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‘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

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

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

You Can Do Magic♫ You Can Have Anything That You Desire♪ – But, Not So In Quran – Harut, Marut and the not so Holy Masons

Monday, October 5th, 2015

You Can Do Magic♫ You Can Have Anything That You Desire♪1 – But, Not So In Quran – Harut, Marut and the not so Holy Masons

Humans have always been fascinated with the ‘unknown’. We were all children once and children are universally enthralled with ‘magic.’ Magic tugs at their hearts and evokes fancy that goes beyond the physical confines of apparently ‘rigid’ laws of physics. By thinking magically, children can imaginatively transcend time and space. Impossible becomes possible and wishes find hope in magic. ‘Magic’ and ‘magical thinking’ provide an imaginary means to give one control over the physical world in which a person might otherwise find oneself helpless. In technical terms, it protects the (Freudian) ego. Some of the adults outgrow their ‘magical thinking’, while others continue to believe in it. Still, others dwell in it to the extent that they try to practice, preach and prove it. Some take it to the next level and set up shops providing an actual fee for service either to cast a spell or remove a presumptive one. They gain monetarily by diagnosing, treating and preventing the magical effects on one’s health or social relationships. Different experts catering to the market needs provide services in sub-specialties of magic – evil eye, amulets, ghoul, demon-possession, exorcism, witchcraft, fortune telling, astrology, palmistry, horoscope, clairvoyance, knowledge of the hidden, soothsayer, diviner, voodoo etc. Those Muslims who believe in ‘magic’ try to sanctify their occult beliefs and practices through Quran and Hadith. This chapter is addressed squarely at such beliefs and expunges any validation, no matter how remote, of such nonsense that uses crutch of Quran to stand on.

Quran frequently uses terms metaphorically. These symbolizations, if read concretely, can seed myths, for example, fire of Hell, fruits of Heaven and giving of life to a dead land. Similarly, the term ‘magic’ is misunderstood. It is alleged that Quran can be used to cast magic on the audience, but nowhere does Quran actually endorse magic as it is commonly understood. Like the followers of other religions, Muslims too, over a period of time, started attributing magical stories to their faith, their Prophet and their Book to the extent that now magic is a commonly held belief amongst many Muslims. The mythical basis of magic inferred from Quran is then conjectured into literature and apologies. The reproduction in this chapter of several examples of such literature, though lengthy, goes a long way to show the extent and pervasiveness of such beliefs. Following is an example where its author tries to validate magic from Quran by tracing its roots to the trio of Prophet Solomon, Satan and the two angels – Harut and Marut:

How black magic started – The history and story of Harut, Marut, Prophet Sulaiman, and the devils
The events in this post are based on two Quranic verses of Surah Al-Baqara and Ibn Kathir’s writings. Harut and Marut (mentioned in the Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah) were two angels who are known to be behind bringing black magic to this world. Quran clarifies the misunderstanding related to their role. They are mentioned in connection with the events that took place during the time of Prophet Solomon / Sulaiman (alaihis salam) the wise prophet and king, who came after Prophet Moses / Musa (alaihis salam). Allah’s revelation in the Quran about Sulaiman (alaihis salam) also clears the misconceptions that the Jews had about him that he was “just a sorcerer or idolator who was carried by the wind.”

Prophet Sulaiman’s powers
Allah had bestowed Prophet Sulaiman (alaihis salam) with certain powers over mankind, Jinn and all other living creatures. Satan wanted to deprive him of this power. One day, as it was his practice, before going to answer the call of nature, Sulaiman (alaihis salam) gave his ring to a woman called Al-Jaradah. Satan took advantage of this opportunity, came in the form of Sulaiman, and took the ring from her and put the ring on. As Allah had decreed to bless the holder of the ring to have many powers, all mankind, the jinn and devils submitted to Satan. Later, when Sulaiman came seeking his ring from the woman, she accused him of being an imposter. Prophet Sulaiman endured this with patience as he knew that this was a test from Allah the Almighty.

How black magic and fortunetelling became widespread?
With Satan having new powers, the devils were now free to do whatever they wished. It was at this time that they wrote books of black magic and buried them underneath the throne of Prophet Sulaiman (alaihis salam). Black magic and fortune telling came to the earth through these devils who (after having the new powers) would eavesdrop on the descending angels about matters decreed in the Heavens. The devils would then come down to inspire the soothsayers with it, and the latter would add to it many lies of their own. People would then believe them and regard them as trustworthy. The people started writing down these matters and the word spread among the Children of Israel that the Jinn knew the unseen.

Later, when Allah restored to Prophet Sulaiman (alaihis salam) his kingdom, and all those who had strayed away came to follow the straight path once again, Allah the Almighty informed Sulaiman (alaihis salam) about the magic that had become commonplace among his people. This then drove Sulaiman to quickly seize and gather all these writings and put them in a chest and bury them under his throne. All the devils who tried to even approach the chest were burned alive. Prophet Sulaiman took an even harder stance declaring that he would behead anyone who claimed that the devils knew the unseen.

Asif was Sulaiman’s scribe. He knew the Greatest Name of Allah and used to write what he was ordered to by Sulaiman and then bury it underneath the throne. After Sulaiman’s death, a devil came in the form of a human being to the people and said: “I will lead you to an everlasting treasure that will never run out.” He was referring to the writings of Prophet Sulaiman that were buried under the chest. The Satan led the people to dig under Sulaiman’s throne. To provide credibility to his word he also offered to be killed if he was not correct in his claims. After the people dug out all the writings, the devil told them that it was these writings that had given Prophet Sulaiman power over mankind, the Jinn and the birds. The devils altered these books by adding magical and blasphemous writings. The devils wrote about different types of sorcery meant to fulfill different desires.

For example, the devils wrote about how people could get some wishes fulfilled by standing facing the sun and saying some words, and how they could get other wishes fulfilled by standing with their back to the sun and repeating some other words. They wrote this in a book and sealed it with a ring bearing the inscription found on Sulaiman’s ring and titled it with: “This is what has been written by Asif Ibn Barkhiya by the order of King Sulaiman Ibn Dawud: from the treasures of knowledge.” Then, they buried it under Sulaiman’s throne.

It was rumored and circulated that Sulaiman had been a sorcerer. Satan established himself as an orator and said: “O people! Sulaiman was not a prophet; he was only a sorcerer! Go and seek his sorcery in his dwellings and luggage.” And he led them to the buried “treasure”. The people said: “By Allah! Sulaiman was a sorcerer who subjected us through his magic.” But the believers from among them said: “Nay, he was a faithful Prophet.”

Quran’s verses and explanation on the reality of black magic
During Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) time, the Jews kept these writings and disputed the prophet (s) regarding them. They would ask Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.) about matters from the Torah. They said: “Muhammad confounds the truth with falsehood: he puts Sulaiman with the prophets while he was just a sorcerer who was carried by the wind.” When they asked him about sorcery, Allah the Almighty revealed to the prophet (s) the following verses:

They followed what the Shayatin (devils) gave out (falsely of the magic) in the lifetime of Sulaiman (Solomon). Sulaiman did not disbelieve, but the Shayatin (devils) disbelieved, teaching men magic and such things that came down at Babylon to the two angels, Harut and Marut, but neither of these two (angels) taught anyone (such things) till they had said, “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).” And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife, but they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s Leave. And they learn that which harms them and profits them not. And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their ownselves, if they but knew.And if they had believed, and guarded themselves from evil and kept their duty to Allah, far better would have been the reward from their Lord, if they but knew! Quran (Surah Al-Baqara, Verses 102-103)

Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S) informed the Jews of this narration and they left defeated and humiliated. Regarding the angels Harut and Marut mentioned in the verses, Ibn ‘Abbas (May Allah be pleased with him) elaborated that: “The angels Harut and Marut used to warn anyone who came to them to learn magic and would say to him: “We are only for trial, so disbelieve not (by learning this magic from us).” They knew what is good, what is bad, what is belief and what is disbelief and thus they knew that magic was associated with disbelief. Ibn ‘Abbas continued: “However, if they could not dissuade the person, they would tell him to go to a particular place to learn magic.Allah the Almighty says:

“…And from these (angels) people learn that by which they cause separation between man and his wife,…” (Al-Baqarah, 2:102).

i.e., the people learned from Harut and Marut the magic by which they would cause separation between man and his wife though the man and wife might have affinity and affection for each other. Separation between them is caused by the cunning of the devils as transmitted in Imam Muslim’s Sahih from the Hadith narrated by Jabir Ibn ‘Abdullah as said by the Prophet (S.A.W.S.): “Iblis places his throne upon water; he then sends detachments (for creating dissension); the nearer to him in rank are those who are most notorious in creating dissension. One of them comes and says: “I did so and so.” And he says: “You have done nothing.” Then one amongst them comes and says: “I did not spare so and so until I sowed the seed of discord between a husband and a wife.” Satan goes near him and says: “You have done well.” Al-A’mash said: “He then embraces him.”

The dissension between a husband and wife can be created through magic by the devil making each of them imagine something bad — a view, or manner, etc. – about the other. Allah the Almighty says:

But they could not thus harm anyone except by Allah’s Leave” (Al-Baqarah, 2:102).

The lesson from the story is that magic is for real and Allah has provided Satan certain powers to harm mankind, especially those who believe in Allah and His message of truth. To prevent us from Satan’s plans and mischief, Allah has also provided us with many verses and adhkar that we can find in the Quran and Hadith. We should, therefore, be regular in reciting those Azkar to avoid getting in the traps of Satan all satanic activities.
Source: Ibn Kathir Stories2

Any intelligent reader will be perplexed by the above fantastic narrative in which its author presents hearsay for a fact and then relies on confabulations to interpret Quran. One is compelled to wonder if the author even for a moment considered his interpretations sheer nonsense. The myth states that Harut and Marut were angels. These angels were not only living amongst the Babylonians, but were also teaching them magic. This myth can be debunked by a single verse in Quran. The verse simply states that all and sundry can see the angels only after they are dead and that too only in the hereafter:

25:22. On the day when they will see the angels, there will be no good news for the guilty…3

The legend of Solomon for his magical powers, his magical kingdom and his epic return to power is also found in Arabic literature, eerily similar to the fantasy in the Hollywood production of Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King,’4 and is summarized below:

Miraculous Power: Solomon is represented as having authority over spirits, animals, wind, and water, all of which obeyed his orders by virtue of a magic ring set with the four jewels given him by the angels that had power over these four realms. A similar ring is mentioned in stories of the "Arabian Nights." The power inherent in the ring is shown by the following story: It was Solomon’s custom to take off the ring when he was about to wash, and to give it to one of his wives, Amina, to hold. On one occasion, when the ring was in Amina’s keeping, the rebellious spirit Sakhr took on Solomon’s form and obtained the ring. He then seated himself on the throne and ruled for forty days, during which time the real king wandered about the country, poor and forlorn. On the fortieth day Sakhr dropped the ring into the sea; there it was swallowed by a fish, which was caught by a poor fisherman and given to Solomon for his supper. Solomon cut open the fish, found the ring, and returned to power. His forty days’ exile had been sent in punishment for the idolatry practised in his house for forty days, although unknown to him, by one of his wives (Koran, sura xxxviii. 33-34; Baiḍawi, ii. 187; Ṭabri, "Annales," ed. De Goeje, i. 592 et seq.).5

The foremost basis for magic in Quran is attributed to two angels, Harut and Marut in Babylon, in verse 2:102. The advent of these angels occurred centuries after the reign of Solomon and will be part of discussion in this chapter. The mythical interpretation of Harut and Marut is essentially a Persian legend of two fallen angels, Avestan Haurvatāt and Amurdād, who were banished due to their promiscuous act with a Persian princess. The princess was then able to extract the secret name of God from them. Once she uttered that secret name, she ascended to the heavens as Venus (Al-Zuhrah). The angels in turn were punished and imprisoned in chains from ankle to knees, hanging upside down in a well in Mount Damāvand, their thirsty tongues sticking out just short of the water at the bottom and they taught magic. They will stay in this state till the Day of Judgment6. This legend of fallen angels has similarities in the Bible:

2 Peter 2:4 – For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;7

Since the support for magic in Muslim apologies is based upon references to verse 2:102 of Quran in which Solomon and angels Harut and Marut are mentioned, hence this verse will be addressed straightaway before the term ‘magic’ itself is expunged from Quran in the later part of this chapter. As a matter of principle, whenever there is a reference in Quran to a bygone event, Quran rectifies the errors of pervious Scriptures because it declares itself as a guardian of the truth and absolves, besides Solomon, numerous other prophets as well that have been smeared in the Old Testament:

5:48. And We have revealed to you this perfect Book [–Quran] comprising the truth and wisdom, fulfilling (the prophecies of) the Scripture which was present before it and stands as a guardian over it…8

To understand verse 2:102 it is important to take into account the historical events. These events spanned from Solomon in 9th century BC, to Harut and Marut in Babylon into 5th Century BC. The historical context is important in understanding the relevance of this verse in Madina during the 7th century AD.

About two hundred years after Solomon came Isaiah, the prophet. Isaiah gave a two part prophecy about Babylon. The first part of Isaiah’s prophecy states that Babylon will be overcome by a Persian-Mede king without pillage of the city. The second part of the same prophecy mentions total destruction of the city such that it will never resurrect again.

A hundred years after Isaiah, Nebuchadnezzer II, the Chaldean, razed Solomon’s temple and displaced Israelites from Canaan into Babylon in captivity.

Seventy years later Isaiah’s prophecies were indeed fulfilled. Babylon was overcome by a Persian-Mede king(s) without pillage of the city. This Persian king (or possibly two kings) had the characteristics of Harut, which is most likely a title rather than the name of any particular person. Harut comes from the root word Harat which means to ‘clear’ the land. The second prophecy also came true. The total destruction of Babylon was accomplished by another Persian king referred to as Marut in Quran. Marut comes from the root word Marat which means to ‘level’ the land. The Israelites got their freedom under Harut and Marut albeit over a century. They returned to Jerusalem.

The prophecy of Isaiah foretold the role of Harut and Marut in Babylon. Harut and Marut were no less than angels for the Israelites. Harut and Marut were probably not actual names of these kings. They were referred to as Harut and Marut because they possessed the attributes of Harat and Marat. One cleared Babylon and the other totally levelled. In fact Babylon was cleared by two consecutive Persian kings and thus Harut may refer to two individuals and not one.

The details of these will emerge as we discuss the verse 2:102 of Quran. This verse will be broken down into smaller parts to grasp the context and relevance of the matters that it addresses:

2:102. Moreover, they (- the Jews of the Prophet’s time) pursue (the same tactics) which the rebels [Arabic: shayāṭīnu i.e. devils] had followed against the empire of Solomon…9

Obviously, the verse is referring to intentions, actions and incitement by certain people, the Jews of Madinah (verse 2:101), who were conniving against the sitting government of the Prophet. They were hatching schemes in the same manner that was once done against the government of Solomon – Moreover, they (- the Jews of the Prophet’s time) pursue (the same tactics) which the rebels [Arabic: shayāṭīnu i.e. devils] had followed against the empire of Solomon.

2:102. …And it was not Solomon that had committed breach of faith [Arabic: kafara i.e. disbelieved], but it was the rebels [Arabic: shayāṭīna i.e. devils] that had committed breach of faith…10

This section of the verse 2:102 draws parallels between the rebels at the time of Solomon and the Jews at the time of Prophet Muhammad. The Jews in Madinah, similar to rebels at the time of Solomon, allege that Prophet Muhammad is committing breach of faith and is a false prophet. Whereas, it were the Jews of Madina who were breaching their own faith by their rebellious acts against the promised prophet. The advent of Muhammad was foretold in their own scriptures:

Deuteronomy 18:18. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you [–Moses] from among their brethren [–Ismaelites], and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.11

Deuteronomy 33:2. And he said: “The Lord came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran [–Hejaz, Makkah], And He came with ten thousands of saints [later during the conquest of Makkah]; From His right hand Came a fiery law [–Quran] for them…”12

Prophet “Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years,” (1 Kings 11:42)13 approximately from 971 (or 967) B.C. to 931 BC. His kingdom prospered and extended from Euphrates to Nile. He built the First Temple in Jerusalem. Verse 2:102 is a reference to the time of tranquility and prosperity under Solomon when people from far, China, India and Egypt, converged towards his kingdom and brought with them their respective faiths which became a source of rebellious ideas and movements in his kingdom. The falsehoods attributed to Solomon by these rebels/devils found their way into the Old Testament, unrefuted.14

In Quran, the use of the term ‘devils’ opposing the prophets is used for opposition leaders who use any and every vile scheme to disrupt the message of the prophets and tarnish their image. Similar to the scheming against Prophet Solomon by usurpers in his kingdom, schemes were hatched against Prophet Muhammad, but with a difference. Solomon faced conspiracies because he was a king. Whereas, Prophet Muhammad faced persecution because he was a commoner. The same term ‘devil’ or ‘rebel’ is used in Quran for leaders opposing both prophets:

2:13-14.And when it is said to them, Believe as the people [Arabic: l-nāsu; Companions of the Prophet] believe, they say: Shall we believe as the fools believe? Now surely they are the fools, but they do not know. And when they meet those who believe, they say, We believe; and when they are alone with their devils [Arabic: shayāṭīnihim; evil companions, ring-leaders], they say: Surely we are with you, we were only mocking.15

In the verse 2:102 when Quran states that it was not Solomon that had committed breach of faith, it is factually correcting the Bible which alleges that Solomon in his old age committed breach of faith and setup altars for worship by his non-Jewish wives:

1 Kings 11 – King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. 7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.16

Thus, according to Quran, it was the rebels [Arabic: shayāṭīna i.e. devils] that had committed breach of faith, and not Solomon. This rumor mongering of polytheistic practices of Solomon as spread by the ‘devils,’ the opposition against Solomon, later found its way into the quoted passage of 1 Kings 11, unrefuted. Even more, not only Prophet Solomon was accused of being an enchanter and a sorcerer, but also Prophets Moses and Muhammad, and even the Quran itself was called magic, which we know is not true:

10:2. Is this a (matter of) wonder for the people that We have sent Our revelation to a man from among themselves (saying), `Warn the people (against the evils of disbelief and sin) and give glad tidings to those who believe that they stand on a strong and honourable footing with their Lord?’ The disbelievers say, `Certainly, this (man) [–Muhammad] is an evident enchanter.’17

33:69. Believers! be not as those who maligned Moses [as a sorcerer: verses 20:57, 20:63, 20:71, 51:39]. Indeed Allâh absolved him of their allegations [including that Moses was a sorcerer]. And he (- Moses) is ever high- honored in the sight of Allâh.18

74:24-25. then said: This [Quran] is nothing but magic from of old, this is nothing but the word of a mortal!19

The angels under discussion, Harut and Marut and their alleged teaching of magic, come into picture much later after the death of Solomon when the Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 597 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar II, the Babylonian king, and he displaced the Israelites into Babylon. This exile period was the time of Prophets Daniel, Ezra, Ezekiel and Josiah.20 Verse 2:102 thus continues.

2:102. …They (- the Jews of Madînah) teach the people the modes of intriguing [Arabic: siḥ’ra i.e. enchantment, magic, embellished deceit]; and also (pursue) that which had (once) been revealed to the two angels, Hârût and Mârût in Babylon21[Emphasis added]

The very statement – that which had (once) been revealed to the two angels, is a multifactorial proof that Harut and Marut were not angels but humans. According to Quran angels are not the end recipients but conveyers of the revelations. Furthermore, angels do not live amongst humans:

17:95. Say, `Had there been angels on the earth (in place of human beings) walking about secure and sound We (too) would have invariably sent down an angel from heaven as a Messenger to them.’22

While it will become obvious in the discussion to follow that Harut and Marut were Persian kings who cleared and levelled out the enemies of Israelites, it is also important beforehand to clear the air surrounding the use of the word ‘angels’ for them. Both, within Quran and in common usage, the word ‘angel’ is ascribed by people to others for their virtuous characteristics. For example, after the guests of wife of Aziz heard about the pious behavior of Joseph and then saw him, they exclaimed and called him an angel:

12:30. And the women talked in the city, `The wife of the ‘Azîz (- Potiphar, the captain of king’s guard) seeks to seduce her young slave against his will. His love has indeed penetrated deep in her heart. Indeed, we see her in obvious error (in going too far in her love).’

12: 31. And when she heard of their sly whisperings (and taunting remarks), she sent for them and prepared a repast for them, then (on the women’s arrival) she gave to each one of them a knife (to eat fruit therewith) and said (to Joseph then), `Come forth in their presence.’ So when they saw him they found him a dignified personality and cut their hands (through wonder and) said, `Glory be to Allâh! He is not a human being. He is but a noble angel.23 [Emphasis added]

Two angels, Hârût and Mârût in Babylon is a reference to the history calling those savior kings angels. Quran is referring to a term used by Jews where it addresses them in the verse 2:102. This verse addresses the Jews of Madinah who were not only conspiring but were also teaching/inciting sihr, i.e. embellished deceit, to others as well, against the government of the Prophet. In doing so they were also using the tactics that were once employed at the time of Harut and Marut in Babylon. Before one starts interpreting the terms Harut and Marut from folklore one has to understand the root of these words, Harat and Marat, and their usage in Quran. In simple terms, Harat – means clearing up of the land. Marat – means levelling of the land.24

Harata To spear, slit, widen, impair (reputation), have a wide mouth, have wide sides of the mouth, tear up. Hârût: A descriptive name one who tore up. According to Ibn ‘Abbâs Harût and Marût were two men (Baghawî). They are both descriptive names the former being derived from harata (he tore up) and marata (he broke). These names signify that the object of these men (kings) was to tear asunder and break the glory and power of the empire of the enemies of the Israelites. The Holy Qur’ân discredits the Christian and Jewish stories of sinning and rebellious angels (II Epistle of Peter 2:4; Epistle of Jude 5:6; Midrash). See also Mârût. Hârût: Name of an Israelite king who was given the power and authority by God to destroy the enemies of the Israelites. (2:102). (L; T; R; LL) 25

Marata To break, make barren, Maratun: Barren and stripped land; Man without eyebrows. Mart: Hairless beast. Mârût: Attributive name of a king whose object was to break the glory of the enemies of Israelites, as Ibn ‘Abbâs says. His companion was Hârût. Mârût: Name of an Israelite king (2:102). (Ibn ‘Abbâs, Baidzâwî; Ibn Jarîr; Dhahhâq; LL).26

Similar to Gog and Magog27, Harut and Marut are also coupled terms. They signify certain peoples. Their names reflect their sequential actions i.e. Harat – who first cleared up the city of Babel, the ruins of which are found in southern Iraq of modern times, and Marat – who then levelled it altogether. Only then the Israelites, who were earlier displaced from Canaan by Nebuchadnezzar II, had their freedom restored and returned to Palestine. Thus, Harut and Marut must have been nothing but angels for the Israelites.

The origins of the term – that which had (once) been revealed to the two angels, Hârût and Mârût in Babylon is found in history. It was revealed in a prophecy to Prophet Isaiah (around 740 B.C.) the manifestation of two angels, Harut and Marut, who in their strategy will seek relief for Israelites from slavery by their developing an alliance with the kingdoms of Media (also written as Medes) and Persia. It so happened later that it were the Persian kings28 who ended the slavery for the Israelites after the city of Babel was first ‘cleared’ in 539 BC by Cyrus the Great (Cyrus II 560–530 BC, also known as Dhul Qurnain in Quran) who drained the moat around the fortification of the city and then took over the city peacefully and without pillage.29 This reflects the behavior of a Prophet King, be it Dhul Qurnain conquering Babel then or Prophet Muhammad conquering Makkah later. The prophecy states:

Isaiah 13:17. “Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, Who will not regard silver; And as for gold, they will not delight in it.30

See also Isaiah 45:1-8.31

The second time Babel was again attacked and its rebellious king and his followers were killed in 521 BC by Darius I.32 The prophecy of Isiah was thus fulfilled for ‘Harut’:

Daniel 5: 13 Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king [Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar II] spoke, and said to Daniel, “Are you that Daniel who is one of the captives from Judah, whom my father [Nebuchadnezzar II] the king brought from Judah?… 30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans [–the natives of marshy south-east portion of Mesopotamia], was slain. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.33

The mention of – “Then Daniel was brought in before the king,” clearly points to the fact that Israelites were still under the subjugation of the Babylonian king when ‘Harut’ struck – “Darius the Mede received the kingdom.” For the third time the city was pillaged, the citizens killed and the city itself ‘levelled’ forever by the army of Xerxes I in 482 BC.34,35 The same prophecy points to this event which fulfilled the role of ‘Marut’:

Isiah 13:18-20. Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces, And they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; Their eye will not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It will never be inhabited, Nor will it be settled from generation to generation; Nor will the Arabian pitch tents there, Nor will the shepherds make their sheepfolds there.36

See also Jermiah 5137

The exiled Israelites returned from Babylon over a period stretching from 538 B.C. to 445 B.C.38

In the stated verse – They (- the Jews of Madînah) teach the people the modes of intriguing; and also (pursue) that which had (once) been revealed to the two angels, Hârût and Mârût in Babylon, essentially points to the alliance that started in Babylon between the subjugated and displaced Jews and the Persian kings. This alliance continued even during the time of the Prophet in Madina. The Jews of Madina asked the Persian king for support against the Prophet. It is on record that the governor of Yemen, then province of Persia, sent guards to arrest the Prophet in Madina. By Divine knowledge, the next day, the Prophet told them that the Persian king whose orders they were following had been killed by his own son. The guards returned empty handed.

2:102. …But these two [–Harut and Marut] would not teach (anything to) anyone without first declaring, `We are but a trial (for you here), do not, therefore commit breach of faith.’…39

Harut and Marut, the kings, were Divinely inspired to convey to Israelites with whom they were in alliance, that even though they secured freedom for them, the whole effort was essentially a moral trial according to Quran – We are but a trial (for you here). Harut and Marut further conveyed to the Israelites that after they get their freedom from the Babylonians, the Israelites, in the future must not commit breach of faith in the same manner, as the rebels against Solomon had – it was not Solomon that had committed breach of faith, but the rebels that had committed breach of faith.

Here the Jews of Madina are admonished not to commit a similar breach of faith against the Prophet, the ruler of Madina. Despite their peace treaty with the Prophet, the Jews continued to stoke rifts between Aws and Khazraj, the Arab tribes in Madina, who had found peace between themselves only after they had converted to Islam. The Jews incessantly and successfully provoked Makkans to attack Madina resulting in battles of Badr and Uhad. Their tribe committed treason during the Battle of Confederates. They even tried to kill the Prophet by entrapping him in their neighborhood by attempting to crush him under a rock from a roof top. The breach of faith of peace treaty by Jews is summated in the book ‘Muhammad and the Jews. A Re-examination’ by Barakat Ahmad under its chapter ‘The Jewish Support for Medinan Opposition’(see footnote40).

The enslaved Israelites in Babylon were morally correct to hatch a secret alliance with the Persian kings. On the contrary, in Madina the Jews had no moral basis for their conspiracy against the government of Prophet Muhammad. After the arrival of the Prophet in Madina, they freely entered into a written alliance and on equal footing with the Prophet (Mesaq e Madina41). They lived as several independent tribes and went about their daily lives without any hindrance. After agreeing to an alliance treaty any secret planning by them against the Muslims was clearly a breach of faith. The current verse refers to it – do not, therefore commit breach of faith.

History is witness to the rebellious behavior of Israelites. They repeatedly lost to the outside forces, their kingdom, its capital Jerusalem and the Solomon’s Temple, not only before the time of Harut and Marut, but afterward as well. They contrived to kill Jesus and even tried to kill the Prophet in Madina. Quran recounts this disorderly conduct of the Israelites:

17:4. And in the Scripture We have conveyed to the Children of Israel with certainty (saying), `Twice you shall create disorder in the land and shall surely become exceedingly overbearing and arrogant.’

17:5. So when (in 588 B.C. the time for) the first of the two warnings came, We roused against you, (O Children of Israel! some of) Our servants possessed of great valour and might in warfare, and they penetrated into the innermost recesses of your country and habitations. Indeed, it was a warning (about the punishment) of Allâh bound to be carried out.

17:6. Then We gave you back the power to prevail over these (enemies of yours through Cyrus and Zerubbabel), and We helped you with (various) possessions and sons and We increased your man-power (militarily).

17:7. (We said,) `If you did good, you did it for your ownselves, and if you did evil it was only to the same end.’ So when (the time for carrying out) the latter warning came (We raised certain other people – Romans under Titus in 70 A.D., against you to destroy your glory), so that they might do evil to (you and) your leading men and invade and enter the Mosque (at Jerusalem) in the same way as others (of your enemies) had invaded and entered it the first time, and so that they might destroy utterly all that they had conquered.

17:8. Still it is well-nigh that your Lord will again have mercy on you, (through Islam) but if you return (to mischief, We warn,) We too will return (to Our punishment), We have made Gehenna a prison-house for the ungrateful.42

Quran refutes the notion that angels could possibly teach evil crafts. By definition angels are agencies of Allah, and only good flows from Allah, not evil. Angles cannot disobey God and have no free will of their own to mislead mankind:

16:49-50. And to Allah submits every living creature that is in the heavens and that is in the earth, and the angels (too) and they are not proud. They fear their Lord above them and do what they are commanded.43

66:6. …They [–the angels] do not disobey Allah in what He commands them, but do as they are commanded.44

If Harut and Marut were angels like Gabriel and Michael (verse 2:98), the possibility of their misleading the people by teaching magic is repugnant to teachings of Quran. If these angels were teaching magic, an evil craft, then this is clearly the Christian doctrine of ‘Fallen Angels’ and has nothing to do with Quran:

2 Peter 2:44. For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;45

Angels, real or mythical, at least by the standards of Quran, cannot disobey Allah because by their very attribute they do not have a free will of their own and they do as they are commanded (verse 66:6) by Allah. If by any remote imagination, Harut and Marut taught magic, then either they were not angels or God forbid, Allah Himself is the teacher of magic and deception through them (I seek mercy of Allah). The myth states that Harut and Marut taught magic to the people; hence by implication they were visibly interacting with humans. By Quranic standards, angels cannot be perceived by physical eyes. They can be ‘seen’ only with a spiritual vision, a subject that is dealt with in a separate chapter.

Angels teaching magic is a total misread of the verse 2:102. The revelation via the angels strictly adheres to the principles of faith and is free from misguidance. In the verses preceding the current verse it is stated that for one to go against Divine Commandments, in this case that knowledge which is revealed to Prophet Muhammad, in both spiritual and worldly domains, is actually one going against Allah Himself:

2:97-101. Say, `He who is an enemy to Gabriel, because it is he who has brought down this (Qur’ân) on your heart by the command of Allâh, and which confirms (the Scriptures) which preceded it, and is a guidance and good tidings to the believers, `(Let him bear in mind that) whoever is an enemy to Allâh and His angels and His Messengers and Gabriel [–the angel of highest knowledge, the revelations of spiritual domain] and Michael [–the angel of worldly and material knowledge], then, of course, Allâh (Himself) is an enemy to such disbelievers.’ And We indeed have sent down to you clear arguments which none but the disobedient reject. Is it not a fact that every time they made a covenant, some of them cast it away? Rather most of them have no (true) faith. And (now) when a great Messenger (Muhammad) has come to them from Allâh confirming that (Scripture) which is with them [–Torah], a party of those who were given the Scripture cast away the Book of Allâh behind their backs, as if they know (it) not.46

2:102. …So they (- the followers of Hârût and Mârût), learnt from them that (teaching) by which they made a distinction between man and his wife, (- they taught men only and not women), yet they would not harm anyone thereby (by their practice), save by the command of Allâh…47

This is a historical reference to the secrecy of alliance between enslaved Israelites in Babylon with kings of Media (now North-Western Iran) and Persia.48 The level of secrecy was of highest level to the extent that, metaphorically or for real, even their women folks were kept in dark. This practice of secret councils survived in the Masonic religion to this day. The core tenet of Freemasonry is to keep women out of their organization that Quran refers to when it states – they made a distinction between man and his wife, (- they taught men only and not women). This tenet is outlined in the ‘Constitution of Freemasons’:

The Persons admitted Members of a Lodge must be good and true Men, free-born, and of mature and discreet Age, no Bondmen, no Women, no immoral or scandalous Men, but of good Report.”49 [Emphasis added]

The modus operandi of Masonic societies makes distinction between man and his wife, and all their meetings and rituals are held in utmost secrecy. Jews of Madina during the time of the Prophet resorted to the same Masonic practices. They, like the time of Harut and Marut in Babylon, schemed and sought help from the king of Persia.

The reference in Quran – yet they [i.e Harut and Marut] would not harm anyone thereby (by their practice), save by the command of Allâh, points to liberating role of Cyrus II, Darius I and Xeres I in Babylon as discussed before. Further, Quran also admonished the Freemasons in Madina that their conspiracies would not harm anyone thereby, save by the command of Allâh. Early Islamic history testifies to fulfillment of this admonishment of Quran to the rebellious Jews of Madina and is outlined in the subsequent portion of the verse 2:102 below.

2:102. …But these people (- the Jews of the Prophet’s time, on the contrary) are learning things that would harm them and do them no good. (They do it) even though they know that he who adopts this course will have no share (of good) in the Hereafter. Indeed, evil is that thing which they have sold themselves for. Had they but known (this fact).50

In the last segment of the verse 2:102, Quran warns the holders of secret counsels against Islam. Since, Prophet Muhammad is holding an appointed office and his message is from Allah, anyone scheming against the Prophet is factually scheming against Allah. Such a person or organization is bound to commit things that would harm them and do them no good. This warning was validated later in Madina. The Jewish tribes of Banu Qainuqah, Banu Nadhir and Banu Quraiza were subsequently displaced out of the city for their incessant scheming against the Prophet and the Muslims. While Quran does not forbid holding councils to promote good in the society, it squarely addressed and forewarned the intriguing Masonic councils of Jews in Madina:

58:7. Do you not see that Allâh knows whatever lies in the heavens and whatever lies in the earth? There are no three holding a secret counsel but He is their fourth. There are no such five but He is their sixth. Whether they are fewer than that or more, He is with them, no matter where they are. Then on the Day of Resurrection He will tell them (in the form of requital) all that they have been doing. Surely, Allâh is Possessor of full-knowledge of all things.

58:8. Have you not seen those who were forbidden (to hold) secret counsels and yet repeatedly returned to what they were forbidden to do, and they conferred together secretly (encouraging) sin, transgression and disobedience to the Messenger? When they come to you they greet you (with words) with which Allâh has not greeted you, but they say one to another, `Why does Allâh not cause us to suffer for what we say (hypocritically).’ Sufficient for them is Gehenna (to reckon with them satisfactorily). They shall enter it. What an evil resort!

58:9. O you who believe! when you hold secret counsels do not confer to promote sin, transgression and disobedience to the Messenger. Rather confer (to promote) piety, and righteousness and restrain from evil. And take Allâh as a shield, (Allâh) before whom you shall be gathered together.

58:10. Holding secret counsels (with evil intentions) is (the work) of satan (who does it) to cause unrest and distress to those who believe. Yet he can do them no harm at all except by the leave of Allâh. Therefore let the believers repose their trust in Allâh.51 [Emphasis added]

In summary, the verse 2:102 brings to fore the devilish acts, the secret scheming by evil minded, the Jews of Madina against Prophet Muhammad. It also explains the modus operandi of these schemers which was based upon the same evil schemes that were plotted against Prophet Solomon, including efforts to defame him (1 Kings 11). The verse also recounts the story of Harut and Marut who liberated Israelites. The verse highlights the distinctive characteristic of the schemers in that they exclude women from among their midst – the Freemasons, a secret society with its origins during construction of Solomon temple, if not earlier.52 The Jews of Madina were in collusion with Persian kings in their schemes. The goal of these schemers was to destroy Islam. The verse ends with the prophecy that they would fail. That was evidenced later by the expulsion of Jews from Madina.53 Maulana Muhammad Ali also explains the matter in one of his sermons (see footnote).54

After refuting magic attributed to verse 2:102 we turn our attention the word ‘magic.’ Various terms that the advocates of magic allude to by referencing them in Quran are discussed for their lexicographical basis in ‘Dictionary of Quran’ by Abdul Mannan Omar:

Sahara, Suhura / Sahira To gild, fascinate, bewitch, wheedle, turn anyone from enchant, practice sorcery, hoax, involve in trouble, deprive of understanding. Sihr: Witchcraft; Sorcery; Eloquence; Seduction; Falsehood; Deception; Turning of a thing from its proper manner to another manner; Anything the source of which is not quite visible; Showing off falsehood in the form of truth; Crafty device; Mischief; Mesmerism; Hypnotism. Sâhir plu. Sâhirûn and Sâharâ; Wizards; Fraud; Deluder; Man of vast knowledge. Mashûr: Bewitched; Feeded. Sihrân: Two magics, two magicians. Mushharun: Bewitched. Sahira: To rise or act at day break. Sahar/Suhar: plu. Ashâr: Day break; End; Edge. Later part of the night; Core of the heart; Inner part of the heart; Heart. Saharû (prf. 3rd. p.m. plu.): They enchanted, cast a spell. Tashara (imp. 2nd. p.m. sing. acc.): Thou enchant, cast a spell. Tusharûna (pip. 2nd. p.m. sing.): Ye are turned away, led away. Sihrun (n.): Intrigue; Hoax; Device; Spell; Enchantment; Deception; Sorcery; Skillful eloquence; Witchcraft; Fraud; Illusion; Magic; Trickstery. Sihrân (n. dual.): Two magicians. Sâhirun (act. pic. n. sing.): Magician; Thing of which the origin is subtle; Corruption; Falsehood. Sâhirûna (act. pic. m. plu): Magicians. Sâhirâni (act. pic. m. dual.): Two magicians. Saharatun (act. pic. m. plu.): Magicians. Sahhâr (ints.): Big magician. Mashûr (pct. pic. m. sing.): Enchanted; Defrauded; Deprived of reason; Under spell; Victim of deception; Who is given food. Mashurûna /Mashurîna (nom./acc. act. pic. m. plu. II.): Enchanted ones. Musahharin (pis. pic. m. plu. II.): Bewitched one; Under Spell; Who are dependent on being given food. Saharun (n.): Early dawn; In the last watch of the night. Ashâr (n. plu. of Sahar): Early dawn. (L; T; R; LL; Râzî) The root with its above forms has been used in The Holy Qur’ân about 63 times.55

It would be an error to discuss or even refute ‘magic’ from within Quran. There is no such existential entity of ‘magic’ and it is not the subject matter of Quran to discuss a non-entity. Still the term ‘magic’ has many hues to it, for example, the illusory enchantment and sorcery of arguments which fall under their metaphorical usage in Quran. The alleged sorcery attributed to Moses and the priests of Egypt is rebutted in a separate chapter.56 If at all, magic and omens fall in the rubric of superstitions. Quran expunges superstitions, one and all, from its midst:

5:103. Allâh has not instituted (superstition like those of) any Bahîrah (-an animal having her ear slit and let loose for free pasture, dedicated to some god, their milk was not used, nor their back, nor their meat); or Sâ’ibah (-an animal having given birth to ten females, liberated to pasture where she would, not be ridden, nor milk drunk except by her young); or Wasîlah (-an animal which gave birth to seven females consecutively and at the seventh birth she bore a pair male and female. Each of the latter was let loose and the milk of the animal drunk by men only and not by women;) or Hâmi (-an animal that is left at liberty without being made use of in any way whatsover). But those who disbelieve have fabricated a lie (by such superstitious dedications) in the name of Allâh. Most of them cannot refrain (from such polytheistic superstitions).

5:104. And when it is said to them, `Come to what Allâh has revealed and to this perfect Messenger.’ They say, `Sufficient for us is that (tradition) whereon we have found our forefathers.’ What! (would they follow them blindly) even though their forefathers had no knowledge whatsoever and had no guidance? 57

Not to be left behind in superstition mongering, ironically, even some exegesis of Quran advocate magic. Instead of refuting superstitions altogether, the exegesis promote its existence and then offer apologies. Following is an example from such an exegesis where it quotes the example of a fee for service of ‘Quranic spells’ and sanctifies it from alleged reports attributed to the Prophet and his Companions:

Many people in this regard argue from Hadrat Abu Said Khudri’s tradition which has been related in Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad, Abu Daud and Ibn Majah, and it is supported also by a tradition related in Bukhari on the authority of Ibn Abbas. According to it the Holy Prophet sent some of his Companions including Hadrat Abu Said Khudri on an expedition. They halted on the way at the settlement of an Arabian tribe and demanded hospitality from the people, but they refused to extend any hospitality. In the meantime the chief of the tribe was stung by a scorpion and the people came to the travelers to ask if they had any medicine or formula by which their chief could be cured. Hadrat Abu Said said: "Yes, we do have, but since you have refused us hospitality, we would not treat him unless you promised us to give us something." They promised to give them a flock of goats (according to some traditions, 30 goats), and Hadrat Abu Said went and started reciting Surah Al-Fatihah and rubbing his saliva on the affected place. Consequently, the chief felt relieved of the effect of the poison and the people of the tribe gave them the goats as promised. But the Companions said to one another; "Let us not make any use of the goats until we have asked the Holy Prophet about it", for they were not sure whether it was permissible to accept any reward for what they had done. So they came before the Holy Prophet and related what had happened. The Holy Prophet smiled and said: "How did you know that Surah Al-Fatihah could also be used for curing such troubles? Take the goats and allocate my share also in it."

But before one used this Hadith for permission to adopt a regular profession of granting amulets and reciting charms, one should keep in view the conditions under which Hadrat Abu Said Khudri had recourse to it, and the Holy Prophet not only held it as permissible but also said that a share for him also should be allocated so that there remained no doubt in the minds of the Companions that such a thing was permissible. The conditions in Arabia in those days were, as they still are, that settlements were situated hundreds of miles apart, there were not hotels and restaurants where a traveler could buy food when he reached one of these after several days journey. Under such conditions it was considered a moral duty that when a traveler reached a settlement the people of the place should extend hospitality to him. Refusal on their part in many cases meant death for the travelers, and this was looked upon as highly blameworthy among the Arabs. That is why the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) allowed as permissible the act of his Companions. Since the people of the tribe had refused them hospitality, they too refused to treat their chief, and became ready to treat him only on the condition that they should promise to give them something in return. Then, when one of them with trust in God recited Surah Al-Fatihah over the chief and he became well, the people gave the promised wages and the Holy Prophet allowed that the wages be accepted as lawful and pure. In Bukhari the tradition related on the authority of Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas about this incident contains the Holy Prophet’s words to the effect: "Instead that you should have acted otherwise, it was better that you recited the Book of Allah and accepted the wages for it." He said this in order to impress the truth that Allah’s Word is superior to every other kind of enchanting and practice of secret arts. Furthermore, the Message also was incidentally conveyed to the Arabian tribe and its people made aware of the blessings of the Word that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) had brought from Allah. This incident cannot be cited as a precedent for the people who run clinic in the cities and towns for the practice of secret arts and have adopted it as a regular profession for earning livelihood. No precedent of it is found in the life and practice of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) or his Companions, their followers and the earliest Imams.58

The manner in which the above incidence is described is repugnant to the very spirit of Quran. The exegesis alleges that the Companions of the Prophet withheld and refused to offer its message and its benedictions to a victim of scorpion bite. The exegesis also alleges that benedictions of Quran were offered only in return for a fee, an act, which later the Prophet not only endorsed but also for his share of the fee. On the contrary, Quran repeatedly mentions that the Prophet does not, cannot and will not ask for a reward for the message of Quran:

6:90. It is these whom Allâh has guided; so follow their guidance. Say, `I ask you no reward for bringing this (guidance). This is nought but a reminder for all world.59

10:72. `But if you turn back (you will suffer for it). I have asked of you no reward (for any of my services to you). My reward lies with Allâh alone. And I have been commanded to be of those who fully resign themselves (to Him).’60

11:51. `My people! I ask of you no reward for this (teaching). My reward is not due but from Him Who created me. Will you not then understand?61

26:109. `And I ask no reward from you for it (- the delivery of the Message of God). My reward lies with the Lord of the worlds alone.62

26:127. `I ask no reward from you for this (service I render). My reward lies only with the Lord of the worlds.63

36:21. `Follow those who ask no reward from you and who are following the right path.64

The said exegesis sanctifies withholding of help by Hadrat Abu Said from the victim of scorpion bite. On the contrary, Quran looks down on such a behavior by anyone, especially by a Muslim, from withholding a simple good deed:

107:4-7. So woe to those who Pray, But are unmindful of their Prayer (and ignore the spirit and aim of it), And they like (only) to be seen (of people while they make a show of their deeds), And who withhold (legal) alms and other acts of kindness (starting from the Zakât to the lowest form of lending ordinary things of utility like a needle or a piece of thread to a neighbour).65

According to Quran, withholding of good from others is essentially a trait of hypocrites:

9:67. The hypocrites, both men and women, are all (strictly) alike. They enjoin the wrong and forbid the right and withhold their hands…66

The above account of treating a scorpion (or snake) bite victim fails to mention other interventions that were probably conducted for the patient besides the payer that any Muslim intuitively recites in Surah Al-Fatihah. Asking fee for a service and one’s labor is quite legitimate. Bites of snakes and scorpions are painful and distressing to the victim, but with passage of time some recover on their own, which might have happened in this case. Additionally, the report also mentions Prophet’s laughter, implying that he made light of the whole matter.67

Returning to the subject at hand, with a pre-existing belief in magic, some readers of Quran try to find references in it to validate their beliefs. They ascribe the origin of magic to Prophet Solomon (PBUH), which are essentially Jewish folktales. The myths attributed to Solomon include his magical Seal and his control over demons etc. The origins of magic are reinforced with a superficial read in Quran where it mentions Jinns, Harut, Marut; Solomon talking to Birds (Hudud) and Ants; and subservience of wind to Solomon. The myths specific to Solomon are addressed in a separate chapter. Quran rubbishes it all, the imaginative knowledge of the ‘unseen,’ fortune telling, the supernatural of the magic and mind reading. The unseen is not be confused with that which is discovered by science. Discovering of the unseen by science is knowledge based experience of God’s laws and is encouraged in Quran:

20:114. …say: My Lord, increase me in knowledge.68

18:109. Say, `If every ocean became ink for (recording) the words and creation of my Lord, surely, the oceans would be spent up before the words and creation of my Lord came to an end, even if we brought to add (therewith) as many more (oceans).69

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.70

Underlying the presumed mystery of magic is the power to know and to control the unseen, which according to Quran is with only God:

2:255. Allâh, there is no other, cannot be and will never be One worthy of worship but He, the Ever Living, Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. Slumber overtakes Him not, nor sleep. Whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth belongs to Him. Who is there that will intercede with Him, save by His leave? He knows their future and their past; and they encompass nothing of His knowledge (of the things) except of such (things) as He (Himself) pleases (to tell). His knowledge and suzerainty extends over the heavens and the earth and the care of them both tires Him not. He is the Supreme, the Great. 71

6:59. All the treasures of the unseen lie at His disposal. No one knows them but He; He knows whatsoever is in the land and in the sea. There falls not a single leaf but He knows it, nor is there a grain in the dark beds of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry but all is recorded in a clear book (-in God’s perfect knowledge).72

6:73. … He is the Knower of all the hidden realities and the seen. And He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware. 73

20:110. (God the Almighty) knows all that is before (-the people – their future) and all that is behind them (-their past); they cannot encompass Him with (their) knowledge.74

22:76. He knows the future of the people and their past; and to Allâh do all matters stand referred (for judgment).75

64:18. He is the Omniscient of the unseen and the seen. (He is) the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.76

Of all the people, even Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was unaware of the unseen and the future, minus the prophecies disclosed to him:

7:187. They ask you about the Hour, when it will come to pass. Say, `Surely, the knowledge thereof is with my Lord. He alone will reveal it at its proper time. It shall be heavy on the heavens and on the earth. It shall not come upon you but all of a sudden.’ They ask you (about it) as if you were curiously solicitous about it (from Allâh). Say, `The knowledge of it is only with Allâh, but most people do not know (this fact).’

7:188. Say, `I have no power over (bringing) any gain or (avoiding) any harm to myself save to the extent that Allâh will. And had I known the unseen I would surely have secured a great deal of good (for myself) and no harm would ever have come to me. I am only a Warner (to the wicked) and a Bearer of good tidings (to the people who believe).77

21:109. But if they still turn back say, `I have given you clear warning in all fairness. I do not know, however, whether that threat held out to you will be (fulfilled in the) near or distant (future).78

72:25. Say, `I have no knowledge whether that (punishment) you are threatened with is near (at hand) or whether my Lord will fix a later term for it.’79

No human, including the prophets, has been given the power to know that which is in the minds of the others:

5:109. (Imagine) the day when Allâh will gather together all the Messengers and asks, `What response did you receive?’ They will say, `We have no real knowledge (about the minds of the people), surely it is You alone Who have true and perfect knowledge of all things unseen.’80

According to Quran, no person has the knowledge of the future beyond a prediction based upon some naturally occurring variable such as weather:

53:35. Has he [–the disbeliever in Quran or for that matter any ordinary human] the knowledge of the unseen so that he can see (his own future)?81

No human can achieve the knowledge of the ‘unseen’ of his/her own future, be it the formal ‘education’ of the occult and fortune telling:

19:77-78. Have you considered the case of one who denies Our Messages and says `I shall indeed be given great wealth and a number of children.’ Has he looked into and gained knowledge of the unseen or has he taken a promise from the Most Gracious (God)?82

The only exception to knowledge of future is the prophecies based solely upon that which is imparted by God Himself. The example of prophecies in Quran are of Noah asked to prepare for the flood, Lot and his followers told to leave the dwellings of Sodom and Gomorrah, Joseph interpreting the dreams and predicting the famine and the fate of his fellow inmates, Exodus of Moses and Israelites, Mary foretold of the birth and mission of Jesus, Prophet Muhammad informed of his overcoming the Makkans etc.:

72:26-28. He [–Allah] alone knows the hidden (future) and He does not grant predominance to any one over His secrets, Except to him whom He chooses to be a Messenger (of His, to whom He frequently tells many news about the hidden future). (And when He does this) He orders an escort of (guarding angels) to go before him and behind him; That He may make it known (to the people) that they (- the Divine Messengers) have properly delivered the Messages of their Lord. He encompasses (in His knowledge) all that they have, and keeps count of all things.83

3:179. And Allâh is not going to leave (you), the believers, as you are, unless He has distinguished the corrupt from the good. Nor is Allâh going to reveal fully to (everyone of) you, the unseen; but Allâh chooses (for His Messages) such of His Messengers as He will. Believe, therefore in Allâh and His Messengers; and (remember) if you believe (truly) and guard against evil then there is for you a great reward.84

The miseries that people suffer from and then attribute them to magic spells and cast counter spells for relief are debunked by Quran:

6:63. Say, `Who delivers you [including the soothsayers, the magicians] from the horrors of the land and the sea when you call upon Him in humility and in open supplication (saying), "If He delivers us from this (hardship) we shall ever be grateful (to Him)"‘

6:64. Say, `It is Allâh who delivers you from these (horrors) and from every calamity, still you associate partners (with Him).’

6:65. Say, `He has power to send upon you a calamity from above and from beneath your feet or He may throw you into confusion by making you confront with conflicting parties, and make you taste the dissension (and violence) of one another.’ Behold! how We explain Our Messages in different ways so that they may give thought.

6:66. Your people have cried lies to this (Qur’ân), though it is the truth. Say, `I am not responsible for your affairs.’85

Quran ridicules any ‘magical’ beliefs in all matters:

6:71. Say, `Shall we call, besides Allâh, upon that which can neither profit us nor harm us (by itself), and shall we be turned back on our heels (and led astray) after Allâh has guided us, like one whom the evil ones have made to follow his caprices (leaving him) utterly bewildered in the land; (whilst) he has companions who call him to the guidance (of Allâh, saying), "Come to us".’ Say, `Verily Allah’s guidance is the only perfect guidance. And we are commanded (by Him) to submit to the Lord of the worlds.’86

As to the detractors from the message of Quran who base their faith on superstitions, Quran states:

6:70. And leave alone those who take their religion as a futile and frivolous thing causing diversion (from Allâh). Present life has beguiled them, therefore go on admonishing (such people) by means of this (Qur’ân) lest a soul should be consigned to perdition because of its misdeeds. There is no patron for it (-the soul) apart from Allâh, nor intercessor, and even if it may offer every compensation it will not be accepted from it. It is these who are destroyed for what they accomplished. There awaits them a drink of boiling water and a grievous punishment because they disbelieved.87

Nowhere Quran endorses the nonsense of magic. Rather, it ridicules the deniers of Quran who called Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as an enchanter:

10:2. … The disbelievers say, `Certainly, this (man) is an evident enchanter.’88

Further, the same people who alleged witchcraft to the success of Prophet Muhammad even called Quran itself as magic:

74:24. And said, `This (Qur’ân) is nothing but an age long magic handed down (by tradition).89

If no human can know the future or what’s in the minds of the people, and while Quran makes a mockery of the concept of magic, then one wonders as to what leads certain readers to ascribe the endorsement of magic in Quran? That kind of confused thinking emanates from certain verses which are discussed and clarified next. The last two chapters of Quran, namely the Dawn90 and Mankind91 (jointly called Mu’awwidhatayn) are attributed by a superficial read as a protection against the supernatural evils and witchcraft. The subject matter of these chapters has nothing to do with magic. These chapters remind one of the evil of everything created and the evil whisperings into the minds that mankind suffers from. When reading these surahs, reproduced from ‘English Translation of The Holy Quran With Explanatory Notes’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali, edited by Dr. Zahid Aziz, the reader is encouraged to also read the corresponding footnotes which bring to light the full context of what is stated in these chapters:

 

113:1. Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of the dawn,92
113:2. from the evil of what He has created,93
113:3. and from the evil of intense darkness,94 when it comes,
113:4. and from the evil of those who cast (evil suggestions) in firm resolutions,95
113:5. and from the evil of the envier when he envies.96

 

114:1 Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,
114:2. the King of mankind,
114:3. the God of mankind,
114:4. from the evil of the whisperings of the sneaking (devil),
114:5. who whispers into the hearts of people,
114:6. (and is) from among the jinn and mankind.97

Here a prayer has been taught to seek protection in Allah against all such evils which come in the way of a believer in his/her struggle of life.98 There is also an associated myth surrounding these surahs about the Prophet. The single sourced legend is attributed to Hisham bin Urwah. According to the report a Jew cast magical spell on the Prophet. Due to the spell he fell ill for an extended period of time. Under the effects of the spell he almost lost his mind to the extent that even his prophethood becomes questionable. Consequently, Gabriel revealed the two stated chapters of Quran to the Prophet after reciting of which he was able to shed off the alleged spell and recovered his health. Even though the whole story could be refuted on the sole basis that in it there is also mention of Ali, Zubair and others prominent Companions as witnesses to the matter, but no hadith is related from these Companions for this significant event. We quote the following from an exegesis which takes the report both for a fact and then offers an apology which factually endorses the ‘magic’ as a fact rather than a myth. The exegesis interprets ‘magic’ for its literal and infantile meanings in Quran rather than its implied metaphorical usage:

As far as the historical aspect is concerned, the incident of the Holy Prophet’s being affected by magic is absolutely confirmed, and if it can be refuted by scientific criticism, then no historical event of the world can be proved right and genuine. It has been related by Bukhari, Muslim, Nasai, Ibn Majah, Imam Ahmad, Abdur Razzaq, Humaidi, Baihaqi, Tabarani, Ibn Sad, Ibn Mardayah, Ibn Abi Shaibah, Hakim, Abd bin Humaid and other traditionists on the authority of Hadrat Aishah, Hadrat Zaid bin Arqam and Hadrat Abdullah bin Abbas, through so many different and numerous channels that forgery is out of the question. Although each tradition by itself is an isolated report (khabar wahid), we give it below as a connected event from the details provided by the traditions.

After the peace treaty of Hudaibiyah when the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) returned to Madinah, a deputation of the Jews of Khaibar visited Madinah in Muharram, A.H. 7 and met a famous magician, Labid bin Asam, who belonged to the Ansar tribe of Bani Zurayq. They said to him: "You know how Muhammad (upon whom be Allah’s peace and blessings) has treated us. We have tried our best to bewitch him but have not succeeded. Now we have come to you because you are a more skilled magician. Here are three gold coins, accept these and cast a powerful magic spell on Muhammad." In those days the Holy Prophet had a Jewish boy as his attendant. Through him they obtained a piece of the Holy Prophet’s comb with some hair stuck to it. Magic was worked on the same hair and the teeth of the comb. According to some traditions, magic was worked by Labid bin Asam himself, according to others, his sisters were more skilled than him and he got the spell cast through them. Whatever be the case, Labid placed this spell in the spathe of a male date-tree and hid it under a stone at the bottom of Dharwan or Dhi Arwan, the well of Bani Zurayq. The spell took one whole year to have effect upon the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace). In the latter half of the year the Holy Prophet started feeling as if was unwell. The last forty days became hard on him, of which the last three days were even harder. But its maximum effect on him was that he lay melting away from within. He thought he had done a thing whereas, in fact, he had not done it: he thought he had visited his wives whereas he had not visited them; and sometimes he would doubt having seen something whereas, in fact, he had not seen it. All these effects were confined to his own person; so much so that the other people could not notice what state he was passing through. As for his being a Prophet, no change occurred in the performance of his duties.

There is no tradition to say that he might have forgotten some verses of the Qur’an in those days, or might have recited a verse wrongly, or a change might have occurred in the assemblies and in his counsels and sermons, or he might have presented a discourse as Revelation which may not have been revealed to him, or he might have missed a Prayer and thought that he had performed it. God forbid, if any such thing had happened, it would have caused a clamor and the whole of Arabia would have known that a magician had overpowered the one whom no power had been able to overpower. But the Holy Prophet’s position as a Prophet remained wholly unaffected by it. Only in his personal life he remained worried on account of it. At last, one day when he was in the house of Hadrat Aishah, he prayed to Allah to be restored to full health. In the meantime he fell asleep or drowsed and on waking he said to Hadrat Aishah: "My Lord has told me what I had asked of Him." Hadrat Aishah asked what it was. He replied: "Two men (i.e. two angels in human guise) came to me. One sat near my head and the other near my feet. The first asked: what has happened to him? The other replied: Magic has been worked on him. The first asked: who has worked it? He replied: Labid bin Asam. He asked: In what is it contained? He replied: In the comb and hair covered in the spathe of a male date-tree. He asked: where is it? He replied: under a stone at the bottom of Dhi Arwan (or Dharwan), the well of Bani Zurayq. He asked: what should be done about it? He replied: the well should be emptied and it should be taken out from under the stone. The Holy Prophet then sent Hadrat Ali, Hadrat Ammar bin Yasir and Hadrat Zubair: They were also joined by Jubair bin Iyas az-Zurqi (two men from Bani Zurayq). Later the Holy Prophet also arrived at the well along with some Companions. The water was taken out and the spathe recovered. There they found that beside the comb and hair there was a cord with eleven knots on it and a wax image with needles pricked into it. Gabriel (peace be on him) came and told him to repeat the Mu’awwidhatayn. As he repeated verse after verse, a knot was loosened and a needle taken out every time, till on finishing the last words all the knots were loosened and all the needles removed, and he was entirely freed from the charm. After this he called Labid and questioned him. He confessed his guilt and the Holy Prophet let him go, for he never avenged himself on anyone for any harm done to his person. He even declined to talk about it to others, saying that Allah had restored him to health; therefore he did not like that he should incite the people against anyone.

This is the story of the magic worked on the Holy Prophet. There is nothing in it which might run counter to his office of Prophethood. In his personal capacity if any injury could be inflicted on him as it happened in the Battle of Uhud, if he could fall from his horse and be hurt as is confirmed by the Hadith, if he could be stung by a scorpion as has been mentioned in some Traditions and none of these negates the protection promised him by Allah in his capacity as a Prophet, he could also fall ill under the influence of magic in his personal capacity. That a Prophet can be affected by magic is also confirmed by the Qur’an. In Surah Al- A’raf it has been said about the magicians of Pharaoh that when they confronted the Prophet Moses, they bewitched the eyes of thousands of people who had assembled to witness the encounter (v. 116). In Surah Ta Ha it has been said that not only the common people but the Prophet Moses too felt that the cords and staffs that they cast were running towards them like so many snakes, and this filled Moses’ heart with fear. Thereupon Allah revealed to him: "Don’t fear for you will come out victorious. Cast down you staff." (vv. 66-69). As for the objection that this then confirms the accusation of the disbelievers of Makkah that the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace) was a bewitched man, its answer is that the disbelievers did not call him a bewitched man in the sense that he had fallen ill under that effect of magic cast by somebody, but in the sense that some magician has, God forbid, made him mad, and he had made claim to Prophethood and was telling the people tales of Hell and Heaven in his same madness. Now, obviously this objection does not at all apply to a matter about which history confirms that the magic spell had affected only the person of Muhammad (upon whom be peace) and not the Prophethood of Muhammad (upon whom be peace), which remained wholly unaffected by it.

In this connection, another thing worthy of mention is that the people who regard magic as a kind of superstition hold this view only because the effect of magic cannot be explained scientifically. But there are many things in the world which one experiences and observes but one cannot explain scientifically how they happen. If we cannot give any such explanation it does not become necessary that we should deny the thing itself which we cannot explain. Magic, in fact, is a psychological phenomenon which can affect the body through the mind just as physical things affect the mind through the body. Fear, for instance, is a psychological phenomenon, but it affects the body: the hair stand on end and the body shudders. Magic does not; in fact, change the reality, but under its influence man’s mind and senses start feeling as if reality had changed. The staffs and the cords that the magicians had thrown towards the Prophet Moses, had not actually become snakes, but the eyes of the multitude of people were so bewitched that everybody felt they were snakes; even the senses of the Prophet Moses could not remain unaffected by the magic spell. Likewise, in Al-Baqarah: 102, it has been said that in Babylon people learned such magic from Harut and Marut as could cause division between husband and wife. This too was a psychological phenomenon. Obviously, if the people did not find it efficacious by experience they could not become its customers. No doubt, it is correct that just like the bullet of the rifle and the bomb from the aircraft, magic too cannot have effect without Allah’s permission, but it would be mere stubbornness to deny a thing which has been experienced and observed by man for thousands for years. 99

The above exegesis does not take into account other versions of the myth that have contradictory details between them make the whole matter not worthy of any further review and must be rejected. This report is attributed to Hisham bin Urwah, who for most of his life lived in Madinah, and in his later years moved to Iraq where he died. Imam Muslim, who was his peer in Madina, quotes him for other hadiths, but not this one. One can safely state that this hadith came to fore during later years of Hisham while he was in Iraq. The timeline alone proves that Hisham did not have this hadith in Madina. From other sources, we know that while in Iraq, Hisham had started to lose his sensibility, most likely because of his old age. It is from Iraq that Hisham became the source for another nonsensical hadith alleging marriage of the Prophet to Aisha when she was six years old.100 It conclusively proves that such single sourced hadiths of Hisham, when he was old and after he had moved to Iraq; he based his narrations on hearsay and attributed them to Urwah, his father. In some manner this hadith actually fits the mental state of Hisham himself when he was losing his memory in his old age – “He thought he had done a thing whereas, in fact, he had not done it: he thought he had visited his wives whereas he had not visited them; and sometimes he would doubt having seen something whereas, in fact, he had not seen it.” This hadith is not about magic, but a disguised malice and attack on the sanity of the Prophet and consequentially on Islam itself. No sane person can simultaneously live in two different realities as this report alleges. It seems that the myth of magic afflicting the Prophet is sourced on similar myths attributed to prophets in the Bible, for example, in New Testament Jesus is led by Satan to Jerusalem:

Luke 4:5-9. The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here…101

Little do the exegetes know that in their concocted magical spell afflicting the Prophet to the point of him going insane, they are factually forwarding the allegations of the ardent enemies of the Prophet, both during his lifetime, and even in the present:

15:6. And they say, `O you to whom this Reminder (- the Qur’ân) has been revealed! you are a mad man indeed.102

23:25. `He is but a man gone mad, you had better bear with him for a while (and see the consequences).’103

68:51. Those who disbelieve would fain have dislodged you (from your God-given mission) with their (angry) looks when they heard the Reminder full of admonition (- the Qur’ân, but you were firm and steadfast). And they say, `He is certainly a mad man.’104

While the said report clearly alleges the Prophet to have lost his sanity, Quran repeatedly absolves him of any vestige of insanity:

52:29. So (Prophet!) keep on exhorting, as by the grace of your Lord, you are neither a soothesayer, nor a mad man.105

68:2. By the grace of your Lord you are not a mad man at all. 106

81:22. And that this compatriot of yours (-Muhammad) is not at all mad.107

In their advocacy the proponents of the stated hadith make a distinction between the so called afflictions of ‘magic’ and ‘satan’ as if they are two separate entities. These advocates are probably unware themselves and even make the Prophet ignorant of the fundamental guidance in Quran to seek Allah’s help:

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.108

The above report of magic vexing the Prophet if taken in the manner that it is interpreted in the exegesis; it raises more questions than it answers109. The stated hadith mentions two angels appearing to the Prophet, maybe in a dream, and that too after about a year of his pain and sufferings. Whereas, we know, Gabriel appeared immediately after the Prophet was chased out of Taif with injuries. Why was there such a delay of angels coming to the rescue while he was still receiving revelations during the 7th and 8th years of Hijrah and the magic was still in effect? Was the Gabriel absent during this period? Did the yearlong delay by the angels not risk his message? If this hadith is taken as true then it creates a fundamental contradiction against Quran. One is constrained to ask as to where were those guarding angels that are promised to every Messenger?

72:26. He alone knows the hidden (future) and He does not grant predominance to any one over His secrets,

72:27. Except to him whom He chooses to be a Messenger (of His, to whom He frequently tells many news about the hidden future). (And when He does this) He orders an escort of (guarding angels) to go before him and behind him;

72:28. That He may make it known (to the people) that they (- the Divine Messengers) have properly delivered the Messages of their Lord. He encompasses (in His knowledge) all that they have, and keeps count of all things.110

It is a bogus hadith which goes against Quran for the mere fact that there is no such thing as magic. In Quran, the Prophet’s safety and sensibility at the hands of his enemies at any time was assured by Allah Himself111:

5:67. O Messenger, deliver what has been revealed to you from your Lord; and if you do not, you have not delivered His message. And Allah will protect you [– Muhammad] from people. Surely Allah does not guide the disbelieving people.112,113[Emphasis added]

In summary, there is no ‘magic’ to be found in Quran, nor in the life of the Prophet, nor in the doctrine of Islam. But, we are still left with the word ‘magic’ in history, minds and beliefs. Whatever its source maybe, according to Quran, to entertain magic in one’s thoughts or actions is a waste of time because  – the enchanters never succeed (10:77).114

Magic can only be found in a wishful thinking of a child, or an adult who has refused to grow up, or in the insanity of someone struck with love. That bewitched mind may find more of solace than truth in the ballad sung beautifully by the band ‘America.’ It can be consolingly enjoyed by listening to this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb8Sa0jp7Pw

"You Can Do Magic"115


I never believed in things that I couldn’t see
I said if I can’t feel it then how can it be
No, no magic could happen to me
And then I saw you

 

I couldn’t believe it, you took my heart
I couldn’t retrieve it, said to myself
What’s it all about
Now I know there can be no doubt

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You’re the one who can put out the fire

You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo …

And when the rain is beatin’ upon the window pane
And when the night it gets so cold, when I can’t sleep
Again you come to me
I hold you tight, the rain disappears
Who would believe it
With a word you dry my tears

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You’re the one who can put out the fire

You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo …

And If I wanted to
I could never be free
I never believed it was true
But now it’s so clear to me

You can do magic
You can have anything that you desire
Magic, and you know
You’re the one who can put out the fire

You know darn well
When you cast your spell you will get your way
When you hypnotize with your eyes
A heart of stone can turn to clay
Doo, doo, doo …

You’re the one who can put out the fire
You’re the one who can put out the fire
You’re the one who can put out the fire …

 


 

1 The title of this chapter is a satire of the song by ‘America’. Link: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/america/youcandomagic.html
3 Al-Furqan – The Criterion: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
8 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
9 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
10 ibid
14 Excerpted and rendered into English of explanation of verse 2:102 by Nooruddin – Haqaiq ul Quran (Urdu). Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=205&region=H1
15 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
17 Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
18 Al-Ahzab – The Confederates: Nooruddin
19 Al-Muddaththir – The one wrapping himself up: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
20 Excerpted and rendered into English of explanation of verse 2:102 by Nooruddin – Haqaiq ul Quran (Urdu). Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=206&region=H1
21 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
22 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
23 Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
24 Excerpted and rendered into English of explanation of verse 2:102 by Nooruddin – Haqaiq ul Quran (Urdu). Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=206&region=H1
25 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 589-590
26 ibid, p. 529
27 Materialism And Falsehood – Gog, Magog And Dajjal, The Antichrist. Link: http://ahmadiyya.org/WordPress/2015/07/05/materialism-and-falsehood-gog-magog-and-dajjal-the-antichrist/
28 Wikipedia: Achaemenid kings and rulers. Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achaemenid_Empire#Attested
31 “Thus says the Lord to His anointed, To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—To subdue nations before him And loose the armor of kings, To open before him the double doors, So that the gates will not be shut: ‘I will go before you And make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze And cut the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the Lord, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+45.1-3&version=NKJV
32 Wikipedia: Wars of Darius I, Babylonian_revolt. Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wars_of_Darius_I#Babylonian_revolt
39 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
42 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
43 Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
44 Al-Tahrim – The Prohibition: Nooruddin
46 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
47 ibid
48 Wikipedia. Map – Achaemenid Provinces during the rule of Darius I. Link:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_(region)#/media/File:Provinces_of_the_Achaemenid_empire.png
49 The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734): The Charges of a Free-Mason – III. Of LODGES. p. 49. Produced by James Anderson, Benjamin Franklin (Grand Master of Masons of Pennsylvania) Link: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=libraryscience
50 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
51 Al-Mujadilah – The Pleading Woman: Nooruddin
52 The Constitutions of the Free-Masons (1734): The Constitution, History, Laws, Charges, Orders,
Regulations, and Usages of the Right Worshipful Fraternity of Accepted Free-Masons. p. 7-47. Produced by James Anderson, Benjamin Franklin (Grand Master of Masons of Pennsylvania) Link: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=libraryscience
53English rendering and paraphrase from the footnotes of verse 2:102 in ‘Bayan ul Quran (Urdu)’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 63-64, pub. 1980.
54 The Three Conditions Of Humankind: Friday Sermon of Hazrat Ameer (Head) Maulana Muhammad Ali Sahib – November 27, 1914. Link: http://aaiil.org/text/hq/sermons/mali/3cond_pf.shtml
55 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 250-251
56 Staff Of Moses – Rod Of Mastery Not Mystery; Serpentine, But Not Suppositious (Part I). Link: http://ahmadiyya.org/WordPress/2015/04/26/staff-of-moses-rod-of-mastery-not-mystery-serpentine-but-not-suppositious-part-i/
57 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
58 Question of Reciting Charms and Amulets in Islam. ‘Tafhim al-Qur'an’ – The Meaning of the Qur'an: Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. Introduction for both Surah Al Falaq (113) and Surah An Nas (114). Link: http://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/113/index.html
59 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
60 Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
61 Hud – Hud: Nooruddin
62 Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
63 ibid
64 Ya Sin – O Perfect Man!: Nooruddin
65 Al-Maun – The Acts of Kindness: Nooruddin
66 Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin
67 The referred passage from the said exegesis maybe understood when read for its full context in light of ‘Fazalul Bari’ (in Urdu) by Maulana Muhammad Ali for its hadith number 2276* and its footnote 1, and hadith number 5737* and its footnote 3 to the extent that one may legitimately ask for compensation for one’s efforts and expertise – Link: http://www.muslim.org/fazlul-bari/main.html. The corresponding hadiths in Muhsin’s Khan ‘Sahih Bukhari’ are: Volume 7, Book 71, Number 645* and 633** – Link: http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/bukhari/071-sbt.php
68 Ta Ha – Ta Ha: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
69 Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
70 Luqman – Luqman: Nooruddin
71 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
72 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
73 ibid
74 Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
75 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
76 Al-Taghabun – Manifestation of Loss: Nooruddin
77 Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
78 Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
79 Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
80 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
81 Al-Najm – Parts of the Qur'ân: Nooruddin
82 Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
83 Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
84 al`Imran – Family of Amran: Nooruddin
85 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
86 ibid
87 ibid
88 Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
89 Al-Muddaththir – One Endowed With Excellent Capabilities: Nooruddin
90 Al-Falaq – The Dawn: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
91 Al-Nas – The Mankind: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
92 Footnote: a (1) The reference in the Lord of the dawn is to the gradual manifestation of the Truth and its ultimate triumph.
93 Footnote: b (2) Editor’s Note: Anything which God has created can cause harm if it is used in an incorrect way, without the light of knowledge.
94 Footnote: c (3) This signifies darkness in which there is no ray of light, and stands for the dark difficulties with which an affair is sometimes attended — difficulties through which a person is unable to see his way. Man is, therefore, here taught to pray that his affairs may not be enveloped in utter darkness.
95 Footnote: d (4) These words indicate those who put evil suggestions into the resolution of people or into the management of their affairs. This verse deals with the second difficulty in the management of an affair. The first difficulty is its being enveloped in utter gloom (v. 3); the second is that darkness is dispelled, but the resolution to accomplish the affair is yet weak. (Editor’s Note: The view that this verse refers to witches, who had once cast a spell on the Holy Prophet by “blowing on knots”, is entirely baseless and contrary to the teachings of the Quran.)
96 Footnote: e (5) This is the third difficulty. Success is now in sight, but there are those who envy that success. Therefore, Divine protection has still to be sought when a person is successful in accomplishing an affair.
Note that the Prophet, who was charged with the heavy task of establishing truth in the world and making it triumphant over falsehood, had to face all these difficulties, and his faithful followers, whose goal of life is the same as that of the Prophet, stand most in need of resorting to this prayer with which the Quran draws to a close.
97 Footnote: a (6) These verses are a complement to the previous chapter. Three kinds of mischief are pointed out there which may be done to the cause of Truth. Here a fourth, but the gravest mischief of all, is pointed out, that of the sneaking devil, who comes stealthily and casts evil suggestions into the hearts of people. The whispering of the evil one is the greatest mischief because its source is in the hearts of people (v. 5). Al-khannas (v. 4) is the devil because he retires or shrinks or hides himself.
Man is here taught to seek refuge in God Who is, in the first place, the Rabb of mankind, i.e., its Nourisher by degrees to Perfection; secondly, He is the Malik or King of mankind, i.e., holds control over them, so far as the physical laws of nature are concerned; thirdly, He is the Ilah of mankind, Who alone deserves to be worshipped and before Whom the whole of mankind must ultimately bow. In other words, the protection of God is sought because He is the Nourisher Who brings to perfection, and He holds control over Matter as well as Mind. The Divine purpose is thus again disclosed at the end, as it is disclosed in the very beginning (1:1) of the Holy Quran. It is to bring mankind to perfection. Nothing in this world can frustrate this purpose, as God holds control over matter as well as mind.
98 Commentary on Chapter 113 (Al-Falaq – The Dawn) of the Holy Quran: by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, Translated by Imam Kalamazad Muhammad. Link: http://aaiil.org/text/hq/comm/bash/ch113_pf.shtml
99 Question of Holy Prophet's being affected by Magic. ‘Tafhim al-Qur'an’ – The Meaning of the Qur'an: Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. Introduction for both Surah Al Falaq (113) and Surah An Nas (114). Link: http://www.englishtafsir.com/Quran/113/index.html
102 Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
103 Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin
104 Al-Qalam – The Pen: Nooruddin
105 Al-Tur – The Mount: Nooruddin
106 Al-Qalam – The Pen: Nooruddin
107 Al-Takwir – Loosing Of The Light: Nooruddin
108 Fussilat – Detailed and Clear in Exposition: Nooruddin
109 The referred passage from the said exegesis can be rejected by its full and erroneous context in light of ‘Fazalul Bari’ (in Urdu) by Maulana Muhammad Ali for its hadiths number 3268* and its footnote 1– Link: http://www.muslim.org/fazlul-bari/main.html. The corresponding hadiths in Muhsin’s Khan ‘Sahih Bukhari’ are: Volume 7, Book 71, Number 658, 660 and 661* – Link: http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje/religious-texts/hadith/bukhari/071-sbt.php
110 Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
111 Excerpted and rendered into English of explanation of Chapter 113 by Nooruddin – Haqaiq ul Quran (Urdu). Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=572&region=H4
112 Al-Maidah – Food: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
113 Footnote: a (67) The promise is given here that the Holy Prophet will remain under Divine protection as against the innumerable dangers that threatened him from all quarters and the numerous plots against his life. But it also refers to the Prophet’s spiritual protection. God protects prophets by creating them pure from every sin in their very nature, keeping them firm in trials, sending down tranquility upon them and protecting their hearts against evil.
114 Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin

The Bottled Up – Jinn or Genie? Arabian Nights Refuted!

Saturday, August 8th, 2015
The Bottled Up – Jinn or Genie? Arabian Nights Refuted! 

To understand the intended use of the term jinn in Quran, reader is referred to the book ‘Religion of Islam’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali under its chapter ‘Angels’ and in sub-section ‘The Jinn’. The discussion at hand serves a different purpose which is to rebut the myths of Jinn accredited to Quran. 

The fanciful jinns that are misattributed to Quran are actually found in New Testament:

The Quran and Traditions do not speak of jinn as they exist in popular imagination, interfering in human affairs or controlling the forces of nature or assuming human or any other shape or taking possession of men or women and affecting them with certain diseases. Such ideas are unfortunately associated with the existence of jinn in the Gospels. The stories of Jesus casting out devils are more wondrous than fairy tales: "And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God" (Luke. 4:41). A devil was cast out of a dumb man and he began to speak (Mattew. 9:33); a woman from Canaan had a daughter possessed with the devil and Jesus at first refused to cast out the devil because she was not an Israelite (Matthew. 15 22-24); as many as seven devils went out of Mary Megdalene (Luke. 8:2); the devils cast out of another two men were sufficient for a whole herd of swine: "They went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters" (Matthew. 8:32). And this power of casting out devils was given to all those who believed in Jesus (Mark. 16:17).[1] 

Even though Quran uses the term jinn for an all encapsulating meaning for its attributes, still, for the sake of discussion and to develop an understanding, if one is to arbitrarily classify the jinns in Quran, then there is the main jinn, the Iblis also known as the Satan and the common jinns that are erroneously equated with genii of the fairytales. We will try to deal with these two categories of jinn separately but before it is demystified, inevitably their understanding will merge into one common entity, the humans. While discussing jinn, it is stipulated that all its connotations must emerge from within the Quran and no extraneous insinuations will be entertained. To understand jinn in Quran, we have to understand the human, the ins or nas, first because jinns are not only a subset of the latter but the implications of jinn are for the ins. Simply put, if there are no ins then there would be no jinn either. The terms used for humans in Quran are explained in “Dictionary of Quran” by Abdul Mannan Omar: 

Insun (collective noun): Mankind; Human being. Insân (common gender): One having attachments; Fellowship; Love; Affection; Human being. Its plu. is Unâs which is commonly contracted into Nâsun. Insyyun: Human being plu. Ânâsî and Unâs. Ânasa: To perceive with love. Musta’nisîn: Seekers of familiarity. Seeking to listen. (L; T; LL) The root with its above seven forms has been used about 97 times in the Holy Qur’ân.[2]

Nâsa To swing, halt in a place, move, toss. Al-Nâsun: Collective noun regarded as the plu. of Insân (human being). According to some its root is Unâs. Its first letter Hamzah is taken off when preceded by Al. According to others it is derived from Nasiya (to forget, forsake), and its origin is Insiyân on the measure of Ifilân. It is also said its origin is Nâsa (to swing, halt in a place, move, toss.) All these meanings describe the human being. Al-Nâs (collective noun): Human being; Mankind. (L; R; T; LL) The word is used in the Holy Qur’ân as many as 241 times.[3] 

Before we start the discussion centered on the term Mega-jinn or Mahajinn[4] it must be stated from the outset that the core message of Quran is, without exception, for all humanity to submit to Him and His laws which is expressed in the term ‘worship’: 

51:56. And I have created the jinn (fiery natured and houghty) and the (ordinary) people [Arabic: insa] only that they may worship Me.[5]

In historical perspective the jinns addressed in verse 51:56 were none but the opposing forces of Arabia led by their prominent chieftains against the Prophet, which are identified in the verses preceding it:

51:54-55. So turn away from them (and their foul way of talk). There lies no blame on you (for what they do). Yet keep on exhorting (the people), for, verily, exhortation proves useful to the believers.[5a]

Quran is cognizant of the segmentations in the society led by its ideologies, institutions and institutional heads that act as power brokers and trend setters for the common citizenry. It is these who create and/or nurture false beliefs and values for the ins or nas, which in due course defocus the objective of worship (v. 51:56) by the people who come under their sway. Such leadership is addressed in Quran head-on for their false creeds: 

6:123. And thus have We made in every town the leaders of its guilty ones, that they may make plans in it. And they plan only against themselves, and they do not perceive.[6] 

More so, Quran stresses its message with an emphasis on the ordinary people and their beliefs as it is they who by their numbers alone make the fabric of the culture. On the other hand, the privileged classes, even though in minority, try to keep the status quo intact through which they enjoy the perks of their esteemed status. For example, ordinary citizens, at any given time are subjugated in their thoughts and actions by ruling class, financial institutions, clergy, trend setting socialites etc. This breakdown of the society into rulers and the ruled, leaders of dogmas and those led into such dogmata are addressed as jinns or shayatan on one hand and the ‘nas’ or the ‘ins’ on the other hand in Quran. It is the misleading satanic forces and their engendered values in the society that Quran admonishes humankind against: 

35:5-6. Humankind! the promise of Allâh is undoubtedly true, so do not let the present life deceive you, and do not let the avowed seducer [Arabic: taghurra] seduce you away from Allâh. Surely, satan [Arabic: shayatan] is an enemy to you, so treat him as an enemy. He calls his party only (to follow him) with the result that they become of the inmates of the blazing Fire.[7] 

43:62. Do not let the satan turn you away from following it [–the Quran], for he is your an enemy cutting off (your) ties (with God).[8] 

Historically, across the board, every prophet faced opposition from the privileged classes, their doctrines and those under their sway, the examples of which we find in narratives about – Noah & the tribal chiefs, Hud & tribe of Ad, Salih & tribe of Thamud, Abraham & Nimrod, Lot and Sodomites, Moses & Pharaoh and his courtiers, David & Goliath, Jesus & Pharisees along with Romans, and Prophet Muhammad and the idolaters of Arabia:

6:112-113. And in the same manner have We made the evil ones from among (ordinary) human beings and the jinns enemies to every prophet; some of them suggest one to another gilded speech to beguile (them). Had your Lord (enforced) His will, they would not have done so; so leave them alone with what they forge; And the result (of their so doing) is that the hearts of those who do not believe in the Hereafter are inclined to it (- their guile), and they take pleasure therein and they continue committing their (evil) deeds as they are doing

6:130. `O multitude of jinn (- fiery natured, houghty) and (ordinary) peoples! did there come to you no Messengers from among yourselves who related to you My Messages and warned you that you would face this your day?' They will say, `(Yes,) we bear witness against ourselves.' And the present life has beguiled them. And they will bear witness against themselves (on that day) that they were disbelievers.[9] 

As a case in point, in early Islamic history it were the elites of Makkah, the shayatan, the metaphorical devils, and all those under their influence who resisted the message of Islam, whereas it were the ordinary folks, the nas, who accepted Islam:

 2:13-14.And when it is said to them, Believe as the people [Arabic: l-nāsu; Companions of the Prophet] believe, they say: Shall we believe as the fools believe? Now surely they are the fools, but they do not know. And when they meet those who believe, they say, We believe; and when they are alone with their devils [Arabic: shayāṭīnihim; evil companions, ring-leaders], they say: Surely we are with you, we were only mocking.[10]

Ultimately, it were the ordinary people, the nas, that created the momentum in the Arabian society to achieve the equality of mankind. In this struggle of jinns with nas or ins, a time came when the rule shifted from Makkah to Medina. Despite the power they gained later, the Prophet and his successors, the future righteous Caliphs, remained in Medina as ‘ordinary people’ and never segregated themselves into the ‘jinns.’ As is evident from history, their holding the higher office as rulers was essentially a burden rather than a reward for them in which they served the people, unlike the jinns that make the ins serve them. After the death of the righteous Caliph Ali, the Muslim society too then segmented into the elites and ordinary folks, the jinns and ins respectively. On the reverse it is also true that once jinn class is established in the society, it is the ins class that in order to share the perks of the jinn class tries to associated themselves with them, which then in turn further empowers the jinn. For example, Communism found its foothold with the prime objective to eliminate the jinn class, but ironically it too then evolved its own jinn class, the sacrosanct politburo, and soon the proletariat, the ins under them transformed into sycophants to seek the favors of the jinns, which in turn only empowered the types of ‘Stalins’ amongst them who further tightened their vice like grip on the body and souls of the masses that they ruled:

 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).[11]

This cabal of relationship between jinns and ins in the power structure is further elucidated in Quran in which both selfishly benefit from each other:

6:128. Beware of the day when He will gather them all together (and say), `O multitude of jinn! you made a great many of the (ordinary) people subservient to yourselves (in disobedience).' And their votaries from the people will say, `Our Lord! some of us benefited one from another…[12] 

Thus it could be safely stated that the purpose of Quran is to nullify the exploitative influence of jinn class on the ins and even to transform the jinns into ins as well, so that human intellect and values, both individually and collectively in the society can evolve to their intended righteous perfection. 

Practically speaking, if there were no ins, then there would be no contrasting jinn either. The jinn class needs the ins class under it to thrive. On the evolutionary timeline, in Quran, this struggle between jinn and ins started with the metaphorical creation of Adam. It is this resistance from the jinns to be assimilated into ins and to serve the ins, the ordinary citizenry, that is referred to in the parable of Adam, the symbol of humankind. In this parable all the good forces in human nature symbolized as angels, submitted to Adam, whereas the jinn, the rebellious and disruptive tendencies, both within a person and in the manipulative segments of the society, did not. Reader should bear in mind that Iblis, the Satan in Quran belongs to jinn class: 

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…[13] 

On the other hand the Adam is the ordinary human, the ins. The said parable reads as follows: 

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. 

7:12. (God) said, `What prevented you from submitting when I commanded you (to submit)?' (Iblîs [–the jinn]) said, `I am better than he (- the human being). You created me from fire whereas You created him from clay.'[14] 

On the reverse, as stated before, the jinn class that considers itself better than he (- the human being) will always strive for the status quo and will make each and every effort, deception and lure and by every means to keep itself in a select status, be it the jinns of the ruling class, the financial elites or the clergy, that we find in the example given by Quran of Pharaoh, Korah and the Haman respectively and how all three networked together against the ordinary Israelites. The parable for Adam thus continues: 

7:13. (God) said, `Get down from this (haughty state) for it is not proper for you  [–Iblis, the jinn] 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.'[15] 

Thus far, according to Quran there will be a never ending struggle between the privileged and the ordinary classes. In this tug of war, the privileged, symbolized as Iblis, will try to influence and control the rest: 

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.'[16] 

Stripped of the jinn class, the humanity, the ins class symbolized as Adam, naturally lives in a blissful paradise in this world. But unbeknownst to Children of Adam, the jinn class is ever sneaky: 

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 [i.e. a self-serving taunt of Satan for its lures to the mankind of power, haughtiness, selfishness, greed, conceit and immorality – the deceptions of Satan].' 

7:21. And he ardently swore to them both (saying), `Most certainly, I am one of your sincere advisers [and leading you into e.g. correct political thought, financial system, religious doctrine, racial identity, gender bias and social status].' 

7:22. Thus he led them on the way of guile and deceit. And when they tasted of the tree [symbolic of satanic attributes] (and committed the things forbidden to them), their shortcomings became manifest to them [of how powerless they were without an association with a political identity, economic order, clerical thought and social circle]. They (in order to cover themselves) began to stick the leaves of the garden [–the ‘band aids’ of spiritual/economic/social life] 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)?'[17] 

The divisive forces of jinn classes divide the society across its various segments – politically, economically, spiritually, racially and socially, to the level that each segment and its sub-segments becomes an enemy of one to another and in due course lose their God given heavenly state. The jinn classes rule and maintain their influence by divide and rule of the ins classes. Further: 

7:23. Both of them [–Adam and his wife] 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 [–humankind] 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).'[18] 

Thus we see that following the lures of Iblis, the jinn, ordinary citizenry is deprived of their peace. Interestingly, humanity symbolized by Adam and his wife when thrown out of their paradise were not thrown into hell, instead they only lost their heavenly state. It is to this disruption of heaven on earth by the Satan, the jinn class, that Quran admonishes the humanity, the ins, against: 

7:26. O Children of Adam! We have given you a raiment [symbolized by worldly attire and resources] that covers your nakedness and is a source of (your) elegance and protection. Yet the raiment [symbolized by Divine Guidance, Quran] that guards against evils [of the selfish allures of the jinn class], that is the best (of robes). That is one of the commandments of Allâh so that they may attain eminence [individually and collectively as a society]. 

7:27. O Children of Adam! do not let satan put you in trouble (in the same way) as he turned your parents [i.e. the generations before] out of the garden [i.e. the blissful state], 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. [19] 

It is against such kind of deep manipulation and incessant attacks of the jinns on the ins, subtle or obvious, by the doctrines which are perverted and lost (7:16) Quran warns the Children of Adam (7:27) against that in which shayatan, the jinn will lie in wait for them (- the Children of Adam) and come upon them from their front and from their backs and from their right and from their left (7:16-17) with the sole purpose that You [–Allah] will not find most of them grateful (to You) (7:17). The jinn class – he (- satan) sees you, he and his tribe, in such a way as you see them not (7:27) by what is hidden in the temptations of a gilded speech to beguile (6:112) that it offers to the ins by its veritable marketing arms through the media, lectures, literature, pulpits, advertisements, analysts, think-tanks, interest groups, lobbyists, ‘wall streets’, the portfolio managers, the banks – usury and interest, national interests, political expediencies, diplomacy etc. In another place, Quran repeats the same about the modus operandi of the Iblis, the jinn

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.'[20] 

It is to this sneaking, enticing, guiling and pressure tactics of jinn that draw away the mankind from their straight and exact path that leads to you [–Allah] (7:16), that Quran draws attention of the ins. In the Chapter Nas (‘The People’) of Quran, the ins are told to seek the protection of Allah in all spheres of their lives from all varities of jinns, be they in the garb of apparent lordships, sovereigns, controllers or false gods. In doing so Quran reminds the ins that it is none but Allah who is their Lord, Sovereign, Controller and God

114:1. Say, `I seek refuge in the Lord of People [Arabic: nāsi],

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.'[21] 

It is a common daily experience that various self-serving power centers at the helms of affairs of politics, military, economics, clergy, crime, indecencies, intoxicants, and even the mind of the individual itself under the lures of hedonism as influenced through whisperings of the media, marketing, sale pitches, sermons, hate-speeches etc. that carry forward the influence of the jinn or even the ins, when it whispers evil suggestions into the hearts of People

With the discussion of the Mega Jinn, the Iblis, the Satan in Quran out of the way, now we turn our attention to refute the myths about jinns attributed to Quran of the type which are found in folklore, lullabies, Arabian Nights, Hollywood productions and Disneyland stories. Jinns are ordinarily equated to as some kind of non-human ‘ethereal beings’ whose existence is separate from humankind. However, without exception, Quran sets in stone the basics of all forms of life, be it the humans, animals, fish, birds, fish, microbes i.e. 

21:30…And it is from water that We created all life…[22] 

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).[23] 

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].[24] 

Then in another place in Quran humans are created of haste

21:37. …Man [Arabic: insānu] is created of haste…[25] 

However, we also read in Quran that apparently other “beings” i.e. the jinn are made of destructive nature like that of fire and hot wind: 

15:27. And We created the jinn before (him) from the fire of intensely hot wind. [26] 

55:15. And He created the jinn from a flame of fire (- possessing fiery nature). [27] 

With the above statements of Quran about role of water, fire, clay and haste in creation of beings, the concept of jinn can be further analyzed. At least from the superficiality of things, water and clay are compatible. Test of this compatibility survives the challenge of human experience of daily living as well the principles underlying the science of evolution. In the former case, clay pottery can only take shape in presence of water. Whereas, in the latter the clay signifies the earthly elements that when blended in presence of water, evolves into life forms, which includes humans. Thus it can be safely cocluded that man is made from water and clay. We know that haste is both a noun and a verb, but for sure it is not in the domain of matter or energy and it only signifies the natural behavior of a being. We also know that humans have a hasty nature. 

One combination of above mentioned things is not reconcilable i.e. water and fire as both cannot exist together, though one can be a product of the other. For example, in the earth's environment the bye product of fire is water. Yet, when water is decomposed into its component hydrogen and oxygen, which when burnt together give back the water. Thus fire is only a transitory stage between water and its component gases, but a non-entity itself, just like electricity, where it could be created but nothing can be made of it. With these basics of physics and chemistry out of the way then it becomes quite clear that if jinn is made from fire, then it cannot be a living being as all life is made from water – it is from water that We created all life (21:30). Obviously, either Quran is self-contradicting by actually making a living jinn out of fire and not water or our interpretation of nature of what jinn stands for in Quran is incorrect. 

Through the lens of Quran it becomes obvious that jinns are not a separate living entity from humans, but are categorized as jinns due to their attributes. For example, in daily life we find the ordinary people, the nas or ins, being quite hasty in their thinking and decision making to buy a product or following a doctrine. At the same time we do not find haste as an attribute of the jinns who are at the helm of a political thought, religious ideology or economic order. Instead, in jinn we find patience and a modus operandi of fire and hot wind in their canvassing the ordinary people, the ins, to follow whatever they have to sell to them. Thus we can quite easily concur that humans, both jinns and ins, have a fiery and hasty nature respectively. 

If someone still insists that jinn are non-human intelligent beings, then by Quran, those jinn are not living because they are not made from water. And a non-living thing cannot interact with humans in the manner that such advocates of jinn assume jinns to act and behave, e.g. listening to Quran from Prophet Muhammad or being subjugated by Prophet Solomon. It only proves that jinns of Quran are not the genii of the bottle. It was the Arab mind who believed in the tales of genie found in Arabian Nights and mistook it for the jinn in Quran. 

Even though the burden is not on Quran to disprove the fairytale genii, but if read intelligently, it even does that as well: 

7:179. And, verily, We have created many of the jinns and the ordinary people whose end is Gehenna. 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).[28] 

At least the above verse makes jinn synonymous with people as both have same intelligence and are endowed with physical and intellectual faculties of hearts, eyes and ears

As to what is that jinn of Quran that we are arguing about, can be quite clearly elucidated from its meaning, as excerpted, from the 'Dictionary of Quran' by Abdul Mannan Omar: 

Janna: To be dark, cover, wrap, conceal, be mad; dark; covered (with plants), be mad (with joy or anger), be hidden to, be excited. It is used in transitive and intransitive sense. Junnatun: Covering; Shield; Protective. Janîn plu. Ajinntun: Embryo; Fetus; Anything hidden. Janûn : Madness; Insanity; Diabolical fury; Passion. Majnûn: Mad; Possessed; Luxuriant (plant). Jannatun : Garden; Paradise. Jinn : Genius; Any hidden thing; Intense or confusing darkness; Evil spirits which inspire evil thought; Germ; Insect; Imaginary beings whom the infidels worshipped; Peoples of different far flung countries living detached from other civilized peoples; People who inhabited the earth in prehistoric times, subjected to no laws or rules of conduct, before the birth of Adam who laid the foundation of the civilization and Sharî‘at; Jews of Nasîbîn; Stalwarts whom Solomon had taken into custody and having subjected them and made them work as constructors of huge buildings and who were experts divers. Ibn Manzûr in his Dictionary Lisân al-‘Arab has quoted a verse of an ancient poet in which he calls his beloved by the word of Jinnî. Zuhair ibn Abî Sulmâ has used the word Jinn for people who are peerless, having no match or equal. Tabrîzî writes in his book Sharh al-Hamâsah that Jinn is a being who is highly potent, shrewd and possessed of great powers and abilities; Whatever hides or conceals or covers; Whatever remains hidden or becomes invisible; Such thing or beings that remain aloof from the people as if remaining concealed from eyes of the common folk, as Kings and other potentates generally do. It is in this sense that the word is used by Zuhair. The primary meaning of the word Ma‘shar in the verses 6:128, 130; 55:33 also reinforce this interpretation. Ash‘arahû means he lived in close communion with him and was on intimate terms. Thus by calling Jinn and Nâs (human beings) as a single community clears that here Jinn and human beings are not two different kinds of beings. 

Janna (prf. 3rd. p. m. sing): Overshadowed; Covered. Jinn (n.): Definite order of conscious being, intelligent, corporal. They eat and drink and propagate their species and are subjected to death. Jânnun (n.): Jinn. Jinnatun (n. plu.): Madness. Majnûn (pat. pic. m. sing.): Mad one. Jannatun (n.): Enclosed garden. Paradise. Jannatân (nom.) Jannatayn (acc/ n. dual): Two gardens; Two paradises. Jannâtun (n. plu.): Gardens; Paradises. Junnatun (n.): Shield; Shelter. Ajinnatun (n. plu.): Embryos. (L; T; R; Jawharî; Tabrîzî; LL) The root with its above forms has been used in the Holy Qur’ân about 201 times.[29]

Quran is very clear and so is the Prophet that he was exclusively sent as a guide to mankind and not to any other entity:

4:170. O mankind! this Messenger has indeed come to you with the truth from your Lord, so believe, it will be better for you…[30] 

7:158. Say, `O mankind! I am a Messenger to you all from Allâh to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth…[31] 

34:28. (Prophet!) We have sent you not but towards entire mankind.[32] 

Nowhere humans have worshiped jinns, but for sure they have worshiped humans e.g. Pharaoh and Jesus, perceiving them to have godly attributes: 

6:100. Yet they ascribe to Allâh as (His) associates the jinns, although He has created them also. And they falsely ascribe to Him sons and daughters without any knowledge. Glory be to Him. And He is far beyond and above all the things that they attribute (to Him).[33] 

Where it all got mixed up was when the following verses are misread for jinn in the Chapter ‘The Jinn’ in Quran. The historical details in this chapter most likely refer to party of Jews and possibly Christians (72:1-15), though the former is more likely in reference to verses 46:29-31: 

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, 

Side note: Nasîbîn[34] is in the border region of modern day Turkey and Syria. These ‘jinn’ from Nasîbîn visited the oasis of Nakhlah located between the cities of Makkah and Taif for its annual market and poetry festival of Souk Oakz that is held annually even today[35]

“…it transpires that the jinn in question were followers of the Mosaic faith, inasmuch as they refer to the Qur'an as "a revelation bestowed from on high after [that of] Moses", thus pointedly omitting any mention of the intervening prophet, Jesus, and equally pointedly (in verse 3 of the present surah) stressing their rejection of the Christian concept of the Trinity. All this leads one to the assumption that they may have been Jews from distant parts of what is now the Arab world, perhaps from Syria or even Mesopotamia. (Tabari mentions in several places that the jinn referred to in this surah as well as in 46:29 ff. hailed from Nasibin, a town on the upper reaches of the Euphrates.) I should, however, like to stress that my explanation of this occurrence is purely tentative.”[36] 

72:2. "It guides towards righteousness, so we declare our faith in it. We shall no longer worship any god besides our Lord.[37] 

The next verse squarely points towards Jewish faith of the party of the jinn that listened (to the Qur'ân) and concurred that Jesus Christ was not son of God: 

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 [–a reference to the Christian faith of Byzantines, under whose rule the visitors to Souk Oakz/Makkah lived]. 

72:4. "And (we admit) that the foolish among us used to say many exaggerated and blasphemous things against Allâh. 

Side note: The above verses 72:3-4 also refer to Jews themselves who according to Quran used to attribute son-ship to Ezra[38]

9:30. There are some of the Jews who say, `Ezra is the son of Allâh,' while the Christians say, `The Messiah is the son of Allâh.' These are mere words that they speak. They only imitate the words of the infidels of old. Allâh assail them! Whither they are deluded away![39] 

The claim of son-ship (9:30) also implies the preferential status attributed by people of Scripture to themselves: 

5:18. The Jews and the Christians say (in respect of each of themselves), `We are the sons of Allâh, and His loved ones.'…[40] 

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. [41] 

The next verse separates the common folk from the jinns, the segmentation of any society: 

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 [–the Byzantine rulers and their Christian clergy] and (thus) they increased these (jinns) in arrogance (and conceit). [42] 

Side note: the use of the phrase – men from among the jinns, clearly refers to a certain class of the society different from the common folks. Essentially, implying that jinns are humans but for certain unique attributes are counted as different from the ordinary people, for example, clergy, bureaucracy, establishment and nobility. This kind of segmentation is starkly clear when travelling by an airline where the society is segmented into economy class and first class. 

The Jews never expected a prophet from non-Israelites: 

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). 

Side note: This seems to be a reference to Old Testament where the ‘Prophet like me’[43] foretold by Moses, Muhammad, is prophesized whose advent was to coincide with appearance of ‘A Star’ which was awaited as a heavenly sign and was misattributed to birth of Jesus: 

Numbers 24:17. “I [–Moses] see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter [–a King] shall rise out of Israel, And batter the brow of Moab, And destroy all the sons of tumult.[44] 

This fallacy of awaiting ‘A Star’ from House of Jacob and actually looking towards the heavens for its arrival is rebutted by Quran and even by the Jews of Nasîbîn themselves who after listening to the Prophet realized that it was Prophet Muhammad that the prophecy referred to: 

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. [45] 

Side Note: Quran mocks such beliefs in heavenly signs. It forewarns that rather than paying attention to the Message, such seekers of spiritual light and guidance focusing on appearance of nonsensical Zodiacal signs will be misled and destroyed by such pursuits. That we see in attributing birth of Jesus to the appearance of mythical star at his birth by the three travelers, the ‘wise men,’[46] the astrologers who were the only ones to see the heavenly sign, and who interpreted it to his imminent birth. The dogma of son-ship attributed to Jesus turned out to be – a shooting star in ambush for him (v. 72:9), the believer of such dogmata. What a misleading star which led the ‘wise’ astrologers to the court of Herod rather than to the crib of baby Jesus! 

After reading the above verse, readers have to ask themselves as to have there existed non-human observatories? The topic of shooting star is dealt in a separate chapter of this book. The Jews of Nasîbîn converted to Islam after meeting with the Propet that is referred to in next verses: 

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. [47] 

One is constrained to ask in light of the above verse (72:15) that if jinn are made from fire, then Gehenna, the hell and its fire must be a reward not punishment for the jinn, because by common perception jinn are made from fire themselves. Rather, for punishment they must land in a freezing heaven. 

The following sets of verses clearly identify jinn as Jews, the people who were follower of Moses. These Jews of Nasîbîn who were referred to in verses 72:1-15 before, met the Prophet and held with him a night long discourse on the outskirts of Makkah and on their return conveyed the Message to their own people:

46:29. And (Prophet! recall the time) when We brought some people from among the jinns to you. They wished to listen to the Qur'ân. When they attended it (- its recitation) they said (one to another), `Be silent (and listen).' When this (recitation) was over they went back to their people as warners.[Emphasis added] 

46:30. They (having gone there) said, `O our people! we have listened to a Book which has been revealed after (the time of) Moses confirming that (divine Scripture) which is before it. It guides to the truth and to the right and straight path. 

46:31. `O our people! accept the call of one calling to Allâh and believe in Him. (If you do so) He will keep you safe from (the woeful consequences of) your sins and will screen you from the woeful punishment.[48] [Emphasis added] 

Maulana Muhammad Ali explains the events in reference to party of jinn in Quran as follows: 

The jinn mentioned in the first section of ch. 72 are evidently foreign Christians, since they are spoken of as holding the doctrine of sonship (72 3, 4). In 72:6, they are called rijal (pl. of rajul) , which word is applicable to the males of human beings only (LA.). Again, in the 46th chapter the word jinn has been used in the sense of foreigners when a party of the jinn is stated to have come to the Prophet and listened to the Holy Book and believed in it (46:29), because all the injunctions contained in the Qur'an are for men, and there is not one for the jinn. This was evidently a party of the Jews of Nisibus as reports show, and the Qur'an speaks of them as believers in Moses." Commenting on this incident, Ibn Kathir has quoted several reports from the Musand of Ahmad, which establish the following facts. The Prophet met a party of jinn at Nakhla when returning from Ta'if in the tenth year of the Call. These are said to have come from Nineveh. On the other hand, there is a well-established story that the Prophet on his way back from Taif took rest in a garden where he met a Christian who was a resident of Nineveh; and the man listened to his message and believed in him. It may be that he had other companions to whom he spoke of the Prophet, and that these came to him later on. Another party of jinn is said to have waited on him when he was at Makkah, and he is reported to have gone out of the city to a lonely place at night time, and to have spent the whole night with them. And we are told that their traces and the traces of the fire which they had burned during the night were visible in the morning. When prayer-time came and the Prophet said his prayers in the company of Ibn Mas'ud, the narrator, two of them are said to have come and joined the service. They are supposed to have been Jews of Nisibus and were seven in number (IK. 29). The Prophet went to see them outside Makkah, evidently because the Quraish would have interfered with the meeting and ill-treated any who came to see him.[49] 

The following set of verses lump jinn and ins (ordinary people) into one community of mankind, the disobedient, who will suffer in the same fire of hell: 

6:128. Beware of the day when He will gather them all together (and say), `O multitude of jinn! you made a great many of the (ordinary) people subservient to yourselves (in disobedience).' And their votaries from the people will say, `Our Lord! some of us benefited one from another but (at last) we have reached the end of the (appointed) term which You determined for us.' He will then say, `The Fire is your lodging, therein to abide, unless Allâh wills (otherwise).' Verily, your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. 

6:129. In the like manner do We let some of the unjust have power one over another because of their (wrongful) deeds.[50] 

In the above verses unless both jinn and ins (ordinary people) are the same community, then at least there is no human experience of humans ever being under subjugation or ruled over by the jinns. Only humans ruled over the humans and will continue to do so in the matters political, social, economic and spiritual etc., in each of which the society can be misled by its leadership. For example, in political domain a dictator needs support from the masses to remain in power. In the social matters there are trend setters and celebrities that can lead the way for common folks to a life of hedonism. In economic aspects our lives are overrun by usury and speculative institutions in the garb of banks and stock-markets and the ordinary people are consumed by these practices. In the matters spiritual it is everyday experience of how a few from the pulpit can mislead the masses into ignorance. 

In another place Quran gives the commonality of both jinn and ins of their being able to read, write and even publish: 

17:88. Say, `If there should join together all human beings and the jinn to produce the like of this Qur'ân, they would never be able to produce anything like it, even though some of them might be the helpers of others.'[51] 

If the jinn were a separate entity, rather than a category of ins, then the next verse alludes to same jinns as helpers. Even to entertain an idea of non-human helpers in history is ridiculous as there is no such recorded event: 

2:23. And if you have any doubt as to (the truthfulness of the Qur'ân) which We have revealed to Our servant from time to time, produce a single Sûrah (- Qur'ânic chapter) like any of (the chapters of) this, summoning (to your assistance) all your helpers (that you have) beside Allâh, if you are truthful (in your doubts)…[52] 

Clearly, the helpers in the both the above verses 17:88 and 2:23 are the jinns, the human scholars and experts. 

The next verse draws attention to the historical fact that Messengers were sent to all mankind, the jinn and ins

6:130. `O multitude of jinn (- fiery natured, houghty) and (ordinary) peoples! did there come to you no Messengers from among yourselves who related to you My Messages and warned you that you would face this your day?' They will say, `(Yes,) we bear witness against ourselves.' And the present life has beguiled them. And they will bear witness against themselves (on that day) that they were disbelievers.[53] 

If jinn that are considered to be separate and superior entity from ins, then why do they need Messengers (6:130) from lower degree of ins? Should it not be the opposite? 

In another place in Quran it is evident that jinn and ins are alike subjected to the same laws of physics and restricted by escape velocity, essentially implying that both are the same people: 

55:33. O body of jinn (- fiery natured) and (ordinary) the people! If you have the power and capacity to go beyond the confines of the heavens and the earth, then do go. But you will not be able to go unless you have the necessary and unusual power.[54] 

There is also an interesting commonality to both jinns and ins in which they can land in Hell: 

7:179. And, verily, We have created many of the jinns and the ordinary people whose end is Gehenna [i.e. Hell] [55] 

50:30. On that Day We will ask Gehenna, `Are you filled up (with the inmates of the hell)?' It will go on saying (expressing its state), `Are there anymore (that I can take)?[56] 

11:119. …`Verily I will fill Gehenna with the (rebellious) jinn and (ordinary) people all together,'…[57] 

32:13-14. Had We (enforced) Our will We would have (already) given every soul its (appropriate) guidance. But (as it is) the word from Me has come true (that) I will surely fill Gehenna with some of the jinn (- houghty) and (ordinary) men, all (the erring ones) together. So suffer (the punishment for your evil deeds). Since you had given up (the idea of) the meeting of this day of yours so We too have forsaken you (now). Suffer therefore the long-lasting punishment because of the misdeeds you used to do.[58] 

Besides the above sets of verses mentioning jinns and ins in hell, nowhere in Quran is there corresponding mention of jinns ending up in heaven, while it is only the ins who are assured of it. Isn’t it unfair to those jinns who do good deeds to be rewarded? Yes, they are rewarded once they turn themselves into ins, that we see in early Islamic history when the chiefs of Arabia lived like a common man. 

To cap it all is the mother of all arguments, the Hell, which is termed as a destiny and a mother for both jinns and ins. 

101:1-11 The calamity! What is the calamity? And what will make you know how terrible is the calamity? The day when people will be as scattered moths, and the mountains will be as flakes of wool. Then as for him whose good deeds are heavy, he will live a pleasant life. And as for him whose good deeds are light, the abyss is a mother [Arabic: Ummu] to him. And what will make you know what that is? A burning Fire. [59] [Emphasis added] 

In light of the above verses it becomes obvious that for anyone to land in Hell, irrespective of one having been created out of water, clay, fire or haste, their common attribute is that of being evil in their thoughts, designs, intentions or actions, all of which are the sole prerogatives of a human mind. When the Hell calls out to wrongdoers to “come back to mama” for spiritual healing and purification it becomes obvious that no mother can breed two different species, the jinn or ins, rather she can have children of the same species but with different personalities, some being jinns and others ins.[60] Thus it could be safely stated that if Hell is like a ‘mother’ then, its children are only humans, but segmented into jinns and ins

The jinns of Prophet Solomon (PBUH) are covered in separate chapters elsewhere.


[1] ‘Religion of Islam’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali. Chapter: Angels, p. 146-147.
[2] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 35-36.
[3] ibid, p. 583.
[4] Maha: a Hindi term meaning mega, major or prominent. The term Maha-jinn, a derogatory term used for a major usurer, a source of evils in the society.
[5] Al-Dhariyat – The Scatters: Nooruddin
[5a] ibid
[6] Al-Anam – Cattle: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[7] Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
[8] Al-Zukhruf – The Ornaments: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[10] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[11] Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
[12] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[13] Al-Kahf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[14] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[15] ibid
[16] ibid
[17] ibid
[18] ibid
[19] ibid
[20] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[21] Al-Nas – The People: Nooruddin
[22] Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[23] Al-Rahman – The Most Gracious: Nooruddin
[24] Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
[25] Al-Anbiya – The Prophets: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[26] Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
[27] Al-Rahman – The Most Gracious: Nooruddin
[28] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[29] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 104-105.
[30] Al-Nisa – The Women: Nooruddin
[31] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[32] Saba – Sheba: Nooruddin
[33] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[34] Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nusaybin
[35] 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
[36] Footnote 1 to verse 72:1 by Muhammad Asad.
[37] Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
[38] Explanation of the said verse by Nooruddin in his Urdu lectures published as “Haqaiqul Furqan”. Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=222&region=H4
[39] Al-Taubah – The Repentance: Nooruddin
[40] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[41] Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
[42] ibid
[43] Deuteronomy 18:15-19. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’ “And the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. New King James Version. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+18%3A15-19&version=NKJV
[44] New King James Version. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=numbers+24%3A17&version=NKJV
[45] Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
[46] Matthew 2:1-12. Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’” Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. New King James Version. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=+Matthew+2%3A1-12&version=NKJV
[47] Al-Jinn – The Jinn: Nooruddin
[48] Al-Ahqaf – The Sand Dunes: Nooruddin
[49] ‘Religion of Islam’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter: Angels, Sub-section: Jinn p. 146
[50] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[51] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[52] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[53] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[54] Al-Rahman – The Most Gracious: Nooruddin
[55] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[56] Qaf – Allah is Almighty: Nooruddin
[57] Hud – Hud: Nooruddin
[58] Al-Sajdah – The Prostration: Nooruddin
[59] Al-Qariah – The Calamity: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[60] See also the explanation for the verse 15:27 – Haqaiq ul Furqan (Urdu) by  Nooruddin

Cave and its Caveats – Individual or Generational Hypersomnia?

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Cave and its Caveats – Individual or Generational Hypersomnia? 

From the outset it must be made clear to the reader that the current topic is about the legend of Seven Sleepers which is addressed and clarified for its actuality in Quran in its eighteenth chapter – Al-Kahf (‘The Place of Refuge’ or ‘The Cave’). For those who try to validate this legend as it stands in the folklore from Quran need to take note that in Quran there is no mention of an actual extended sleep of the said Cave Dweller and has only a mention of their ears being sealed, and that too for a limited duration, while there is no reference to sealing of their eyes –So We sealed up their ears (to cut them off from the outside world) in their Place of Refuge for (only) a number of years (18:11.). If taken literally, one can only become deaf by sealing of ears whereas metaphorically it means isolation. If there was reference to actual sleep, then at least allegorically eyes would have been sealed instead of the ears. On the contrary, Quran mocks the legend pushers – You might think them wary while they are dormant and asleep [as a nation] (18:18). Emphasis is on – You might think so, while they were not, rather they were living in isolation from the rest of the world. 

Maulana Muhammad Ali in the preamble to the said chapter in his English Translation and Commentary of Quran writes: 

This chapter deals entirely with the Christian religion and the Christian nations, and that is the reason for giving it the name The Cave. The distinctive characteristic of Christianity is its institution of monkery, which required for its practice such corners of solitude as caves. The story of the Dwellers of the Cave is in fact the story of the Christian religion, whose first condition was one of dwelling in caves in perfect seclusion, but whose last condition is that of material engagements in trade and industry, hinted at in the word raqim or inscription… the second and the third sections [of the chapter] deal with a certain story of Christian youths who sought refuge in a cave, but the, story has evidently beneath it a deeper significance, and contains prophetical reference to the later history of Christianity itself.[1] 

The details of the legend are captured by Edward Gibbon, Esq. in his book – HISTORY OF THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (With notes by the Rev. H. H. Milman, 1782 (Written), 1845 (Revised), Volume Three – Chapter XXXIII: Conquest Of Africa By The Vandals.—Part II)[2]

Among the insipid legends of ecclesiastical history, I am tempted to distinguish the memorable fable of the Seven Sleepers;{footnote 43} whose imaginary date corresponds with the reign of the younger Theodosius, and the conquest of Africa by the Vandals. {footnote 44} When the emperor Decius persecuted the Christians, seven noble youths of Ephesus concealed themselves in a spacious cavern in the side of an adjacent mountain; where they were doomed to perish by the tyrant, who gave orders that the entrance should be firmly secured by the a pile of huge stones. They immediately fell into a deep slumber, which was miraculously prolonged without injuring the powers of life, during a period of one hundred and eighty-seven years. At the end of that time, the slaves of Adolius, to whom the inheritance of the mountain had descended, removed the stones to supply materials for some rustic edifice: the light of the sun darted into the cavern, and the Seven Sleepers were permitted to awake. After a slumber, as they thought of a few hours, they were pressed by the calls of hunger; and resolved that Jamblichus, one of their number, should secretly return to the city to purchase bread for the use of his companions. The youth (if we may still employ that appellation) could no longer recognize the once familiar aspect of his native country; and his surprise was increased by the appearance of a large cross, triumphantly erected over the principal gate of Ephesus. His singular dress, and obsolete language, confounded the baker, to whom he offered an ancient medal of Decius as the current coin of the empire; and Jamblichus, on the suspicion of a secret treasure, was dragged before the judge. Their mutual inquiries produced the amazing discovery, that two centuries were almost elapsed since Jamblichus and his friends had escaped from the rage of a Pagan tyrant. The bishop of Ephesus, the clergy, the magistrates, the people, and, as it is said, the emperor Theodosius himself, hastened to visit the cavern of the Seven Sleepers; who bestowed their benediction, related their story, and at the same instant peaceably expired. The origin of this marvellous fable cannot be ascribed to the pious fraud and credulity of the modern Greeks, since the authentic tradition may be traced within half a century of the supposed miracle. James of Sarug, a Syrian bishop, who was born only two years after the death of the younger Theodosius, has devoted one of his two hundred and thirty homilies to the praise of the young men of Ephesus. {footnote 45}Their legend, before the end of the sixth century, was translated from the Syriac into the Latin language, by the care of Gregory of Tours. The hostile communions of the East preserve their memory with equal reverence; and their names are honorably inscribed in the Roman, the Abyssinian, and the Russian calendar. {footnote 46} Nor has their reputation been confined to the Christian world. This popular tale, which Mahomet might learn when he drove his camels to the fairs of Syria, is introduced as a divine revelation, into the Koran. {footnote 47} The story of the Seven Sleepers has been adopted and adorned by the nations, from Bengal to Africa, who profess the Mahometan religion; {footnote 48} and some vestiges of a similar tradition have been discovered in the remote extremities of Scandinavia. {footnote 49} This easy and universal belief, so expressive of the sense of mankind, may be ascribed to the genuine merit of the fable itself. We imperceptibly advance from youth to age, without observing the gradual, but incessant, change of human affairs; and even in our larger experience of history, the imagination is accustomed, by a perpetual series of causes and effects, to unite the most distant revolutions. But if the interval between two memorable aeras could be instantly annihilated; if it were possible, after a momentary slumber of two hundred years, to display the new world to the eyes of a spectator, who still retained a lively and recent impression of the old, his surprise and his reflections would furnish the pleasing subject of a philosophical romance. The scene could not be more advantageously placed, than in the two centuries which elapsed between the reigns of Decius and of Theodosius the Younger. During this period, the seat of government had been transported from Rome to a new city on the banks of the Thracian Bosphorus; and the abuse of military spirit had been suppressed by an artificial system of tame and ceremonious servitude. The throne of the persecuting Decius was filled by a succession of Christian and orthodox princes, who had extirpated the fabulous gods of antiquity: and the public devotion of the age was impatient to exalt the saints and martyrs of the Catholic church, on the altars of Diana and Hercules. The union of the Roman empire was dissolved; its genius was humbled in the dust; and armies of unknown Barbarians, issuing from the frozen regions of the North, had established their victorious reign over the fairest provinces of Europe and Africa. 

{footnote 43} [The choice of fabulous circumstances is of small importance; yet I have confined myself to the narrative which was translated from the Syriac by the care of Gregory of Tours, (de Gloria Martyrum, l. i. c. 95, in Max. Bibliotheca Patrum, tom. xi. p. 856,) to the Greek acts of their martyrdom (apud Photium, p. 1400, 1401) and to the Annals of the Patriarch Eutychius, (tom. i. p. 391, 531, 532, 535, Vers. Pocock.)]

{footnote 44} [Two Syriac writers, as they are quoted by Assemanni, (Bibliot. Oriental. tom. i. p. 336, 338,) place the resurrection of the Seven Sleepers in the year 736 (A.D. 425) or 748, (A.D. 437,) of the aera of the Seleucides. Their Greek acts, which Photius had read, assign the date of the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Theodosius, which may coincide either with A.D. 439, or 446. The period which had elapsed since the persecution of Decius is easily ascertained; and nothing less than the ignorance of Mahomet, or the legendaries, could suppose an internal of three or four hundred years.]

{footnote 45} [James, one of the orthodox fathers of the Syrian church, was born A.D. 452; he began to compose his sermons A.D. 474; he was made bishop of Batnae, in the district of Sarug, and province of Mesopotamia, A.D. 519, and died A.D. 521. (Assemanni, tom. i. p. 288, 289.) For the homily de Pueris Ephesinis, see p. 335-339: though I could wish that Assemanni had translated the text of James of Sarug, instead of answering the objections of Baronius.]

{footnote 46} [See the Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists, Mensis Julii, tom. vi. p. 375-397. This immense calendar of Saints, in one hundred and twenty-six years, (1644-1770,) and in fifty volumes in folio, has advanced no further than the 7th day of October. The suppression of the Jesuits has most probably checked an undertaking, which, through the medium of fable and superstition, communicates much historical and philosophical instruction.]

{footnote 47} [See Maracci Alcoran. Sura xviii. tom. ii. p. 420-427, and tom. i. part iv. p. 103. With such an ample privilege, Mahomet has not shown much taste or ingenuity. He has invented the dog (Al Rakim) the Seven Sleepers; the respect of the sun, who altered his course twice a day, that he might not shine into the cavern; and the care of God himself, who preserved their bodies from putrefaction, by turning them to the right and left.]

{footnote 48} [See D’Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 139; and Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alexandrin. p. 39, 40.]

{footnote 49} [Paul, the deacon of Aquileia, (de Gestis Langobardorum, l. i. c. 4, p. 745, 746, edit. Grot.,) who lived towards the end of the eight century, has placed in a cavern, under a rock, on the shore of the ocean, the Seven Sleepers of the North, whose long repose was respected by the Barbarians. Their dress declared them to be Romans and the deacon conjectures, that they were reserved by Providence as the future apostles of those unbelieving countries.] 

The said book lays out the prevailing myth about Seven Sleepers and also makes presumptive guesses about the Prophet’s knowledge about it. According to the legend as quoted by Gibbon, they slept for a period of one hundred and eighty-seven years, a view which likely was held at the time of Prophet Muhammad as well. Quran extends the time period of ‘sleep’ to three hundred by solar calendar or three hundred and nine years by lunar calendar. Not only Quran corrects the duration of sleep it also refutes their number of seven as a conjecture, and replaces it with a few young men(18:13). Additionally, Quran in its narrative switches between describing the Sleepers living in their Place of Refuge for (only) a number of years (18:1), and the generational slumber of early Unitarian Christians over several centuries – And they (- the early Christians) stayed in this Place of Refuge three hundred years [by a solar calendar] and extended (their stay) another nine (years) [if counting by lunar calendar] (18:25).Further, Quran adds a dog to the account indicating their communal living and gives the northward direction of the mouth of the cave which can be ascertained by the relative rising and setting of the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, which in itself points to Christianity in Europe and their signature pet, the dog. 

This legend of Seven Sleepers has its roots in both Christian and Jewish sources and as reported in Muslim sources was one of the questions that was repeatedly put to Prophet Muhammad by his opponents. He was challenged about the details of the story of the Cave Dwellers, now famously known as the "Seven Sleepers of Ephesus", as a test of his prophethood. Such line of questioning to the Prophet might have been part of the allegations that since the Prophet was plagiarizing the older scriptures and himself being unlettered, he might not know of this tale of the Sleepers and would thus be left exposed by his own claims. 

Muhammad Asad in his translation and commentary – “The Message of the Holy Quran”, in the footnote to verse 8 of chapter 18 gives a detailed analysis of the legend: 

…As regards the story of the Men of the Cave as such most of the commentators incline to the view that it relates to a phase in early Christian history – namely, the persecution of the Christians by Emperor Decius in the third century. Legend has it that some young Christians of Ephesus, accompanied by their dog, withdrew into a secluded cave in order to be able to live in accordance with their faith, and remained there, miraculously asleep for a great length of time (according to some accounts, referred to in verse 25 of this surah, for about three centuries). When they finally awoke – unaware of the long time during which they had lain asleep – they sent one of their company to the town to purchase some food. In the meantime the situation had changed entirely: Christianity was no longer persecuted and had even become the official religion of the Roman Empire. The ancient coin (dating from the reign of Decius) with which the young man wanted to pay for his purchases immediately aroused curiosity; people began to question the stranger, and the story of the Men of the Cave and their miraculous sleep came to light. 

As already mentioned, the majority of the classical commentators rely on this Christian legend in their endeavour to interpret the Qur'anic reference (in verses 9-26) to the Men of the Cave. It seems, however, that the Christian formulation of this theme is a later development of a much older oral tradition – a tradition which, in fact, goes back to pre-Christian, Jewish sources. This is evident from several well-authenticated ahadith (mentioned by all the classical commentators), according to which it was the Jewish rabbis (ahbar) of Medina who induced the Meccan opponents of Muhammad to "test his veracity" by asking him to explain, among other problems, the story of the Men of the Cave. Referring to these ahadith, Ibn Kathir remarks in his commentary on verse 13 of this surah: "It has been said that they were followers of Jesus the son of Mary, but God knows it better: it is obvious that they lived much earlier than the Christian period – for, had they been Christians, why should the Jewish rabbis have been intent on preserving their story, seeing that the Jews had cut themselves off from all friendly communion with them [i.e., the Christians]?” We may, therefore, safely assume that the legend of the Men of the Cave – stripped of its Christian garb and the superimposed Christian background – is, substantially, of Jewish origin. If we discard the later syncretic additions and reduce the story to its fundamentals – voluntary withdrawal from the world, agelong “sleep” in a secluded cave and a miraculous “awakening” after an indeterminate period of time – we have before us a striking allegory relating to a movement which played an important role in Jewish religious history during the centuries immediately preceding and following the advent of Jesus: namely, the ascetic Essene Brotherhood (to which, as I have pointed out in note 42 on 3:52, Jesus himself may have belonged), and particularly that of its branches which lived in self-imposed solitude in the vicinity of the Dead Sea and has recently, after the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, come to be known as the “Qumran community”. The expression ar-raqim occurring in the above Qur’an-verse [18:9] (and rendered by me as “scriptures”) lends strong support to this theory. As recorded by Tabari, some of the earliest authorities – and particularly Ibn ‘Abbas – regarded this expression as synonymous with marqum (“something that is written”) and hence with kitab (“a writ” or “a scripture”); and Razi adds that “all rhetoricians and Arabic philologists assert that ar-raqim signifies [the same as] al-kitab". Since it is historically established that the members of the Qumran community – the strictest group among the Essenes – devoted themselves entirely to the study, the copying and the preservation of the sacred scriptures, and since they lived in complete seclusion from the rest of the world and were highly admired for their piety and moral purity, it is more than probable that their mode of life made so strong an impression on the imagination of their more worldly co-religionists that it became gradually allegorized in the story of the Men of the Cave who "slept" – that is, were cut off from the outside world – for countless years, destined to be "awakened" after their spiritual task was done. 

But whatever the source of this legend, and irrespective of whether it is of Jewish or Christian origin, the fact remains that it is used in the Qur'an in a purely parabolic sense: namely, as an illustration of God's power to bring about death (or "sleep") and resurrection (or "awakening'); and, secondly, as an allegory of the piety that induces men to abandon a wicked or frivolous world in order to keep their faith unsullied, and of God's recognition of that faith by His bestowal of a spiritual awakening which transcends time and death. [2a]

However, Maulana Muhammad Ali in his English Translation of the Holy Quran with Explanatory Notes” (edited by Zahid Aziz), in foot note for verse 25 in the same chapter 18, makes a case for Christian history as the source of the same legend: 

The history of Christianity, which runs like an undercurrent in the story of the Companions of the Cave, finds a clear expression now. There is no tradition that the Companions of the Cave remained in the Cave for three hundred years, but Christianity itself remained in a Cave for full three hundred years. It is a fact that Christianity rose to power with the conversion of Constantine, and at the same time it lost its purity with the formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, which was promulgated in 325 C.E. It is, moreover, now almost agreed that Jesus Christ was born in 6–5 B.C. So if he began his ministry at the age of thirty, the Christian religion may be said to have been born at about 25 C.E., and thus exactly after three hundred years it lost its purity by the promulgation of the Trinitarian doctrine, emerging at the same time as a State religion. Thus it remained in the Cave for three hundred years. As to adding nine years, to convert solar years to lunar years three years have to be added to every hundred years, and to the three centuries another nine years are thus added.[3] 

Assertions of both commentators of Quran seem equally valid and complementary, as both extrapolate their opinions based upon history and its moral lessons. 

The topic at hand is not to discuss the wholesome message of the Quran, for which reader is encouraged to refer to the English Translation and Commentary of Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali, but to address the myth that pervades about duration of the sleep of cave dwellers, which is alleged to be about three hundred years. As the legend stands, there were no eyewitnesses to the actual sleep and according to Gibbon the story was resurrected after about fifty years of the alleged incident. Before one even goes into its discussion one has to keep in mind certain fundamentals in Quran, one of which is: 

21:34. And We have not assigned to any human being before you [– Muhammad] an unusually prolonged life…[4] 

With the age for all humans normalized in the stated verse, lets visit the verses that are often quoted in support of the said legend, which when read for their actuality, bring to fore the discussion of an era, rather than lives of a few individuals alone. 

Right from the get go, Quran challenges the readers who place unnecessary weight to this story and focus on the legend rather than its moral roots: 

18:9. Do you think that the People of the Place of Refuge and of the Inscriptions [Arabic: Raqim] were a wonder among Our signs?[5] 

SIDE NOTE: Maulana Muhammad Ali in his commentary to the stated verse explains – The Cave stands for the Christian institution of monkery, this being the distinctive characteristic which it assumed soon after its birth. Raqim means an inscription or a tablet with a writing upon it. The Inscription contains a prophetical reference to an aspect of the Christian religion quite opposed to its first aspect of growth in the Cave. Inscription (or Advertisement) is, in fact, as prominent a feature of the business activities of the Christian nations of today as the Cave was a feature of their religious activities in the early days. The Quran seems to have chosen the epithets to designate the Christian nations by indicating their most prominent characteristics in their early and their latter days.[6] 

Quran then outlines the basis of taking up of Refuge by the Companions of the Cave, which was their seeking of mercy against either their persecution or their abandoning of a polytheistic society: 

18:10. (Recall the time) when the young men betook themselves to the Place of Refuge and said (in prayer), `Our Lord! grant us mercy from Yourself and provide for us right course in our affair (setting all things right for us).'[7] 

SIDE NOTE: It is against similar kind of persecution of the virtuous, that Jesus and his mother, Mary, too were given refuge before: 

23:50. And We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign, (and a model of virtue), and We gave them both refuge upon a worth-living lofty plateau abounding in (green and fruitful) valleys and springs of running water.[8] 

So too were the Muslims of Makkah given refuge in Medina: 

8:26. And (recall the time) when you were only a few and were looked upon as weak in the land, you were afraid lest the people should take you by storm, but He provided you refuge (in Madînah) and strengthened you with His help and provided you with good and pure things so that you might give thanks.[9] 

The symbolism of Cave also fully manifested for the Prophet himself when he under similar circumstances was accompanied by a Companion, Abu Bakr, and the two Companions of the Cave found refuge only three miles from their native town Makkah, only to escape their persecution and away from relentless polytheism: 

9:40. If you do not help him (- the Prophet), then (know) Allâh has already helped him when those who disbelieved turned him out (from Makkah with only one companion); he being the second of the two when they were both in the cave (of Thaur); and when he said to his companion (- Abû Bakr), ‘Grieve not (about me). Surely, Allâh is with us.’ Then Allâh sent down His Shechinah (- peace and tranquility) upon him, and helped him with troops which were not visible to you, and He humbled the word of those who disbelieved to the lowest, and it is the word of Allâh alone which is the supermost (and so prevails). Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.[10] 

Their prayers for a right course were thus accepted, for which: 

18:11. So We sealed up their ears (to cut them off from the outside world) in their Place of Refuge for (only) a number of years.[11] 

Note, the choice of metaphorical words in the above verse, their ears were sealed thus indicating their limited communication and involvement with outside world, not their eyes, had it been their sleep. Additionally, by any stretch of imagination and linguistics, a number of years can be interpreted as at the most as no more than 'some years' or 'a few years', but cannot be centuries and neither does Quran endorse such an extended period of lives for individuals. 

Finally, after a number of years, the time of their cave dwelling came to an end when enough tribulations had passed. The Cave Dwellers were aroused from their inactivity and then there stood two distinct groups, of the believers and the disbelievers: 

18:12. Then We raised them up (for making certain efforts) that We might distinguish as to which of the two groups [–those in the ‘Cave’ and the rest] had made better use of the time they had stayed there according to its rightful requirement.[12] 

With the above gist of background to the legend, Quran then takes a more detailed view of questions being raised about the legend surrounding the Muslim followers of Jesus, probably the early Unitarian Christians[13] or Ebionites[14], the followers of previous revelations, who obviously followed a monotheistic faith: 

18:13. We relate to you their true story. They were a few young men who believed in their Lord and whom We had led from guidance to guidance. 

18:14. And We strengthened their hearts when they stood up (in the cause of God) and (said), `Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Never shall we call upon any god apart from Him (for in that case) we would certainly be uttering a preposterous thing far from the truth. 

18:15. `These people of ours have taken to them (for worship) other gods apart from Him. Why do they not bring any clear proof and authority in support (of their belief). (Infact they have no such proof,) Who can be more unjust than the person who forges a lie against Allâh?'[15]  

SIDE NOTE: From the above verses it becomes obvious that the Cave Dwellers were Muslims. Their ‘Kalima Shahada’ was similar to current Muslims except that for them it was the Prophet Jesus. ‘Kalima Shahada’ is the fundamental oath of a Muslim. It identifies the source of belief (Allah) and the messenger of the time (in our case, Prophet Muhammad). According to Quran, this is a declaration of Believers since eternity – the believers in Allah and the followers of the prophet of the time, the Muslims, the submitting ones:

5:111. And when I inspired the disciples [of Jesus], (saying): Believe in Me and in My messenger [– Jesus], they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered (unto Thee) "we are Muslims [– the submitting ones]".[16] 

The next verse has parallels to historical persecution and exile of the righteous, the Muslims, away from their homes, same as Israelites out of Egypt, the Companions of the Prophet out of Makkah and in the current instance, the Companions of the Cave: 

18:16. (They said one to another), `So (now) when you have left them and that which they worship apart from Allâh, you should take shelter in the Place of Refuge. (If you do so) your Lord will extend to you His mercy and will provide some ease for you in (this) affair of yours.'[17] 

SIDE NOTE: The Cave Dwellers essentially emigrated away from polytheism and their prayer – Our Lord! grant us mercy (18:10), underpins a moral law: 

9:20. Those who believe and emigrate (for the sake of God) and strive hard for the cause of Allâh with their possessions and their persons, have the highest rank with Allâh and it is these who are the triumphant. 

9:21. Their Lord gives them good tidings of great mercy from Him and of good pleasure and of Gardens obtaining lasting and abundant bliss for them. 

9:22. They shall abide therein for ever and ever. Indeed Allâh is He with Whom there awaits a great reward (for them).[18] 

If geographically the legend is about the Middle East, then apparently the cave or the chamber where refuge was taken up was fit for human habitation for an extended period of time as its entrance faced north and was shielded from the heat of the sun. It also apparently had a courtyard thus indicating a habitability of the place:

18:17. And (O people!) you could see the sun when it rose, inclining to the right of their (spacious) Place of Refuge, and when it set declining to their left, while they were in the open space of this (refuge of theirs); this was one of the signs of Allâh. He alone is rightly guided whom Allâh guides. As for the person whom He forsakes, you will find no helper, no guide, for him.[19] 

Next, Quran addresses the nature of the ‘sleep’ in the legend: 

18:18. You might think them wary while they are dormant and asleep [as a nation]. We shall make them turn over (now) to the right and (then) to the left while their dog is (present with them) stretching its paws forward on the threshold in the courtyard. If you had become aware of their (true) state you would have turned back from them in fright and you would have surely been filled with great awe of them.[20] 

SIDE NOTE: Maulana Muhammad Ali comments on this verse – What is related in this section is clearly applicable to the story of the seven sleepers, as also to the later history of Christianity. In the first case, the meaning is that the youths, who fled for fear of persecution and betook themselves to a cave, slept for some time with a dog at the door of the cave. The whole scene was rather awe-inspiring: a dark cave, in some distant and uninhabited part of the country, with some men sleeping in it and a dog at the door. Applied to the history of Christianity the statement is equally true. In this case it should be borne in mind that ruqud (“asleep”) also means inactive or stagnant. Similarly aiqaz (“awake”) means vigilant or wary. The turning about to the right and to the left, which signifies an uneasy condition while sleeping, may be used as expressing the activities of a man or a nation. Thus there may be a reference here to the lethargy in which the Christian nations remained for a long time, and to their subsequent going about in the world in all directions. It may also be noted that Europeans are generally fond of dogs.[21] 

Here, the Quran switches to address the entire early Christianity rather than only a few individuals of the legend. The key to understand as to what they were doing in their state of cave is in the elaboration that Quran exposes to the proponents of the legend – You might think them wary i.e. living a purposeful monastic life, while factually they are dormant and asleep in their stay. In this Quran draws attention to the stagnant living of the dwellers, the whole of Christianity locked away in monasteries with limited activity, both physically and spiritually, because Quran nowhere endorses a monastic life cut off from the challenges of daily life: 

57:27. Then We caused a series of Our Messengers one after the other to follow them closely in their footsteps, and we caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow them, and We gave him (- Jesus) the Evangel. And We placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him, but as for monasticism they invented it themselves, We did not enjoin it upon them. (They started monastic life) to seek Allâh's pleasure, but they did not observe it (as faithfully) as it should have been observed. Yet We duly rewarded such of them as (truly) believed but many of them were transgressors.[22] 

Even if for the sake of the argument the stated verse is limited to Cave Dwellers alone, their limited activity is obvious in – We shall make them turn over (now) to the right and (then) to the left i.e. they were not doing much or it could even implicate a state of restlessness in which there is constant changing of postures and stance. Not only that, they even had a pet, who too seems bored by the sedentary life of the cave. Their dog like any other dog in a dwelling did what the dogs do most i.e. lay facing the entrance of the den – while their dog is (present with them) stretching its paws forward on the threshold in the courtyard. Reference to the dog also draws attention to tradition of keeping and breeding dogs in monasteries, e.g. the famous St. Bernard[23], a mastiff for its size and its guarding instincts. Then for sure, if one stumbled on such a dog – you would have turned back from them in fright and you would have surely been filled with great awe of them. 

Their living was so much out of place of civilized norms, almost like a hippie colony, that any wanderer who might have stumbled upon their monastic dwelling might have been awe struck by their unusual living style – If you had become aware of their (true) state you would have turned back from them in fright and you would have surely been filled with great awe of them. Maybe the visitor might have startled the snoozing dog as well, hence a reference to fright. If shifting on their sides was so important to prove their sleeping posture and incidentally also to prevent pressure sores for three hundred years, then why aren't other bodily functions addressed, if nothing else, the effects of starvation and the kidneys shutting down from lack of water, the matters of bowel and bladder? Contrary to the legend, Quran also tells us that mouth of the cave was not sealed as the dog sat at its entrance and any wanderer to that cave would had seen it all. Every refuge has a life, every colony has a term. In case of the Companions of the Cave: 

18:19. And (just as We made them dormant) We raised them (to life from the state of lethargy). So that they questioned one another. One of them asked, `How long have you remained (dormant)?' (Some of them) said, `We have remained (in this state of inactivity) a day or a part of a day.' (Others) said, `Only your Lord knows best (the time) you have remained so. Now send one of you with these silver coins of yours to the city, he should see which of its (inhabitants) has the best and purest food and let him bring for you provisions from it. And let him be courteous and let him not at all apprise anyone about you.[24] 

SIDE NOTE: In terms of life of nations, Quran uses the term ‘day’ in equivalence to a thousand years: 

22:47. And they (- the disbelievers) demand of you to expedite (their) punishment. Allâh will not fail His promise. (Remember however that) one day with your Lord is (sometimes) equal to one thousand years by your counting.[25] 

32:5. He plans the scheme from the heaven (and sends it) to the earth, then it shall ascend to Him in (the course of) a day the duration of which is a thousand years according to your computation (in this world).[26] 

Exactly, it was after about a thousand years from time of the First Council of Nicea (325 AD) [27], whence doctrine of Trinity took hold that Christianity awoke to its Renaissance[28] a thousand years later in the fourteenth century. Of note is that Renaissance itself means ‘rebirth’ in French[29]. 

In the verses discussed so for there is a description of a subsistence living of a community cut off from the world, where one loses track of time especially when there are no deadlines to meet, no time pressures or need to keep track of time. Of note is the use of words We raised them, which is different from 'awoke them' if they were physically sleeping that we see in case of Ezekiel who had a vision. 

SIDE NOTE: Elsewhere in Quran the metaphorical perception of time, such as a day, is addressed as equal to a hundred years. Also note the use of the similar words – then He raised him

2:259. Or consider the case of him (- Ezekiel) who passed by a town (- Jerusalem as it was left in desolation by Nebuchadnezzar) and it had fallen in upon its roofs. He said, ‘When will Allâh restore this (town) to life after its destruction?’ So (in his vision) Allâh kept him in a state of death for a hundred years, then He raised him (to life). Then (God) said, ‘How long have you stayed (in this state of death)?’ He replied, ‘I may have stayed a day or a part of a day (in this state).’ (God) said, ‘(Yes this too is correct) but (as you have witnessed in your vision) you have stayed for a hundred years. Now look at your food and drink, they have escaped the action of time, and look at your donkey (too, years have not passed over it). And (We have made you visualise all this) that We may make you a sign to the people. And look at the (dead) bones how We set them together and then clothe them with flesh.’ Thus when the fact of the matter became clear to him, he said, ‘I know that Allâh is the Possessor of full power to do all that He will.’ [30]

Additionally, a question can be raised as to how the Sleepers sustained themselves prior to sending out someone to get food. Answer to that we find in the case of Mary, who, like the Sleepers, was living in an isolated chamber in the temple apparently cut-off from the outside word, and she too was provided food by Divine means: 

3:37. So her Lord accepted her (- Mary) with a gracious acceptance and made her grow into an excellent form and assigned her to the care of Zachariah. Every time Zachariah visited her in the chamber he found with her provisions. He said, `From where do you get all this, O Mary?' She replied (with all conscientiousness), `It is from Allâh.' Verily, Allâh provides whomsoever He will without measure.[31] 

Doubting provision of food for the Cave dwellers while they were temporarily cut-off from their persecutors is to doubt one of the fundamental attribute of Allah: 

11:6. There is not a single moving creature on the earth but its sustenance rests with Allâh. He knows its permanent lodging place and its temporary sojourn. Everyone is governed by a clear law.[32] 

The next verse has parallel implications for the Companions of the Prophet in Makkah, some of whom had already migrated to Ethiopia, and the rest were to exile to Medina in the near future. After their relocation away from Makkah, they were to face further pressures and threats to revert: 

18:20. `(For) if they come to know of you they will condemn you or make you revert to their faith (by force) and in that case (that you revert to their faith), you will never attain your goal and prosper ever.'[33] 

The above verse is heavily prophetic about the events that unfolded thereafter with incessant attacks on Medina by the Makkans. Had the Muslims not resisted and instead reverted due to pressure – you will never attain your goal and prosper ever, i.e. they would not have left any of their future indelible imprints in the history, where the Persian, Byzantine and African empires were forever transformed in the next couple of decades under their rule and the message of Islam spread from East to West of the then known world: 

25:10. Blessed is He Who is pleased to assign to you (at the time of the Final victory of the Muslims) better than that (garden they devise for you) gardens (of Mesopotamia) served with running streams (rivers like Euphrates, Tigris and Jihûn and Sihûn), and will also assign to you palaces (of the Persian and Byzantine Emperors, and also the treasures of Chosroes and Caesars would be placed at your feet).[34] 

Continuing from earlier flow of verses: 

18:21. That is how We let (other people) know about them (- their intentions and the real state of their affairs), that people might know that the promise of Allâh is true and that as to the (coming of the promised) hour there is no doubt about it. And (recall the time) when the people (that followed) argued among themselves about their affairs and they said, `Build a monument over them;' their Lord knows them best. Those (of them) who won their point said, `We will certainly build a mosque (- place of worship) over them.'[35] 

In this verse Quran points out that as far as the details were concerned, the proponents themselves are unsure of their own legend – And (recall the time) when the people (that followed) argued among themselves about their affairs and they said, `Build a monument over them;'. The legend obviously arose from Christian sources as Christians traditionally erect Churches in memory of their saints. With the succinct moral of the story, Quran then mocks the prevailing aimless details and polemics of the legend: 

18:22. Guessing at random (- about them) some say, `(They were) three, their dog being the fourth,' while others say, `(They were) five and their dog being the sixth.' Yet there are others who say, `(They were) seven and their dog being the eighth.' Say, `My Lord knows best their real number. None knows them except a few.' So do not argue about them save with arguing on known premise (which is) overpowering and seek no legal order concerning them from anyone of them, (from those who make random guesses).[36] 

SIDE NOTE: Of note is that Quran is using the above hair-splitting discussions of the legend pushers to alert Muslims to avoid such kind of nonsense in their own faith, which ironically are all too often practiced in Islam of our times. Many a times, while reading Quran, one misses the forest for the trees. While narrative of the Companions of the Cave has a much broader moral purpose in Quran, superficial readers dwell on the tale in itself as an end, rather than why Quran cares mentioning it to begin with. Similar shunning of being caught in unnecessary details in matter of faith is also mentioned elsewhere in Quran about the slaughtering the cow by the Israelites, who were mere asked to eliminate their historical deity worship of cow by symbolically slaughtering of it, but they sliced and diced a simple directive: 

2:67. (Recall) when Moses said to his people for their own good, ‘Verily, Allâh commands you to slaughter a cow.’ They said, ‘Do you make a mockery of us?’ He said, ‘I seek refuge with Allâh from being (one) of the ignorant.’ 

2:68. They said, ‘Pray for us to your Lord to make clear to us what (kind of a cow) it is.’ He replied, ‘Says He, “It indeed is a cow neither too old nor too young, (but) of middle age, in between.” Now do as you are commanded.’ 

2:69. They said, ‘Pray for us to your Lord to make clear to us of what colour it is.’ He replied, ‘Says He, “It is a cow fawn of colour, is intensely rich in tone, very pleasing to the beholders”.’ 

2:70. They said, ‘Pray for us to your Lord to make clear to us what it (- the cow in question) is (definitely like); for (all such) cows are much alike to us, and we shall indeed, if Allâh will, be guided to the right goal.’ 

2:71. He said, ‘He (- God) says, “It is indeed a cow neither broken in to plough the land nor to water the tillage, perfectly sound (without any blemish), no spot on her”, (she is of one colour).’ They said, ‘Now you have (after all) brought the exact truth (with the necessary description).’ So they slaughtered her, though they had no mind to do it.[37] 

The next two verses are misattributed to some conjectures, that when the Prophet was asked about the said legend, he told the questioners that he will reply the next day, and apparently no revelation in the matter came for a while. Besides their general implication for every Muslim, these verses were a pointer to the Prophet’s upcoming migration to Medina and an advice to him before he discloses it: 

18:23. And never say of anything, `I am going to do it tomorrow,' 

18:24. Unless (you add to it) `God willing.' And remember your Lord whenever you forget (and make a mistake) and say, `I hope my Lord will guide me to a course even shorter than this to the right path (leading to success).[38] 

SIDE NOTE: Still, the above verses have much larger implications and they refocus the mind of a believer to the first chapter of Quran, where it is mentioned: 

1:5. (Lord!) You alone do we worship and You alone do we implore for help.

1:6. Lead us on the exact right path till we reach the goal,

1:7. The path of those on whom You have bestowed (Your) blessings, those who have not incurred (Your) displeasure, and those who have not gone astray.[39] 

Referring to the length of stay in the legend, without endorsing it Quran states: 

18:25. And they (- the early Christians) stayed in this Place of Refuge three hundred years [by a solar calendar] and extended (their stay) another nine (years) [if counting by lunar calendar]

18:26. Say, `Allâh knows best how long they stayed. To Him belong the hidden realities in the heavens and the earth. How clear He sees and how well He hears! They have no helper beside Him. He lets none associate with Him and share His judgment.[40] 

Moral implications of the narrative of Companions of the Cave: Drawing from the examples of the Companions of the Cave, the persecuted Muslims in Makkah then and even in the present are roused in the following verses. For each Muslim it is Allah, the ‘Place of Refuge’, the Quran which acts as its Reminder and the Prophet as the example to find that ultimate Refuge with Allah. Requisite for such a Refuge is finding the righteous companions, seekers of the Refuge, in this very world. Sifting through the legend, Quran then makes a prophecy to the Muslims against the persecuting Makkans, that history bears witness for its fruition in next couple of decades. While interpreting prophecies in Quran, one has to bear in mind that in its prophecies metaphors are used quite extensively and the prophecies not only give tiding of a future event, but also lay down the principle that govern those prophecies to be repeated for all mankind: 

18:27. And recite (to these people) what is revealed to you of the commandment of your Lord. There is none who can change His words [i.e. prophecies], and you will find no refuge apart from Him [i.e. ‘Place of Refuge’ for a Muslim is Allah alone]

18:28. And keep yourself attached to those [i.e. seek Companions of the Cave] who call upon their Lord morning and evening, constantly seeking His pleasure [– i.e. the attributes of those who have sought Refuge with Allah], and do not let your eyes turn away from them to pursue the glamour of the present life and do not follow him whose heart We have declared unmindful of Our remembrance; who follows his evil inclinations, and whose affair exceeds all legitimate limits [i.e. a Muslim is not to wander away from his Refuge with Allah]

18:29. And say, `It [– The Quran] is the truth from your Lord, therefore let him who wishes (it) believe (in it) and let him who wishes (otherwise) disbelieve (in it).' (But let everyone remember,) We have prepared for the unjust a fire whose (flaming) enclosure will surround (and fumes envelope) them. If they cry for water, they shall be helped with water (boiling) like molten lead, which will scald their faces. How dreadful the drink and how dismal is (the Fire as) a resting place! 

18:30. But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness [i.e. who have sought Refuge with Allah] (should know that) We surely do not suffer the reward of those who do good deeds to be lost. 

18:31. It is these for whom there await the Gardens of Eternity served with running streams (to keep them green and flourishing). There they shall be adorned with bracelets of gold and wear green robes of fine silk and rich brocade. They will be reclining in these (Gardens) upon raised couches. How excellent the reward! and how beautiful the resting place! [41] 

SIDE NOTE: The prophecies came to their fruition when Mad'ain, the Capital of Persian Empire fell to the Muslim armies during the reign of Caliph Umar – In the month of Safar, 16 A.H., corresponding to March, 637 A.D., Sa'd entered Mad'ain and while thus marching through the town in triumph, he had on his lips that prophetic verse of the Quran : "How many the gardens they left, and springs and crops and magnificent mansions and luxuries in which they lived! Even so; and We gave them as a heritage to another people" (44 : 25-28) . It was without doubt a clear sign of Divine might that a small nation, looked upon with contempt and whose envoy was sent back with a basket of dust on his head — that such an insignificant nation overthrew a most mighty empire with no more than 30,000 men. Silver, gold and diamonds, the spoils of war, when collected, made a considerable heap. One-fifth, including the Chosroes' robes and ornaments and a highly precious carpet inlaid with diamonds, was sent to Madinah. Fifteen years before, when the Prophet was running away for his life from Makkah to Madinah and a price was set on his head, dead or alive, a certain man named Suraqah had gone out in search of the precious fugitive. It so happened, however, that every time Suraqah came within reach of the Prophet his horse stumbled and fell. Seeing that some hidden Power protected the Prophet, the pursuer repented of his conduct and on bended knees asked for pardon. But he had more than a pardon. “Suraqah," said the Prophet, "I see the gold bracelets of the Chosroes on thy wrists." And lo! the spoils that came to Madinah actually included a pair of the Persian king's gold bracelets. Suraqah was immediately sent for and made to wear them, and the joy of the faithful knew no bounds when they saw the prophecy of their beloved Master come out so literally true.[42] 

Of note is that when the above stated spoils of war reached Medina – When Umar beheld the enormous riches brought as spoils, tears came to his eyes. On being asked what made him weep at that moment of joy, the Caliph said: “I fear lest this wealth and comfort should ultimately cause the ruin of my people.” [43] Essentially, Umar reflected the above stated verse – and do not let your eyes turn away from them to pursue the glamour of the present life and do not follow him whose heart We have declared unmindful of Our remembrance; who follows his evil inclinations, and whose affair exceeds all legitimate limits (18:28). 

Quran in its account lays to rest the legendary aspects of the story, while it fully expounds the moral lessons. Of note is that those who insist on three hundred years of physical sleep miss the dog about which nowhere it is mentioned to have slept for the same period and there is no mention of him to turn over (now) to the right and (then) to the left to avoid any pressure sores. The duration of 'slumber' in Quran at times can be judged by the aging of the accompanying animals, which only proves its metaphorical use of time frame: 

2:259. Or consider the case of him (- Ezekiel) who passed by a town (- Jerusalem as it was left in desolation by Nebuchadnezzar) and it had fallen in upon its roofs. He said, ‘When will Allâh restore this (town) to life after its destruction?’ So (in his vision) Allâh kept him in a state of death for a hundred years, then He raised him (to life). Then (God) said, ‘How long have you stayed (in this state of death)?’ He replied, ‘I may have stayed a day or a part of a day (in this state).’ (God) said, ‘(Yes this too is correct) but (as you have witnessed in your vision) you have stayed for a hundred years. Now look at your food and drink, they have escaped the action of time, and look at your donkey (too, years have not passed over it). And (We have made you visualise all this) that We may make you a sign to the people. And look at the (dead) bones how We set them together and then clothe them with flesh.’ Thus when the fact of the matter became clear to him, he said, ‘I know that Allâh is the Possessor of full power to do all that He will.’[44] 

If the donkey was not one hundred years older, then neither was Ezekiel. If the dog was not three hundred years older, then neither were the Companions of the Cave. If the Muslims are stuck in the legends as above with their superficial readings and without understanding the moral message that Quran brings out in its narratives, then it will be a clear endorsement of doubters in the Quran: 

25:5. They (also) say, ‘(This Qur’ân consists of) fables of the ancients that he has got written down and now they are read out to him morning and evening.’[45]


 

[1]English Translation of the Holy Qur’ân, edition 2002, by Maulana Muhammad Ali
[2]Link: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/733?msg=welcome_stranger#link332HCH0001


[2a]Al-Kahf–Verse 18:8, Footnote 7: Muhammad Asad
[3]Al-Kahf–The Cave: Footnote for verse 18:25: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[4]Al-Ambiya – The Prophets: Nooruddin
[5]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[6]Al-Kahf–The Cave: Footnote for verse 18:9: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[7] Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[8]Al-Muminun – The Believers: Nooruddin
[9]Al-Anfal – The Voluntary Gifts: Nooruddin
[10]Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin
[11]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[12]ibid
[13]Wikipedia: Unitarians. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Unitarianism#Early_origins


[14]Wikipedia: Ebionites. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites


[15]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[16]Al-Maidah – The Food: Marmaduke Pickthall
[17]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[18]Al-Taubah – The Repentence: Nooruddin
[19]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[20]
ibid
[21]Al-Kahf – The Cave. Verse 18:18, Footnote a (18): Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[22]Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
[23]“Sometime between 1660 and 1670, the monks at Great St. Bernard Hospice acquired their first St. Bernards—descendants of the mastiff style Asiatic dogs brought over by the Romans—to serve as their watchdogs and companions. (The earliest depiction of the breed was in two paintings done by well-known Italian artist Salvatore Rosa in 1695.)” Link: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-the-st-bernard-rescue-dog-13787665/#TVr8dluOdeWlpEb3.99 
[24]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[25]Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
[26]Al-Sajdah – The Prostration: Nooruddin
[27]Wikipedia: First Council of Nicea. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Nicaea


[28]Wikipedia: The Renaissance: Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Renaissance


[29]Oxford Dictionary. Link: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/Renaissance


[30]Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[31]`Al Imran – Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[32]Hud – Hud: Nooruddin
[33]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[34]Al-Furqan – The Standards of True and False: Nooruddin
[35]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[36]
ibid
[37]Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[38]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[39]Al-Fatihah –The Opening: Nooruddin
[40]Al-Kahf– The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
[41]
ibid
[42]‘The Early Caliphate’ by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 80-81.
[43]
ibid, p. 81.
[44]Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[45]Al-Furqan – The Standards of True and False: Nooruddin

Staff of Moses – Rod of Mastery not Mystery; Serpentine, but not Suppositious (Part I)

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Staff of Moses – Rod of Mastery not Mystery; Serpentine, but not Suppositious (Part I) 

The staff of Moses, like that of Solomon (link), has a legend built around it as well. However, the case of Moses is of a much larger lore in which when Moses is ordained as a prophet, he sees his staff transform into a serpent and his hand turns white when he withdraws it from his armpit. With these miraculous signs he goes to the Pharaoh demanding emancipation of his subjugated nation and in the process there is a sorcery match between him and the king's magicians. His staff turns into a large serpent that eats away the magical snakes of his opponents. His opponents embrace his faith even under death threat from the Pharaoh. Then, there is a period of famine, pestilence and other distress in the land that are removed only when Moses assents. Finally, Moses and his people escape towards Sinai and him using the same staff parts open the Red Sea. His people escape while the Pharaoh and his army are drowned in the previously parted sea. Thereafter, is the story of Moses going to the mountain, Moses wishes to 'see' God, receives the Law, he makes springs flow from the rocks by striking them with the same rod, Israelites eat heavenly food but get bored with it, they worship the golden calf, and so on. All this mixed legend, some fact and rest fiction, hinges on a central item, the staff, which if weren't there; no subsequent event might have happened or had been overcome.

This chapter deals only the aspect of myth where the staff[1] of Moses turns into a serpent, his hand comes forth as white and him confronting the sorcery[2]. The legend of his staff parting the Red Sea and striking twelve springs is refuted and explained in another chapter – “Staff of Moses – a Mere Walking Stick for Skirting, not Parting the Sea; Prospecting the Mountain for Water & Manna, a Bonus (Part II),” link.

With regards to the topic of this chapter, the staff of Moses turning into a serpent, it has to be made clear from outset to the reader of its occurrence in Quran – It is nowhere stated that whenever Moses threw down his rod it turned into a snake. Only on two occasions the rod is stated to have turned into a snake: (1) when Moses held communion with God before going to Pharaoh; (2) when he first came before Pharaoh, or when Pharaoh summoned the enchanters to his help.[3]

Additionally, reader also has to be cognizant of the wholesome challenge before Moses. The Pharaoh of his time ruled Egypt because of his religious authority based upon his claim to godhead:

28:38. And Pharaoh said, `O chiefs of my court! I know for you no god other than myself…[4]

Moses too, like Joseph before him, flourished under the Pharaoh of his time but with a difference. The former was raised by the Pharaoh from his infancy but only later in his life, moves out of Egypt, returns and challenges Pharaoh’s godhead, whereas, the latter was sold into slavery in his childhood, moved to Egypt, as an adult received justice at the hands of Pharaoh who then appoints him to a powerful position. Mission of Moses was not to challenge the king and his kingdom but falsity of his claim which was a source of subjugation of Israelites. In Quran, the crux of the dialogue between Moses and Pharaoh[5] is the same as that was between Abraham and Nimrod[6], who too ruled based on his claim of god-ship. Thus, all the encounters of Moses with Pharaoh and his administration are based upon arguments of monotheism and not on any showmanship. Quran summarizes the whole discourse of Moses and Pharaoh as follows:

79:15. The story of Moses has reached you.
79:16. When his Lord called out to him in the Sacred Valley of Tuwâ,
79:17. (And directed him,) `Go to Pharaoh, he has transgressed all limits.
79:18. `And say (to him), "Would you like to purify yourself;
79:19. "That I should guide you to your Lord so that you may stand in awe of Him?"'
79:20. So (Moses went to Pharaoh and) he showed him the great sign (of the staff).
79:21. But he belied (Moses) and disobeyed,
79:22. Then he turned back striving (and devising schemes against him).
79:23. And he gathered (his people) and proclaimed,
79:24. Saying, `I (- Pharaoh) am your supreme lord.'
79:25. So Allâh seized him for the punishment of (both) the next and the present life.
79:26. Indeed, there is a lesson in this (event) for him who stands in awe (of his Lord).[4a]

Staff of Moses – for what it stands in Quran

Similar to staff of Solomon (link), the staff of Moses is representative of a prophecy, authority of Moses over his nation that united under him, his mastery as a debater, his overcoming the opposition and the revival of Israelites because of him.

Abracadabra and Alleging Sorcery – an attribute of non-believers

By its very definition, sorcery is falsehood. In Quran the terms sorcerer and sorcery are used by the opposition against the prophets as an expression of their exasperation when they are dumfounded by the logic of the message presented by the prophets and when the disbelievers are warned against their practice of polytheism, for example: 

38:2. (There is nothing wrong with the Prophet,) the only thing is that the disbelievers are suffering from a sense of (false) pride and are hostile (to him).

 

 

38:3. (Do they not see that) We have destroyed so many generations before them? (They did not care to listen to the warning at first) then (later) they cried (for help) but the time for escape had passed.

38:4. They wonder that there should come to them a Warner from among themselves, and the disbelievers say, `He is a sorcerer, a great liar (in his claim).

38:5. `Has he turned (the whole lot of) gods (we worshipped) into One God? Very strange indeed is this thing.'

38:6. And the leaders among them go about saying, `Go (from here) and adhere constantly to (the worship of) your gods. This (claim of the Qur'ân about the unity of God) is a thing designed (with some purpose behind it).

38:7. `We heard nothing of its kind about any of the previous creeds. This is nothing but a forgery.[7][Emphasis added]

In these verses, on one hand the opponent of Prophet Muhammad allege him to be a sorcerer, a great liar (v. 38:4), while on the other, they substantiate their allegation by saying – We heard nothing of its kind about any of the previous creeds (v. 38:7). By common understanding sorcery is something to be witnessed, but its use in Quran is that which is heard. Essentially, the use of the words sorcerer and sorcery shows the net effect on the people’s mind of the message of the Prophet. Later in the chapter, similar usage of the term sorcery, for all its same meanings, will be repeated in case of Moses as well.

Before one divulges into nitpicking the staff of Moses, one has to read the following scene laid out in Quran, which further elucidates the principle in above set of verses:

10:76. And when there came to them the truth from Us, they said, `This is, of course, enchantment creating dissension.'

10:77. Moses said, `Is that how you talk of the truth when it has come to you? Can this be an enchantment, whereas the enchanters never attain their goal?'

10:78. They said, `Have you come to us that you may turn us away from what we found our forefathers practising and to make sure that you two reign supreme in the land [instead of us]? But (remember) we will not believe in either of you at all.'

10:79. And Pharaoh said (to his people), `Bring every skilled sorcerer [like Moses to counter him] to me.'

10:80. Now when the sorcerers came, Moses said to them, `Present whatever you have to present.'

10:81. Then, when they had presented (what they would present), Moses said, `What you have brought is a mere deception. Allâh will soon render it void (because) Allâh does not at all allow the machination of the mischief-makers to thrive.

10:82. `And Allâh will establish the truth by dint of His decrees even though the guilty may find (it) hard.' [8][Emphasis added]

In these verses, opponents of Moses and Aaron are clearly alleging that the truth brought forth by Moses is an enchantment to them. In response, Moses declares that enchanters never attain their goal. In this dialogue it is plain that there was no ‘enchantment’ with Moses, but a message and arguments that were enchanting to the audience. The opponents perceived his message as a threat to their ancestral religious practices and the bureaucratic power hierarchy that existed because of Pharaoh as its godhead. They said, `Have you come to us that you may turn us away from what we found our forefathers practising and to make sure that you two reign supreme in the land [instead of us]? But (remember) we will not believe in either of you at all.' To counter the enchantment thus created by arguments of Moses, the Pharaoh also gathers his ‘enchanters’, the spell casting debaters, orators and clergy, the sorcerers. At the start of the debate, Moses, asks the hired guns, the sorcerers, to present their arguments first – Present whatever you have to present. Like any debater, Moses first nullifies the opponent’s argument by invalidating it in his opening statement – Moses said, `What you have brought is a mere deception. If Moses had, indeed, presented his own staff as a serpent, then he had no moral right to call his opponent’s serpents a deception while claiming his own serpent as the truth. Besides, the truth of Moses was to be established not by transforming a staff into a serpent or whitening of his hand but Allâh will establish the truth by dint of His decrees, not visual illusions.

Questions to the reader: Why Quran never uses the words sorcerer or sorcery for Moses, even though by the common myth he is pandering to the same as his opponents, the sorcerers? If one goes by the myth, fact is that it is Moses who instigated the ‘sorcery,’ not Pharaoh and his sorcerers who were only acting in self-defense. Is it not incredible when the perpetrators of this magical myth cry foul when the opposition tried to pay back Moses in coin?

Answer: There is no such thing as sorcery or magic but only its metaphorical usage for spell casting effects of a discussion, debate or arguments. Neither did his opponents indulge in an ‘actual’ sorcery, nor did Moses.

Visions – a human experience[9]

Just as Quran speaks of the past and the present for their historical actualities, it also addresses the future, but in prophecies, for example life after death, Hell and Heaven.  Prophecies too by their very definition are to be interpreted and not to be read literally in the manner that miracles are sometimes erroneously translated and understood in a literal sense. Maulana Muhammad Ali sifts through a general misunderstanding that confuses a prophecy with a miracle:

As a matter of fact the faith which the fulfilment of a prophecy creates in one's heart is not even created at the occurrence of a great miracle, because a miracle may contain some elements of doubt in it, but the fulfilment of a prophecy is in fact a 'talking witness' which stands before friends and foes alike. Moreover at the occurrence of a miracle there are only a few persons present who witness its truth but a prophecy after its fulfilment does not stand in need of another evidence. It becomes an evidence itself.[10]

Additionally, prophecies are hidden in the symbols and metaphors, which only act as a veil:

42:51. It is not given to a human being that Allâh should speak to him except by direct revelation or from behind a veil or by sending a messenger (- an angel) who should reveal (to him) by His command what He pleases. Indeed, He is the Most Sublime, the All-Wise.[11] [Emphasis added]

With the passage of time, when the veil is lifted, the prophecy comes to its natural manifestation. The example of veil of symbolism in a dream is what the king saw at the time of Prophet Joseph:

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

To the ordinary mortals, such a veil of dream and its symbols and metaphors can create confusion for its meaning:                      

12:44. They said, `(These are) confused dreams and we do not know the interpretation of such confused dreams.'[13]

Whereas, the true interpretation that lifts the veil is a felicity granted to only a few –This (my ability to interpret, you should bear in mind) is a part of that knowledge which my Lord has imparted to me [i.e. Joseph] (12:37)[14]. Prophet Joseph interpreted the king’s dream as follows:

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

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

12:49. `Then, thereafter shall come a year of rains in which people shall be relieved and in which (season) they will press (fruit and seeds).'[15]

Thereafter, as we know from other sources as well, the king consented to Joseph’s advice and many harvest cycles occurred as predicted followed by equally long period of drought.

Serpent in a vision – a breakthrough

Similar to symbolism in king’s dream at the time of Joseph, a serpent in a vision played a very significant role in August Kekulé’s own account of discovery of benzene ring structure, a breakthrough in organic chemistry, that he narrates himself:

"I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes…My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke…"[16]

Kekule’s mind was able to perceive the symbolism in his vision of the snake and snake-like motion of carbon chains to interpret it into a benzene ring structure. This only shows that symbolism in a vision serves its purpose only for someone who has the capacity to interpret it in context of the problem that a person is facing. Just like Kekule, Moses too was facing an intractable problem, the four centuries of servitude of his nation. Like Kekule, a serpent in a vision solved his problem as well, the symbolism of which will be explained later in the chapter.

Commencement of Revelations for Moses

20:9. You must have surely received the narrative about Moses [not only because it is an oft quoted event in history, but its pertinence will be repeated in due course for Prophet Muhammad’s mission and his challenges as well, and it is as follows…].

20:10. When he saw a fire, he said to his companions, `Stay here for I perceive a fire (creating feelings of love and affection). I hope, I may bring you a fire brand from there. Rather I feel that I would find some guidance at the fire.'[17]

SIDE NOTE: Elsewhere in Quran, this incidence is repeated that refers to the earlier spiritual grooming of Moses that primed him for the office of prophethood:

28:29. And when Moses had completed the agreed term [of eight to ten years for staying under the tutelage of his father-in-law, Shuaib (Jithro) who was a prophet in Midian – v. 28:28-29] and set forth with his family [on his return journey to Egypt], he saw with feelings of warmth of affection and love, a sort of fire (on the way at a place) in the direction of the mount. He said to his family, `You stay (here) I have seen with feelings of warmth of love and affection a fire. I hope to bring you some useful and important information from there or (at least) a burning brand from the fire that you may warm yourselves.'[18]

Apparently, Moses along with his family was on a journey while it was getting dark. On perceiving a fire in distance, indicative of a dwelling, he was naturally gravitated to it so that he could probably ask for directions while he may also bring a burning brand for his companions that they could warm themselves with it. Here, Moses too, like Prophet Muhammad was sharing the chores with his companions. Prophet Muhammad – when he was out in the woods with his friends, the time for preparation of food came. Everybody was allowed a piece of work, he himself going out to pick some fuel. Spiritual and temporal lord as he was, he would yet do his share of work like an ordinary man.[19]

20:11. And when he came close to this (fire) he was hailed, `O Moses!

SIDE NOTE: Contrary to the common belief, God did not speak to Moses from a burning bush:

28:30. And when he came close to it (- the fire) a voice called out to him from a blessed spot on the right side of the valley, from the direction of a tree, `Moses! surely I am, Allâh, the Lord of the worlds. [20]

20:12. `Verily, I alone am your Lord. So take off your shoes (and stay, and make your heart free from every care) [i.e. sit back, relax, don’t be in a rush], for you are in the sacred Valley of Tuwâ.

SIDE NOTE: Tuwa comes from taiyyun and means to roll up. Thus, Tuwa really means "closeness," that is, a person on whom space has been "rolled up." The reference here is to the proximity to Allah that Prophet Moses achieved and his consequent selection as a prophet. This is why the name Tuwa has been given to this valley, otherwise it was not known by that name before by anyone in the world. In other words, it was called Tuwa because there Prophet Moses attained the distinction of achieving self-annihilation in Allah and closeness to Him.[21]

20:13. `And I have chosen you, therefore listen to what is revealed to you.

20:14. `I, and I alone am Allâh. There cannot be, is no other and will never be One worthy of worship but I, therefore worship Me alone. And observe prayer so that you may keep Me in mind.

20:15. `Surely, the Hour (of Resurrection) is bound to come. I am about to unveil it, so that every soul may be rewarded in accordance with its endeavour.

20:16. `So do not allow the person who does not believe in it but pursues his (own) low desires, turn you away from (believing) it, lest you perish. [22]

Moses separated from his companions/family in the said verses before he received his first revelation, an experience which is similar to that of Prophet Muhammad who too separated from his family before his first prophetic revelation:

`A'ishah said: The first revelation that was granted to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, was the true dream in a state of sleep, so that he never dreamed a dream but the truth of it shone forth like the dawn of the morning. Then solitude became dear to him and he used to seclude himself in the cave of Hira', and therein he devoted himself to Divine worship for several nights before he came back to his family and took provisions for this (retirement); then he would return to Khadijah and take (more) provisions for a similar (period), until the Truth came to him while he was in the cave of Hira';… [23] [continued below].

Moses questioned about the prophecy of his mission before it was disclosed to him

After the office of prophethood was conferred on Moses (v. 20:11-16), only then he was shown in a vision the prophecy of his mission. The mention of staff in Quran starts with the following verses, where during the first revelation, God asks Moses:

20:17. `Moses, What is that you have in your right hand?'

20:18. (Moses) replied, `This is my staff. I lean on it, and beat down leaves for my sheep with it, and it serves (also) my many other needs.' [24]

Note, only after he is made a prophet, God asks Moses a much bigger question as to what he understood about his strengths and what lay ahead in grip of his hand, his future mission. Moses, a sheep herder, a livelihood that he pursued under Jithro (Shoaib, his father in law) before his return journey to Egypt from Midian, answers quite concretely and describes what he knows about his lowly staff and its functions. It would be unreasonable to imagine that God did not know what was in Moses's right hand; rather it was a question to Moses as to what he understood by that which was in grasp of his 'right hand'.

The response of Moses is quite similar to that of Prophet Muhammad who too did not immediately comprehend the full prophecy during the initial prophetic revelation to him in which he is asked to ‘read’ and the prophet being unlettered simply replies that he cannot read:

[continued from above] …so the angel (Gabriel) came to him and said, Read. He (the Prophet) said, "I said I am not one who can read." And he continued: "Then he (the angel) took hold of me and he pressed me so hard that I could not bear it anymore, and then he let me go and said, Read. I said, I am not one who can read. Then he took hold of me and pressed me a second time so hard that I could not bear it any more, then he let me go again and said, Read. I said, "I am mot one who can read." (The Prophet) continued : "Then he took whole of me and pressed me hard for a third time, then he let me go and said, `Read in the name of thy Lord Who created – He created man from a clot – Read and thy Lord is most Honourable (These are the first three verses of the 96th chapter of the Holy Qur'an…).'"…[25]

Similar concreteness is found in the response of Mary when she is foretold the birth of Jesus:

3:47. She said, `My Lord! how can I and whence shall I have a child while no man has yet touched me (in conjugal relationship)?'…[26]

Zachariah’s response too was reflective of a surprised reaction when he was prophesied about his son, John:

3:40. `Lord!' he said, `How shall I have a son now that old age has already come upon me and my wife is barren?'… [27]

Staff of Moses – a prophecy in a vision and its symbolic nature

The spontaneous  replies of Moses, Mary, Zachariah and for that matter Prophet Muhammad, is a classic case of 'what the mind does not know, eyes cannot see'. They could not immediately comprehend the full nature of the prophecy in their revelation. For example, an ordinary person while looking at his hand only sees the skin, palm, palm creases, fingers and nails. Whereas, a surgeon with a more deeper knowledge, while looking at the same hand sees all the bones, joints, arteries, nerves, lymphatics, muscles, connective tissue and anatomical planes, essentially a much larger picture of form and function. Similarly, when God refers to hand and that too 'right hand', it also implies the righteous capacities and function within the grasp of a person's intellect and morality that lead to the virtuous actions and are a cause of blessing. The prophecy in a vision continues for Moses:

20:19. (The Lord) said, `Moses! cast it down.'
20:20. So he cast it down and lo! it was (like) a serpent; running about.
20:21. (The Lord) said, `Get hold of it and do not fear. We shall restore it to its former state.
20:22. `And put your hand close under your armpit, it shall come forth (shining) white, without any disease, (providing you with) another sign [28]

These verses describe a vision in which by symbolism Moses was shown various aspects of his future mission. The right hand stood for the authority that he will command over his nation. His holding it, the rod, with clenched fingers around his ‘Asa’, the staff, represented his holding the Israelites together. The ‘serpent’ signified that his message and its power to overcome the opposition and the serpent running about prophesized the vibrancy and revival of his nation which was visibly under inertia from four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. The whiteness of his hand stood for clarity of truth and logic of his message. His getting hold of the serpent is indicative of the fearlessness with which he will conduct his mission. In due course, such a right hand would eventually revive his morally dead nation into a vibrant community of future.

Besides the dictionary meaning of staff in a footnote at the beginning of this chapter, in Quran the attribute of the same staff is explained by its adjective:

The staff of Moses is coupled with usage of another word, i.e. Yamana/Yamina, which in Arabic means – To meet on the right side, bless, lead to the right, be a cause of blessing.[29] [Emphasis added]

The metaphorical qualities hidden in 'right hand' of Moses are further explained in that those will also come forth (shining) white for their clarity and strength of their logical arguments.

SIDE NOTE: Recognition of faculties of self is one of the signs of Allah that each human is expected to perceive, for example:

51:20. There are signs on the earth for the people of knowledge and assured faith.
51:21. And (you have signs) in your own persons. Have you no eyes to perceive.[30]

Later in the narrative, we see that Moses is strengthened with Nine Commandments, see separately the Chapter: “Moses – The Nine Signs, not Ten Commandments, nor the Miracles?” It is the same strengthening of a believer with Revelations that Quran mentions in another place:

16:102. Say, `The Spirit of Holiness has brought this (Qur'ân) down from your Lord to suit the requirement of truth and wisdom, (Allâh has revealed it) so that He may strengthen those who believe in their faith and so that (this may serve as) a guidance and good tidings for Muslims.[31]

The metaphor under your armpit means the heart, which is the prophecy of Taurat (Torah), that was to be revealed to Moses. ‘Under your armpit’ signifies a book that is carried under the arm, a flawless book and a book of light, Taurat.[32] When it is all read together – put your hand close under your armpit, it shall come forth (shining) white, without any disease, also indicates a tranquil state of body and mind that results from following the guidance from Allah and is also pointed to in elsewhere in Quran:

SIDE NOTE: 2:248. And their Prophet (of God) [–Samuel] said to them [–Children of Israel], `The sign of his sovereignty is indeed that there shall come to you (in his reign [–Talut: Saul]) the Tâbût (- the heart) in which there will be Shechinah (- tranquility) from your Lord and legacy (of good) left by the followers of Moses and the followers of Aaron [i.e. the true spirit and message of Taurat], the angels bearing it. Verily, there is a sign for you in that, when you are true believers.'[33]

4:174. O you people! a manifest proof has indeed come to you from your Lord, and We have sent down a clear light to you which distinguishes (the right from the wrong). [34],[35]

The mention of do not fear for Moses is not a fear from a serpent but from anxiety of the burden of mission that lay ahead of him. This ‘fear’ was also expressed by Prophet Muhammad after his first revelation – "I fear for myself." The fear to which the Prophet gave expression was lest he should be unable to achieve the great task or the reformation of humanity which was imposed upon him.[36]

Moses had to recognize the signs in his own person, his potentialities, his right hand, before he could be cognizant of greater signs of God which included overcoming the Pharaoh and freedom for Israelites after hundreds of years of their slavery, an apparent impossibility at that time. Returning to the original flow of verses:

20:23. `(We have given you these signs) so that we may show you some of Our greater signs.[37]

The simple right hand and the clenched staff were no longer as Moses knew them. Before they were merely a body part and a walking stick but going forward they signified a prophecy of his intellectual and spiritual strength on which will rely his nation clenched in his hand. The implications of right hand and staff of Moses will be much broader and their impact much stronger, which will go down in history as one of the most quoted mission of a prophet..

Once Moses recognizes his hidden faculties, their potential and the goals he will pursue through them, he is assigned his mission:

20:24. `Go to Pharaoh, he has indeed exceeded (all) limits.' [38]

Mission of Moses – debates not sorcery

Anticipating the colossal mission that lay ahead of him to face the Pharaoh and all his might, his intelligentsia, his scholars/priests and his bureaucracy, in summary the hurdles the prophet will have to overcome before he gets freedom for his people, Moses becomes cognizant of the need to strengthen his 'right hand' and prays for enlightenment, clarity of thought, effective speech, a helping hand and removal of hurdles:

20:25. (Moses) said, `My Lord! (if you have chosen me for this mission) enlighten my mind,
20:26. `And make my task easy for me.
20:27. `And remove the impediments from my tongue,
20:28. `So that they may understand my speech,
20:29. `And grant me a helper from my family,
20:30. `Aaron, my brother,
20:31. `Raise my strength through him,
20:32. `And associate him in my task;
20:33. `That we may glorify You over and over;
20:34. `And spread Your name far and wide,
20:35. `Surely, You are indeed Ever-Watchful over us.'[39]

If Moses's staff, the walking stick, was all that miraculous, then one has to ponder as to why in above verses is he asking for extra ‘wherewithal’ of an enlightened mind, power of speech and aid of a counsel that are needed only for making arguments and entering into debates? It is interesting to note that Moses was facing two distinct classes of people in his mission – the Pharaoh and his elites, and the enslaved Israelites. Since he himself was raised in royalty, he knew how to converse with the former. However, he was disconnected from his nation at large, the Israelites. In order to connect with them he prayed – remove the impediments from my tongue. For them he asked for help of his brother, Aaron, who belonged to the common Israelites. It was Aaron, not Moses, who could effectively communicate with them.

In response to Moses's prayer, God answers:

20:36. (The Lord) said, `Moses! you are granted what you have prayed for.[40]

SIDE NOTE: Similar account is repeated elsewhere in Quran:

28:31. `And put down your staff on the ground.' Then, no sooner did he [and no one else] see it (- the staff) shifting like a tiny quickly moving serpent, than he turned his back and retreated and would not even look back. (God said,) `Moses! come forward, and have no fear. Surely, you are of those who are safe.

28:32. `Insert your hand into your bosom, it will come forth flawless (sparkling) white and draw back your arm towards yourself (to compose yourself) when you encounter fear [i.e. anxiety during execution of his future mission before Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s courtiers and clergy]. So these (two signs) are two proofs from your Lord to (be presented before) Pharaoh and his courtiers. For surely they are lawless and disobedient people.

28:33. (Moses) said, `My Lord! I killed a person from among them (accidentally) and I fear that they will kill me (before I am able to fulfill my mission).

28:34. `And my brother Aaron is more fluent and eloquent in speech than I [to communicate with common Israelites, unlike Moses who was raised and lived with royalty], so send him with me as a helper to bear me out (for) I fear that they will treat me as a liar.'

28:35. (God) said, `We will surely strengthen your arm with your brother and We will give both of you so much power that they shall not reach you (to do you harm). So (go armed) with Our signs; you two and your followers will come out victorious.' [41] [Emphasis added]

Note the use of another metaphor for Moses, before it was the staff in his right hand, now –  strengthen your arm with your brother.

Skeptics, who still attribute a real serpent and an actually shining hand to Moses need to read again the verse 28:35 where both, Moses and Aaron, are given the two signs – So (go armed) with Our signs; you two and your followers will come out victorious. Both, Moses and Aaron were given the prophecy in which the strength of their Truth was (like) a serpent; running about (20:20) and their message that shall come forth (shining) white (20:22).

Signs of Moses – a message, not sorcery

Another verse fully brings to light the nature of the signs that Moses took with him to Egypt:

28:32. `Insert your hand into your bosom, it will come forth flawless (sparkling) white and draw back your arm towards yourself (to compose yourself) when you encounter fear. So these (two signs) are two proofs from your Lord to (be presented before) Pharaoh and his courtiers. For surely they are lawless and disobedient people.

28:36. So when Moses came to them (- the people of Pharaoh) with Our clear signs they said, `This is but a forged and unprecedented fraud. We never heard  such a thing in the time of our forefathers.'[42][Emphasis added]

The key to comprehend the two signs of Moses i.e. the two proofs from your Lord (28:32), is reflected in the response of his audience, which is full amazement – We never heard such a thing in the time of our forefathers (28:36). Obviously, Moses presented to them something new that could only be heard and not seen, the serpent like writhing and vibrant logic and flawless arguments, simply put, Islam. The verse 28:36 is actually a commentary on the vision of Moses in which his staff is shown to him as a visible and vibrant serpent (v. 20:20) and his hand shining white (v. 20:22). We know that a vision is a personal experience and cannot be visually shared with others, except its import and message. That is exactly what Moses did in the above verse when he shared his message and the audience heard it.

Clearly, in the buildup so far, Moses is now a Sâhir, a 'Man of vast knowledge', whose dialogue had already cast its ‘spell’ on the people of Egypt (v. 28:36). With this in mind, let’s see how he goes on to address the Pharaoh next. Initially he presents his message of prophethood in plain words:

7:104. And Moses said, `O Pharaoh! truly, I am a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds;

7:105. `I stand upon it (-the prophethood), worthy to say nothing (in the name) of Allâh but the truth. I have indeed brought to you a clear proof (of my truthfulness) from your Lord, therefore let the Children of Israel go with me.'[43]

One has to bear in mind that Moses, a prophet, cannot say or present anything but the truth, which precludes any deception of an illusion.

SIDE NOTE: What Moses said – I have indeed brought to you a clear proof (of my truthfulness)(v 7:105), is the very basis of proof in Quran i.e. it is based upon reason. Prophet Muhammad stated the same for himself:

12:108. Say, `This is my path. I call to Allâh. I am on sure knowledge verifiable by reason and (so are) those who follow me…[44]

Continuing the earlier flow of verses about Moses, in response to the presentation of truth and clear proof by him, Pharaoh counters with:

7:106. (Pharaoh) said, `If you have indeed come with a sign, then bring it forth, if you are of the truthful.'[45]

In these verses, Pharaoh after hearing the claim of prophethood (v. 7:104-105) engages Moses into an elaborative discussion. So, Moses brings forth his arguments in light of his earlier prophecy (v. 20:20, 20:22) that manifested again to him as a déjà vu in presence of Pharaoh. His presentation of message had an equal effect on the beholders as well for its vibrancy, clarity and truth. For Moses, it was a plain unfolding of the prophecy given to him during his first revelation (v. 20:20, 20:22), as if he was walking through it once again:

7:107. So he (- Moses) flung down his staff, and behold! it was a serpent, plainly visible.

7:108. And he drew forth his hand then lo! it was shining white (-blemishless) for the beholders.[46]

The sign that Pharaoh is asking for are the words straight from God. Essentially he is asking for the ultimate proofs which were no more than Divine verses, because by its very definition the Divine verse is a sign and a miracle in itself:

17:101. And most certainly, We gave Moses nine clear signs. So ask the Children of Israel (about it). When he (- Moses) came to them, Pharaoh said to him, `Moses! I think you to be under a spell and a victim of deception.' [Emphasis added]

17:102. He said, `You know fully well that none other but the Lord of the heavens and the earth has revealed these signs as (means of) enlightenment. Surely, I believe you, O Pharaoh! to be doomed to perish.'[47]

SIDE NOTE: As to what were those nine clear signs that Children of Israel know to this day? They were none but the Nine (not ten) Commandments:

6:151. Say, `Come, I [-Moses, even Muhammad] will rehearse to you what your Lord has made binding on you; it is that [i] you shall associate not anything as partner with Him, and that [ii] you shall be good to parents, and that [iii] you waste not your children because of poverty. It is We Who make provisions for you as well for them too. (Allâh has also enjoined upon you that you)[iv]approach not indecencies, whether open or hidden, and that [v] 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).

6:152. And (He has enjoined you) that [vi] you do not approach the property of an orphan except in the fairest manner; until he attains his maturity, and [vii] give full measure and weight with equity. We charge no soul except to its capacity, and that [viii] when you speak (giving your verdict), observe justice even though the person concerned be a relative (of yours), and [ix] fulfill the covenant (you made) with Allâh. That is what He enjoins upon you so that you may take heed,

6:153. And (the Lord says,) `This is My exact right path, so follow it, and follow not (diverse) ways, lest they should deviate you away from His (straight) way.' That is what He enjoins you with, that you may guard against evil.[48]

To repeat, Moses presents his serpent like writhing and vibrant logic with clear and blemish free arguments, that Moses was foretold in verses 20:19-22 before:

7:107. So he (- Moses) flung down his staff, and behold! it was a serpent, plainly visible.

7:108. And he drew forth his hand then lo! it was shining white (-blemishless) for the beholders.[49]

SIDE NOTE: Quran does not dwell on super-natural to prove itself; rather it ridicules anyone who expects to prove the truth in Quran on such a fantasy, e.g.

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

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

6:111. Even if We should send down the angels to them, and the dead should speak to them, and even if We should bring all things together face to face (to them), they would not believe unless Allâh had (enforced) His will. The thing is that most of them persist in ignorance. [50]

Elsewhere, the interaction of Moses and Pharaoh is mentioned in following words:

51:38. And in (the case of) Moses (there is also a sign). (Remember the time) when We sent him to Pharaoh with a clear authoritative proof.

51:39. But he turned away (from Moses) in the pride of his power and said, `(He is) a sorcerer, or rather a madman.' [51]

It is a common human experience that a person may be called 'madman' only after hearing and talking to the person. It is the person's thought process and logic which determines the sanity. Whereas, an illusionist or magician, will be called for the lack of a better word, a 'smart-man', for his extraordinary feats. Factually, people will pay to see and be amused by such sorcery. Psychology of Pharaoh is obvious. Initially, he seems mesmerized by the arguments put forth by Moses and by his clear authoritative proof, but then goes into self-denial by rejecting the whole when he calls Moses – initially a sorcerer, but on a second thought rather a madman. Keep in mind that no madman is expected to do ‘magical’ tricks.

The response of Pharaoh's courtiers is in their initial awe of Moses, and then they reverse themselves by a frustrated and deflecting counter allegation to invoke the wrath of the government against him:

7:109. The chiefs of Pharaoh's people said (to each other), `This (fellow here) is most surely a skilled sorcerer,

7:110. `Who desires to turn you out from your land, now what do you advise?'[52]

SIDE NOTE: In another place, the courtiers who were benefitting from Pharaoh’s rule that was based upon his claimed status of godhead obviously felt threatened for losing their privileged status because of monotheistic ideas of Moses. Naturally, they instigated the Pharaoh:

7:127. Then the chiefs of the people of Pharaoh said (to Pharaoh), `Will you leave Moses and his people (free) to create disorder in the land and to desert you and your gods?' …[53]

20:63. They said, `Surely, these two (brothers, Moses and Aaron) are sorcerers who seek to drive you out of your country by dint of their sorcery and to do away with your ideal religious traditions. [54]

Similar arguments to invoke the might of the state to counter Jesus were put forth by his opponents as well:

5:110. …It was the time when you came to them with clear arguments, but those among them who disbelieved had said, "This is naught but a hoax cutting (us) off (from the nation)".'[55]

It is not even imaginable that the courtiers of builders of pyramids and cities were threatened by the illusion of a mere serpent, unless it was some fundamental doctrine that challenged the status quo of their exploitation of masses and their perks and their power structures under the god-ship of Pharaoh.

SIDE NOTE: Elsewhere in Quran, the same audiences attribute the convincing presentation of Moses as witchcraft:

27:13. But when Our eye-opening signs were shown to them (- Pharaoh and his people) they said, `This is plain witchcraft (to cause disruption among the people).'[56]

Similar to Pharaoh and his people calling the presentation of Moses as witchcraft, so did the opponents of Prophet Muhammad called Quran as magic:

74:24. And said, `This (Qur'ân) is nothing but an age long magic handed down (by tradition).[57]

And we know that despite Quran being called a magic, there is no recorded event of Prophet Muhammad practicing magic. Or, one must ask, is there something known as magic to begin with?

Analogous to Moses, so too was the divine revelation to Abraham enchanting for his people before, who like Pharaoh’s courtiers denied it (7:109-110, 27:13):

43:30. Yet no sooner did the lasting truth come to them than they said, `This is enchanting, but we are disbelievers in it altogether.' [58]

Paradoxically, despite alleging a prophet to be a sorcerer or the Divine revelation as witchcraft or magic, their rejection by opponents is based upon them attributing to the message of prophets its simplicity, rather than the complexities of beliefs already prevalent in them:

74:25. `This is nothing but mere words of a human being.' [59]

Is it not strange that while the disbelievers take the message of God as simple as mere words of a human beingwhereas, the ‘believers’ make it complex by attributing to it magical events, and a belief that the staff of Moses changed into an actual serpent, is just a case in point? It is ironic that believers create complexities in faith when there are none.

Counter strategy of Pharaoh – debaters vs. debater

To counter the challenge of monotheism posed by Moses, the Pharaoh’s council presented the following strategy:

7:111. (After their deliberations) they said (to Pharaoh), `Put him and his brother off a while and send to the cities heralds,

7:112. `Who would (collect and) bring to you every skilled sorcerer [to give Moses and Aaron a matching response for their arguments and their claim to prophethood].'[60]

SIDE NOTE: It sounds as a bizarre logic that after Moses had been adjudged to be a sorcerer by Pharaoh and his courtiers, what need was left to put him to a match with other sorcerers, because by its very definition a sorcerer is a fake. Seems absurd that Pharaoh expected truth to emerge from a fake vs. fake encounter, while in his own judgment Moses was a liar to begin with:

40:37. …I [– Pharaoh] consider him [– Moses] to be a liar…[61]

Irrespective of Moses winning or losing the 'sorcery' match, he still would have remained a fake to Pharaoh, unless the use of the word sorcery was linguistically different from practice of witchcraft. Rather, it meant the magical and mesmerizing impression of Moses's message on his audience in the same manner of that of Quran by Prophet Muhammad:

46:7. When Our clear Messages are recited to them, these disbelievers say with regard to the Truth when it comes to them, `This is an obvious sorcery.' [62]

As stated earlier, Moses did not challenge the Pharaoh for his rule. He challenged him on principles of monotheism. It was thus natural for Pharaoh to counter Moses in the same domain only. Essentially, Pharaoh's people gathered their scholars and theologians to rebut Moses. Interestingly, the summoned expected to be paid for their debate and were assured so by the Pharaoh. This alone points to the fact that it were the priests who were asked for their services, who in their normal course of daily livelihood were abettors of Pharaoh’s god-ship in their temples, for which they were on payroll of the state. If Moses was a military threat, the security apparatus would had been summoned, but since he was on only a theological challenge, hence priests were beckoned for a debate to prove their worth. Through common history we know that Pharaoh’s moral authority in the land was implemented through the network of temples and their priests, who in turn kept the general masses under the sway of Pharaoh as their god:

7:113. And the (most reputed) sorcerers came to Pharaoh. They said, `We shall indeed be richly rewarded if we be the prevailing ones?'

7:114. (Pharaoh) said, `Yes, and you shall also be even of those drawn near and close (to me).' [63]

‘Sorcerers’ vs. Sorcerer – strangely missing is the actual serpent, the cornerstone of the myth!

Finally the debate started. Note, there is no mention of serpent anymore in the public encounter with the ‘sorcerers’:

7:115. They said, `Moses! either you present (first what you have), or shall we be the (first) ones to present?'

7:116. (Moses) said, `You may present (first, what you have).' And when they presented (their devices) they cast a spell on the peoples' eyes and sought to strike awe into them and they came out with a mighty enchantment.[64]

SIDE NOTE: In another verse, it was ‘only’ Moses who perceived it as an enchantment, and there is no mention of the audience witnessing serpents:

20:66. (Moses) said, `Nay, you present first what you have.' (Accordingly they were the first to present. No sooner did they present them) lo! their cords and their staves, appeared to him [– Arabic: ilayhi] (- Moses) by their trickstery only as though they ran about. [65]

7:117. And We sent a revelation to Moses (saying), `Cast your staff (now).'[66]

d. to set down (the or one's) staff : to take up a fixed or settled position; to abide steadfastly by an opinion, decision, etc.; similarly to fix the staff (obs.). to set up (or †in) one's staff (of rest) : to settle down in a place, take up one's abode. Oxford English Dictionary.[67] [Emphasis added]

Essentially Moses took a settled position in the debate.

Then it [–the body of arguments of Moses] began to destroy (as he did it) all their lying show.

7:118. So was the truth established [by arguments, not by some ‘magical’ show] and all their efforts (to frustrate it) proved vain.

SIDE NOTE: `And Allâh will establish the truth by dint of His decrees even though the guilty may find (it) hard'(10:82), and not by any illusion.

7:119. Thus they (-Pharaoh and his people) were vanquished then and there, and they went back humiliated.[68]

‘Sorcerers’ vs. Sorcerer – the after game party, an analysis

Though Pharaoh and his Chiefs were humiliated, the debaters were humbled, convinced and converted to Islam:

7:120. And the sorcerer were impelled (by divine mercy) to fall down prostrate.

7:121. They (-the sorcerers) said, `We believe in the Lord of the Worlds;

7:122. `The Lord of Moses and Aaron.'[69]

SIDE NOTE: The transformed and submitting behavior of the debaters of Pharaoh is that of believers in a revelation, not sorcery:

17:107. Say, `You may believe in it (- the Qur'ân) or you may not believe, those who have been given the (spiritual) knowledge before it (- its revelation) fall down on their faces prostrating submissively (before their Lord) when it is recited to them.'

17:108. And they say, `Glory be to Our Lord! The promise of our Lord is really bound to be fulfilled.'

17:109. They fall down on their faces weeping and (as they listen to the divine words) it adds to their humility.[70]

Early Islamic history too is witness to similar transformative effect of Quran on the opponents of the prophet:

When the 53rd chapter, which ends with a commandment to prostrate oneself, was recited by the Holy Prophet in an assembly containing Muslims as well as idolaters, even the latter fell down in prostration, with the single exception of Umayya ibn Khalf, who raised some gravel to his forehead. When Abu Bakr recited the Qur'an aloud in the courtyard of his house, which was situated on a public way, the idolaters objected and sanctioned Abu Bakr's staying at Makka only on condition that he would not recite the Qur'an aloud, because, they said, women and children were carried away by it. On another occasion, when 'Utba ibn Rabi'a came to the Holy Prophet with a message from the Quraish that, if he desisted from speaking of their national gods, they were prepared to accept him as their chief and to offer what he desired, the Holy Prophet read out to him the opening verses of the 41st chapter. He was so impressed with the words and was such a changed man when he went back to the Quraish leaders and asked them not to oppose the Prophet, for what he had heard from him was neither poetry, nor magic, nor a soothsayer's utterance, that his friends had to tell him that he was under the magic spell of Muhammad. ‘Umar went out determined to put an end to the Prophet's life but, on listening to the first part of the 20th chapter, at his sister's house, his enmity gave place to devotion, and hatred was changed into admiration. The driving of the Qur'an was absolutely irresistible. It flowed as a torrent from the mountain-top and carried away everything with it.[71]

If one were to accept that Moses, a prophet, can make a serpent, then at least the non-Muslim sorcerers too did the same, albeit weak ones. Is eating up of one snake by another the basis to establish the truth of God? Fact is that Pharaoh and his chiefs took the force of Allah’s message itself as enchantment:

10:75. Then We sent after them Moses and Aaron with Our signs to Pharaoh and his chiefs, but they behaved arrogantly. And they were a people who had cut off their ties (with Allâh).

10:76. And when there came to them the truth from Us, they said, `This is, of course, enchantment creating dissension.'

10:77. Moses said, `Is that how you talk of the truth when it has come to you? Can this be an enchantment, whereas the enchanters never attain their goal?' [Emphasis added]

10:78. They said, `Have you come to us that you may turn us away from what we found our forefathers practising and to make sure that you two reign supreme in the land? But (remember) we will not believe in either of you at all.'

10:79. And Pharaoh said (to his people), `Bring every skilled sorcerer to me.'[72]

If Moses were to present a matching display of visual illusion to the ‘sorcerers’ then he had no moral right to call the ‘tricks’ of his opponents as ‘deception’ while he was indulging in one himself:

10:80. Now when the sorcerers came, Moses said to them, `Present whatever you have to present.'

10:81. Then, when they had presented (what they would present), Moses said, `What you have brought is a mere deception. Allâh will soon render it void (because) Allâh does not at all allow the machination of the mischief-makers to thrive.

10:82. `And Allâh will establish the truth by dint of His decrees even though the guilty may find (it) hard.'[73]

The debaters were so convinced by the writhing and vibrant logic and clear arguments of Moses that they believed in the signs of our Lord i.e. the Message by the Prophet, and they stayed firm even in face of torture and death threat by Pharaoh. They preferred dying as Muslims:

7:123. Pharaoh said, `Dared you believe in Him before I gave you permission? Surely, this is some secret device which you have devised in this (central) city that you may expel from it its inhabitants. You shall come to know then (the consequence of your doings) very soon.

7:124. `I will certainly have your hands and your feet cut off on alternate sides on account of (your) disobedience, then will I crucify you to death one and all making your death all the more painful.'

7:125. They, (however, remained firm and) said, `(Never mind) we have all to return to our Lord after all.

7:126. `And you find no fault in us but that we have believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us (and we pray to Him), "Our Lord! pour forth upon us patience and perseverance and grant that we die in a state of complete submission (to You)".'[74]

SIDE NOTE: Compare this transformation of sorcerers with their earlier state when they expected to be rewarded for their disbelief:

7:113. And the (most reputed) sorcerers came to Pharaoh. They said, `We shall indeed be richly rewarded if we be the prevailing ones?'[74a]

Pharaoh’s rage and the consequent steadfastness of former ‘sorcerers’, the new convertees of Moses, is also reflected in the unwavering resolve of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad that we find in early Islamic history as well:

The brunt of the oppression had to be borne by those not corning of some family of note among the Quraish and especially by the slaves, male as well as female. These were subjected to the most cruel tortures. Islamic teachings, however, possessed a charm too strong for all these afflictions. They would part with life itself rather than give up Islam, which had taken deep root in their hearts. Bilal the Abyssinian, was tortured in a most heartless manner by his master to make him renounce Islam. His oppressor made him lie flat on the burning ground in the scorching heat of the Arabian midday sun. Heavy slabs of stone were then placed on his chest. Notwithstanding such extremely painful torments he would loudly repeat, almost in a state of senselessness "Ahad" (One), i.e., there is but one God. Ammar’s father, Yasir, and his mother, Sumayyah, were persecuted in a most barbarous way. Yasir’s legs were tied to two camels and the beasts were driven in opposite directions. He was brutally torn to pieces. Sumayyah was killed in a similarly brutal but far more disgraceful manner. Lubainah was the hand-maid of 'Umar. The latter in his pre-conversion days used to beat her till he was tired. Then he would say: "I leave thee now not because I pity thee but because I am tired of beating thee."

Even converts of high birth were not spared. They were persecuted by their own kinsmen. 'Uthman came of a noble family and occupied a high social position. Yet his uncle tied him with a rope and gave him a severe beating. ‘Umar's treatment of his cousin and sister has already been described. Zubair was wrapped up in a matting and made to inhale smoke. Abu Bakar was not immune. They were, one and all, subjected to one form of cruelty or another; but no amount of suffering could drive the love of Islam out of their hearts. The Makkans themselves were struck with wonder at such steadfast adherence. But their fortitude only added fuel to the fire of their persecutors' rage, and the latter resorted to still more bitter persecutions.[75]

Interestingly, Pharaoh too like his sorcerers made a conversion attempt to Islam, but only before his imminent death, and with a difference:

10:90. And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his legion pursued them in wanton aggression and for no justified cause till when he (Pharaoh) was about to be drowned, he cried, `I (confess and) believe that there is no One worthy of worship but He in Whom the Children of Israel have believed in, and I am of those who submit (to Him).'

10:91. (The Lord) said, `What! (do you remember) now (while dying), whereas you had (always) disobeyed before (this), and you had been of the miscreants!

10:92. `So, on this day We will preserve you in your body (only) that you may be a sign (to learn a lesson from) for the coming generations, though most of the people are quite heedless of Our signs.'[76]

Rejection of Pharaoh’s conversion request is based upon the principle that conversion has to happen by being convinced of the arguments of faith and its logic, and not by outward witnessing a phenomenon, which in case of Pharaoh was his drowning along with his mighty army. This rejection of Pharaoh by God alone proves that the ‘sorcerers’ had a debate with Moses and were convinced of his arguments and they converted not by witnessing an alleged snake vs. snake encounter.

In sum total:  Unlike Bible, the purpose of Quran is not to repeat endless and pointless stories. Narratives from history in Quran serve only as repeatable examples of spiritual laws that ensure morality, justice and freedom of conscious. These laws are addressed to all humanity. While they are a source of admonition to the transgressors, they also act as a solace to their victims; hence accounts of Noah, Hud-Ad, Salih-Thamud, Abraham-Nimrod, Moses-Pharaoh, and others are dispersed though out the fabric of Quran and blended into its message with the only exception of Joseph who is mentioned once. In reference to the story of Moses which was revealed in various chapters of Quran while Prophet Muhammad was still in Makkah, we see similarities between the two and the fulfilling of its prophesized parallels for the latter. Prophet Muhammad too, like Moses, received his first prophetic revelation when he was separated from his family and he also could not immediately comprehend the prophecy in that revelation. Both were law givers. Both had to confront idol worshipers whose socio-economic order was based upon practice of a false creed and their Message was taken as a direct existential threat to the benefiters of that status quo. Prophet Muhammad, like Moses, was equally anxious about success of his mission and wellness of his people for which he is repeatedly comforted in the Book. He and his followers were persecuted at the hands of bureaucracy and prominent leaders of Makkah resulting in their exile, one and all. Like Exodus, Prophet Muhammad too left Makkah at night and his pursuer also gained on him in his flight but the pursuer was humiliated. When Moses was almost overtaken by Pharaoh’s army he famously uttered – my Lord is with me (v. 26:62) and so did Prophet Muhammad in Cave of Thaur when his pursuers were inches away with their swords drawn – Surely, Allâh is with us (v. 9:40). Similar to drowning of the Pharaoh, a moral saturation point was finally reached when opposition of Islam was won over. While some of the prominent leaders from the oppressors were killed because of their own aggression, the majority converted, one by one, in circumstances unique to each of them. Even before the Prophet entered Makkah as a conqueror but in a state of humility, almost all opposition to Islam had converged to the faith. Irrespective of their faith, the whole assembled town before him in Kaaba was forgiven. That event coincided for its timing when the sun was high in the sky during late month of Ramadan just before the Eid festival, with that of Moses who too had earlier confronted sorcerers and overcame them at the same hour[76a] :

20:59. (Moses) said, `The day of the festival will be the day of your appointment, and let the people be assembled when the sun is risen high.' [76b]

For a scholarly discussion about the prophecies of Moses foretelling Prophet Muhammad and also their mutual similarities as prophets, reader is referred to: “Muhammad in World Scriptures by Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi: Chapter 4 – Moses (links: 1, 2).”

With the above discussion in mind, one may read the narration in its entirety:

26:10. And (recall the time) when your Lord called to Moses (directing him ), `Go to the wrongdoing people,

26:11. `The people of Pharaoh (and say to them), "Will they not guard against evil?'"

26:12. (Moses) said, `My Lord! I am afraid they will cry me lies.

26:13. `And my bosom straitens, (and my heart fails me), and my tongue is not fluent (for feeling inadequate to deliver the message I am entrusted with), therefore send to Aaron (to help me).

26:14. `Moreover, they have a charge (of the murder of an Egyptian) against me, so I fear they will kill me (before I am able to deliver Your Message to them).'

26:15. (The Lord) said, `That shall not be, go then both of you, with Our Messages and We are assuredly with you listening (to your prayers).

26:16. `Go to Pharaoh both of you and say, "We are bearers of a Message from the Lord of the worlds.

26:17. "(Who commands you) to send the Children of Israel with us".'

26:18. (So when Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh) he said (to Moses), `Did we not bring you up among us when you were a mere babe? And you stayed with us many years of your life.

26:19. `And you have surely committed an act (of homicide), and you are of the ungrateful.'

26:20. (Moses) said, `Indeed I did it (then inadvertently and) as I was lost (for the love of my people and was in a perplexed state of mind).

26:21. `So I fled from you when I apprehended (injustice from) you; then (it came to pass that) my Lord granted me knowledge and (right) judgment and made me (one) of the Messengers.
 
26:22. `And this insignificant favour (of your bringing me up) that you (so tauntingly) remind me of (can be no reasonable excuse) for you have enslaved (the whole community of) the Children of Israel (for no fault of theirs).'
 
26:23. Pharaoh (was confounded and turning the topic of the conversation) said, `What is (this) Lord of the world (by whom you claim to be sent?)'
 
26:24. (Moses) said, `(In respect of apace) He is the Lord of the heavens and the earth and of all that lies between the two; if you (and your companions) be convinced (of this true knowledge and have faith in Him).'
 
26:25. (Thereupon Pharaoh) said to those around him, `Do you not hear (what is being said)?'
 
26:26. (Moses continued, `He is the same Who is) your Lord and the Lord of your fathers of yore.'
 
26:27. (Pharaoh) said, `Most surely, this Messenger of yours who has been sent to you is a mad man indeed.'
 
26:28. (Moses) said (continuing his speech), `(In respect of time the Lord of the worlds is the same as) the Lord of the east and of the west and of all that lies between the two. (You can be rightly guided) if you could only use your senses.'
 
26:29. (Pharaoh) said, `If you worship any god other than me, I will certainly make you one of the imprisoned.'
 
26:30. (Moses) said, `(Will you do this,) even though I bring to you something that makes (the truth of my statement) clear to you?'
 
26:31. (Pharaoh) said, `Bring it then, if you are of the truthful.'
 
26:32. So he put his staff (on the ground) and behold, it was a serpent plainly visible.
 
26:33. And he stuck his hand out and lo! it was (shining) white to the beholders.
 
26:34. (Pharaoh) said to the courtiers around him, `This (man) is surely a skilled sorcerer,
 
26:35. `Who seeks to turn you out of your country by dint of his sorcery. Now, what do you advise?'
 
26:36. They said, `Detain him and his brother for a while and send heralds into the cities to collect;
 
26:37. `And bring to you all skilled and very expert sorcerers.'
 
26:38. So the sorcerers were gathered together at the appointed time and place on a fixed day.
 
26:39. And it was said to the people, `Will you (also) assemble together (in the field of contest);
 
26:40. `So that we may follow the sorcerers if they win clear supremacy.'
 
26:41. So when all the sorcerers came they said to Pharaoh, `Shall we be really and richly rewarded if we gain clear supremacy?'
 
26:42. He said, `Yes, and surely you will in that case be among my close companions.'
 
26:43. Moses said to them, `(Now) put forward (of your things of sorcery), what you have to put forward.'
 
26:44. So they put down (on the ground) their ropes and their staffs and said, `By Pharaoh's honour and might it is we who will certainly be the winners.'
 
26:45. Then Moses put down (on the ground) his staff; lo! it instantly destroyed all that they had fabricated.
 
26:46. Thereupon the sorcerers were impelled to fall down prostrating;
 
26:47. And they said, `We believe in the Lord of the worlds;
 
26:48. `The Lord of Moses and Aaron.'
 
26:49. (Pharaoh) said, `Have you believed in him before I gave you leave? Indeed he is your chief, the same who taught you sorcery. So you will soon know (your horrible end). I will most surely cut off your hands and your feet on alternate sides for (your this) opposition (to me); and I will crucify you to death one and all.'
 
26:50. They said, `It does not matter at all. We have, after all, to return to our Lord.
 
26:51. `We do hope that our Lord will forgive us our offences, since we are the first to believe.'[77]
  

In another place, Quran repeats the same account:

 
20:41. `And I, (having made you perfect,) have chosen you for Myself.
 
20:42. `Go you and your brother (Aaron) with My Messages and do not be remiss in remembering Me.
 
20:43. `Go to Pharaoh, both of you, for he has transgressed all limits.
 
20:44. `But speak to him a gentle speech, maybe he pays heed and fears (the consequences).'
 
20:45. Both (Moses and Aaron) said, `Our Lord! we fear lest he (- Pharaoh) should hasten to do us some harm or exceed all limits in transgression (against You).'
 
20:46. (The Lord) said, `Have no fear. I am with you both. I hear (prayers) and I see (your condition).
 
20:47. `So go to him (- Pharaoh), both of you, and say, "We are the Messengers of your Lord, so let the Children of Israel go with us and do not torture them. We have come to you with a Message from your Lord. Peace will be upon him who follows the guidance.
 
20:48. "It has been revealed to us that the punishment comes upon him who cries lies to (His Messages) and turns away".'
 
20:49. (When they had delivered the Message of God, Pharaoh) said, `Moses! who, then, is the Lord of you two, (in whose kingdom you want to settle down)?'
 
20:50. (Moses) said, `Our Lord is He Who gives every creation its (proper) form and character and then guides them along the path (of evolution in order to attain perfection and to do proper functions).'
 
20:51. (Pharaoh) said, `What will be the fate of the former generations (who did not believe in these things)?'
 
20:52. (Moses) said, `The knowledge of that is with my Lord (recorded) in a book. My Lord neither errs nor forgets.
 
20:53. `It is He Who made the earth a bed for you and has threaded it with pathways for you. He sends down rain from the clouds. We bring forth by means of this (water) pairs of vegetation of diverse kinds.
 
20:54. `(So that you may) eat it and pasture your cattle (upon it). Verily, in all this there are signs for the people possessing sound reason.'
 
20:55. We have created you from this (universe) and into this We will make you return and from this We will raise you to life a second time.
 
20:56. And We showed him (- Pharaoh) all sorts of Our signs, but (even then) he went on denying (them) and refused (to believe).
 
20:57. He said, `Moses! have you come to us to turn us out of our country on the basis of your sorcery?
 
20:58. `But we (too) shall certainly meet you with a matching sorcery. Make an appointment of time and place between us, which (appointment) neither we nor you shall fail to keep, (let the meeting be) at a place fair (for us both).'
 
20:59. (Moses) said, `The day of the festival will be the day of your appointment, and let the people be assembled when the sun is risen high.'
 
20:60. Pharaoh then withdrew and concerted his plan then came (at the appointed time and place for the contest).
 
20:61. Moses said to them, `Woe to you, forge no lies in the name of Allâh or He shall destroy you utterly by some calamity and surely he who forges a lie in the name of Allâh has ever been unsuccessful.'
 
20:62. Upon this they (- Pharaoh and his courtiers) began arguing their affair among themselves, and kept (their) discourse secret.
 
20:63. They said, `Surely, these two (brothers, Moses and Aaron) are sorcerers who seek to drive you out of your country by dint of their sorcery and to do away with your ideal religious traditions.
 
20:64. `Therefore you had better consolidate your resources, then come forward arrayed in a body and indeed he alone who gains the upper hand (and wins) shall be successful today.'
 
20:65. (The sorcerers) said, `Moses! either you present (first what you have) or we shall be the first to present (what we have).'
 
20:66. (Moses) said, `Nay, you present first what you have.' (Accordingly they were the first to present. No sooner did they present them) lo! their cords and their staves, appeared to him (- Moses)[Arabic: ilayhi]by their trickstery only as though they ran about.
 
20:67. So Moses felt afraid in his mind (lest the people be misled by their glittering tricks).
 
20:68. We said (to him), `Have no fear. Surely, it is you who shall be the uppermost.
 
20:69. `Now, cast down (on the ground) that (staff) which you have in your right hand. It will destroy all their artifices, for all they have wrought is nothing more than a device of a sorcerer, and the beguiler shall never succeed whichever way he may choose (to beguile).'
 
20:70. Then (it so happened that) the sorcerers were instantly made to fall down prostrate. They said, `We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses.'
 
20:71. Pharaoh said, `Dared you believe in him (- Moses) before I gave you permission? He (- Moses) must be your chief who has taught you sorcery. I will certainly cut off your hands and feet on alternate sides (by way of punishment) because of (your) disobedience. I will surely crucify you to death on the trunks of palm-trees and you shall, of a certainty, come to know which of us can inflict a more severe and more abiding punishment.'
 
20:72. They (- the sorcerers) said, `We will certainly never prefer you to the clear proofs and signs that have come to us, nor to Him Who originated us. You may decide what you like to decide. You can only decree concerning this present life and put an end to it (this our life).

20:73. `We have surely believed in our Lord that He may protect us against our faults and (particularly forgive us) the sorcery which you did constrain us (to practise). Allâh is the Best and Ever Abiding.'[78]
 


 [1] Staff in Arabic Language: The term which has become a source of legends is the Arabic word ‘Asâ, that means – Staff; Nation; Mastery; People; Party; Tongue; Stick; Rod; Supports.

‘Asâa – To strike with a stick. ‘Asiya/Ya‘sa: To take a stick, come together; Collection; Accumulation; Amazing; Gathering; Assemblage; Congregation. Staff is called Asâ as the fingers of a hand come together and are collected and united on its handle. ‘Asâ: Staff; Stick; Rod; Supports; Nation; People; Party; Tongue; Skin; Bone. ‘Asâutu al-Qauma: I gathered the nation. Shaq al-‘Asâ: Divergence; Dissension; Disagreement of the nation or organisation. It is said, Khawârij shaqqû ‘Asâ al-Muslimîn: The Khawârij split the concord, harmony and unity of Islamic nation. Idzrib bi Asâka al-Hajer: Strike with your staff on the rock; Go forth with your people. (L; T; R; LL; Zamkhsharî) – Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.376.

Staff in English Language: The meaning of Asa in Arabic is no different from the sense of Staff in English dictionaries – stick, rod, symbol of office or authority, people, teachers, something that supports or sustains.

7.A rod or wand, of wood or ivory, borne as an ensign of office or authority; spec. as the badge of certain chief officers of the Crown. Usage in history: “1813   King George IV in Duke of Wellington Dispatches (1838) X. 552   You have sent me the Staff of a French Marshal, and I send you in return that of England.” [Oxford English Dictionary]. Link: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/188624?rskey=7iukvR&result=1#eid

[2] Arabic terms mistaken for sorcery in Quran

Sâhir/plu. Sâhirûn/Sâharâ, which means – Wizards; Fraud; Deluder; Man of vast knowledge.
Âyatun which means – Sign; Apparent sign; Mark; Indication; Message; Evidence; Proof, Miracle; Communication; Verse of the Holy Qur’ân (as each of which is a miracle); Previous revelation; Monument; Lofty building that should acquire renown as a sign of greatness. It properly signifies any apparent thing inseparable from a thing not equally apparent so that when one perceives the former, he perceives the other which he cannot perceive by itself, e.g."The party came out with their whole company." – Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 38. [Emphasis added]

[3] Footnote: b (108) to verse 7:108: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[4] Al-Qasas – The Narrative: Nooruddin
[4a] Al-Naba'– The Important Announcement: Nooruddin
[5] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin. 20:49-57. (When they had delivered the Message of God, Pharaoh) said, `Moses! who, then, is the Lord of you two, (in whose kingdom you want to settle down)?' (Moses) said, `Our Lord is He Who gives every creation its (proper) form and character and then guides them along the path (of evolution in order to attain perfection and to do proper functions).' (Pharaoh) said, `What will be the fate of the former generations (who did not believe in these things)?' (Moses) said, `The knowledge of that is with my Lord (recorded) in a book. My Lord neither errs nor forgets. `It is He Who made the earth a bed for you and has threaded it with pathways for you. He sends down rain from the clouds. We bring forth by means of this (water) pairs of vegetation of diverse kinds. ` (So that you may) eat it and pasture your cattle (upon it). Verily, in all this there are signs for the people possessing sound reason.' We have created you from this (universe) and into this We will make you return and from this We will raise you to life a second time. And We showed him (- Pharaoh) all sorts of Our signs, but (even then) he went on denying (them) and refused (to believe). He said, `Moses! have you come to us to turn us out of our country on the basis of your sorcery?
[6] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin. 2:258. Have you not considered (the case of) him (- Nimrod, the then ruler of Babylon) who controversed with Abraham concerning his Lord, because Allâh had given him kingdom? When Abraham said, `My Lord is He Who fertilises (the earth) and causes desolation.' He (- Nimrod) replied, `I do bring about fertility and cause desolation.' Abraham said, `Allâh surely makes the sun rise from the east, so you should make it rise from the west.' Thereupon the one who had rejected the faith (- Nimrod) was completely confounded. Indeed, Allâh does not guide the unjust people.
[7] Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
[8] Jonah – Yunus: Nooruddin
[9] This section is re-quoted from another chapter. Link: http://ahmadiyya.org/WordPress/2014/11/26/section-ii-myths/

[10] “Promised Messiah and Mahdi” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, p. 36, translated into English by S. Muhammad Tufail M.A., Ahmadiyyah Anjuman Ishaat Islam, Lahore (W. Pakistan), Third Edition, pub: 1959.
[11] Al-Shura – The Counsel: Nooruddin
[12] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[13] ibid
[14] 
ibid
[15] ibid
[16] The Ouroboros ~ A Personal Symbology, 2003. http://www.literate-lemur.com/ouroboros/
[17] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[18] Al-Qasas – The Narrative: Nooruddin
[19] Muhammad the Prophet by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter X: The Prophet’s Sublime Morals, p. 167. Seventh edition, 1993.
[20] Al-Qasas – The Narrative: Nooruddin
[21] Explanation of the term Tuwa in verse 79:16 by Basharat Ahmad in his English Commentary of the Holy Quran: Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/books/others/basharatahmad/anwaarulquran/anwaarulquran.shtml
[22] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[23] Manual of Hadith by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter: How Divine Revelation came to the Holy Prophet (Hadith – Tradition). Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/had/manhad/ch1had.shtml

[24] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[25] Manual of Hadith by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter: How Divine Revelation came to the Holy Prophet (Hadith – Tradition). Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/had/manhad/ch1had.shtml

[26] `Al Imran –Family of Amran: Nooruddin
[27]
ibid
[28] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[29] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p. 628.
[30] Al-Dariyat – The Scatterers: Nooruddin
[31] Al-Nahl – The Bee: Nooruddin
[32] Explanation of the said verse by Nooruddin in his lectures published as “Haqaiqul Furqan”. Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=317&region=H3&CR=
[36] Manual of Hadith by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter: How Divine Revelation came to the Holy Prophet (Hadith – Tradition). Link: http://www.aaiil.org/text/had/manhad/ch1had.shtml

[37] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[38]
ibid
[39] ibid
[40] ibid
[41] Al-Qasas – The Narrative: Nooruddin
[42]
ibid
[43] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[44] Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
[45] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[46]
ibid
[47] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[48] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[49] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[50] Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
[51] Al-Dariyat – The Scatterers: Nooruddin
[52] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[53]
ibid
[54] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[55] Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
[56] Al-Naml – The Tribe of Naml: Nooruddin
[57] Al-Muddaththir – One Endowed With Excellent Capabilities: Nooruddin
[58] Al-Zukhruf – The Ornaments: Nooruddin
[59] Al-Muddaththir – One Endowed With Excellent Capabilities: Nooruddin
[60] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[61] Ghafir – Granter of Protection: Nooruddin
[62] Al-Ahqaf – The Sand Dunes: Nooruddin
[63] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[64]
ibid
[65] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[66] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[67] Link: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/188624?rskey=7iukvR&result=1#eid

[68] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[69]
ibid
[70] Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
[71] Introduction to Study of The Holy Quran by Maulana Muhammad Ali. Chapter 1, Section: Miraculous Nature, p. 32-33.
[72] Jonah – Yunus: Nooruddin
[73]
ibid
[74] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[74a] ibid
[75] Muhammad the Prophet by Maulana Muhammad Ali, Chapter IV: The Stormy Opposition, p. 50-51. Seventh edition, 1993.
[76] Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin

[76a] Explanation of the verse 20:29 by Nooruddin in his lectures published as “Haqaiqul Furqan”. Link:
[76b] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[77] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[78] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin

Staff of Solomon – a Throne, not a Termitarium

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

Staff of Solomon – a Throne, not a Termitarium[1]

Overtime, myths and nonsensical accounts creep into the folklore of religions that sooner or later find their way into their respective Scriptures as well. Quran has a distinct feature that it is incorruptible, both, for its written text and its Message – Verily, it was We, We Ourself Who have revealed this Reminder (- the Qur'an); and it is We Who are, most certainly, its Guardian (15:9).[2] However, that did not prevent leaching of the hearsay into superficial interpretations of the Quran and a kaleidoscope of fairy tales is attributed to it. When Quran is read for its simplicity and for what Quran tells its reader, rather than what is read into Quran from extraneous sources, the myths ascribed to it naturally evaporate. This chapter will clear some of the myths attributed to staff of Solomon that Quran mentions for totally different reasons.

Staff in Arabic Language

The term which has become a source of legends is the Arabic word ‘Asâ, that means – Staff; Nation; Mastery; People; Party; Tongue; Stick; Rod; Supports.

‘Asâa – To strike with a stick. ‘Asiya/Ya‘sa: To take a stick, come together; Collection; Accumulation; Amazing; Gathering; Assemblage; Congregation. Staff is called Asâ as the fingers of a hand come together and are collected and united on its handle. ‘Asâ: Staff; Stick; Rod; Supports; Nation; People; Party; Tongue; Skin; Bone. ‘Asâutu al-Qauma: I gathered the nation. Shaq al-‘Asâ: Divergence; Dissension; Disagreement of the nation or organisation. It is said, Khawârij shaqqû ‘Asâ al-Muslimîn: The Khawârij split the concord, harmony and unity of Islamic nation. Idzrib bi Asâka al-Hajer: Strike with your staff on the rock; Go forth with your people. (L; T; R; LL; Zamkhsharî)[3]

Staff in English Language

The meaning of Asa in Arabic is no different from the sense of Staff in English dictionaries – stick, rod, symbol of office or authority, people, teachers, something that supports or sustains.

7. A rod or wand, of wood or ivory, borne as an ensign of office or authority; spec. as the badge of certain chief officers of the Crown. Usage in history: “1813   King George IV in Duke of Wellington Dispatches (1838) X. 552   You have sent me the Staff of a French Marshal, and I send you in return that of England.”[Oxford English Dictionary][4]

Myth of Solomon’s Staff – terminative of a righteous rule instead of mere food for termites

“Solomon died at the age of fifty-three, having reigned forty years. As the building of the Temple was not finished at his death and he was afraid that the jinn would not continue to work thereon if he were not there to command them, the angel of death took his soul while he was leaning upon his staff, praying. His body remained in that position a year, until the jinn had finished the Temple, when a worm that had been gnawing at the staff caused it to crumble to pieces; Solomon's body fell, and the jinn discovered that he was dead. It is said that Solomon collected the books of magic that were scattered throughout his realm, and locked them in a box, which he put under his throne to prevent their being used. After his death the jinn, so as to make people believe that Solomon had been a sorcerer, declared that these books had been used by him; many believed the statement to be true, but the accusation was a malicious falsehood.”[5]

The legend of Solomon’s death is misattributed to the following verse:

34:14. Then, when We decreed (Solomon's) death, nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth [– Arabic: Dâbbatul ardz], which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff [– Arabic: ‘minsa`ah’, form of ‘asa’]: so when he fell down, the Jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task).[6]

This legend goes against the very spirit of Quran and Islam. Solomon was a Muslim and that too a prophet. Neither was he a tyrant nor a slave master. Neither are there any supernatural entities, the genies of Arabian Nights in this world, nor is there any magic that can be found outside Disneyland and neither do they have any place in the leaves of Quran. The Jinn of Quran and magic alleged to Solomon will be dealt in separate chapters. It is an ignominious death of anyone in which a body is laying around for a year, instead of it given immediate attention and a burial. One wonders that Solomon, the king, is missing from his government and nobody even asks as to where he is. Countless scathing questions can be raised, but a myth cannot be further dignified by any more queries. We will stick to the purpose of this chapter to clarify the message of the Quran.

Staff of Solomon – for what it stands in Quran

In Quran, the staff of Solomon stands for his authority as a king, his administration and his nation that was united under him. The staff in terms of its statesmanship, grandeur, technological advancement and the prosperity that it provided for all and sundry, including the employment of even the otherwise rebellious tribes under its domain is mentioned in Quran as follows:

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 [–the start of Iron age in Israelites, that Solomon’s father, David, earlier borrowed from Hittites of modern day Turkey].

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).

SIDE NOTE: 14: 33. And He has made subservient to you the sun and the moon, both moving constantly (according to some fixed laws), and He has made subservient to you the night and the day.[7]

Similar to modern day harnessing of sun by solar technologies, subservience of the moon by lunar landings and the night by electricity, Solomon probably invented new sailing techniques, maybe the triangular sail and the keel, together which can vector the wind by which the ships could go upwind.[8]

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) [similar to modern day imported skilled labor] 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 [–including Solomon’s temple with its modern day ruins around Masjid Aqsa in Jerusalem] and plans and basins (as large) as the tanks [for city water supply] and large and heavy cooking pots well-set (on their trivets due to their large size) [to cater to his large army units and possibly community kitchens]. (And We said,) `Act gratefully, O people of David.' Yet few are My people who are (really) grateful. [9]

The above set of verses give the basis of Asa or Staff of Solomon i.e. his power, authority and the prosperity of his kingdom in which trade, construction; sailing and metallurgical technologies had prospered. His rule had become a source of peace and employment for diverse people, even the eternal enemies of the Jews, the Amalekites addressed as Jinn in Quran.

Staff of Solomon – for what it fell

Despite all prosperity, Solomon had another staff (–administration, people), his inept son and the circle of peers that his son was surrounded by. Perceiving his son to be incompetent, devoid of spiritual and moral values, Solomon prayed against him. The tenet of no virtue in inheritance without the merit of righteousness in Islam is also contained in the prayer of Solomon that excluded his incompetent successors – Jeroboam[10] and his son Rehoboam[11], a flagrant philanderer:

38:34. Behold! We tried Solomon (too) and We placed on his throne (of kingdom) [in his lifetime or in a vision about the future] a (mere) body (without any spirit or faith) [–his son Rehoboam and/or Jeroboam]. Then he turned (to God seeking His mercy).

38:35. He [–Solomon] said (praying), `My Lord! grant me protection and bestow on me a [spiritual] kingdom that belongs to none (by inheritance) after me [in Israelites]. You indeed are the Great Bestower.'[12]

The prayer of Solomon was thus realized – The previous verse [38:34] speaks of the imbecile heir-apparent to Solomon’s throne. Hence we find Solomon praying here [38:35] for a spiritual kingdom, for that is the only kingdom which is not in danger of being spoiled by an heir. The glory of Solomon’s temporal kingdom was not maintained after his death; nor has a king like Solomon appeared in Israel. By anyone after me is meant anyone in Israel, not the whole world.[13]

A king, like any head of an organization, has to rely and lean on his staff. The staff of a king signifies both, the symbols of his authority – his throne, and the people in his administration. Similarly for a prophet, there are companions, spiritually and morally clean, who not only support the prophet during his lifetime, but after his death continue with his mission. If the latter is weak, it will eat away at the former. That’s what happened in the case of Solomon, where his son, Rehoboam who was morally void, ate away at Solomon’s staff of authority, his kingdom and his mission of prophethood. Solomon’s death and decay of his rule, either near the end of his life when he might had let Rehoboam on the throne or he ascended to the throne after his father’s death, is described in the verse quoted earlier and repeated below from a different translation:

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 [–Arabic: Dâbbatul ardz] (- Solomon's son) that was eating away his (father's) staff ( ruling power and glory). So when it fell down the jinn 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.[14]

The context of the stated verse can be found in Old Testament. The rebellion under Jeroboam took hold soon after death of Solomon. Immediately in his succession, the Northern ten tribes of Israel split away from Judah, thus dismembering the kingdom of Solomon. His son, Rehoboam, an incompetent and materialistic ruler, was left only with the tribe of Judah in his domain. He was under sway of opportunistic advisers, who like many others in history have been a source of ill policies and downfall of kingdoms.[15] He, on the advice of his cronies, will be remembered for his arrogant words with which he addressed his people, who had gathered to listen to him and were asking for reprieve from taxes:

1 Kings 12: 1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

5 Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.

6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked. 7 They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.

16 When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.

18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.[16] [Emphasis added]

The attitude and remarks of Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12:13 are a reflective meaning of the phrase Dâbbatul ardz, which Quran uses for him:

Dâbbatul ardz: Creature of earth; Insect of earth; Materialistic person whose endeavors are wholly directed to the acquisition of worldly riches and material comforts and who has fallen on the pleasures of this world with all his might and main.[17]

The reference in the creature of the earth that ate away his staff [v. 34:14] is to his son’s weak rule, under whom the kingdom of Solomon went to pieces. It appears that Solomon’s successor, Rehoboam, led a life of luxury and ease, and instead of acting on the advice of the older men, he yielded to the pleasure seeking wishes of his companions (1 Kings 12:13), and it is to his luxurious habits and easy mode of life that the Quran refers when it calls him a creature of the earth. The eating away of his staff signifies the disruption of the kingdom. The jinn, as already remarked, mean the rebellious tribes who had been reduced to subjection by Solomon, and who remained in subjection to the Israelites for a time, until the kingdom was shattered. This instance, as well as the one following, contains a warning for the Muslims as to the result of falling into luxury and ease, by which, however, they benefited little; the ultimate fate of the respective kingdoms of the Umayyads and Abbasides was the same as that of Solomon’s kingdom.[18]

The dissipating end of Solomon’s son and his kingdom is no different than that of Noah’s son who too perished before his father’s eyes:

11:45. And Noah called to his Lord and said , `My Lord! my son belongs to my family and surely Your promise is (also) true; yet You are the Most Just of the judges’.

11:46. (The Lord) said, `He decidedly does not belong to your family as he is given to unrighteous conduct, so do not ask of Me that of which you have no knowledge. I advise you not to be of those wanting in knowledge.'[19]

In conclusion, shortly after death of Solomon his staff crumbled because of Dâbbatul ardzthe creature of earth (v. 34:14), Rehoboam, his son, in the manner that Old Testament testifies to. His kingdom fragmented and his nation became disunited to the extent that the legacy of House of David has tarnished in history for Israelites – “So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day (1 Kings 12:19).”


[1] Termitarium – a termites’ nest. Link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/termitarium
[2] Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
[3] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.376.
[4] Link: http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/188624?rskey=7iukvR&result=1#eid
[5] From Arabic Literature: Death of Solomon – Jewish Encyclopedia – References quoted: Bibliography: Bokhari, Recueil des Traditions Mahometanes, ed. Krehl, Leyden, 1864; commentaries on the Koran (Baidawi and Zamakhshari); D'Herbelot, in Bibliothèque Orientale, v. 367-375; M. Grünbaum, Neue Beiträge zur Semitischen Sagenkunde, pp. 189-240, Leyden, 1893 (cites Arabic authors); Hughes, Dictionary of Islam; Koran, suras xxi. 81, 82; xxvii. 15-45; xxxiv. 11-13; xxxviii. 29-30; Ṭabari, Annales, ed. De Goeje, i. 572-597 (see also Index); Weil, Biblical Legends of the Mussulmans, pp. 200-248. Link: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13842-solomon
[6] Saba – Sheba: Yusuf Ali
[7] Ibrahim – Abraham: Nooruddin
[8] PhysLink.com. Link: http://www.physlink.com/Education/AskExperts/ae438.cfm
[9] Saba – Sheba: Nooruddin
[10] Wikipedia: Jeroboam. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeroboam
[11] Wikipedia: Rehoboam. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rehoboam
[12] Sad – The Truthful God: Nooruddin
[13] Footnote to verses 38:34-35 – c (35), Sad – Sad: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[14] Saba – Sheba: Nooruddin
[15] Explanation of the verse 34:14 by Nooruddin in his lectures published as “Haqaiqul Furqan”. Link: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=431&region=H3
[16] Bible Gateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Kings%2012&version=NIV
[17] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.172.
[18] Footnote to stated verse 34:14 – e (14), Saba – Sheba: Muhammad Ali – Zahid Aziz
[19] Hud – Hud: Nooruddin

Staff of Moses – a Mere Walking Stick for Skirting, not Parting the Sea; Prospecting the Mountain for Water & Manna, a bonus (II)

Monday, December 29th, 2014
Staff of Moses – a Mere Walking Stick for Skirting, not Parting the Sea; Prospecting the Mountain for Water & Manna, a bonus (Part II)


Besides changing the staff of Moses into a serpent, which is discussed in a separate chapter, there are two more incidences attributed to the same staff in Quran, the alleged parting of the sea and Moses making water flow from the rocks by parting the mountain, both by striking his staff in an apparent wizardry. We deal with each of them separately below.

As discussed repeatedly throughout this book, Quran is not a book of history but always in step with history. If there were neither wizards nor their magical wands in history, none will be found in Quran either. If no staff today can part a  sea or a mountain, neither would it be so in history, nor in Quran.

The mention of Moses, Aaron, Israelites and Pharaoh and his entourage including Haman and Korah in Quran is not to recount a script for a Hollywood movie for an edge of the seat thriller but to bring out a working example from history of rescue of the helpless and destruction of  tyranny in a manner that the outcome of which against all odds is none short of a miracle. Truth must triumph else truth will lose credibility.

 

Before we tackle the event of Pharaoh and his army drowning from an unrecorded history it might be even more interesting to recount the recent recorded history in which Napoleon and his army had almost similar experience in the same Red Sea and that too out of a natural phenomenon, though equally unexpected for them as well. Excerpted below are various accounts of near drowning of Napoleon and his entourage in Red Sea with the sections relevant to our discussion underlined:

 

EXCURSION TO THE RED SEA: Napoleon, in person, made an expedition to Suez, to inspect the proposed route of a canal to connect the waters of the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. With indefatigable activity of mind, he gave orders for the construction of new works to fortify the harbor of Suez, and commenced the formation of an infant marine. One day, with quite a retinue, he made an excursion to that identical point of the Red Sea which, as tradition reports, the children of Israel crossed three thousand years ago. The tide was out, and he passed over to the Asiatic shore upon extended flats. Various objects of interest engrossed his attention until late in the afternoon, when he commenced his return. The twilight faded away, and darkness came rapidly on. The party lost their path, and, as they were wandering, bewildered, among the sands, the rapidly returning tide surrounded them. The darkness of the night increased, and the horses floundered deeper and deeper in the rising waves. The water reached the girths of the saddles, and dashed upon the feet of the riders, and destruction seemed inevitable. From this perilous position, Napoleon extricated himself by that presence of mind and promptness of decision which seemed never to fail him. It was an awful hour and an awful scene; and yet, amid the darkness and the rising waves of apparently a shoreless ocean, the spirit of Napoleon was as unperturbed as if he were reposing in slippered ease upon his sofa. He collected his escort around him in concentric circles, each horseman facing outward, and ranged in several rows. He then ordered them to advance, each in a straight line. When the horse of the leader of one of these columns lost his foothold, and began to swim, the column drew back, and followed in the direction of another column which had not yet lost the firm ground. The radii, thrown out in every direction, were in this way successively withdrawn, till all were following in the direction of one column which had a stable footing. Thus escape was effected. The horses did not reach the shore until midnight, when they were wading breast-deep in the swelling waves. The tide rises on that part of the coast to the height of twenty-two feet. "Had I perished in that manner, like Pharaoh," said Napoleon, "it would have furnished all the preachers in Christendom with a magnificent text against me." [HISTORY OF NEPOLEAN BONEPART by John C. Abbot, Volume I, Chapter X II, THE SYRIAN EXPEDITION, p 204-205, Copyright, 1883, by Susan Abbot Mead.][1]

BUONAPARTE AT SUEZ: As yet, however, there was no appearance of an enemy; and Napoleon seized the opportunity to explore the Isthmus of Suez, where a narrow neck of land divides the Red Sea from the Mediterranean, partly with the view of restoring the communication which in remote times existed between them, and partly of providing for the defence of Egypt, should the Ottomans attempt their invasion by the way of Syria. He visited the Maronite monks of Mount Sinai, and, as Mahomet had done before him, affixed his name to their charter of privileges; he examined also the fountain of Moses: and nearly lost his life in exploring, during low water, the sands of the Red Sea, where Pharaoh is supposed to have perished in the pursuit of the Hebrews. "The night overtook us," says Savary in his Memoirs, "the waters began to rise around us, the guard in advance exclaimed that their horses were swimming. Buonaparte saved us all by one of those simple expedients which occur to an imperturbable mind. Placing himself in the centre, he bade all the rest form a circle round him, and then ride out each man in a separate direction, and each to halt as soon as he found his horse swimming. The man whose horse continued to march the last, was sure, he said, to be in the right direction; him accordingly we all followed, and reached Suez at two in the morning in safety, though so rapidly had the tide advanced, that the water was at the poitrels of our horses ere we made the land." On his return to Cairo, the General despatched a trusty messenger into India, inviting Tippoo Saib to inform him exactly of the condition of the English army in that region, and signifying that Egypt was only the first post in a march destined to surpass that of Alexander! "He spent whole days," writes his secretary, "in lying flat on the ground stretched upon maps of Asia." [THE HISTORY OF NAPOLEON BUONAPARTE by JOHN GIBSON LOCKHART, CHAPTER XII, p. 99. First issue of this edition: February 1906, Reprinted: April 1906; May 1907; July 1909; November 1910; November 1912; March 1915][2]

EGYPT: Then, journeying on, he [–Napoleon] visited the fountains of Moses; but it is not true that (as stated by Lanfrey) he proceeded to Mount Sinai and signed his name in the register of the monastery side by side with that of Mahomet. On his return to the isthmus he is said to have narrowly escaped from the rising tide of the Red Sea. If we may credit Savary, who was not of the party, its safety was due to the address of the commander, who, as darkness fell on the bewildered band, arranged his horsemen in files, until the higher causeway of the path was again discovered. [The Life of Napoleon I (Volume 1 of 2) by John Holland Rose, CHAPTER VIII, EGYPT][3]

FOUNTAINS OF MOSES – BONAPARTE IN THE RED SEA: On the morning of the 28th we passed the Red Sea dry footed, on our way to the Fountains of Moses, which are upwards of six miles from the eastern shore, and a little south-east of Suez. The Arabic Gulf terminates three and a quarter miles to the north of that city. Opposite the port, the Red Sea is not more than two and three quarter miles broad. It is always fordable at low water. The caravans of Tor and Mount Sinai cross here, both in going to, and returning from, Egypt. This shortens the road between six and seven miles [footnote: From time immemorial this part has been denoted by an Arabic name, signifying The Passage. The metres of the original I have reduced to English miles." Translator]. The tide rises from five to six, or, when the wind blows with force, from nine to ten, feet. We passed some hours at the fountain of the lawgiver, seated on the margin of the most considerable spring, which is transparent, constantly flowing and renewed, and having no very disagreeable odour. Here we made our coffee, which, however, was rendered scarcely drinkable from the bitterness of the water.

On our return, we struck off to the left, in order to visit a large reservoir, constructed, it is said, by the Venetians, when in possession of the commerce of the East. In descending again to the coast, Bonaparte was the first to discover a canal, from three to four hundred paces in length, constructed in good masonry, and capable of being easily repaired. The night had now fallen dark when we reached the seashore. The tide was flowing and pretty high; we wandered a little from the track followed in the morning, through the guide either deceiving us, or losing his way, and attempted the passage too far down. Disorder soon arose in our little troop, we were not lost in the quick sands, as has been said, "there being none. We could not see our companions, but we shouted and called to each other. General Caffarelli, near whom I chanced to be in this confusion, incurred some danger from his wooden leg, which prevented his keeping a firm seat in the saddle, while thus surrounded by the waves. We struggled to his assistance, supporting-him on each side. I have read, but certainly did not see, nor hear at the time, that the flowing tide would have become the grave of Bonaparte, had not a guide of his escort saved and brought him off on his shoulders. In the circumstances, the thing was impossible, or all who had not men to carry them, the danger being equal, would have perished; but there was no one lost. The guide must have got into the water up to his chin; how could a man be so safe on his back, as in the saddle of a charger? Besides, his horse and that of the General, left to themselves in the darkness, would have still more endangered the safety, and increased the confusion of the whole party, and we should thus, to our experience, have been informed of the General's situation. This incident is pure invention. The relation which Bonaparte has given long after at St Helena, is correct. Our little pilgrimage to the Fountains of Moses brought us into the same danger as of old assailed Pharaoh, and we might have perished like him, but without a miracle, as will appear to those who have visited the scene [footnote: The reader will not fail to observe, that, in certain insidious remarks, Bourrienne seems to hint the same opinion as Volney, and other infidel writers, on the subject of the passage of the Red Sea. The reasoning of these gentlemen furnishes a striking example of a non sequitur. What possible connection can exist between crossing a part of the sands dry, at low tide, and traversing the "crystal strait," cleft by the hand of Jehovah, for the passage of his chosen people? Or the whole may be simply answered by the reflection, that, since the Egyptians were the best informed among the nations then upon the earth " since, indeed, Moses was celebrated for knowledge, because "skilled in all the learning of the Egyptians" – we cannot suppose either the one to have been unacquainted with so common an event as the flowing of the tide, or the other to have thus overreached his masters in wisdom." Translator.] [MEMOIRS OF NAPOLEAN BONAPARTE, Vol 1 of 4, FROM THE FRENCH OF M. FAUVELET DE COURRIENNED by JOHN S. MEMES LL.D., CHAPTER XIII, p. 158-160, originally published 1831][4]

In case of Napoleon, even though he got trapped in the high tide at night, he had the advantage that all his men were on horses thus sitting high and additionally horses are good swimmers. The account of high tide in above narratives is up to twenty-two feet deep, enough to drown even a tall person standing on his feet. Unlike mounted entourage of Napoleon, in the case of Pharaoh, as is commonly known, some of his army was either on foot and others riding on chariots. Both conditions made Pharaoh’s army more vulnerable to drowning even during daylight. The same water level that a horse can wade or swim thorough with its rider can possibly drown a person on foot, especially if that person is further weighed down by armor –`[Pharaoh said] And we are, (as compared with them [–the fleeing Israelites]) a united multitude, fully equipped and vigilant.' –26:56[5]. To make the matters worse, the Egyptians unlike Pacific islanders are less likely to be swimmers.

Parting or Skirting of the Sea?

It all started with centuries of unremitting persecution, exploitation and helplessness of Israelites in Egypt, the kingdom of the Pharaohs:

2:49. And (recall) when We delivered you from the people of Pharaoh who subjected you to the worst torment. They went on slaying your sons and sparing your women to make them immodest, and indeed that was a great ordeal from your Lord.[6]

It was against this background of incessant servitude and hopelessness that Moses and Aaron prayed:

10:88. And Moses said (praying and Aaron joined him in prayer), `Our Lord! You have given Pharaoh and his chiefs pomp and wealth in the present life with the result, Our Lord! that they lead people astray from Your path. Our Lord! destroy their wealth and attack their hearts, so that they believe not until they see the grievous punishment.'

10:89. (The Lord) said, `The prayer of you both has been accepted, so remain you two steadfast and follow not the way of those who do not know.'[7]

To get them out of their misery the strategy disclosed to Moses for his people included first congregating them together at one place and then taking advantage of night to escape en masse under the cover of darkness on a predetermined path as one body in which timing was paramount:

10:87. And We spoke to Moses and his brother (Aaron saying), `You both should prepare lodging for your people (bringing them together from different parts of the country) in the central town (of Egypt) and make your houses so as to face one another and perform worship.' And (We also revealed to them to) proclaim good tidings (of success) to the believers.[8]

44:23. Then (the order was), `Set forth with My servants in a watch of the night, (for) you are going to be chased.[9]

Of note is that for Exodus it was a predetermined path coupled with predetermined timing for the whole operation. Additionally, in modern terminology, the Israelites were to walk through the ‘path’ which was only to prove a minefield for the pursuing Egyptian army that was bound to follow, a classical military tactic in which the home forces have mapped out the path and avoid the landmines or traps whereas the enemy that is ignorant of it can be doomed when it enters that booby-trapped area to their detriment:

44:24. `And leave (when) the sea (is calm and not in tide) by its depressed portion (crossing on the dunes). Surely, these (pursuers, Pharaoh and his people) are a host (of people) doomed to be drowned.'[10]

20:77. And We directed Moses by revelation, `Take away My servants by night and take them along a dry path through the wide plane. You will not be afraid of being overtaken nor will you have any cause of fear (of being drowned).'[Emphasis added]

20:78. Now Pharaoh pursued them with his armies. But there covered them (- Pharaoh and his host) that (tide of the) sea which engulfed them completely.[11][Emphasis added]

Note – when v. 44:24 is read with v. 20:77 above, it becomes obvious that the tide behavior of sea is taken into account in which when the sea retreats in low tide it leaves on the shore a dry path, commonly called ‘intertidal zone’ that naturally is covered up by the water on subsequent high tide. It seems that the dry path taken during Exodus was in a wide intertidal zone (wide plane) from which it was difficult for the army to get out of when it flooded during the high tide. Quite expectedly, no one will enter that area where there is water i.e. during high tide. But, if someone walking on the same dry path is unaware of impending high tide, that person will be trapped and engulfed, even possibly drown, especially if there are high cliff walls on the shore side and/or this previously dry path is too long and that too if it is in a wide plane to reach its edge/end in time to survive.

Additionally, v. 44:24 also alludes to low tide when the sea is receded from shore and it is on this spot the Pharaoh and his army will be entrapped unaware and drowned subsequently when high tide comes on them. High tide, i.e. water encroaching on to the shore on a given point on globe is due to moon's gravitational pull of water body below it and the earth pulling away from the water body on the opposite end of the globe. Thus there are corresponding high tide points on the opposite sides of the globe. Whereas, the low tide points are at the sides of the earth, at 90 degrees from the high tide points on the earth. The average time interval between two consecutive high tides on a given point on the globe is about 12 hours and about 25.5 minutes, though the frequency of high tides can be as low as once in 24 hours. This corresponds to earth rotating 180 degrees every 12 hours, while the moon rotates 6 degrees around the earth in the same time. Due to this extra 25.5 minutes shift, each tidal point varies over time for its low and high tides. Besides, sun also exerts its superimposed effects on sides of the earth facing or away from it. As to how high a water can rise in a high tide from its low tide level, commonly called as ‘tidal range,’ varies according to local topography, e.g. in Eastern Canada it can be as much as fifty feet.

Whether the Red Sea at Suez in case of Napoleon or the Sea of Reeds at Eilat [Yam Suph – I Kings 9:26] experiences its tidal ranges that would drown an army is left best to history and science. At least in the accounts of Napoleon’s adventure the tidal range is between five and twenty-two feet high and the intertidal zones have extended flats. Still, what prevented a storm surge that was not expected at the time or a tsunami from happening, and it being foreknown to a Prophet, who by the very definition of the word can foretell? Of note are the wordings `And leave (when) the sea (is calm and not in tide) by its depressed portion (crossing on the dunes) – 44:24. It was this depressed portion that once filled with water because of its depth would have multiplicative effect on the drowning possibility because of the sea surge that was to engulf the Pharaoh and his army i.e. Surely, these (pursuers, Pharaoh and his people) are a host (of people) doomed to be drowned.' – 44:24.

Thus, either it was the time window of 12 hours and 25.5 minutes or the apparent calm before the storm that was the escape hatch for the Israelites. Essentially, time and the timing were of the essence in the Divine strategy that Moses had to follow.

The strategy and its consequent events thus unfolded. Israelites had a head-start under the cover of the night:

26:52. And We revealed to Moses (directing him), `Take away My servants by night for you shall certainly be pursued.'[12]

Once Moses and his people had already left in the night, the Pharaoh responded by gathering his troops and set the pursuit at sunrise which separated the parties by many hours (Israelites left at night while the Pharaoh’s army followed at sunrise):

26:53. Pharaoh (when he came to know of the exodus) sent heralds to the towns to collect (troops and announce saying),

26:54. `These (Israelites) are indeed a despicable party, a few in number,

26:55. `Yet they have offended us (by defying us and making good their escape),

26:56. `And we are, (as compared with them,) a united multitude, fully equipped and vigilant.'

26:57. So We made them (- Pharaoh and his troops) leave the land of gardens and springs,

26:58. As well as (every place with) treasures and every abode of honour (and grandeur).

26:59. That is what We did (for their wrong- doings). And We gave (the like of) these (- gardens and springs) as a free gift to the Children of Israel.

26:60. And they (- the hosts of Pharaoh) pursued them at sunrise.[13] [Emphasis added]

Apparently, the pursuing Pharaoh gained on the fleeing Israelites to a point that they saw each other from a distance. Seeing the Pharaoh and his troops was a source of anxiety for the fleers who earlier thought otherwise in light of information as outlined in verses 20:77-78 above:

26:61. And when the two hosts sighted each other the companions of Moses said, `We are surely overtaken.'[14]

Despite the anxieties of his companions, Moses was firm on what was revealed to him before (verses 20:77-78):

26:62. (Moses) said, `No, not at all, my Lord is with me, He will lead me out of the impasse (and to safety).'[15][Similar to these verses 26:61-62 about exiling Moses and his companions is the event of Cave of Thaur during flight of the Prophet Muhammad in verses 9:40-41[16]]

The next revealed instructions to Moses were for him to keep moving through and to catch the time window referred to in verses 44:24 and 20:77 before:

26:63. Then We revealed to Moses (saying), `Strike the sea with your staff. (And as he did) so it parted[17] [Arabic: Infalaqa – Became separated; It parted], and each part (of the two hosts) looked like a huge mound.[18]

The full meanings of Asâ [19] are ‘Staff; Nation; Mastery. Thus, if read in context the verse 26:63 above states Idzrib bi Asâka al-bahra[20]: ‘Strike with your staff on the sea; Go forth with your people’. Essentially Moses is instructed to keep journeying with his people along the seashore and the timing was such that the water had receded or separated from the shore, Infalaqa – ‘Became separated; It parted’, as is pointed to in the verse.

The said behavior of the sea is repeated in another place:

2:50. And when We parted[21][Arabic: Faraqnâ – We parted, distinguished] the sea for you, and rescued you and drowned the people of Pharaoh, while you were beholding.[22]

Even though traditionally the word used in translation of above verses 26:63 and 2:50 is ‘parted’, it also means ‘separated’ which seems more appropriate in context of events that unfolded where the sea separated from the shore in low tide in which the dry path was exposed temporarily. The above verse paints a picture where, unlike his scared companions (26:61) Moses is directed to move on undeterred i.e. Strike the sea with your staff and keep going with vigor and 'hit the road' or 'hit the ground running', and Moses strikes i.e. takes a dry path on the seashore for others to follow in his footsteps and his group moves along and finally there were two sets of people grouped apart, each part (of the two hosts) looked like a huge mound on either end of the intervening dry path that separated them, Israelites on one end and Egyptian on the other end of the dry path. Thus the whole strategy comes together, the aggrieved party in the assured safety, while the aggressors, unbeknownst taking the same booby trapped path in the epic manner of a bridge soon to crumble or a valley soon to be flooded or a canyon to experience a landslide.

Pharaoh, just like Napoleon, who is oblivious of the time window between low and high tides pursues with his army onto the dry path on wide plane (v. 20:77), in the intertidal zone that Moses had struck earlier, all in an effort that his army can close in on the Israelite party at its far end. Quran is quite clear in specifying a particular point on the seashore that had the tidal behavior discussed so far as is identified in the next verse:

26:64. And We caused the others (the pursuers, the people of Pharaoh,) draw near the same place. [Emphasis added]


The next two verses give further details of the event in that Israelite party is saved first by its moving through the vulnerable area pointed in previous verse 26:64 and only then the pursuers were drowned once they reached the said vulnerable spot which was a wide plane (v. 20:77), spacious enough for the whole contingent to be trapped together once and all:

26:65. And We saved Moses and those who were with him all together.

26:66. Then We drowned the others.

26:67. Behold! there is a (marvelous) sign in this (episode), yet most of them would not be believers.

26:68. And indeed your Lord, He is the All-Mighty (to crush His enemies), the Ever Merciful (towards His servants).[23]

Of note is that drowning of Pharaoh and his cohorts was by water moving in on them, the high tide, while they were still on the same dry path:

20:78. Now Pharaoh pursued them with his armies. But there covered them (- Pharaoh and his host) that (tide of the) sea which engulfed them completely. [24]

It is obvious from the above verse(s) that Pharaoh witnessed a natural phenomenon of a low tide by the seashore where there was a dry path on a wide plane through which an army could easily move. On the contrary Pharaoh and his army or for that matter anyone, if they had witnessed an unnatural parting of sea, no one would had dare enter that path because if we recall that elsewhere in Quran it is the same Pharaoh[25] and his people calling Moses as sorcerer[26] and having already witnesses the sorcery win of Moses against the magicians of Egypt[27]. It would be preposterous to think that anyone would enter an apparent wizardry trap in which there were allegedly high water walls on either side of the dry path at the bottom of seabed as if the sea had parted and as commonly depicted in legends.

Interestingly, Pharaoh made a conversion attempt to Islam before his death:

10:90. And We brought the Children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his legion pursued them in wanton aggression and for no justified cause till when he (Pharaoh) was about to be drowned, he cried, `I (confess and) believe that there is no One worthy of worship but He in Whom the Children of Israel have believed in, and I am of those who submit (to Him).'

10:91. (The Lord) said, `What! (do you remember) now (while dying), whereas you had (always) disobeyed before (this), and you had been of the miscreants!

10:92. `So, on this day We will preserve you in your body (only) that you may be a sign (to learn a lesson from) for the coming generations, though most of the people are quite heedless of Our signs.'[28]

What Pharaoh said above in verse 10:90 . …he cried, `I (confess and) believe that there is no One worthy of worship but He in Whom the Children of Israel have believed in, and I am of those who submit (to Him)' was the fruition of what Moses had asked for in 10:88. …Our Lord! destroy their wealth and attack their hearts, so that they believe not until they see the grievous punishment.'

Moses striking water (in the manner of a prospector striking gold) and Israelites provided Manna:

With the 'parting of the sea' out of the way, let’s address Moses 'parting the rock' by striking it with his staff. It is a common knowledge that usually the source of springs is mountains, vegetables are from farming and one seeks daily livelihood in towns and cities, a relationship that will be noticed in various verses about Israelites. After the Israelites moved out of Egypt, in their destitute state they were provided with food, water, shelter and livelihood, the account of which is laid out in the following verses. These are basic elements for rehabilitating displaced people even today:

7:160. We divided them (- the people of Moses) into twelve tribes[29] according to the ancestral lineage (to which they belonged). And We sent Our revelation to Moses when his people asked of him (something) to drink (saying), `Strike that rock with your staff [Arabic: Idzrib bi Asâka al-Hajer – Strike with your staff on the rock; Go forth with your people].'[30] Then (as he did), there gushed out from it twelve springs, so that all the people now knew their (respective) drinking place. And We outspread the rain clouds to be a shade over them and We sent down for them Manna and quails (saying), `Eat of the pure things wherewith We have provided you.' And they did Us no harm (when they went wrong) but it was to themselves that they had been doing harm.

7:161. And (recall the time) when it was said to them, `Dwell in this township (-Yathrib) and eat therefrom when you will and pray, "Relieve us of the burden of our sins," and enter its gate submissively. (If you do so) We will protect you against (the consequences of) your sins. We shall multiply the reward of the doers of excellent deeds.'[31]

In verse 7:160 there is no novelty when Moses is asked to `Strike that rock with your staff' for the mere fact that to uncover a water hole, the rock covering had to be removed first with an instrument, in this case the staff. Quran does not mention the size of the rock, but by implication it must have been a large rock or many rocks which were covering the source for twelve springs. The rock(s) was impeding the reservoir of water which was waiting to gush out but was only prevented by a plug that needed the weight of a rock(s) to block its flow. Alternatively, Moses is commanded to seek water in a particular mountain i.e. that rock. It is a daily experience to tap ground with one's walking stick while going up on a mountain – `Strike that rock with your staff.' On the contrary, identifying the area to prospect for water is the actual novelty.

The above para dealt with an apparent concrete meaning of ‘staff’ as commonly interpreted, however full meanings of Asâ[32] are ‘Staff; Nation; Mastery.' Thus, if read in context the verse 7:160 above states Idzrib bi Asâka al-Hajer: ‘Strike with your staff on the rock; Go forth with your people’. Essentially, Moses is instructed to go to the mountain along with twelve Israelite tribes so that each one of them gets their (respective) drinking place from the equal number of springs pointed to in the verse.

Thus, Moses could have used staff as merely a walking stick to go up the mountain, or used it as instrument to uncover the source of springs or that he took his people (staff) to the source of water on the mountain, there is no wizardly in all three instances. The real ‘miracle’ is in him being guided by God to source of life sustenance, water, for his nation, be it spiritual or physical.

The Manna and quails and that too which was sent down by God is clearly a metaphorical reference of provisions and means that were made available to the exiled, else it would be ridiculous to seek and Eat of the pure things wherewith We have provided you from the Manna and quails that were 'heavenly' to begin with and were not supposed to have anything impure in them.

Manna and quails and eating of the pure things wherewith We have provided you is mentioned further:

20:80. O Children of Israel! We delivered you from your enemy and made a covenant with you on the right and blessed side of the Mount (Sinai), and We got Manna and quail to be sent down to you.

20:81. (And it was also said,) `Eat of the good and pure things We have provided you, and do not exceed the limits in this respect or My displeasure shall descend upon you. Indeed, lost are those on whom My displeasure descends.'[33]

All this comes to light in another set of verses:

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 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.' [Emphasis added]

2:61. And when you said, `Moses! (we are weary of one kind of food so) we will not at all remain content with one and the same food, pray, therefore, to your Lord for us that He may bring forth for us some of that which the earth produces, of its vegetables, of its cucumbers, its corn, its lentils and its onions.' He (- God) said, `Would you take in exchange that which is inferior (- delicious food) for that which is superior (- the realisation of the noble object of your life)? (If this is so) then go to some town and you will certainly have (there) all that you have demanded.' And lo! it so happened, they were smitten with abasement and destitution and they incurred the displeasure of Allâh. That was because they denied the Messages of Allâh and sought to kill His Prophets unjustly and that was because they disobeyed and had been transgressing.[34]

As to the Manna and quails, the above verses, if read concretely, further makes them less of ‘heavenly’ and more of ‘earthly’. Belonging to lower socio-economic class the Israelites who migrated from the fertile Egypt seem to have a different food tastes than the food options in Palestine where it was mostly poultry (quails). It is generally known that meat is expensive and poor Israelites might had little habit of eating it, which is obvious from their boredom with it, and they expressed it to Moses asking for vegetarian choices – we will not at all remain content with one and the same food, pray, therefore, to your Lord for us that He may bring forth for us some of that which the earth produces, of its vegetables, of its cucumbers, its corn, its lentils and its onions.' There is no time period mentioned in Quran for how long the Israelites sustained themselves on the said food or provisions. Despite the menu items mentioned, Quran speaks of food and provisions given to refuges as a free aid beyond concreteness of words, rather draws attention to higher moral and intellectual values that one must ascertain even in earthly things and food being just a case in point – He (- God) said, `Would you take in exchange that which is inferior (- delicious food) for that which is superior (- the realisation of the noble object of your life)? This discussion about food seems no different than Biblical style of asking for spiritual food – Matthew 6:11. ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’[35]

The verses below, which are in continuation with verses in reference above, allude to Israelites changing the purpose and spirit of Divine Message given to them. The very purpose of this book at hand is to correct the same errors of Israelites that have crept into reading of the Quran in which the philosophy and purpose of Divine Message gets replaced with make belief of nonsensical miracles, myths and mistakes[36] by concrete reading of Book in a zealotry that tries to save its body while killing its soul:

2:59. But those who were bent on doing wrong, gave a different version to the order that was given them, (and thus acted contrary to the Divine will). So We sent down upon those who did wrong a pestilence from heaven because they had been transgressing persistently[37][Numbers – 25:9. Those who died of the plague numbered twenty-four thousand].[38]

7:162. But those amongst them who were unjust changed the word to something different from that which they were told. So We sent down upon them unavoidable punishment from heaven because they had always been wrongdoers.[39]

However, Quran in adjoining verse to above also recognizes the Israelites who were guided aright by Moses and Aaron:

7:159. There is a community among the people of Moses who guide (the people) to the truth and with it they dispense justice.[40]

In the summary, both Moses and Pharaoh and their peoples faced a natural phenomenon, one was saved by it while the other was destroyed by it. The sequence of events is nothing short of a miraculous moment in history and a living example of destruction of tyranny and prevailing of truth. Such ‘miracles’ are not time-locked in history but according to Quran occur under natural moral law that will prevail into future. After removal of their calamity, the Israelites were provided with ‘heavenly sustenance’ then and the world has Quran now. Like Israelites, any nation that ignores and distorts the purpose of the Divine Message, is bent on doing wrong… transgressing persistently (2:59), and is lost in its mere rituals is destined to face ignominy if not destruction.


[1] Link: https://archive.org/stream/cu31924087808709/cu31924087808709_djvu.txt. Pdf download: http://www.cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/Universal-Literature/Universal-Library/JOHN-STEVENS-ABBOTT/Napoleon-I-1.pdf
[2] Link: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17579/17579-h/17579-h.htm
[3] Link: http://www.munseys.com/diskfour/lnap.htm#1_1_8
[4] Read online: http://www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook/Memoirs_of_Napoleon_Bonaparte_v1_1000370806#211
[5] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[6] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[7] Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
[8] Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
[9] Al-Dukhan – The Drought: Nooruddin
[10] Al-Dukhan – The Drought: Nooruddin
[11] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[12] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[13] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[14] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[15] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[16] 9:40-41. If you do not help him (- the Prophet), then (know) Allâh has already helped him when those who disbelieved turned him out (from Makkah with only one companion); he being the second of the two when they were both in the cave (of Thaur); and when he said to his companion (- Abû Bakr), `Grieve not (about me). Surely, Allâh is with us.' Then Allâh sent down His Shechinah (- peace and tranquility) upon him, and helped him with troops which were not visible to you, and He humbled the word of those who disbelieved to the lowest, and it is the word of Allâh alone which is the supermost (and so prevails). Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Go forth (all whether) light (- being ill-equipped) or heavy (- being well-equipped) and strive hard with your possessions and your persons in the cause of Allâh. That is better for you, if only you knew (your own gain or loss). : Al-Taubah – The Repentance: Nooruddin [Emphasis added]
[17] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.434. Infalaqa (prf. 3rd. p. m. sing. VII.): Became separated; It parted (26:63).
[18] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[19] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.376. ‘Asâ (n.): Staff; Nation; Mastery. ‘Isiyyun (n. plu.): The staffs. The root with its above two forms has been used in The Holy Qur’ân about 12 times.
[20] See footnote 30
[21] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.424. Faraqnâ (prf. 1st. p. plu.): We parted, distinguished. Yafraqûna (imp. 3rd. p.m. plu.): They fear, are too timid a people (to appear in their true colours). Ufruq (prt. prayer. m. sing.): Decide; Bring about separation. Yufraqu (pip. 3rd. p. sing.): It is separated out, explained distinctly. Yufarriqûna (imp. 3rd. p. m. plu. II.): They make division; distinction, separation. Yufarriqû (imp. 3rd. p. m. plu. final Nûn dropped): They make a distinction.
[22] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[23] Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[24] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[25] 51:39. But he [–Pharaoh] turned away (from Moses) in the pride of his power and said, `(He is) a sorcerer, or rather a madman.' Al-Dhariyat – The Scatterers: Nooruddin
[26] 7:109. The chiefs of Pharaoh's people said (to each other), `This (fellow here [–Moses]) is most surely a skilled sorcerer. Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[27] 26:44-45. So they put down (on the ground) their ropes and their staffs and said, `By Pharaoh's honour and might it is we who will certainly be the winners.' Then Moses put down (on the ground) his staff; lo! it instantly destroyed all that they had fabricated. Al-Shuara – The Poets: Nooruddin
[28] Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
[29] Twelve Tribes of Israel. Link: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/610959/Twelve-Tribes-of-Israel
[30] Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar, p.376. ‘Asâa – To strike with a stick. ‘Asiya/Ya‘sa: To take a stick, come together; Collection; Accumulation; Amazing; Gathering; Assemblage; Congregation. Staff is called. ‘Asâ as the fingers of a hand come together and are collected and united on its handle. ‘Asâ: Staff; Stick; Rod; Supports; Nation; People; Party; Tongue; Skin; Bone. ‘Asâutu al-
Qauma: I gathered the nation. Shaq al-‘Asâ: Divergence; Dissension; Disagreement of the nation or organisation. It is said, Khawârij shaqqû ‘Asâ al-Muslimîn: The Khawârij split the concord, harmony and unity of Islamic nation. Idzrib bi Asâka al-Hajer: Strike with your staff on the rock; Go forth with your people. (L; T; R; LL; Zamkhsharî)
[31] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[32] See footnote 19
[33] Ta Ha – Perfect Man! be at Rest: Nooruddin
[34] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[35] New King James Version. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A11&version=NKJV
[36] Miracles – Clarified, Myths – Confuted, Mistakes – Corrected, Matters – Contended, in Manifest Conjectures. Link: http://ahmadiyya.org/WordPress/miracles-myths-mistakes-and-matters/
[37] Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
[38] Bible Gateway. Link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Numbers+25%3A9&version=NKJV
[39] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
[40] Al-Araf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin