similarly, in the verses under discussion, 37:1-10, Quran speaks of the same Satan who tries to sneak into the star-decked heaven, to stir up the discord in the spiritual and moral domain of Islam in which are found those who range themselves in close ranks (in various fields of life), And those who drive away (the forces of evil) vigorously, And those who recite and follow the Reminder (- the Qur'ân) (v. 37:1-3). Any intrusion of Satan in such a spiritual space is chased away by a bright fiery flame of logic from Quran. This logic is shaped into cogent arguments by the stars, standing shoulder to shoulder in their dialogues, writings and publications. These stars, the Muslims, who defend and spread their faith against the intrusion of Satanic dogmas are identified in Quran:

51:1. I call to witness those (beings) who went forth to scatter (the Qur'ânic teachings) far and wide with a true scattering,

51:2. They carry (their blessed) load (of truth),

51:3. Then speed along (exposing the wrong belief and evil practices) with love and peace,

51:4. And then distribute and apportion the work by (Our) command,

51:5. Verily, the promise you are made (about the spread of Islam) is true,21

All arguments in defense and propagation of Islam by these stars, the Muslims, must be strictly based upon Quran else the stars will decay and dissipate into small stars and lose their light:

77:1. I call to witness those (messengers of Truth) who are sent forth to spread goodness (in continual series),

77:2. Those that drive off forcefully (falsehood and forces of evil as chaff is carried before the wind),

77:3. And those that spread (the truth) far and wide,

77:4. And those that fully distinguish (the right from the wrong),

77:5. And those carrying the Message of (rising to) eminence far and wide (- the Qur'ân),

77:6. (And those presenting this source of eminence) in an attempt to purify (some) from the abomination of sin and to warn (others),

77:7. Verily, that which you are promised must come to pass.

—–

77:8. So when the small stars will be made to lose their light,22

In another set of verses cited by the critics, Quran repeats the same analogy of bright fiery flame for its truth which burns out the bizarre Christian doctrine that Justin Martyr erected:

15:16. We have indeed set up constellations in the heaven, and We have decked it fair for the beholders,

15:17. And We have guarded it against (the intrusion of) every rebellious rejected satan.

15:18. As to one who wishes to steal a hearing (of the revelation to distort it) a bright fiery flame [Arabic: shihābun mubīnun] pursues him.23

Just as in verse 37:10 before, the verse 15:18 too puts it succinctly that the pagan dogmas might steal and adopt fragments of some truth or spirituality, but even that figment cannot stand up to the confrontation from any bright fiery flame of an argument from Quran.

The allegorical construct of flame pursuing Christianity does not end by mere arguments against it in Quran, but also pursues it in the hereafter, the logical end of all dogmas:

77:28. On that day woe shall befall those who belie (the truth).

77:29. (It will be said to the followers of Trinity,) `Now, move on towards that (punishment) which you cried lies to,

77:30. `Move on to the shadow that has three branches [–Trinity],

77:31. `(Which is) neither affording shade (to you) nor protects (you) from the flame.'24 [Emphasis added]

The reference to star studded heavens, the torch bearers of Quran, is not only in the verses that the critics at the beginning of the chapter refer to; it is also mentioned in another place, which Dr. Basharat Ahmad contextualizes:25

85:1. By the heaven full of stars!

85:2. And the Promised day!

85:3. And the bearer of witness and that to which witness is borne!

Let us ponder over the state of darkness and misguidance that overspread Arabia at that time as well as over the difficulties and turbulence that prevailed around it, and then let us consider the magnificence and explicitness of this prophecy in which the triumph of truth has been so lucidly portrayed. The testimony of the star-studded heavens is presented here in order to proclaim to the world that the time had come when the land of Arabia would accept the heavenly teaching and Allah's kingdom, which is in heaven, would be established on earth with such glory and grandeur that, metaphorically speaking, it could be said that earth would turn into heaven. And just as the heaven was full of stars, in the same way, the earth would abound with people who, like the stars, would be illuminated with heavenly light as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself had said: "My Companions are like the stars."

By the promised day is meant that for the fulfilment of these matters, a particular day has been set aside and a promise of that day has been firmly given when truth would triumph over falsehood. This would constitute an irrefutable evidence that just as truth had prevailed in Arabia in the time of the Holy Prophet, so, too, would it triumph for all times to come.

The witness mentioned above was no other than the Holy Prophet (pbuh) who gave evidence of the success of the religion of Islam and made prophecies about it. It also referred to those who were witnesses of this eventuality, in particular, the Holy Prophet's Companions, who saw with their own eyes the glorious fulfilment of these prophecies.

The expression by what is witnessed refers to evidence which was prophesied, that is, the triumph of Islam.

It also means what was actually seen and that is an allusion to the palpable manifestation of the defeat and destruction and the humiliation and abasement of the unbelievers. This occurrence serves as a testimony that Islam will always continue to spread and predominate and it is also a warning to those who will try to destroy it and impede its progress in the future that they will suffer the same fate as the opponents of the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Dr. Basharat Ahmad further explains the use of the term stars in another verse:26

82:2. And when the stars become dispersed.

This, too, is another subtle metaphor. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: "My Companions are like the stars." They were likened to stars because they were filled with the heavenly light which the Holy Prophet brought. The meaning is that when these showers of divine assistance and heavenly signs fall upon the earth and Islam becomes triumphant, then another sign will come into effect and that is the heavenly stars, that is, the Companions of the Holy Prophet, and other Muslims who will be filled with this same light, will travel all over the earth to disperse this divine light, that is, to propagate the religion of Islam world-wide.

It was not only the Christians who trace the roots of their beliefs stolen from ‘heavens’, there are others, the astrologers, who depend on heavenly confabulations, the Zodiacal nonsense, to earn their bread and butter, while seeding bizarre beliefs. Quran states that they too cannot escape the blazing fire:

67:3. It is He Who has created seven heavens, one upon another in conformity (with each other). You can see no flaw, no incongruity and no imperfection in the creation of the Most Gracious (God). Then look up once more (to heaven). Do you see any flaw?

67:4. Look again and yet again (to find out any confusion in Divine law). (The result will only be that) your eye will return to you dazzled while it is weary (and you will be unable to find any discordance).

67:5. We have, certainly, adorned the lowest heaven with (stars-like) lamps and We have made them as means of conjecture [Arabic: rajuman – throwing a stone in the dark, guess] for the evil ones (and the astrologers who invent good or bad omens from the movement of the stars). (Remember) We have prepared for these (soothesayers) the punishment of the blazing Fire.27

We know that the Jews at the time of the Prophet in Madina were also immersed in practices of astrology and sorcery28:

4:51 Have you not seen those to whom a portion of the Book was given? They believe in sorcery and diviners and say of those who disbelieve: These are better guided in the path than those who believe.29

So far we have discussed Christian, Jews and astrologers separately. Quran then sums up the Christianity, the astrologers and the Jews of Byzantine kingdom and quotes an event when a party of them visited Makkah for its annual market and poetry festival of Souk Oakz.30 There, at a way point, Nakhala, they had a night long discourse on the matters of faith with the Prophet. The flaming effect of Quran on cleaning away the dross from their beliefs is thus mentioned:

72:1. Say, `It has been revealed to me that a party of the jinn (- the non-Arab Jews of Nasîbîn, called Jinn because of their being strong, sharp and effective in affairs) listened (to the Qur'ân), so they said (to their people on their return), "Surely, we have heard a wonderful Qur'ân,

72:2. "It guides towards righteousness, so we declare our faith in it. We shall no longer worship any god besides our Lord.

72:3. "And the truth is that the Majesty of our Lord is exalted. He has taken to Himself no consort nor (has He begotten) a son,

72:4. "And (we admit) that the foolish among us used to say many exaggerated and blasphemous things against Allâh.

72:5. "And (we acknowledge) that (we believed in them because) we never thought that men and jinn could ever possibly utter a lie about Allâh.

72:6. "The fact is that some humble and lowly men from among the common folk used to seek refuge with some (big and influential) men from among the jinns and (thus) they increased these (jinns) in arrogance (and conceit).

72:7. "These men (from the jinn) believed even as you believe that Allâh would raise no one (as Messenger).

72:8. "And we (- the non-Arab Jews, the jinn who had listened to the Qur'ân, as diviners and astrologers) had primarily sought to probe the secrets of space above but we found it teeming with strong guards and shooting stars (a phenomenon which generally occurs before the advent of a divine Reformer).

72:9. "And that we used to sit in some of the observatories to listen to something. But he that tries to listen (in order to forecast some event) now (with the advent of Islam) finds a shooting star in ambush for him.

72:10. "(We confess that) we do not know whether evil is (hereby) augured for those who are on the earth or whether their Lord (thereby) intends to bestow right guidance for them.

72:11. "And some of us are righteous and some of us are otherwise. We follow different ways.

72:12. "And we have come to know for certain that we can never frustrate the purpose of Allâh in the earth, nor can we escape Him by flight (in any direction).

72:13. "No sooner did we hear the guidance (contained in the Qur'ân) than we believed in it. And he who believes in His Lord does not have to fear that his reward will be reduced or injustice will be (done to him).

72:14. "And some of us submit (to the will of God) while some of us are deviators (from the right course)".' (It has also been revealed to the Prophet that) those who submit (to God's commandments) are actually those who earnestly aim at the right way and find it out;

72:15. And that the deviators from the right course are the fuel of Gehenna.31

While the exegeses fret over the concrete interpretation of shooting stars with piercing light, a phenomenon visible to naked eye only during the darkness in the night sky, they ignore what happens during the daytime, the focus of one’s life. Quran explains that the darkness is in the minds of the people. It is the Prophet and the Quran which appear with piercing brightness to quell that darkness. In Quran we find the following:

86:1-3. By the heaven and the Comer by night [– l-ṭāriqi]! And what will make you know what the Comer by night is [– l-ṭāriqu]? The star of piercing brightness.

Tariq (from tarq, striking a thing) originally signifies a comer by night, because one who comes by night finds the doors shut, and knocking at the doors becomes necessary. The Comer by night is here the Holy Prophet; the revelation of the Quran is also spoken of as taking place on a blessed night (44:3, 97:1). The reason is that the Holy Prophet appeared when total darkness spread on the earth, and no one ever stood more in need of knocking at the doors which were shut against him and fastened with strong bolts. It is noteworthy that Jesus compares his advent to that of a thief: “…if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched…Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew, 24:43–44). It may be added that Tariq is also the name given to the morning star, because it comes at the end of the night.

The Comer by night is called the star of piercing brightness, indicating that the Comer by night is a star of such resplendent brightness that all darkness will be dispelled before him.32

Because of his piercing brightness, the Prophet removes the darkness from the souls. He is also called a bright sun which spreads light:

33:45. Prophet! We have sent you to be a Witness, a Bearer of glad tidings and a Warner.

33:46. And (We have sent you) to be a Summoner to Allâh by His command and to serve as a bright sun which spreads light.

33:47. And (Prophet!) give the believers glad tidings that there awaits them great grace from Allâh.33

The analogy of sun, the moon and stars in Quran is summed up for Prophet Muhammad and those who follow him in the true spirit of Quran and they are collectively a source of guidance for humanity. The example of the Prophet is both like that of a sun which is a source of light and like that of a moon that itself borrows light from Allah:

25:61. Blessed is He Who has placed stars in the heaven and has set in it the glowing sun (that produces light) and the glittering moon (that reflects light).34

16:16. And (He has established many other) landmarks as well; (it is by these) and by the stars (too) that the people can follow the right direction.35

While the Prophet is both a sun and a moon in his person, these two attributes are also in proximity of each other in him:

71:16. `And He has set the moon in their midst for light and the sun He has made as a glorious lamp.36

75:8-9. And the moon will eclipse. And the sun and the moon will be brought together.37

The sun and the moon are a source of spiritual light in the person of the Prophet. To experience the prophet, one must feel his light and warmth in one’s spiritual life as confirmation of one’s belief in its actuality:

91:1-3. I call to witness the sun and its light and heat, And the moon when it borrows light from it (- the sun), And the day when it reveals its (- the sun's) glory38

The skeptics might argue that if analogy of stars in Quran is for ‘holy ones,’ the rightly guided, then Quran also speaks of their setting. Implied in this argument is that the guidance from such stars can diminish. This is where the skeptics would be wrong. Dr. Basharat Ahmad in his commentary39 of a similar verse explains it quite cogently:

53:1. By the star [–Najm] when it sets [–Idha hawa].

Najm means, a star, in particular, the constellation of Pleiades by means of which Arab travellers seek their destination whilst traversing the desert in which no semblance of a roadway can be found, especially during the night, when not even the slightest inkling of a road can be detected. This is alluded to in another verse of the Holy Qur'an: "And by the stars they find the right way" (16:16).

Idha hawa means when it sets or declines. This is so because if the Pleiades are exactly overhead one can have no indication from them of the right way. Of course, when they incline to the West or to the East, the right direction can be easily ascertained and the traveller can be guided by them to the desired course in his journey.

It is also a well-accepted principle among the intelligentsia that a direct parallel exists between the physical and the spiritual worlds in that a similarity of relationship runs through both spheres. So, if testimony is drawn from the physical world in regard to a particular matter, then a wise person, by using his initiative, can draw the conclusion that a similar law must reside in the spiritual world.

Such is the case here, also. We are told that if in the physical world, when a traveller in the desert or the sea or the wilderness can find no trace of a road in the darkness of the night and has to resort to the stars to reach his destination, why should the same not apply to a wayfarer in spiritual matters? In other words, Allah, Most High, is reminding us that when there are no earthly means of guidance on land and sea and darkness envelops the world on all sides, and in accordance with this verse of the Holy Qur'an: "Corruption hath appeared on land and sea…" (30:41), and all kinds of misguidance fall like the darkness of the night, and all existing religions and creeds have been tainted by innovation and error, and there is no sight of the straight path, is it not necessary for the Almighty to create a heavenly star of guidance for spiritual wayfarers as He did for travellers in the physical world? And why a star? one may ask. As a heavenly guide, a star never deviates from the right course and so its guidance can never be wrong.

While the stars act as a guide in the darkness of the night for the spiritual traveler, there must be a corresponding hope for reaching the destination, the ending of spiritual wilderness, which is assured in Quran for one’s prayers:

52:49. And proclaim His glory for part of the night and also at the declining of the stars (when the night is about to end).40

Quran takes the analogy of guiding star in spiritual matters to its natural end point, which is none but Allah:

53:49. And that it is He Who is the Lord of Sirius (- a star worshipped by some polytheists).41

Furthermore, Quran draws attention of seekers traversing the illuminated path in search of its light source, a spiritual description of Allah Himself in a verse requoted below:

24:35. Allâh is the Extensive Light of the heavens and the earth. His light can be compared to a (lustrous) pillar on which a lamp is put. The lamp is inside a crystal globe. The globe of glass is as if it were a glittering star. It (- the lamp) is lit by (the oil of) a blessed olive tree which belongs neither to the east nor to the west (rather welds the whole world in its fold). Its oil is likely to glow forth of itself even if no fire touch it. This (lamp) is a combination of many lights over and over. Allâh guides towards His light whoever desires (to be enlightened). And Allâh sets forth excellent parables for the people, and Allâh alone has full knowledge of everything.42

While the devilish conjectures and Justinian Apologies cannot sneak into ‘heavens,’ the prophets, in their spiritual journey, ascend to the heavenly realm to experience firsthand the apparently unexplainable,43 and then return to humanity to share the spiritual light and guidance that they had received:

53:6. (The Lord) Whose powers become manifest in manifold and frequent ways, with the result that he (- this Messenger of God) attained perfection and fullest vigour (both intellectually and physically).

53:7. And he attained to the zenith of heights (in his spiritual ascension).

53:8. Then he drew near to Him and afterwards he descended (to mankind, for their guidance).

53:9. So that he became (as it were) one chord to two bows or closer still.

53:10. Then He revealed that excellent and mighty (Qur'ânic) revelation which He had to send to His servant (Muhammad),

53:11. Whose mind made no mistake in (the interpretation of) that which he saw (during the ascension).

53:12. Will you doubt and dispute with him concerning that (sight) which he saw with his own eyes (it being no figment of imagination)?

53:13. And, of course, he saw Him (in His another manifestation to him) yet another time.

53:14. It was near the Sidrah which stands at the farthest end (of knowledge),

53:15. Near where also is the Garden which is the real eternal abode.

53:16. (This was) when the sublime thing (- the Divine Manifestation) which was to cover Sidrah had covered it.

53:17. (When he saw the Divine Manifestation) his eye deviated not (from the certainty of the Truth) nor did it wander away (from the invincible faith on which he stood).

53:18. (It was the moment when) he saw the greatly important signs of his Lord.44

The myth of shooting stars visible as streaks in the night sky chasing the Satan is addressed in “The Meaning of Shihab Mubin (Brightly Shining Flame)” by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed45, which is excerpted below:

And certainly We have made strongholds in the heaven, and We have made it fair-seeming to the beholders (15:16).

And We guard it against every accursed devil (15:17).

But he who steals a hearing; so there follows him a visible flame (15:18).

The above verses of the Holy Quran have given rise to great controversy among Muslim commentators of the Holy Quran and their explanations of verse 18 have resulted in non-Muslim Orientalists painting a false picture of the purity, sanctity and inviolability of the Quranic revelation.

If we consider the verse under examination, that is, verse 18, we shall see that the following questions logically spring to the mind:

* What is the meaning of stealing a hearing? Can Satan really eavesdrop on Allah's communication to His angels?

* What is the nature of the shihab mubin (brightly shining flame)?

* What is the significance of the shihab mubin that pursues Satan?

Some Muslims commentators of the Holy Quran quote a certain hadith and say that this verse (18) refers to the time when Allah is about to vouchsafe revelation to a prophet. What happens in the heavens, they opine, is that the angels fall down in a swoon because of the majesty of the occasion and the first to rise is Angel Gabriel who asks Allah: "What has Thou spoken?" to which Allah replies: The truth which is most exalted and great. (One hadith says that the angels, on recovering from their unconsciousness, question one another concerning the announcement and then Allah responds. But in any case, the response of Allah is the same, that is, The truth which is most exalted and great.)

What happens then according to these commentators is that Satan steals a hearing either before or after the angels come out of their swoon and he then passes on Allah's communication to his friends on earth — the soothsayers and astrologers who now mix this truth from Allah with a hundred lies and begin to make predictions concerning the future. When one of their predictions happens to come true, the rejecters of the prophet seize upon it gleefully and regard them (the soothsayers, etc.) as really versed in their knowledge of the Unknown.

It is interesting to note that myths of Satan stealing a hearing are the same as Justinian apologies before the Roman king, where he tried to make a case for his Christian mythologies, which was discussed earlier in this chapter. The myth of Devil overhearing the conversation in heavens by Justin Martyr and the misread of Muslims of the verse 15:8 i.e. Satan stealing a hearing are eerily similar and apologetic. It is clear that Christian myth has seeped into Muslim thinking.

Continuing with the article – The Meaning of Shihab Mubin (Brightly Shining Flame) by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed:

However, this explanation does not take into consideration the clear verses of the Holy Quran which emphatically negative such a possibility of Satan eavesdropping on the conversation between Allah and His angels. For example: And the devils have not brought it, and it behoves them not, nor do they have the power to do (it). Surely they are far removed from hearing it (26:210-212).

If someone should argue that the Quranic revelation is not meant here in the above verses but rather some other affair is referred to, then this, too, is expressly denied in the following verse of the Holy Quran:

Or do they have the means by which they listen? They let their listener (Satan) bring a clear authority (52:38).

Some commentators even attribute a report to Ibn Abbas which allegedly says that originally there was no obstacle to Satan ascending to the heavens until Prophet Jesus was born when three heavens were closed off. However, when the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) came on earth, all the heavens were sealed off from Satan. But this report has no basis in the Holy Quran or the Hadith.

As regards the shihab mubin (piercing flame) which pursues Satan, some commentators say that this refers to stars that are actually thrown at Satan. When faced with the objection that if that were so then by now all the stars would have disappeared or at least there would have been a great reduction in the number, they change their view and assert that it is really a fragment of a shining star that is thrown at Satan. But this contradicts the express verse of the Holy Quran which states:

And certainly We have adorned this lower heaven with lamps and We have made them means of rajuman (conjectures) for the devils and We have prepared for them the chastisement of burning (67:5).

(Rajuman, plural of rajmun, comes from rajama which means to stone but also to speak conjecturally or with doubt, as in rajman bil ghaib (18:22). That is, speaking conjecturally of that which is hidden, or unknown. — Lane)

As such, by the devils are meant the soothsayers and astrologers who claim to have access to the Unseen through their knowledge of the stars.

According to Maulana Muhammad Ali, if Satan can really steal a hearing from Allah's secret communications then this results in a slur on Allah's perfect power. That is, is Allah not powerful enough (Allah forbid!) to preserve His secrets from Satan (or from others for that matter)? If it is argued that Allah sends a shihab mubin (piercing flame) when He discovers that a secret is stolen by Satan, still it can be argued that:

Satan can mix the truth he has eavesdropped from Allah with many untruths. It still casts a bad reflection on Allah's complete power over all His affairs if the archenemy of man can steal messages of Allah to His chosen ones.

Again, this is contrary to the clear verses of the Holy Quran in which the diviners and astrologers confess in the following words:

And we sought to reach heaven but we found it filled with strong guards and shuhuban (pl. of shihab) (flames). And we used to sit in some of the sitting places thereof to steal a hearing. But he who tries to listen now finds a shihab (flame) lying in wait for him (72:8-9).

These two verses also clear up whatever misconception may arise in the minds of the believers when reading the following two verses:

They give ear and most of them are liars (26:223).

Except him who snatches away but once, and there follows him a shihabun saqib (brightly shining flame) (37:10).

After reading 72:8-9, no one can now believe that Satan can steal a hearing or snatch away any secret from Allah, Most High, Most Powerful. So what do these verses (15:18, 26:223, 37:10) really mean? Maulana Muhammad Ali says that sometimes the soothsayers and astrologers make certain conjectures or certain predictions about the future from their own intellectual reasoning and sometimes a few of these predictions do come true. Just as the prophets have a relationship with Allah, so, too, the soothsayers and astrologers have a bond with Satan and when these few "prophecies" are fulfilled they make grandiose claims about themselves and claim to be on the same level with the prophets in the matter of knowledge of the Unseen. This, of course, is sufficient to convince the rejecters of truth, for all they look for is any excuse that will justify their refusal to accept the prophets of Allah.

As regards the visible flame (shihab mubin), Maulana Muhammad Ali explains that, according to the dictionary meaning, it refers to any flame but also to the phenomenon of the shooting star which we sometimes witness in the open expanse above us. Whatever the physical reason for this is open to conjecture, but the belief that these shooting stars really attack Satan is not far-fetched for it is reported in the Hadith that these occurrences were very frequent just before the birth of the Holy Prophet. However, from the verse already quoted above (72:9) it is clear that shihab mubin does not refer to the shooting stars which existed from eternity but to a new occurrence which came into existence later in time. In other words, the expression shihab mubin is used to mean that light which destroys the influence of the soothsayers and astrologers whose weak conjectures were having an effect on the gullible people. And what is this light? Two things according to Maulana Muhammad Ali:

The powerful God-given prophecies of the prophets which put to flight the feeble predictions of the diviners as light puts darkness to flight. This is supported by the Holy Quran itself which refers to the Holy Prophet as an-najmus saqib (the star of piercing brightness — 86:3) and wan-najmu idha hawa (by the star when it sets — 53:1).

The Holy Quran itself, according to 56:75: Fala uqsimu bi mawaqi 'inujum (But nay, I swear by revelations of portions of the Holy Quran), in which nujum (pl. najm), which, according to commentators of the Holy Quran, mean portions of the Holy Quran, because every portion of it testifies to the truth of the Holy Quran and the falsity of the astrologers.

With the above plain read of the Quran for its parables and the discussion that followed, still if there is any lingering doubt about Satan and Jinn sneaking into celestial framework of spiritual truths of Quran, we quote the celestial arguments to clear the remaining fog:

51:7. And I call to witness the sky with (its) numerous orbits (of celestial bodies),

51:8. That contradictory are the things you say (for your not believing in God's word and in His Prophet),

51:9. Through which are deluded away (from the truth) such as would be deluded (to falsehood).

51:10. Woe to the falsehood-mongers,

51:11. Who are in the depths of obstinacy and confusion (due to false-beliefs) and give no heed (to the truth).46


2 ‘The Quran and Throwing Stars’ by Dave Miller, Ph.D. Link: http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=299&topic=47
3 Saint Justin Martyr – The Apologist. Link: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Saint-Justin-Martyr
4 The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Link: https://archive.org/stream/antenicenefather01robe#page/170/mode/2up
5 The body of the said narrative is excerpted and adapted from – Islam and Christianity, by Khwaja Kamal-ud-din, p. 1-10.
6 The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Link: https://archive.org/stream/antenicenefather01robe#page/180/mode/2up
7 The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to A.D. 325. Link: https://archive.org/stream/antenicenefather01robe#page/182/mode/2up
8 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 299
9 ibid, p. 82
10 ibid, p. 70-71
11 'Anwaar-ul-Quran' in Urdu by Dr. Basharat Ahmad. Translated into English by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed. Link: http://aaiil.org/text/hq/comm/bash/ch53.shtml,p. 5-7.
13 Al-Tur – The Mount: Nooruddin
14 ibid
15 ibid
16 ibid
17 ibid
18 Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
19 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
20 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
21 Al-Dhariyat – The Scatters: Nooruddin
22 Al-Mursalat – Those Sent Forth: Nooruddin
23 Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
24 Al-Mursalat – Those Sent Forth: Nooruddin
25 'Anwaar-ul-Quran' in Urdu by Dr. Basharat Ahmad. Translated into English by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed. Link: http://aaiil.org/text/hq/comm/bash/ch85.shtml
27 Al-Mulk – The Supreme Power: Nooruddin
29 Al-Nisa – Women: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
30 Saudi Tourism – “Souk Okaz is one of the markets where the Arabs met for trading and presenting poems and speeches in the past. Today, it is revived at the same historical location to be a unique poetry, artistic, and historical meeting. Souk Okaz now combines the ancient history and the shining present. Here, the visitor will find the modern techniques and the location’s geography with its historical value. Also, folklore performances are organized in Souk Okaz. The visitor can reach the venue by using his own car or by accompanying a tourism group.” Link: http://www.sauditourism.sa/en/About/Pages/he-7.aspx. “It was a most popular forum for the Arabs coming to perform pilgrimage in the Pre-Islamic times. Today, just like the bygone days, it is a forum of intellectuals, literatis and poets. Folk performances are held in the central yard of Souk Okaz.” Link: http://sauditourism.sa/en/Events/Pages/Okaz.aspx. See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Souk_Okaz
31 Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
32 Al-Tariq – The Comer by Night: Maulana Muhammad Ali, Edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz – English Translation of the Holy Quran with Explanatory Notes.
33 Al-Ahzab – The Confederates: Nooruddin
34 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
35 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
36 Nuh – Noah: Nooruddin
37 Al-Qiyamah – The Resurrection: Nooruddin
38 Al-Shams – The Sun: Nooruddin
39 'Anwaar-ul-Quran' in Urdu by Dr. Basharat Ahmad. Translated into English by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed. Link: http://aaiil.org/text/hq/comm/bash/ch53.shtml,p. 5-7.
40 Al-Tur – The Mount: Nooruddin
41 Al-Najm –Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
42 Al-Nur – The Light: Nooruddin
44 Al-Najm – Parts of the Quran: Nooruddin
45‘The Meaning of Shihab Mubin (Brightly Shining Flame)’ by Imam Kalamazad Mohammed Sahib – based on Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Sahib's writings. Link:http://aaiil.org/text/articles/others/meaningshihabmubinsaqibbrightlyshiningstarflame.shtml
46 Al-Dhariyat – The Scatters: Nooruddin