"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 14

I think I'll just jump right in with some thoughts on the verses today. Come join me! :)

Sura 14 -- Ibrahim

4. We never sent a messenger who did not speak the tongue of his people, that he may explain to them distinctly. God leads whosoever He wills astray, and shows whoever He wills the way: He is all-mighty and all-wise.

Two things about this verse. Did God promise messengers to all people? If so, where is the one for the English speakers? Another, if God leads people astray does He also oversee the corruption and changing of His precious Word to mankind so they will be lead astray?

11. Their apostles said to them: "Indeed we are men like you, but God bestows His favours on whomsoever He wills among His creatures. It is not in our power to bring a miracle for you without the leave of God. The believers should only place their trust in God. 12. And why should we not repose our trust in God when He has shown us our paths of duty to Him? We shall bear with fortitude the hardships you inflict upon us. The trusting place their trust in God."

I like this part about trusting God. I believe the part about God granting favors to whichever of His creatures He chooses. I've often pondered the fact that I have been blessed so much whereas others in the world cannot speak freely without grave repercussions and still others can barely survive for lack of food and clean water.

18. Like ashes are the deeds of those who deny their Lord, which the wind blows away on a windy day. They shall have no power over what they earned. This is the farthest limit of going astray.

This reminds me of some poetic verses from the Psalms. The first Psalm, for instance, contrasts the righteous who is like a tree taking root by a stream of water, yielding fruit, not withering but prospering. On the other hand,

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.

22. When the reckoning is over Satan will say: "The promise that was made to you by God was indeed a true promise; but I went back on the promise I had made, for I had no power over you except to call you; and you responded to my call. So blame me not, but blame yourselves. Neither can I help you nor can you give me help. I disavow your having associated me earlier (with God). The punishment for those who are wicked is painful indeed."

This verse reminded me a bit of Amber's post recently about Satan being a "job." I am not so sure about that theory, however, I did agree with her that we cannot always say "the devil made me do it" as we are free to choose to follow temptation or follow what we know is right to do. So I can see Satan here making a case for this very thing with his urging us to blame ourselves and not him. Is the phrase about "disavowing your having associated me with God" a direct reply to the charge some Bible readers make about Satan's fall from heaven being a result of his wanting to be equal with God? Intriguing!

34. He gave you whatsoever you asked. If you try to count the favours of God you will not be able to calculate. Man is most unjust indeed, full of ingratitude.

Whenever we are feeling down about life and rotten circumstances we are going through, counting our blessings - no matter how small they seem - is a wonderful way to lift our spirits. My preacher often says that a person cannot be both thankful and discouraged at the same time. So he encourages us to start praising the Lord and thanking Him when we are in discouraging times. This helps us remember how big our God is and that problems are tiny in comparison to His might.

35. Remember when Abraham prayed: "O Lord, make this a city of peace, and preserve me and my progeny from worshipping idols: "

This a great prayer -- one for a city of peace and for us and our children to always follow God.

52. This is a message for mankind that they may take a warning from it, and may know that He is the one and only God, and that men of wisdom may reflect.

Oh to be one who is wise enough to reflect on the teachings and goodness of God. Great verse!


I have actually read and written posts up through sura 17, but I am trying to refrain from publishing them as quickly as I write them because I know it's a lot to read already. However, I wanted to tell you this in case what I write now has already been covered by you in the comments section of previous posts. Thanks to all who have contributed to a great discussion thus far. I am learning a lot from you!

17 comments:

Wafa' said...

Susanne, let me just say quickly that my view about evangelisim apply to all religions even Islam.

you asked (Two things about this verse. Did God promise messengers to all people? If so, where is the one for the English speakers?)
we are learn through the Quran and Hadith -the prophet's sayings- that God has sent prophets to all people , some of them are mentioned and known and some are not. As for the English Speakers or any other language speakers -the new languages of course- all of these people have one prophet who is Muhammad . How and why ? as i said before, prophet Muhammad is the last of the prophets and his message is the final one. Yes he was sent among the Arabs of the Arabian peninsula but the message if for the whole world. He is sent to the whole world. That's why the spread of Islam because everyone should know about it. then Why the Quran is in Arabic if it's for everyone? because it was sent back then to the Arabs. The prophet was Arabic and his words were in Arabic. The same as Jesus, he was sent to the Jews but his message is spread everywhere now and that what most of the early apostals did , spread his words.
I hope i made it clear :)

(if God leads people astray does He also oversee the corruption and changing of His precious Word to mankind so they will be lead astray?) yea, me too keep wondering about our free will in anything if it His will for us to do so and so. Some say that even if it says that Hod make us do so or be so but all is changeable and that here where our free will and choice got in and help us. We have a saying by the prophet that says "Nothing changes fate but prayer" so it might goes the same way. I wonder, too.


35. Remember when Abraham prayed: "O Lord, make this a city of peace, and preserve me and my progeny from worshipping idols: "
I don't know if the translation came with explanition of judt the translation?. Anyway, this pray for the city to be a city of peace is a prayer for the city of Mecca.the most important city in Islam. And the Quran explains that Allah has answered Ibrahim's prayer. And Ibrahim has prayed this because there where he left his wife and son "isma'el" who later on married from the Arabs who lived in these area and thus called the " The Father of the Arabs" :).
sometimes a beautiful and sincere prayer might lead to very great thing :)
The power of the prayers, again :)

And thanks again for your open-mind and open heart and open comment section for all of us :)

Susanne said...

Wafa', thanks much for what you shared! Yes, I remember you or someone sharing that Muhammad was sent to the rest of us. I'm glad you can relate to my struggle with the predestination/free will thing. I appreciate your honesty in admitting that.

Oh, I didn't know the "city of peace" was Mecca and the story behind that. I appreciate you telling me! How interesting!

Yes, prayer IS powerful - great point!


I'm delighted to share my comment section with you! Any time! :-D

Thank you for helping me understand!

Sa'eedah said...

Hi! I landed here through Sarira, and figured I'd just leave a tiny comment!

The Quran has specifically mentioned of 25 prophets and their trials that they faced with their people. However, we do know that there were way more than 25 messengers and prophets on Earth. Had the Quran not told us about the story of Prophet Saalih (Peace be upon him), we would easily assumed that Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be on him) was the only Prophet from the area known as present day Saudi Arabia. Likewise, there were more Prophets and Messengers who are simply unspoken of.

Predestination is a deep topic to get into, so it's not really something I wanna talk about. However, since the creation of mankind and in the devil's rebellion, Allah has granted the devil his desire of leading mankind astray. But he has also said that mankind can fall astray, but when they repent He will forgive and all the hard work of the devil is erased. That is where our free will comes into play.

Besides, corruption of society is a gradual thing. A good example would be adultery amongst Muslims. A girl and guy don't typically meet each other once randomly and decide oh hey, let's get together and do "stuff." They somehow meet in a formal occasion, or in a school project. Then they land up alone when somebody leaves the room. Then they decide it's not ok to talk like that, but it's okay to talk on MSN. Then they decide, oh, the phone is okay too. And then...they somehow land up falling into the actual act. The devil knows if he straight whispered to somebody to have sex with each other it wouldn't happen. Do we have a chance to back out? Yes! But what's more fun, right? It also ties into prayer for guidance being SO important, and we may desire something evil but by praying, Allah will protect us from it.

Yikes! I really meant to leave a shorter comment. If anything I said was incorrect, then it was only from my own head, and by no means am I a scholar btw. :) <3

Suroor said...

Great! You are on a roll :)

Your questions:

1) (Verse 4) According to a hadith 1,24000 prophets were sent to earth. So according to the verse all people were covered. My dear father always used to warn us not to mock any Hindu god or Buddha because “they may have been prophets”! And some Indian Muslims try to justify that Lord Krishna was a prophet.

But one has to understand that hyperbole is such an integral part of the Arabic language that you just cannot remove it from any text in Arabic. For instance, I am amused when my students bring scientific reports to me in Arabic asking for help with translation into English and even the reports have hyperbole – “all new mothers suffer from the atrocious plight of postpartum depression rendering them useless for months. That is how the Merciful God has created them”! Yea, that was for your comic relief :D

We should remember that this verse was recited to illiterate Bedouins. Perhaps they didn't even know how many people there are in the world and how many languages they speak.

My only problem with reading this verse in a literal light is that there are languages AND people that came after Islam and they certainly don't speak Arabic or understand it or appreciate it. What about them? Do we expect them to know what God wanted in the Quran? There are 1600 regional languages spoken in India today, what about them? I have seen Quran translated into Punjabi for example and the meaning is completely different if not always hilarious. Then we wonder why some Punjabi Muslim villagers practice honour killing! They have no idea what the Quran is about and they didn't have a prophet sent to them "distinctly" talking to them in their language. The verse talks about pre-Muhammad times but what about post-Muhammad since not everyone is an Arabic speaker and much is always lost in translation – haven’t you seen people saying no, you didn’t understand the *real* meaning of this and that verse :)

There may be some but I have never heard any Muslim scholar able to give a good explanation of this verse in terms of free will Vs predestination. It seems like even if you want to be good but God has other plans for you He will “lead you astray” which is really confusing since in the very first surah (Fatiha) people are believed to “go astray” on their own (1:7).
God “leading someone astray” is quite an ungodly quality (more like a quality or power given to Satan, I would say); and this is where the concept of your Grace comes in, Susanne. That you are nothing without God’s Grace.

2) (Verse 35) Do you remember this verse from my book on Abraham I once sent you? Yes, in conjunction with the hadith it is understood to be Mecca but the Quran never claims it directly. I discuss this in great detail in the book.

Suroor said...

I wanted to add that I have often said that those who study their own religions very well and have in-depth knowledge of their faith never convert to another religion. It is the faithless or those who have little knowledge of their faith and who don’t practice their religion that are restless and always find solace in other religions that they study.

I see you as a great example of what I hold to be true. It would actually stun me to death if you ever converted to another religion :) not because I know that you have full faith in your belief (which you do) but because I know you *know* your faith. You have studied it and it shows when you throw passages from the Bible like candy into our eager laps. May the Lord bless you, dear heart!

You always compare passages from the Bible with the verses you are reading in the Quran. How would you describe these similarities?

Amber said...

I agree with Suroor's comment on the problem of the people and languages that came after Mohammed, entirely.

'I am not so sure about that theory,'

You don't have to agree with my theory. All the great thinkers are misunderstood. ;p

The 'city of peace' is supposed to refer to Mecca. Though I don't, of course, believe that Abraham built the Kaaba or had anything to do with Ishmael, after he threw them out of camp. I read an archaeological article a while back that went over the evidence against Abraham ever going to the Arabian peninsula. It was very interesting.

Susanne said...

I will reply more thoroughly to the comments later, but this caught my eye and I wanted to reply quickly before I leave to do something.

Suroor asked: "You always compare passages from the Bible with the verses you are reading in the Quran. How would you describe these similarities? "

When I read a sura, I take a piece of paper and pen outside with me. When I read a verse or paragraph - quite often more than once in order to better understand - I jot down the verse number and either a key word, a question or a Bible teaching that comes to mind from this quranic verse. So I might read Q 14:18, think and write "Psalm 1" or I might read something and say "this sounds like Jesus' teaching" and sometimes I say "compare this with the Bible's thoughts on this" which means it is often a conflicting view from the Bible which I oftentimes point out in my posts for the sake of readers who like comparing the two. Of course most Christians will side with the biblical version (e.g. in the story of Joseph and how his father knew [Quran] or didn't know [Bible] the older sons were lying about Joe's demise from "the wolf") whereas of course Muslims will say the Bible got it wrong. In some instances I merely point out things that were a bit interesting like the fact the Quran says Joseph's father and **mother** came to Egypt whereas a Bible reader knows Rachel - his biological mom - died years before while in childbirth with Benjamin. Those are peculiarities to me. Perhaps the Quran referred to one of Joseph's stepmothers since Jacob had other wives.

Anyway, I enjoy this and it's part of the scrutiny I - perhaps wrongly - use when reading the Quran. If I am to ever accept it as from God, I have to be SO convinced that its version of things is superior to the Bible and "corrects" it. That it just makes more godly sense and so forth. So as someone who has grown up grounded in Biblical faith, I *have* to compare it to what I already know. I wish I could just put aside all previous knowledge and read Quran for what it is, but since it claims to be from the same Author and a basic correction and continuation of the same message, I think I have the right to compare the two.

For ME, the Bible doesn't have to prove its authenticity against the Quran's (???) or Muslims' claims of it having been changed. The Quran is the "new kid on the block" so IT has to prove itself moreso. The Bible speaks about "other gospels" coming and also "false prophets" so I am wise, in my opinion, to hold Quran to great skepticism as one of those other gospels possibly produced by a false prophet. I know this seems intolerant in a sense to Muslim readers, but when the Bible warns of something and then this something comes, what choice do I have? It's like Muslims who believe Muhammad is the last prophet and how they likely think of Joseph Smith and the Mormon revelation. Why do they not accept Joe Smith and his book? Because they believe the Quran's message of being the final authority. Well, for me, that was the Bible and the Quran is suspect to me in the same way the Mormon book is suspect to Muslims. I hope that makes some sense.

*continued*

Susanne said...

Is this what you wanted to know? If you wanted me to explain why the similarities....I think Muhammad has similarities in his book to the Bible, Pagan Arab practices, you've shown me things from Hindu texts that are now Islamic, he has stuff from the apocrypha and even Jewish legends. His book is a basic mishmash of all sorts of things so, of course, there are similarities. There were Jews and Christians in his life. No doubt he heard their stories. Plus if the one I think gave Muhammad his book, HE for sure knew all the stories and could rehash them with his own spin *and* significantly and most importantly without the best thing ever and thing he hates most: the need for Jesus' blood in redeeming mankind.

Let me know if I didn't answer your question. I'll be back soon to reply to the other stuff. :)

Suroor said...

Susanne, you are not intolerant! You were never dishonest about it. You are reading out of interest (and because some nasty person urged you!) and that is it. It is your graciousness that you give it so much time and even effort.

You never said you were reading to convert or that you even believed it is the word of God.

I asked you because like I said in some comments before, whenever there is a similarity between the Quran and OT/NT Muslims claim that it is from the same Source and Jews/Christians don't like that because they can see how details are more different than similar.

And when anyone shows the similarities between Hindu Scripture and Quran, there is dead silence because that same Abrahamic claim cannot possibly be made.

If one wants to convince of its truth one can still do it and I'm not denying that. I can argue at length and for hours to show that the Source is the same, but is it to non-Muslims? That is why I asked you that question.

Thank you for the honest response.

Sarah said...

I like verse 34 and what you said about it. This is another great positive thing I got from the Quran.

Susanne said...

Sa'eedah, welcome and thanks much for leaving your comments!

" Likewise, there were more Prophets and Messengers who are simply unspoken of."

Yes, this makes sense!

Thank you for your explanation of the free will/predestination thing related to Islam and the devil's role in both. Interesting!

Good example about the gradual corruption of society. I read a blog just the other day of a lady who is visiting Damascus for the first time in about 4 or 5 years. She said the Syrian women were a bit less modest than she remembered. NOT that that necessarily means they are corrupt, but I do think according to some people the gradual undressing is a sign of society's moral decline.

" It also ties into prayer for guidance being SO important, and we may desire something evil but by praying, Allah will protect us from it."

Good point.

Thank you a lot for what you added! Great to "meet" you! :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, yeah, it seems I can't stop rolling either! ;-)

" So according to the verse all people were covered. My dear father always used to warn us not to mock any Hindu god or Buddha because “they may have been prophets”!"

Oh, all people were covered, interesting! Wow, your father was a tolerant guy. That's really sweet of him to teach you this way. No doubt, it's why you are the way you are today in appreciating things from all people and beliefs. I like that!

"But one has to understand that hyperbole is such an integral part of the Arabic language that you just cannot remove it from any text in Arabic"

Hmmm, that's a good point. It must be a Middle Eastern trait because there is much hyperbole in the Bible as well. I'm glad you reminded me of this fact. LOVED the example you shared for my comic relief! :-D Useless mothers indeed! Ha, ha!

" The verse talks about pre-Muhammad times but what about post-Muhammad since not everyone is an Arabic speaker and much is always lost in translation – haven’t you seen people saying no, you didn’t understand the *real* meaning of this and that verse :)"

Noooooo! ;-) Ha! Well, this was why I wondered if a prophet were sent for people now since it seemed to imply that all people have been warned in their own languages. But I guess the short answer is that means during Muhammad's times and not so much since then.

"God “leading someone astray” is quite an ungodly quality (more like a quality or power given to Satan, I would say); and this is where the concept of your Grace comes in, Susanne. That you are nothing without God’s Grace. "

Yes, I don't see it as God leading people astray. It's only that by His grace we find the right path. That may not make sense, but it shows that GOD is the one who leads us to salvation by opening our eyes to His truth. I think if we are lead astray, it's by our own choosing, following our own way and NOT because God chose it for us.

Ahhhh, yes, your book. See, I wish I could remember such things when I read the Quran. Fiddlesticks!

I thought it cute when "city of peace" was referred to Mecca as I think this is also a (wished for!) trait of Jerusalem, the holiest place for Jews. So it's interesting TO ME .. Mecca =city of peace for Ishmael and his descendants; Jerusalem = city of peace for Isaac and his descendants.

" It would actually stun me to death if you ever converted to another religion :) "

Hahahahahha! It would stun me to death, too! Well, I told Samer before that I prayed for God to guide me/him to HIS truth and I was open to it being different than what I grew up to believe. That still stands. I don't want to be arrogant enough and so set in my ways that I refuse Truth when God shows me I was wrong all these years. I am open to that. I'm not one of those who insists my way is right and no one - not even God - can tell me otherwise. Although this may not be the context in which Jesus gave these words, I take to heart the version that reads, "Search the Scriptures for in them you think you have eternal life." So, I think we should search to know and God promises those who search for Him with all their hearts will find Him.

Thanks for your wonderful comments, explanations, thoughts, question - wow! So rich!

Susanne said...

Amber, "You don't have to agree with my theory. All the great thinkers are misunderstood. ;p"

Ha, ha! :-D It's just new to me. You know I tend to be more of a Bible literalist than you so bear with me as I suffer through your newfangled ideas! ;-P I really enjoy hearing them as they make me consider things differently. Helps me grow and learn. Unlike dogs, maybe you can teach old humans new tricks! Heheeh.

" I read an archaeological article a while back that went over the evidence against Abraham ever going to the Arabian peninsula."


Ohhhh, neat! I read a wonderful "article" about it as well from a very learned lady who researched this and came to a similar conclusion.

Thanks for your comment!

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks for your words.

"and because some nasty person urged you!"

Yeah, where did that "nasty person" get to? I have a bone to pick with her! ;-P

"whenever there is a similarity between the Quran and OT/NT Muslims claim that it is from the same Source and Jews/Christians don't like that because they can see how details are more different than similar."

Yes, I see some similar things, but a LOT of differences. A main one from the OT being the prophets were NOT sinless by a long shot! :)

"And when anyone shows the similarities between Hindu Scripture and Quran, there is dead silence because that same Abrahamic claim cannot possibly be made."

Cute! :)

And thank YOU for a good question. I was really happy you cared enough to know. :)

Susanne said...

Sarah, I'm glad you enjoyed that verse and my thoughts on it as well! Thank you!


I appreciate all the wonderful comments. Thanks so much everyone!

Sa'eedah said...

It's nice to meet you too. :D

Regarding the Syrian thing, I think that it's not as simple as wearing less clothes that makes one not modest (obviously, I do believe a woman covering is obligatory for Muslims.) It is the fact that men look at such women in a different view, and they comment. Women typically love to be appreciated for their beauty, and it is with that attention that they receive where they begin to behave in ways that are less desirable

Suroor, I find it interesting that the Punjabi translation of the Quran is distorted. My father is quite learned in Urdu, and my mother listens to the translation in Urdu, and that translation is quite on target.

Susanne, while your analogy makes a bit of sense to me regarding Muslims vs. Mormons, it does raise a question. As Muslims, we do believe that the Prophet 'Isa (Jesus, peace be upon him) and the other Prophets told their people about the coming of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and through all narrations one thread remained the same: that the Prophet Muhammad would be the last. Likewise, the Prophet Muhammad told us about the return of the Prophet Isa to earth... However, he never mentioned a man name Joseph Smith, hence, the reason we would be weary of excepting such a man as our prophet. And the Jews at the time of the Prophet were aware that he was in fact the one they were waiting for, they only could not accept him because he was Arab and not a Canaanite.

I hope my comment does not come off as offensive/pushy, cuz that's not my intent! <3

Susanne said...

Sa'eedah, no, you don't sound pushy at all. I'm glad you left a follow-up comment, and you said it very nicely actually. :) Thanks for letting me know my Mormon/Muslim analogy made some sense. I realize from a MUSLIM standpoint, you will see it as you described. Totally makes sense. However I am speaking from MY point of view which doesn't see the foretelling of a prophet who would change the gospel and, in fact, we are warned about such people coming. So I hope you understand why I speak this way. It's nothing against Muslims simply a healthy skepticism since we were warned of this very thing. I've never seen Muhammad prophesied in my Bible so what other choice do I have?

Enjoyed your comment. Thank you!