This sura is called "Repentance" in English, however, I was overwhelmed more with its call for fighting and striving. Not just with idolaters (vs. 5), unbelievers, and hypocrites (v. 73), but also People of the Book (vs. 29). I found myself seeking out talk of repentance so as to not be struck down! Right off the bat are calls for killing idolaters who refused to "repent and fulfill their devotional obligations and pay the zakat" (vs. 5). Y'all know I am used to Jesus and his radical teachings which include loving our enemies! So, this call for killing those in disagreement, honestly, didn't sit well with me. I am not for converting by the sword no matter if it has been wrongly practiced in Christendom in the past. It's wrong. I don't see it modeled by Jesus nor his followers in the Bible. I truly believe we share the Good News and live out our "Jesus values" and if people want to join us, terrific. However, if they want to follow their own paths, so be it. I'm not going to hunt you down and kill you for making this decision. God is the Judge, not me.
17. The idolaters have no right to visit the mosques of God while bearing testimony to their disbelief. Meaningless will be their acts, and in Hell they will bide for ever,
18. Only those who believe in God and the Last Day, who fulfil their devotional obligations, pay the zakat, and fear no one but God, can visit the mosques of God. They may hope to be among the guided.
I'm not sure of the story behind the mosques here, however, just reading it at face value, I thought of how we welcome unbelievers in my church and every church I've ever been associated with. Hopefully there is a good reason for forbidding idolaters from not visiting mosques. Really, if you want people to see the goodness of your spirituality/religion/
24. You tell them: "If your fathers and sons, your brothers and wives and families and wealth, or the business you fear may fail, and the mansions that you love, are dearer to you than God, His Apostle, and struggling in His cause, then wait until God's command arrives, for God does not show transgressors the way."
This reminds me of the teaching of Jesus that I discussed a few days ago.
38. What has happened to you, O believers, that when you are asked to set out in the cause of God your feet begin to drag? Do you find the life of the world so pleasing that you forget the life to come? Yet the profit of the life of this world is but meager as compared to the life to come.
Great reminder that the things of this world are temporary compared to eternal life.
39. Unless you go out (to strive), God will inflict grievous punishment on you, and bring other people in your place, and you will not be able to harm Him in the least, for God has the power over all things.
Not trying to be contentious, but are verses such as this one the reason why extreme groups/people believe fighting for God is necessary? It seems fighting is required to avoid a "grievous punishment" when taken out of context (or not?).
51. Tell them: "Nothing can befall us except what God decrees. Our protector is He, and in God should the faithful place their trust."
I noticed many times in this sura how God and Muhammad are a couple. It became a theme I looked for there for a bit. Here is one instance where the coupling was pronounced.
61. There are some among them who talk ill of the Prophet by saying: "He listens to everyone." Tell them: "He listens for your good, and trusts in God and trusts the faithful, and he is a blessing for those who believe. For those who offend the Apostle of God there is painful punishment."
62. They swear by God to please you; but if they are believers it would have been worthier to have pleased God and His Apostle.
63. Have they not realised that anyone who opposes God and His Prophet, will abide in Hell for ever? And that is the worst disgrace.
And also this
71. Those who believe, men and women, befriend one another, and enjoin what is right and prohibit what is wrong. They observe their devotional obligations, pay the zakat, and obey God and His Apostle. God will be merciful to them, for God is all-mighty and all-wise.
90. Some Arabs of the desert came with ready excuses, asking for leave to stay behind. But those who had lied to God and His Prophet stayed at home doing nothing. So the punishment for those who disbelieve among them will be painful.
From reading these suras I better understand why Muhammad is so important to Muslims. You can't separate him from God in Islam according to the Quran's own words!
Except maybe in this point where it appears repentance is not accepted by God.
95. They will beg you in the name of God, on your return, to forgive them; but you keep away from them: They are scum; their abode is Hell: Requital for what they had done.
96. They will plead on oath that you accept them. Even if you accept them, remember God does not accept people who are disobedient.
Does this mean if Muhammad will accept these people's repentance, yet still God will not? Is Muhammad more merciful that God? What are your thoughts on this passage?
Thankfully I did notice some verses on repentance (such as 74, 102, 104, 112).
111. God has verily bought the souls and possessions of the faithful in exchange for a promise of Paradise. They fight in the cause of God, and kill and are killed. This is a promise incumbent on Him, as in the Torah, so the Gospel and the Qur'an. And who is more true to his promise than God? So rejoice at the bargain you have made with Him; for this will be triumph supreme.
This part about God buying souls and possessions in exchange for heaven reminds me of the Bible where Paul reminds us that we are bought with a price - the precious blood of Jesus.
113. It is not worthy of the Prophet and those who believe to seek forgiveness for those who are idolaters, even though they may be their relatives, after they have come to know that they are destined for Hell.
This verse was kind of sad for me. It also reminded me of something I've heard asked before. I'll tweak it a bit for this post. Think of someone you are talking with concerning matters of faith. It could be a dear family member, a beloved friend or an acquaintance who is quickly on the way to becoming a dear friend or maybe just some gal off the street. Got someone in mind? Even if you knew the person you are talking about in matters of faith would never convert to your side -- never become Muslim, never become a Christian, Hindu, Universalist, whatever -- would you still be her friend? Or are you only being friendly because you have these "ulterior motives"? I guess the point of the matter is, do we believe people matter ONLY if there is hope that they will convert to your thinking? Or do people matter, period? I guess this is why this verse 113 made me a bit sad. It seems to give up on people when you are assured (not sure how) that they will never come to your (religious) side. I just think people are worth more than our agendas. (And forgive me for those of you who have never considered converting people or having agendas concerning them, but I know some in the world who seem to have this outlook in life and come across as if people are projects.)
116. Verily God's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He alone is the giver of life and death; and none do you have besides God as friend and helper.
Another wonderful verse!
123. O believers, fight the unbelievers around you, and let them realise that you are firm: Remember, God is with those who are pious and obedient to Him.
I prefer Jesus' teachings to love our neighbors - which in his story of the Good Samaritan made it clear that even our enemies are considered neighbors.
129. So, if they turn away, say to them: "God is sufficient for me. There is no God but He; I depend on Him alone, the Lord of the glorious Throne."
Loved this beautiful ending to a somewhat difficult chapter.