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Can Muslims (-women) marry Non-Believers?

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Issue 2: Can Muslims (women) Marry Non-Believers?


[for which verse 2:221 is quoted].

There is no bar in Quran for Muslims to marry non-Muslims. Verse 2:221, cited to promote this prohibition, is essentially a marriage advisory; akin to a travel advisory1 issued by Foreign Service advising the citizens against travel to a certain country in view of any safety concerns in that country. Such advisories do not ban, rather forewarn and deter travel to prevent harm to its citizens.

A complete bar that is promoted by some under verse 2:221 is a misquote of the context in Quran. This verse, quoted below, is directed only at the idolater Makkans, who were enemies, aggressors and had declared a state of war against Muslims of Medina:

2:221. And marry not an idolatress until she believes; while a believing maid is certainly better than an idolatress even though she may highly please you. And do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a (free) idolater even though he may highly please you. It is they who invite to the Fire, but Allâh calls to the Paradise and to the protection by His command. He makes His Messages clear for the people so that they may take heed.2

This overgeneralization of a context-specific verse is nothing new. Verse 5:513 discussed in ‘Issue 1: Muslims should not take Jews and Christians as friends4, is squarely aimed at Jewish tribes of Medina, and not generally at the Jewish and Christian people. Similarly, verse 2:221 under discussion here, is also used over-broadly to ban Muslims from marrying Non-Muslims, which is not the case.

The marriage advisory in verse 2:221 is multifaceted and contextual to the state of war imposed upon Muslims by the Makkan idolaters. The Makkan idolater society depicted a depraved state of human rights in sharp contrast to the grant of women’s rights and freedom promoted by the fledgling religion of Islam. Thus, marriages between Muslims and Makkans would have deprived the Muslims of their rights and obligations. This would have been a step back from the progress the Muslims had made, and were making under Islam.

When read in its full context, verse 2:221 is a continuation of several references to the inflicted state of war and its fallout for the nascent Muslim community at the hands of the majority Makkans. This is directly referred to in the verses 2:216-2185, and the orphans of war in 2:2206, the background verses which precede verse 2:221 under discussion.

The state of aggression against the Muslim minority at the time of the Prophet is frequently mentioned in Quran. Similar to our contemporary governmental issued advisories for traffic, pollution, pollen, heat, weather and floods which change with improving circumstances, the following sample verses show the underlying influencers of the evolving matrimonial advisory of verse 2:221:

60:7. It is well-nigh that (these disbelievers embrace the Faith and thus) Allâh may establish goodwill between you and those of them with whom you are at enmity (at present), for Allâh is All-Powerful, and Allâh is Great Protector, Ever-Merciful.

60:8. Allâh does not forbid you to be kind and good and to deal justly with those who have not fought you because of your faith and have not turned you out of your homes. In fact Allâh loves those who are equitable.

60:9. Allâh only forbids you to make friends with those who have fought you because of your faith and who have turned you out of your homes, and have abetted your expulsion. Indeed, those who make friends with them are really the unjust.7

It is in context of this state of war at the hands of the idolater Makkans, inflicted on the minority Muslims that relationships were in suspension. The above-quoted verses continue:

60:10. O you who believe! when the believing women come to you having fled their homes, examine them. Allâh knows best the state of their faith. If you ascertain them to be (true) believers do not send them back to the disbelievers. These (believing women) are not lawful (wives) to those (disbelievers); nor are they lawful (husbands) to these (women). You shall however give them (their former disbelieving husbands) what they have spent on them. And you will be doing nothing unlawful if you marry these women after you have given them their dowries. And do not hold matrimonial ties with the disbelieving women, (should they join the disbelievers) you can claim what you have spent on them. So can (the disbelieving husbands) claim that which they have spent (on these believing women). This is the judgment of Allâh. He implements this judgment between you. Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

60:11. If any part of (the dowries of) your wives has passed over to the disbelievers from you and then your turn comes (to pay to the disbelievers when a woman from the disbelievers' side comes over to you), give to those whose wives have come over an amount equal to that which they have spent. Keep your duty to Allâh in Whom you believe.8

On a closer read, and now shifting the focus on women, let’s read this verse again. Verse 2:221 enjoins – marry not an idolatress until she believes do not give (believing women) in marriage to idolaters until they believe. The pivotal word that needs elaboration here is ‘idolater’ in order to understand the repercussions of a marriage with the Makkan idolaters. Such a marriage, according to the same verse, is an invitation to the Fire, but on the reverse, Allâh calls to the Paradise of a harmonious marriage between monotheists. The reasons are explored below.

Makkan Idolaters: The ‘idolater’ of Verse 2:221 is defined in Quran as worshipper of certain idols and conjectures and identifies them by name:

53:19. Have you had a look at Lât and `Uzzâ (the gods of idolaters),

53:20. And another, the third (goddess of no account) Manât?

53:21. What (an ignoble idea you have)! Are you to have sons and He daughters?[–see also verse 43:16 quoted later for the explanation of the term daughters]

53:22. That indeed is an unjust division (and unbecoming from your own point of view which looks upon the birth of a daughter with condemnation).

53:23. (The fact is that) these are mere names (bearing no significance) which you have coined, you and your forefathers, for which Allâh has revealed no authority (for their being worshipped as gods and goddesses). These (idol-worshippers) follow nothing but mere conjectures and the fancies of (their own) minds. (They do this) even though true guidance has already come to them from their Lord.9

Unlike other religions before Islam which were sourced upon prophets and revealed books, worship in pre-Islam Arabia did not have such bases. The engendered conjectures and evil practices, the paganism, that emanated from worshipping these ‘coined’ Gods are exemplified by the superstitions and distorted values that pervaded in the pre-Islam Arabia:

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 whatsoever). 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?10

Debased womanhood in pre-Islam Makkah: Women, specifically, were victims of such distorted beliefs and values of the Makkan idolatry, in disproportionate numbers. They faced pervasive threat of infanticide, which, if survived, was followed by a lifelong shame of being a woman, to which Quran draws our attention to:

81: 8. And when the girl-child who is buried alive will be questioned about;

81:9. For what offence was she killed?11

43:16. Or has He taken to Himself daughters from the things He Himself has created (as the pagans describe the angels to be God's daughters) and has chosen you for (honouring with) the sons.

43:17. Yet (as to themselves) when one of them is given the news (of the birth of a female child), the like of which (sex) he ascribes to the Most Gracious (God), his face becomes gloomy and he is choked with inward grief.12

Quran – the savior of womanhood, Zihar as an example: The evil practices against women were so entrenched in the fabric of the male dominated society of these ‘idolaters’ that some of these customs continued into the behavior of early converted Muslims. One such custom was punishing the wives by declaring them Zihar – like the back of my mother, an indefinite suspended state for a wife in which all conjugal relationships were ended without any recourse for the wife. Quran forcefully ordained against it and laundered the psyche of Muslim fabric from this exploitation of women:

33:4. Allâh has not placed two hearts in the bosom of any man, nor does He regard as your mothers those of your wives whom you desert by (Zihâr) calling them as such, … These are mere words that you speak; but Allâh declares the truth and He guides to the (straight) path.13

58:2. Such of you who give up (conjugal relationship with) their wives by calling them mothers (should realise that) they do not thereby become their mothers. Their mothers are only those who have given them birth. And they (by calling their wives mothers by Zihâr) utter words that are most unseeming and false. And of course Allâh is All-Pardoning, Great Protector (against faults).

58:3. Such of those who thus happen to call their wives their mothers and then retract what they have said, must free a slave before they two touch each other (for re-establishing conjugal relationship). This is what you are enjoined (to do in case you commit such a hateful thing). And Allâh is Well-Aware of what you do.

58:4. He that cannot afford (a slave to be set free) shall then (observe) fasts for two consecutive months before he and his wife touch each other (for conjugal relationship). But he who has not even the strength (to fast for that time) shall feed sixty poor people. This has been so (ordained) that you may have faith in Allâh and really submit before Him and His Messenger. These are the limits (enjoining you to give up foul practices and injustice to women) prescribed by Allâh. And the deniers of these shall receive grievous punishment.

58:5. Surely, those who oppose Allâh and His Messenger shall be laid low and humbled as those (opponents of the truth) who were before them were laid low and humble. And We have already revealed clear ordinances (as to how to uplift the status of women). And the deniers of (these ordinances) shall receive a humiliating punishment.

58:6. (This punishment will also take place on) the day when Allâh will raise them up all together, then He will inform them of all they have been doing. Allâh has kept a recorded account of it (- their deeds), while they have forgotten it. Allâh is Witness over everything.14

Contrary to the practice of Zihar, Quran encouraged conjugal relationships between husband and wife, even during the fasting month of Ramadan, when one otherwise abstains from all food, drink and intimacy during the daytime:

2:187. (Though during Fasting you must abstain from all the urges of nature including the sexual urge) it is made lawful for you on the nights of the fasts to approach and lie with your wives (for sexual relationship). They are (a sort of) garment for you and you are (a sort of) garment for them. Allâh knows that you have been doing injustice to yourselves (by restricting conjugal relations with your wives even at night), so He turned to you with mercy and provided you relief; now enjoy their company (at night during Ramadzân) and seek what Allâh has ordained for you. Eat and drink till the white streak of the dawn becomes distinct to you from the black streak (of the darkness), then complete the fast till nightfall. And you shall not lie with them (- your wives) while you perform I`tikâf (- while you are secluding in the mosque for prayer and devotion to God [typically during the last third of the month of Ramadzan]). These are the limits (imposed) by Allâh so do not approach these (limits). Thus does Allâh explains His commandments for people that they may become secure against evil [–like the evil of Zihar in context to the current discussion].15

Even the womanhood was corrupted in pre-Islam Arabia: Keeping in view this stained psyche of Makkans, Quran kept a strict check on the practices of the new converts to Islam:

60:12. Prophet! when women come to you after having believed and they take the oath of allegiance that they will not associate anything with Allâh, and that they will not steal and will not commit fornication and adultery, nor kill their children, nor bring forth a scandalous charge which they themselves have deliberately forged, nor disobey your just and rightful orders, then accept their allegiance and seek Allâh's protection for them. Indeed, Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.16

The verse 60:12 refers to the debased culture of pre-Islam Makkah where there were pervading ‘norms’ of polytheism, thievery, fornication, adultery, infanticide and scandalmongering, to name a few, that Islam expunged from its ranks. It is unthinkable that Quran would not have issued such a marriage advisory against the Makkan culture.

Norms’ for a Muslim society according to Quran: While preventing the seepage of evil practices of Makkan idolater society into the nascent Muslim culture, Quran was also focused on actively creating a just and pious society, which is exemplified as follows:

33:35. Verily, Allâh has in store protection (from faults) and a great reward for the men and women who submit themselves (to the will of God), and for the men and women who believe, and for the men and women who are obedient to Allâh, and for the men and women who are patiently persevering (in their faith and righteousness,) and for the men and women who are humble (before God) and for the men and women who give alms and for the men and women who fast and for the men and women who guard their chastity, and for the men and women who remember and glorify Allâh (with all His praises) again and again.17

Contrary to the idolater society centered on Lât, `Uzzâ, Manât and the corresponding conjectures and practices that emanated from such beliefs, Quran created a society centered on Allah in which all the goodness emanates from Him, for example:

7: 33. Say, `Verily, My Lord has forbidden all (acts of) indecency, open and hidden, and every (kind of) sin and aggression, which is never justifiable; and (He forbids you also) to associate with Allâh that for which He has sent down no authority, and to say concerning Allâh that which you do not know (that it is in fact said by Him).'18

2:188. Do not appropriate one another's property with inequity (and by false means) nor seek to gain access thereby to the authorities so that you may appropriate a portion of (other) people's property by sinful means (and bribery) and that (too) knowingly (that you have no right to do so).19

These sampler verses layout the grounds for the advisory on Muslim men and women not to marry into Makkan idolater society. If a Muslim woman chose to marry a Makkan idolater, then she would naturally have had to relocate from the sanctuary of Medina back to Makkah and would have been thus exposed to all the evils therein. However, there was no bar on Muslims to do so, but only an admonishment and warning against it:

60:1. O you who believe! do not take those who are enemies of Me and to you for friends. Would you send them messages of love and friendship while they have denied the Truth that has come to you (and) have driven out the Messenger and yourselves (from your homes merely) because you believe in Allâh, your Lord? (How can you do so) if you migrated indeed to strive in My cause and seek My pleasure? Would (some of) you make secret offers of friendship and love to them while I am fully aware of all that you conceal and all that you profess openly? And whoever of you does such a thing (let him realize that he) has indeed strayed away from the straight path.

60:2. If they (- your so-called friends from the disbelievers) somehow get the upper hand of you they will (turn out to) be active enemies to you and will lay their hand on you and (lash you with) their tongues to do (you) harm, and they ardently desire that you should disbelieve.20

Fire’ in Makkah and ‘Paradise’ of Marriage in Medina: The ‘Fire’ in verse 2:221 is the potential miseries and harm that a Muslim woman would have had been exposed to by marrying a Makkan idolater. Whereas, the ‘Paradise’ is assured by certain injunctions in Quran in a Muslim household, the lack of which naturally creates ‘Fire’ for the wife. Discussed below are the contrasting moral values that Islam seeded in the amoral Arabian desert.

Without any precedence, under the new way of life of Islam, men suddenly found themselves to be wholly responsible for the security and comfort of their wives. The wives suddenly had a host of legal, social and moral rights which were previously unheard of. This was in sharp contrast to the customs they were raised with in the pre-Islam Makkan idolater society:

4:34. Men are the full maintainers of women, because Allâh has made one of them excel the other, and because men spend out of their wealth on them…

4:19. O you who believe! … if you have a dislike for them [i.e. wife], it may be that you dislike a thing but Allâh has placed a good deal of good in it.21

Women, in pre-Islam Arabia, had no rights to the property of their husbands nor in the matters of divorce. On the contrary, Quran assures the wife in a Muslim setup:

2:228. …And women have their rights similar to their obligations in an equitable and just manner…

2:229. …if both (the husband and the wife) fear that they cannot abide by the injunctions of Allâh, and if you (- the Muslim community, also) fear that they cannot observe the limits (prescribed) by Allâh then there is no blame on either of them in what she gives up to redeem herself (as Khula`)…22

4:130. And if they (-the husband and the wife) choose to separate (through divorce obtained by either of them), Allâh will make both independent and free from want out of His bounty. And Allâh is Ever Bountiful, All-Wise.23

Keeping in view the practice of Arabia before the Prophet, imagine if the Muslim wife of a Makkan idolater became a widow. Under the Makkan norms, she would have been exposed to a forced marriage with another relative of her deceased husband by way of inheritance. This practice was vehemently forbidden in Islam:

4:19. O you who believe! it is not lawful for you to treat women (of your deceased relatives) as inherited property by force, nor should you detain them that you may take away part of that which you have given them, except that they commit flagrant indecency. But consort with them in peace. Then if you have a dislike for them, it may be that you dislike a thing but Allâh has placed a good deal of good in it.24

Contrary to Zihar, the practice of Makkan idolater husbands, Quran assures intimacy for a wife, which if violated, gives her the right to initiate a divorce:

2:226. Those who vow (to abstain) from their wives, (the maximum) period of waiting (for them) is four months (after which divorce becomes inevitable), then if they (are reconciled within four months and) revert (to their normal relations), then, surely, Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.25

There was no financial protection for a Muslim wife of the Makkan idolater if the Makkan husband decided to divorce her. Whereas the Quran guards a divorced woman:

4:20. And if you desire to take one wife in place of (another) wife and you have given one of them a huge treasure, then take nothing from that which you have given. Would you take it by false accusation and by committing an open sin?

4:21. And how can you take it when you have already lain with one another and they (- your wives) have bound you down to a firm and solemn covenant (by marriage)?26

There was no bar on incest marriages in pre-Islam Arabia. Islam banned all incestuous relations. Just imagine the state of the Muslim wife whose Makkan husband later decided to marry another closely related woman. What custom or law would have prevented the Makkan idolater husband from doing so?

4:22. And marry not those women whom your fathers had married, except what had already passed (- you shall not be called to account for what you did in the past, only you have to divorce them now); for it is a thing highly indecent and repugnant and an evil practice.

4:23. Forbidden to you (for marriage) are your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your paternal aunts, and your maternal aunts, and the daughters of a brother, and the daughters of a sisters, and your (foster) mothers who have given suck to you, and your foster sisters, and the mothers of your wives, and your step-daughters who are being brought up under your care and have been born of your wives (by their former husbands,) unto whom you have gone in, but if you have not gone in unto them (- their mothers), then there is no blame on you (in marrying their daughters), and the wives of your sons who are from your own loins; and (it is forbidden to you) to keep in wedlock two sisters (at one and the same time), except what has already passed, (you have to divorce one of them). Surely, Allâh is Most Protector (against faults), Ever Merciful.27

If the marriage of the Muslim woman ended in a divorce there was no protection of her rights or assets in Makkah:

2:241. And for the divorced women (also) a provision (should be made) in a fair and equitable manner. This is an obligation binding on those who guard against evil (and have regard for duty).28

Contrary to prevailing emotions, divorce process in Quran is not to be a hardship for the woman, her pregnancy or her motherhood. This, for sure was not guaranteed in Makkan idolater society, if a Muslim woman married into it:

2:229. Such a (revocable) divorce may be (pronounced) twice, then, (after the second pronouncement) there should be either retaining (the wife) with honour and fairness or letting (her) leave with goodness. And it is not lawful for you to take (back) anything of what you have given them (your wives); however, if both (the husband and the wife) fear that they cannot abide by the injunctions of Allâh, and if you (- the Muslim community, also) fear that they cannot observe the limits (prescribed) by Allâh then there is no blame on either of them in what she gives up to redeem herself (as Khula`). These are the injunctions of Allâh, therefore, do not violate them; and whoso violates the injunctions of Allâh, it is they who are really the wrongdoers.

2:231. And when you divorce (your) women (a revocable divorce), and they approach the end of their `Iddat (-the prescribed period of waiting after divorce) then either retain them in an equitable manner or send them away (- freeing them) in an equitable manner. And do not retain them wrongfully that you may exceed the proper limits (and do them harm and maltreat them). And whosoever does that he has indeed done wrong and injustice to himself. Do not take Allâh's commandments in a light way; and remember Allâh's favour upon you and what He has revealed to you of the Book and the Wisdom, wherewith He exhorts you. And take Allâh as a shield and know that Allâh has perfect knowledge of everything.

2:233. The mothers shall give suck to their children for two full years, (this instruction is) for him who desires to complete the (period of) suckling. And it is incumbent on the man to whom the child is born (- the father) to provide them (- the mothers) the usual maintenance and their clothing (for this period) equitably and according to usage. No soul is charged with a duty except to its capacity. Neither shall a mother be made to suffer on account of her (love for her) child, nor shall he to whom the child is born (be made to suffer) on account of his child. The (father's) heir has a like duty. However if (mother and father) both desire weaning, by mutual consent and consultation, then there is no blame on (either of) them. And if you desire to provide a wet-nurse for your children there is no blame on you, provided you hand over what you have agreed to pay equitably (and in accordance with popular usage). And keep your duty to Allâh and know that Allâh is Seer of what you do.29

65:6. Lodge (the divorced) women (during the prescribed period in some part of the house) where you are lodging, according to (the best of) your means. Do not harass them so as to make (their stay) hard for them. If they be pregnant, bear their expanses until they are delivered of the child. And if they suckle (the child) for you (as the period of waiting is over with delivery) pay them their dues (for suckling), and (in order to settle it) consult together in all fairness (making only reasonable demands on one another). But if you find it mutually difficult (to come to a settled agreement) then let another woman suckle (the child) for him (- the father).

65:7. Let a man with (plentiful) means spend (for the maintenance of the suckling woman) according to his means. And let him whose means of subsistence are limited spend according to what Allâh has given him. Allâh burdens no person (with responsibility) beyond what He has given him. Allâh will soon bring about easy times after hardships.30

In Makkan society, the widows were at the mercy of the relatives of the deceased as indicated in some of the verses above. The Muslim widow of Makkan idolater would not have received the protection when she needed the most, whereas, Quran guarantees it for any widow:

2:234. Those of you who die and leave wives behind, these (wives) should keep themselves in waiting for four months and ten days (as `Iddat). So when they reach the end of their (prescribed) term (of waiting) then there is no blame on you for what they do with regard to themselves (about their remarriage) in an equitable manner. And Allâh is fully Aware of what you do.

2:240. And those of you who die and leave wives behind, there is a binding injunction (of God) for their wives for a year's maintenance without being turned out (of their homes). But if they go out (of their own accord during this period) there is no blame on you with regard to what they do about themselves in an equitable and decent manner. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.31

The divorced and unmarried women (and their orphaned children) were at the whims of their future husbands that Quran squarely addresses:

4:127. And they seek your ruling with regard to (marrying) women (having no husbands). Say, `Allâh gives you His ruling about them and He reminds you the ruling as has (already) been mentioned to you in this Book regarding women without husbands (- widows, divorced, or yet to be married) to whom you do not give their rights prescribed for them, yet you feel inclined to get them in marriage (with a mind to take over their belongings) and (the ruling is also regarding) the helpless children. (He enjoins you to) stand firm in observing equity towards the orphans. And (remember) whatever good you do Allâh knows it very well.32

In light of the verses above, it was of utmost importance, in order to protect the fundamental rights of the Muslims of the new order, to prohibit Muslim women from marrying into a Makkan idolater household which had no binding inclination for women rights nor for the orphans.

Marriage of a Muslim to a Non-Muslim: With the contextual discussion of Makkan idolaters out of the way, it becomes necessary to clear the fog surrounding the question of marriage of Muslim men and women to Non-Muslims in general.

As a prelude, it is an article of faith for a believer in Allah, Quran and the Prophet to endorse and show belief in the fundamental virtues of all previous Prophets, Books and by implication respect and develop bonds of brotherhood with all nations and peoples of the world.

2:285. The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him by his Lord and (so do) the faithful. Everyone believes in Allâh, His angels, His Books and His Messengers. (And the faithful declare,) `We make no distinction (in believing) between any of His Messengers.' They say, `(Lord!) we have heard (Your commandments) and we are obedient. (Grant us) Your protection, Our Lord! for to You is the returning.'33

[“Messenger” implies Muhammad, and “Messengers” refers to all the previous Prophets i.e. Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Ismael, Issac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Jesus, Rama, Krishna, Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster, Confucius, Tao etc. “Books” refer to all original scriptures, which are Torah, Zabur, Bible and Quran, and other revelations, which possibly include Zend-Avesta, Bhagavad Gita, Tipitaka, Tao Te Ching]

In pursuit of universal brotherhood, Quran gives some ultimate guidelines:

5:5. This day all good and pure things have been made lawful for you. And the food of those who have been given the Scripture is lawful for you (provided the food does not include anything forbidden in Islam), and your food is lawful for them. And (lawful for you for marriage are) the chaste women from among the believing women and chaste women from among those who have been given the Scripture before you, provided that you pay them their dowers (to live with them) after contracting valid marriage, not committing fornication, nor seeking secret love affairs by taking secret paramours. And whoever denies the commandments of (the true) faith, no doubt (he will find) his deeds have gone in vain and he will be of the losers in the Hereafter.34

With the above verse in mind, what could possibly create stronger bonds of love between individuals and communities than sharing of food between different cultures and love of marital relationships? Verse 5:5 factually encourages marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims and the feasting that goes along with it – a step towards racial integration and ‘one nation from all races and religions, rather than one race alone, under one God..’

At first blush, verse 5:5 seeming allows only Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women. It does not prohibit Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men. This verse also does not mandate Muslim men to marry non-Muslim women either; it only encourages it with the implication that such marriages are not bad – all good and pure things have been made lawful for you. Throughout Quran, while laying out general principles, male gender is used to address both men and women, unless it specifically addresses gender specific rights and obligations. Additionally, Quran is explicit in its injunctions when it outlines the prohibitions in no ambiguous terms, e.g. polyandry – And (you are also forbidden to marry) already married women who are in a wed-lock (4:24). The verse 5:5, while not prohibiting Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, when read in light of verse 2:228 i.e. …And women have their rights similar to their obligations in an equitable and just manner…, Quran allows the same for Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men.

Any prohibition attributed to Quran must be validated from within its text else Quran is quite clear in its prohibitions, and the issue under discussion finds no injunction against it:

6:150. Say, `Bring your witnesses who can testify that Allâh has forbidden the thing (you forbid yourselves).' Then supposing they testify this, do not bear them out, nor follow the caprice of those who treat Our Messages as lies and who do not believe in the Hereafter and who set up equals to their Lord.35

Rather on the reverse, Quran, as a principle, states:

5:87. O You who believe! do not forbid yourselves good and pure things which Allâh has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allâh does not like the transgressors.36

In conclusion, according to Quran, Muslim men and women may marry non-Muslims, while observing the precaution of the marital advisory in Quran. Irrespective of outside opinions, Quran plainly states –There is no compulsion of any sort in religion (as) the right way does stand obviously distinguished from the way of error (2:256)…by implication there is no compulsion in the practices within the religion as well because the right way does stand obviously distinguished from the way of error.



2 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
3 Al-Mâ'idah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin. 5:51. O you who believe! do not take these Jews and the Christians for allies. They are allies of one to another (when against you), and whoso from amongst you takes them for allies, is indeed one of them. Verily, Allâh does not guide the unjust people to attain their goal.
5 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin. 2:216-217. Fighting has been ordained for you, though it is hard for you. But it may be that a thing is hard upon you though it is (really) good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is bad for you. Allâh knows (all things) while you do not know. They ask you with regard to fighting in the Sacred Month. Say, `Fighting in it is (a) grave (offence). But to bar (people) from Allâh's cause and disbelief in Him and (to hinder people from) the Holy Mosque and to turn out its people therefrom is still grave in the sight of Allâh, and persecution is all the more grave an offence than killing.' And they will not cease to fight you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. And whoso from amongst you turns back from his faith, and dies while he is a disbeliever, it is they, then, whose deeds go in vain in this world and the Hereafter; and it is they who are the fellows of the Fire and therein they shall abide for long. Verily, as to those who believe and those who emigrate and struggle hard in the cause of Allâh, it is they who do (rightly) hope for Allâh's mercy. And Allâh is Great Protector, Ever Merciful.
6 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin. 2:220. Upon this world and the Hereafter. And they ask you concerning the orphans. Say, `To set (their affairs) right (keeping in view the promotion of their welfare) is (an act of great) virtue, and if you intermix with them they are (after all) your brethren. And Allâh knows the wrongdoers from the right-doers. And if Allâh had so willed, He would certainly have made matters difficult for you. Verily, Allâh is All- Mighty, All-Wise.
7 Al-Mumtahanah – She that is to be Examined: Nooruddin
8 ibid
9 Al-Najm – Parts of the Qur'ân: Nooruddin
10 Al-Mâ'idah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
11 Al-Naba' – The Important Announcement: Nooruddin
12 Al-Zukhruf – The Ornaments: Nooruddin
13 Al-Ahzâb – The Confederates: Nooruddin
14 Al-Mujâdilah – The Pleading Woman: Nooruddin
15 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
16 ibid
17 Al-Ahzâb – The Confederates: Nooruddin
18 Al-A`râf – The Elevated Places: Nooruddin
19 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
20 ibid
21 Al-Nisâ' – The Women: Nooruddin
22 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
23 Al-Nisâ' – The Women: Nooruddin
24 ibid
25 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
26 Al-Nisâ' – The Women: Nooruddin
27 ibid
28 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
29 ibid
30 Al-Talâq – The Divorce: Nooruddin
31 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
32 Al-Nisâ' – The Women: Nooruddin
33 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
34 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
35 Al-An`âm – The Cattle: Nooruddin
36 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin

Sufism – The Path of each and every Muslim via ‘common’ Islam, Quran and Sunnah

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

 Sufism – The Path of each and every Muslim via ‘common’ Islam, Quran and Sunnah

Sufism is a term thrown around without much understanding. Given its vague connotation and misuse, it is one of the few terms that can be more clearly understood by clarifying as to what Sufism in not.

Sufism is often misattributed to practices, formalities, conventions and traditions such as:

wird and wazifa (repetition of certain holy words), pir and murid (the spiritual guide and the disciple), silsilah (line of spiritual descent) and sajjadah nashin (those who sit in the seat of the teacher), bai'at (oath of allegiance to the head), of sajjadah and tasbih (prayer-carpet and strung beads), sarod and wajd (hymn-singing and ecstasy), zikr-bil-jahr and zikr kafi (loud repetitions and low repetitions), darwaish and fakir (the ascetic hermit), hal (working up an ecstatic mood), mast and malang (oblivious of everything and reckless), ghauth, qutub, abdal, wali (the various spiritual ranks), salik (the seeker after Truth), sirr (the secret) and a hundred and one others. And under this superstructure was crushed the vision of Ghazali, Rumi, Hafiz and the rest of the great sufis. Theirs was a cry of "back to Islamic simplicity." But those who came after them, men of narrower views and commoner clay, outdid the mulla1 himself in weaving a web of rites and rituals, forms and names, around the simple Truth of Islam. The general decadence of the world of Islam has in no small degree been influenced by the mushroom of the sufi schools, now deformed and degenerated, that sprang up here, there and everywhere. A wave of lethargy swept over all those who fell under their influence. What was this life worth? A sufi looks forward to things of the hereafter. While here, he must be content with whatever befalls him. His sole care must be to do the will of the pir, whose mysterious influence with God would secure him a position of special privilege with Him. Thus was undermined the moral backbone of once a manly, strenuous race. The Islamic life of strife and struggle gave place to a life of morbid humility and contentment. The Islamic straightforward commonsense code of life was subordinated to the caprice of an ignorant pir.2

Even the sources of Sufism are misconstrued:

Some people mistakenly believe that it is some sort of inherent knowledge that has been transmitted from generation to generation, and runs parallel with the recognised laws of the shariat (Islamic law). They hold that it was originally secretly taught by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Hazrat Ali, the fourth Caliph, and then passed on through him to the rest of the Muslim community. Hazrat Ali's name is most often associated with sufism because the leading sufis in many of the sufi orders trace their genealogy to Hazrat Ali. However, it is incorrect to ascribe the origin of Islamic Sufism to Hazrat Ali solely on this ground because the genealogy of sufis from some other orders leads to Hazrat Abu Bakr, the first Caliph.

The belief that Hazrat Ali was vouchsafed by the Holy Prophet some secret spiritual knowledge quite distinct from the shariat is not tenable. The Quranic injunction to the Holy Prophet on this matter is clear:

"O Messenger deliver that which has been revealed to thee from thy Lord." (5:67)

If the Holy Prophet had kept any of the revelation to himself and secretly conveyed it to one of his relatives (Hazrat Ali), it would be in clear violation of his duty as a messenger.

This belief in the secret transmission of knowledge, however, provided an opportunity to some people for trickery and deceit. In the name of tariqat (way) they innovated hundreds of false beliefs, and laid down the basis of another shariat besides the Islamic shariat. They justified these innovations on the grounds that it was the spiritual knowledge which had been transmitted by word of mouth from generation to generation and constituted a much more efficacious way of communion with God as compared to the known shariat.3

The idea that Sufism is a secret path outside Quran, must not and cannot be taken seriously, as such a belief brings into question the very integrity of Quran and the Prophet, who repeatedly state the opposite i.e. open declaration of the faith, its basis and practices. Nothing the Prophet said in the name of Islam was anything which is not supported by Quran:

15:94. Therefore declare openly what you [–Muhammad] are commanded (to deliver) and turn away from the polytheists.4

6:50. Say, ‘I [–Muhammad] do not say to you that with me are the treasures of Allâh, nor do I know the unseen; and I do not say to you (that) I am an angel. I indeed follow only what is revealed to me.’ Say, ‘Can a blind person and one gifted with sight be alike?’ Will you not even then give thought?5

The extensive monastic isolationism and ritualism of Sufism in the name of spirituality, and that too, allegedly, sanctioned by Prophet, is factually opposed by Quran, which, on the contrary, restricts even the ‘good’ rituals. For example, a month long fasting and four rikahs of a prayer, if exceeded, are considered transgressions by Quran, despite good intentions of its practitioner:

5:87. O YOU who believe! Do not forbid yourselves good and pure things which Allâh has made lawful for you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allâh does not like the transgressors.6

Rather on the reverse, the prayers, the fasting and charity are to be conducted in moderation and in normal state of daily affairs and there is no timeout for monasticism at the cost of daily livelihood and relationships:

17:78-79. Observe Prayer at the declining and paling of the sun, on to the complete darkness (in diverse hours) of the night, and recite the Qur'ân at dawn. Verily, the regular recital (of the Qur'ân) at dawn is (specially) acceptable (to God) and witnessed (by the angels). And remain awake for it (- the recitation of the Qur'ân and Prayer) for a part of the night after having risen from sleep as a supererogatory service for you. Thus it may be that your Lord will raise you to a laudable exalted position.7

73:20. Surely, your Lord knows that you remain standing (to say Night Prayers) for nearly two thirds of the night and (sometimes) half or one third of it; and so does a party of those (of your believing Companions) who are with you. And Allâh determines the night and the day (- sometime the nights are long and sometime they are short and sometime the day and the night are equal). He knows that you (- the Muslims in general) will not be able to keep up so long a vigil (to say Night Prayer). He has, therefore, turned to you with mercy. Recite then, as much of the Qur'ân (in your Night Prayer) as is easily possible. He knows that some of you may be taken ill and others may be moving about in the land seeking Allâh's bounty, and still others who may be fighting for the cause of Allâh, so (O Muslims!) recite as much of it (- the Qur'ân) as is easily possible (for you). You shall, however, observe Prayer (regularly five times a day in all events). And go on presenting Zakât and set apart a goodly portion (of your possessions to give for (the sake of) Allâh. And whatever good you send on before for yourselves, you will find it with Allâh as the best of things meriting the greatest reward. And seek protection of Allâh. Verily, Allâh is All-Protecting, Ever Merciful.8

62:9-10. 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. 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.9

2:187. (Though during Fasting you must abstain from all the urges of nature including the sexual urge) it is made lawful for you on the nights of the fasts to approach and lie with your wives (for sexual relationship). They are (a sort of) garment for you and you are (a sort of) garment for them. Allâh knows that you have been doing injustice to yourselves (by restricting conjugal relations with your wives even at night), so He turned to you with mercy and provided you relief; now enjoy their company (at night during Ramadzân) and seek what Allâh has ordained for you. Eat and drink till the white streak of the dawn becomes distinct to you from the black streak (of the darkness), then complete the fast till nightfall. And you shall not lie with them (- your wives) while you perform I`tikâf (- while you are secluding in the mosque for prayer and devotion to God). These are the limits (imposed) by Allâh so do not approach these (limits). Thus does Allâh explains His commandments for people that they may become secure against evil.10

25:67. And (the true servants of God are those) who, when spending, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, (but their spendings follow) a middle course, ever moderate;11

Any transgression of rituals and practices in name of faith that we commonly see in Sufism, has parallels in monastic inventions by the followers of the Jesus, that Quran shuns:

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.12

Sufism, as commonly known for its style and practices, is alleged to Prophet Muhammad. It has parallels to a faith misconstrued to Jesus. Quran outlines as follows, which implies that the Prophet too will disavow himself from such inventions by his followers:

5:116. AND when Allâh said, ‘O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say to the people, “Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allâh?”’ He (-Jesus) replied, ‘Glory be to You! It was not possible and proper for me to say a thing to which I had no right. If I had said it, you would indeed have known it, (for) you know all that is in my mind but I do not know what is in Yours. It is You alone Who truly know all things unseen.

5:117. ‘I said nothing to them except that what You had commanded me, “Worship Allâh, My Lord as well as your Lord”. I was a witness over them (only) so long as I remained among them but ever since You caused me to die, You Yourself have been the Watcher over them and You are the Witness to everything.

5:118. ‘If You punish them, then surely they are Your servants and if You pardon them, You surely are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.’ 13

While reading the common literature about Sufism and in personal discussions with those who practice Sufism as a path, it soon emerges that their practices, which teeter on monkery, are not found in Sunnah or Hadiths. By common knowledge, Sufism, its thoughts and practices tend to be enshrined in an esoteric mysticism that can only be understood by and passed from a master to a student and cannot be preached. Even the discussion held in Sufi gatherings, that one can find on internet, are centered on discussion in which Quran tends not be the center of gravity, rather the wits and perceptions of the group leader hold sway over the audience. Whereas, in Quran, the Prophet clearly states that he cannot say, preach or follow that which is not in Quran, and is obviously different from the commonly practiced and pursed Sufism:

10:15. When Our clear verses are recited to them, those who fear not the meeting with Us, nor do they cherish any hope (for the same,) say, ‘Bring a Qur’ân other than this one or (at least) make some changes in it.’ Say (to them), ‘It is not for me to introduce changes in it of my own accord. I follow nothing but what is revealed to me. Truly if I disobey my Lord I fear the punishment of a great (dreadful) Day.’

10:16. Say, ‘Had Allâh (so) willed (that He should replace the teachings of the Qur’ân with some other teachings), I should not have recited this (Qur’ân) to you, nor would He have made it known to you. I had indeed lived among you a (whole) lifetime before this (claim to Prophethood. Was not my truthfulness undisputed?). Will you not then refrain (from opposing me)?’

10:17. Who is then more unjust than he who forges a lie in the name of Allâh or cries lies to His Messages? It is but certain that the guilty shall never attain their goal.14

Sufism teeters on cultism in which the leader of the order is to be blindly followed in thought and action as such leaders are considered by their followers as intercessors with Allah for them. Quran not only rejects such claim to fame of the intercessors but mocks such belief:

10:18. And (some) people worship, apart from Allâh, things that can neither harm them (of their own accord) nor can help them. They say, ‘These are our intercessors with Allâh.’ Say, ‘Do you (presume to) inform Allâh of the things of whose existence in the heavens or in the earth He does not know?’ Glory be to Him! High be He, exalted above (all the things) they associate (with Him).15

Tasawwuf (the way of the Sufis, Sufism) if to be followed, cannot be outside of the pale of Shariat and Sunnah (the way of the Prophet Muhammad, PBUH) and the Book (Quran), for the mere fact that:

5:3…This day have I perfected for you your faith and completed My blessings upon you and have chosen Islam for your religion…16

2:2. This is the only perfect Book [–the Quran], wanting in naught, containing nothing doubtful, harmful or destructive, there is no false charge in it. It is a guidance for those who guard against evil;17

3:31.Say, `Follow me [–the Sunnah], if you love Allâh, (if you do so) Allâh will love you and grant you protection from your sins.…18

With negatives surrounding Sufism out of the way, the path of a Sufi, a Muslim, is vividly identified in Quran:

The technical meanings of Islam are those indicated in the following verse:

Nay, whoever submits himself whole-heartedly to Allah, and he is a doer of good to others, he shall have his reward from his Lord. And there is no fear for such people, nor do they grieve. (2:112)

This means that a Muslim is one who commits his entire being in the way of God, the Most High. That is, he dedicates himself completely to Allah, for the pursuance of His will and for the attainment of His pleasure. He then devotes himself to doing good deeds for the sake of God, and employs all his practical faculties in His path. In short, his life is entirely for Allah in both belief and deed.19

The progressive stages of Sufism are outlined in the same verse 2:112:

It should also be remembered here that the verse mentioned above, i.e.

Nay whoever submits himself whole-heartedly to Allah, and he is a doer of good to others, he shall have his reward from his Lord; and there is no fear for such people, nor do they grieve.

the three stages of perfect spiritual obedience: fana (annihilation), baqa (continuance) and liqa (meeting with God). As described above, the phrase "submits himself whole-heartedly to Allah" gives the lesson that the entirety of a person's being with all his faculties must be handed over to God and dedicated in His way. This is the state which is called fana. It has been so named by spiritual scientists because of the kind of death (of the lower self) that takes place when a person, acting according to the dictates of this verse, hands over his whole being with all its faculties to God by devoting it to His way, and refrains completely from the urges and comforts of his lower self.

The words of the verse immediately after, "and he is a doer of good to others", refers to the stage of baqa. This is the stage when a person, after a complete negation of the self, begins to act under Divine motivation and instigation, and after the cessation of all baser movements is set into motion under Divine inspiration. This is that second life which should be appropriately termed baqa.

The words of the verse after this, "he shall have his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for such people, nor do they grieve", affirms the certainty of receiving reward, and negates the presence of fear and grief. This is a reference to the state of liqa. In this state a person achieves that high status in knowledge, conviction, trust and love, where the reward for his sincerity, faith and fidelity is no longer mere imagination or conjecture, but is as certain, manifest, and perceptible, as if he had received it. He acquires such a faith in the existence of God as if he can see Him. All fears about the future vanish and no trace is left of any past or present grief. He perceives the existence of every spiritual blessing. This state, which is clear of all murkiness, safe from every doubt, and free from the fear of the unknown, is termed liqa. The word muhsin (doer of good) in this verse corroborates this description of the state of liqa, because as explained by the Holy Prophet Muhammad ihsan denotes that perfect state in which man forms such a close relationship with God during worship that it is as if he were seeing Him.

The rank of liqa is fully attained by the spiritual wayfarer when the divine hue conceals and covers the human element under it as completely as fire hides the colour of molten iron, so that to outward appearance there is nothing but fire. This is the stage at which some spiritual students, when they reached it, have erred and mistaken shuhud (the presence of the Divine Being) as wujud (unity with the Divine Being). To those saints who reached this rank, or those who attained some measure of it, certain spiritual scholars have applied the term 'sons of God'. This analogy has been made because such persons have completely embraced Divine attributes, and just as a son bears some resemblance in appearance and features to his father, they too, by reflection, bear some resemblance to God's beautiful attributes in which they are moulded. Although such a term is not explicitly used in the language of the shariah, the spiritual men have, in fact, deduced it from the Holy Quran. As Allah, the Glorious says:

Remember Allah as you remember your fathers; nay, with an even stronger remembrance. (2:200)

It is obvious that if the shariah had meant to forbid the metaphorical use of such terms then God would have kept His word free from the kind of expression from which the legality of such usage could be deduced.20

Only the first stage of a Sufi is volitional, while the subsequent two are endowed:

It should be noted that the stages of baqa and liqa cannot be achieved by effort and are, in fact, endowed. Human endeavour can take a person only up to the stage of fana where the journey of all the righteous persons and spiritual wayfarers ends as the limits of human capabilities have been reached. And when the purified souls reach this stage of fana, it is the pattern of Allah, and has always been so, that the winds of His bounty blow and propel the traveler to the stages of baqa and liqa. With this research, it is evident that all the difficulties and deprivations of this journey are up to the stage of fana and beyond it effort, endeavour and hard work are not factors for further advancement. In fact, it is the pure love that develops in the stage of fana for the Supreme and Generous God which causes a spark from the love of God to automatically fall on the devotee and this is referred to as the stages of baqa and liqa. And when the love of Allah descends upon the love of the servant, then with the union of both these loves, the bright and complete reflection of the Holy Spirit (Ruh-al Qudus) is generated in the heart of that person. At the stage of liqa, the light of that Holy Spirit is very prominent and the unusual feats of empowerment that we have discussed earlier are manifested by these people. This light of the Holy Spirit is always with them and resides within them. They do not separate from it under any condition, nor does the light separate from them. The light emanates from them with every breath and is cast on every object they see and with their speech it exhibits its luminescence to the audience. This light is called the Ruh-al-Qudus (The Holy Spirit). This is, however, only the reflection of the Real Holy Spirit which resides in Heaven. This reflection of the Holy Spirit resides in the pure hearts and souls forever, and does not separate from them for even a moment.21

The stage of liqa has examples in Quran. The liqa of the prophet is thus mentioned where he addresses his followers as O My servants22 with the voice of Allah:

39:10. Say, `O My servants who believe! take your Lord as a shield. There is a good reward for those who do good in (the life of) this world. And (if you are persecuted for your faith know that) the earth of Allâh is vast and spacious (enough to provide you shelter). Certainly the patiently, persevering and steadfast will be given their reward beyond measure.' 22a

39:53. Say, `O My servants who have committed excesses against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allâh. Surely, Allâh forgives all sins. Verily, He is the Great Protector, the Ever Merciful.'22b

The liqa stage was not limited to the Prophet alone. His companions shared a similar stage:

8:17. Therefore (in this war O Muslims!) you killed them not. (As a matter of fact) it was Allâh Who killed them. And (O Prophet!) it was not you who threw (a handful of small stones) when you did (apparently) throw them (towards the enemy) but it was Allâh Who threw (that He might vanquish your enemies) and that He might confer on the believers from Himself a bounteous favour. Verily, Allâh is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.22c

One of the Divine of our times, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Mujaddid, shares his epitome stage of liqa as manifested revelations:

You are from Me and I am from you, and the earth and the heavens are with you as they are with Me, and you are from Our water and other people from dust, and you are from Me as My unity and you are with Me at that stage of union as is not known to any creature. God praises you from His throne. You proceeded from Him and He chose you from out of the whole world. You are exalted in my court. I approved you for Myself. You are the light of the world, your eminence is wonderful. I shall raise you towards Myself, and shall keep your group triumphant till the day of judgment. You have been blessed, God increased your honour. You are God’s prestige, so He shall not abandon you. You are the eternal word, so you shall not be obliterated. I shall come to you along with armies. You shall receive my spoils of war. I shall bestow honour on you and protect you. This will happen, this will happen, this will happen, and then there shall be passing away. For you, are My perfect rewards. Tell the people that if you love God then come and walk in my wake so that God may also love you. God is witness to my truth, then why do you not believe? You are before My eyes. I named you ‘one resigned to the will of God’. God praises you from the throne. We praise you and send benediction on you. People will wish to extinguish this light but God will take this light, which is His light, to perfection. We shall cast terror in their hearts. Our victory shall come and the affair of the times shall end with Us. That day it shall be said: Was it not the truth? I am with you wherever you are. Whither you face, God faces the same way. To pledge allegiance to you is like pledging allegiance to Me, your hand is My hand. People will come to you from afar and God’s help will descend upon you. People will get revelations from God about you and will help you. None can avert God’s prophecies.”

O Ahmad, blessing has been made to issue from your lips and mention of your name has been exalted. God will illuminate your argument. You are brave, if faith had been [as distant as] at the Pleiades, you would have found it. Treasures of God’s blessing have been given to you. The mention of your forefathers shall be cut off, and God shall start with you. I intended to make My successor so I have created Adam, that is, you Avahan (God descended in you). God shall not abandon you, nor leave you till He distinguishes between the pure and the polluted. I was a hidden treasure so I desired to be recognized. You are a mediator between Me and the entire creation. I breathed My spirit in you. You shall be helped and none shall find place to escape to. You have descended with the truth and in you the prophecies of the prophets have been fulfilled. God sent His apostle to strengthen His religion and make it triumphant over all religions. God made him descend near Qadian and he alighted with truth, and was made to alight with truth, and this was ordained from the beginning. You people were at the brink of an abyss, God sent him to rescue you. O My Ahmad, you are My wish and are with Me. I planted the tree of your eminence with My own hand. I shall make you the leader of the people and shall help you. Do the people wonder at this? Say: God is a wonder. He chooses whom He pleases and is not questioned about His actions. God’s shadow shall be on you and He shall remain your shield. The heaven was closed up and also the earth, We opened them both. You are that Jesus whose time shall not be wasted. A pearl like you cannot be wasted. We shall make you a sign for the people and this had been destined from the beginning. You are with me. Your secret is My secret. You are dignified and chosen in this world and the hereafter. For you is a special reward and you are dignified above the whole world. Go forth rejoicing as your time has drawn nigh, and the feet of the Muhammadans are settled firmly on a very high minaret. I shall show my splendour, I shall lift you with a show of My power. A warner came to the world but the world accepted him not. But God will accept him and will manifest his truth with very powerful attacks. For him is that abode where man cannot reach by the strength of his deeds. You are with Me, for you the night and day have been created. You have that relationship with Me which is not known to the creatures. O people, the light of God has come to you, so do not become rejectors.”23

While keeping the above discussion in mind, the following verses, in a nutshell, encapsulate the Sufi stages of the Prophet, commonly called as ‘Meraj’, the spiritual journey and ascension – We made the vision which We showed you (being carried to Jerusalem from Makkah by night) (17:60).24According to Quran the sojourn was solely centered on Prophet following the path of Quran:

53:1. I call to witness every part of the Qur'ân when it is revealed,

53:2. That your comrade (Muhammad) has neither deviated (from true guidance in his practices) nor has he erred (in his beliefs).

53:3. He does not say anything out of (his own) fanciful desire.

53:4. This (Qur'ân) is nothing but (pure) revelation, revealed (to him by God).

53:5. The Lord of Mighty Powers has taught him (this discourse).

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 humankind, 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 ascansion).

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.25

In conclusion, Sufism, in light of Quran, is not a separate creed or path that was passed secretly from the Prophet to Ali and others. The path of a Sufi is path of mainstream Islam and of each and every Muslim. All prophets and reformers (Mujaddids) were Muslims. Thus, every Prophet was a Sufi and so was every Mujaddid, with the difference that the office of Prophethood ended with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and after him the Mujaddids is a conferred position by Allah Himself and cannot be attained by voluntary effort alone.

1 Urdu mullā, from Persian, from Arabic mawlā, master, friend; – Not be confused with ordinary Mullah of a mosque
2 Mysticism in Islam by Khwaja Kamaluddin, under the section: Introduction by Maulana Yakub Khan and Maulana Aftab-ud-din Ahmad, p. 18, pub: Aftab-ud-Din Ahmad Charitable Trust, 15 Brandreth Road, Lahore (Pakistan).
3 Position of Sufi-ism (Tasawwuf) in Islam: by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, Compiled by Dr. Mohammad Ahmad (link:
4 Al-Hijr – The Rock: Nooruddin
5 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
6 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
7 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
8 Al-Muzzammil – He That Has Wrapped Himself Up: Nooruddin
9 Al-Jumu`ah – The Congregation: Nooruddin
10 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
11 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
12 Al-Hadid – The Iron: Nooruddin
13 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
14 Yunus – Jonah: Nooruddin
15 Ibid
16 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
17 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
18 Al-Imran – The Family of Imran: Nooruddin
19 Philosophy of Sufi-ism (Tasawwuf) in Islam: by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, Compiled by Dr. Mohammad Ahmad (link:
20 Ibid
21 Ibid
22 Kitab al-Bariyya or An Account of Exoneration by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, translated by Dr. Zahid Aziz, p. 104, Nottingham, England, November 1999. (link:
22aAl-Zumar – The Multitudes: Nooruddin

22cAl-Anfal  – The Voluntary Gifts: Nooruddin

23 Ibid, p. 99-101

24 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
25 Al-Najam – Part of the Quran: Nooruddin

Angels or Angelic — Winged or Winged with Power?

Monday, December 18th, 2017

Angels1,2,3 or AngelicWinged or Winged with Power?

We frequently find references to various body parts in Quran, not simply in a literal sense, but mostly figuratively. For example, eyes and ears draw attention to awareness, lures and insights; hearts not only mean emotions but also intentions and beliefs.  Similarly, hands and wings symbolize power and means.

To insist that angels are winged creatures just because angels’ wings are mentioned in Quran is the same as the ridiculous notion that God has physical hands because Quran mentions so in context of Allah:

5:64. And the Jews said, `Allâh's hand is fettered (from assisting the helpless Muslims).' Fettered are their own hands (from assisting the enemies of Islam), and they are deprived of blessings of Allâh for what they said. Nay, (the truth of the matter is that) both His hands are wide open (and free). He spends as He pleases…4

Pagans of Makkah used to ascribe female gender to the angels, which is no different than believers now attributing wings to them. Quran refutes both:

37:150. Or did We create the angels as females (in their presence) while they were witnesses (of their birth).5

Quran shuts the door to any imaginary winged angels visible to human eye:

6:9. And if We had made him [–the Prophet] an angel, We would certainly have made him a man, and (thus) made confused to them what they confuse.6

Allah says that even if an angel were to appear as a messenger for mankind, he would appear in the form of a man because the human eye cannot see angels, let along winged angels. This would not solve the issue for the distrusting ones because they would not be able to tell the difference between men and angels in the form of men, and the same confusion would arise in their minds as when a human being was entrusted with the Divine message. Moreover, only a human being could serve as a model for people, not an angel.

As a word of caution from Quran, when all and sundry will be able ‘see’ angels, it might be a hard day:

25:22. (Do they not realize that) the day when they will see the angels there will be no good tidings that day for those who cut off their ties (with God), and they will say (in distress), `Would that there were some strong barrier (between us and this punishment).'7

Since verse 25:22 relates to after-life, a non-physical state, such ‘seeing’ of angels further affirms that physical eyes are not the correct medium to perceive angels.

Still, angels, as a general subject, remain mysterious. There are at least two influences on Muslim concept of angels with wings: the influence of imagery of European artworks of winged entities as well the use of the word 'wings' in Quran. Let’s analyze the Quranic verses addressing the angels’ wings first:

35:1. All kind of true and perfect praise belongs to Allâh, the Originator of the heavens and the earth, Who employs as (His) messengers the angels, having two or three or four pairs of wings [–Arabic: ajniḥatin] (and so possessed of powers, speed and qualities in varying degrees). He adds to the creation (of these wings and thus to the powers and abilities of the angels) as much as He will (in accordance with the importance of the work entrusted to each one of them), for Allâh is Possessor of power over (His) every desired thing.8

Abdul Manan Omar, in translating the above verse, gives further explanation of the use of the word – 'wings', in his Dictionary of The Holy Quran on p. 506:

The angels are called Malâ’ikah because they bring revelation and they are entrusted with the management, supervision and control of the forces of nature (79:5). The representation of angels as possessing wings (35:1) by no means indicates the forelimbs of a bird which fit it for flight. The wings of the angels are forces comprised within the designations of angels, obviously a metaphor to express speed and power with which God's revelations are conveyed and the power and speed with which their other functions are executed. In Arabic the word Janâh stands for power, as they say, Huwa Maqsûs al-janâh – He is the one who lacks strength or power or ability or he is not important. The multiplicity of the wings of the angels, two or three or four, means to stress the countless ways in which God causes His commands to materialize within the universe created by Him. The expression "they bear two, three, four or more" signify the number of Divine attributes. The angels possess powers and qualities in varying degrees and in accordance with the importance of the work entrusted to each of them. Some of the angels are endowed with powers and qualities greater than the others. Arch-Angel Gabriel is endowed with six hundred wings or six hundred attributes (Bukhârî, on the authority of Ibn Mas’ûd).9

If wings of an angel are for flight then the question becomes whether they are composed of reptilian skin or made of feathers or something else? Wings, as we know them, are used for flight through air to give aerodynamic stability. However, wings are useless beyond atmosphere as space travel needs no such design. If angels use their wings to move about, then where are they traveling to and fro? The more one believes in the physical wings of an angel, the more questions and doubts arise with the result that the actual purpose and function of angels is forgotten and the focus shifts and remains on the minutia.

The word janāḥa – '(the) wing' is used in another place for its similar metaphorical use:

17:23. Your Lord has enjoined you to worship none but Him and to be good to parents. If either or both attain old age (while living) with you, never say to them, `Fie!' (- any word expressive of disgust or dislike), nor reproach them (by your action). Rather address them with kind and respectful words (always).

17:24. And lower to them the wings [–Arabic: janāḥa] of submissiveness out of tenderness (treating them with humility and compassion). And say (praying for them), `My Lord! have mercy upon them just as they nourished and brought me up as a child.'10

When the 'wings' are used in their literal meanings in Quran, their corresponding flight is clearly stated:

6:38. There is no terrestrial creature (that crawls) in the earth nor a bird that flied (in the air) with its two wings [–Arabic: bi-janāḥa-yhi] but (they are) creatures like you, (all subject to the Divine Laws). We have neglected nothing in (Our) this perfect Book (of law). Then to their Lord shall they all be gathered.11

If angels and their wings are of physical nature, then we have to accept that friends of Joseph's accuser must have seen angels beforehand when they called Joseph an angel:

12:31. 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 [–Arabic: malakun].'

12:32. She said, `So (you have seen) this is he about whom you blamed me. I did seek to seduce him against his will, but he preserved himself (from sin), yet (I tell him aloud) if he do not what I bid him, he shall certainly be imprisoned, and he shall indeed be of the humiliated ones.'12

The response of guests after hearing the chaste character of Joseph and witnessing his dignified appearance – He is not a human being. He is but a noble angel, obviously signifies the metaphorical understanding of angels. Assuredly, Joseph had no wings of an angel.

The possibility to see an angel with a human eye and in some religions to even paint them in artworks is nothing but fantastic stories according to Quran. This curiosity of man to see angels is obvious in the following verse:

25:7-9. They say, `What sort of a Messenger is this that he even eats food and (also) goes about in the market-places? Why has no angel been sent down to him that he may (help him and) be a warner along with him? `Or a treasure should have been sent to him or there should have been a garden from which he might eat.' Not only that, these unjust people say, `You follow none but a (mere) man who is given food.' Look, what fantastic stories they concoct with regard to you! It is therefore that they have gone astray and are unable to find a way.13

Since angels occupy a prominent mention in Quran, it begets the obvious question of whether they can be seen with a physical eye. The answer is in the negative:

33:9. Believers! remember how Allâh favoured you when (the combined) forces (of the Quraish and their allies) came against you (in the Battle of Ahzâb) and We sent against them (the forces of nature) a strong wind and hosts (of angels) that you could not see. And Allâh is ever a close observer of your (painstaking efforts and toilsome) deeds.14

It is only the spiritual eyes to which the angels become manifest that we see in the case of Mary, who had such an experience in her spiritually devoted living:

19:16-17. And give an account of Mary in this Book when she withdrew from her people to an eastern spacious place (of the temple). Then she screened herself off from them. Then We sent to her Our (angel of) revelation and he presented himself to her in the form of a perfect and well-proportioned man.15

Thus, even Mary ‘saw’ a man and not a winged creature. With the nature of angels out of the way, reader is encouraged to review a detailed discussion about angels by Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book “The Religion of Islam” under the chapter 'Angels', p. 133-134, where he discussed the role angels:

Angelic function

In the Qur'an, angels are generally described as having a connection with the spiritual state of man. It was an angel, Gabriel by name, who brought revelation to the Prophet (2:97; 26:193, 194) and the prophets before him (4:163). The same angel is mentioned as strengthening the prophets (2:87) and the believers (58:22). While angels generally are spoken of as descending on believers and comforting them (41:30), they are also intermediaries in bringing revelation to those who are not prophets, as in the case of Zacharias (3:38) and Mary (3:41, 44). Angels were sent to help the believers against their enemies (3:123, 124; 8:12); they pray for blessings on the Holy Prophet (33:56) and on the believers (33:43); they ask forgiveness for all men, believers as well as non-believers (42:5); they cause believers to die (16:32) and also non-believers (4:97; 16:28); they write down the deeds of men (82:10, 12); they will intercede for men on the Day of Judgment (53:26). There is no clear reference to their function in the physical world unless the causing of death may be treated as such, but I have classed it as a spiritual function because death makes both the believers and unbelievers enter a new life. It may be added here that the Tradition mentions an angel of birth, that is an angel appointed for every man when he quickens in the mother's womb (Bukhari. 59:6). There are, however, verses in the Qur'an which show that the angelic hosts have some sort of connection with the physical world. The most important of these verses are those which speak of the creation of man (Adam). When God wished to create man, He communicated His wish to the angels (2:30; 15:28; 38:71). This shows that the angels were there before man was created, and, therefore, must have had some sort of connection with the physical world and with the forces which brought about the creation of man. Unless they are treated as intermediaries carrying out the Divine will, the communication to them of the Divine will to create man is meaningless. These verses, therefore, lead us to the conclusion that the laws of nature find expression through angels. It is due to this function of theirs that they are called messengers (rusul) (22:75; 35:1). Expression of the Divine will is a Divine message, and the angels as bearers of that message carry it into execution. Their description as bearers of the Throne ('Arsh) of the Lord (40:7; 69:17) leads to the same conclusion for, as already stated, the Arsh stands for the Divine control of the universe, and the angels, the bearers of that control, are in fact the intermediaries through whom that control is exercised.

Vastly greater importance is, however, attached to the angelic function in the spiritual world, because it is primarily with the spiritual development of man that the Qur'an is concerned. To put it briefly, the function of the angel in the spiritual world is the same as his function in the physical world — to serve as an intermediary in carrying out the Divine will which, in the latter case, is to bring about the evolution of creation, and in the former, the evolution of man. According to the teachings of Islam, the angel has a close connection with the life of man from his birth, even from the time he is in the mother's womb till his death, and even after death, in his spiritual progress in Paradise and his spiritual treatment in Hell. The different functions of the angel in connection with the spiritual life of man may be broadly divided into seven classes which are detailed below.

[Editor’s note: The seven classes can be read directly from the book itself, only their titles are reproduced below]

Angels as intermediaries in bringing revelation

Angels as intermediaries in strengthening believers

Angles as intermediaries in carrying out Divine punishment

Angles's intercession and prayers for men

Angels help in spiritual progress of man

Angel's promptings to noble deeds

Angels recording deeds of men

Another myth that pervades common Muslim understanding is that Shaitan, the Iblis, commonly known as Satan or Devil was an angel who unlike rest of the angels refused to make obeisance to Adam when the latter was created:

2:34. And (recall) when We said to the angels, `Make obeisance to Adam.' So they obeyed except Iblîs, he refused stubbornly and waxed proud, and he was already one of the disbelievers.16

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…17

Abdul Manan Omar, while discussing Iblis, the Satan, debunks the myth of Fallen Angel, in his Dictionary of The Holy Quran on p. 62-63:

Balasa/Ablasa: Balasa: Person of desperate character. There is no verbal root of this word in the first form. Ablasa: To be overcome with grief, be desperate, struck dumb with despair, remain disheartened and gloomy, stupefied, remain speechless. Iblîs: It is derived from ablasa which means: Who despaired; Good and virtue became less or decreased, who became broken in spirit, mournful, who was perplexed and was unable to see his way, who became silent on account of grief or despair, who was cut short or silenced in argument, who became unable to prosecute his journey, who was prevented from attaining his wish. The Greek word ‘dislos’ from which the English word ‘devil’ is derived is probably hellenized form of Ibilîs: It is a fact that the Greeks derived a good deal of their mythological concepts from the much earlier Arabian civilization. On the other hand there is no evidence that the pre-Islamic Arabs borrowed this or any other mythological term from the Greeks. Iblîs was not one of the angels. He was one of the Jinn and transgressed (18:50). In verse 2:36 he is called satan. Iblîs has been described in 2:34 as disobeying God, while the angels have been described as ever submissive and obedient. (16:49; 66:6) Jinn are from fire and angels from that of light. The fact of his rebellion is repeatedly stressed in the Holy Qur’ân. Hence Iblîs could not be an angel. The theory of “fallen angel” is contrary to the Qur’ânic teachings.

Similarly, Maulana Muhammad Ali in his book 'The Religion of Islam', p. 142, exposes that Iblis was not an angel:

Iblis is not an angel but one of the jinn

There is a popular misconception, into which many writers of repute have fallen, that Iblis or the Devil is one of the angels. The misconception has arisen from the fact that where the angels are commanded to make obeisance to Adam, there is also mention of Iblis and his refusal to make obeisance: "And when We said to the angels, Be submissive to Adam, they submitted, but Iblis (did not). He refused and was proud, and he was one of the disbelievers" (2:34). From these words it is clear enough that Iblis or the Devil was one of the unbelievers and refused to obey, and, therefore, he could not be an angel, because, of the angels, it is plainly said that "they do not disobey Allah in that which He commands them, but do as they are commanded" (66:6). And elsewhere it is stated in so many words that Iblis was not from among the angels but from among the jinn: "And when We said to the angels, Make submission to Adam, they submitted except Iblis. He was of the jinn, so he transgressed the commandment of his Lord" (18:50). Now jinn and angels are two different classes of beings; their origin and their functions have nothing in common. The jinn, as we have seen, are mentioned as being created from fire, while the angels are created from light [nur – al-Sahih al-Muslim 52:22]; and the function of the jinn has also been shown to be quite different from the function of the angel. It is, therefore, an obvious error to look upon the jinn as being a branch of the angelic creation. [Note: the author is referring to details in the beginning of the chapter ‘Angels’ from which paragraph is excerpted]

Dr. Zahid Aziz in his book “Introduction to Islam” under the chapter 'Angels', p. 14, answers a fundamental question about angels:

Why are angels necessary to bring God's messages to man?

Just as light is needed as a medium for our eyes to see things, and air is needed to carry sound to our ears, similarly an agency is required to activate our spiritual senses. The angels are that agency. They bring God's messages to the 'inner' eyes and ears of righteous people, and also cast good and noble thoughts into the 'hearts' of all people. But it is only the righteous who, because of their highly-developed spiritual senses, may be able to perceive the working of angels.

In conclusion, it is a requirement of faith to believe in angels and model angelic behaviors and not to dwell on how the angels look like:

2:177. It is not the sole virtue that you turn your faces to the east or the west but true virtue is theirs, who believe in Allâh, the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and in the Prophets, and who give away their wealth (and substance) out of love for Him, to the near of kin, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer and to those who ask (in charity) and in ransoming the slaves; and who observe the Prayer, who go on presenting the Zakât (- the purifying alms) and those who always fulfill their pledges and agreements when they have made one, and those who are patiently persevering in adversity and distress and (steadfast) in times of war. It is these who have proved truthful (in their promises and in their faith) and it is these who are strictly guarded against evil. 18


1A detailed discussion about angels can be found in “The Religion of Islam” by Maulana Muhammad Ali, chap: ‘Angels,’ p. 128-151

2 Harut and Marut, the mythical angels are discussed in chapter – You Can Do Magic♫ You Can Have Anything That You Desire♪1 – But, Not So In Quran – HarutMarut and the not so Holy Masons. Link:
3 The discourse between God and Angels about creation of Adam is discussed in chapter – Adam Who? But, Son Of Adam I.E. You And Me – At Least According To Quran. Link:
4 Al-Maidah – The Table Spread with Food: Nooruddin
5 Al-Saffat – Those Ranging in Ranks: Nooruddin
6 Al-Anam – Cattle: Muhammad Ali, Zahid Aziz
7 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
8 Fatir – Originator: Nooruddin
9 Dictionary of The Holy Quran, (c) 2010, Abdul Mannan Omar
10 Isra – The Night-Journey: Nooruddin
11 Al-Anam – The Cattle: Nooruddin
12 Yusuf – Joseph: Nooruddin
13 Al-Furqan – The Standard of True and False: Nooruddin
14 Al-Ahzab – The Confederates: Nooruddin
15 Maryam – Mary: Nooruddin
16 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin
17 Al-Kahaf – The Place of Refuge: Nooruddin
18 Al-Baqarah – The Cow: Nooruddin

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

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verses 2:26-384

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

55:3. He created human being;

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

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

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

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

96:4. Who taught by the pen,

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

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

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

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

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

This verse outlines the passive role of Angels.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2:35. And We said, `O Adam! dwell you and your wife in this garden and eat freely and plentifully from it as you will. But you shall not go near this tree (- evil) lest you should be of the unjust.'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

56:30. And (in) extended shades;

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

56:32. And (amidst) abundant fruit;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verses 7:10-2542

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

114:3. `The God of People,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verses 17:61-6553

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

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

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

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

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

Verses 18:50-5154

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

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

Verses 20:115-12455

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

83:6-9. The Day when people shall stand before the Lord of the worlds? Nay, (not at all as they believe) the record of (the deeds) of the wicked is in Sijjîn (- the register of a prison) What should make you know what that Sijjîn is? (It is) a book written (distinctly and comprehensively). 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The metaphorical design of the heavenly abode is described as:

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

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

88:12. It shall have a running spring,

88:13. It shall have thrones raised high,

88:14. And goblets properly set,

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

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

Heavenly state as contrasted to hell is described as:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apparently, there will be no boredom therein:

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

As to how long this heavenly state will last?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

104:9. (The flames of the Fire will rise) in (the form of) huge outstretched columns.38

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Khudaaya meri qudrat meh nah yeh dunya nah woh dunya

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

Yahaan marney key pabandee, wahan jeenay key pabandee

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

To recap:

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

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


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

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

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

74:51. Running away from a lion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 Al-Hajj – The Pilgrimage: Nooruddin
6 Ar-Rad – The Thunder: Muhammad Asad
7 Speaking of Animals: A Dictionary of Animal Metaphors.
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"
** 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.


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

Moon – Struck or Split

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Moon – Struck or Split

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Philosophy of Jihad in the Quran

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

A Brief Philosophy of Jihad in Qur’ân1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additionally, Jihad needs spiritual efforts as well:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not kill yourselves.” — 4:2930

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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