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

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Book Talk & Notes on Quran - Sura 39 & 40

A big thank you to those who left thoughts on my prophets post yesterday. I greatly enjoyed the thought-provoking comments which made some things a bit clearer to me!

Remember the archaeology book I mentioned the other day? It jumped into my arms at the library Tuesday afternoon....remember? Anyway, I started reading it that evening and finished it Friday morning. It had around 320 pages, but some of those were full-page colored pictures so it wasn't like I had to read that many pages. I really liked that book and had fun imagining myself living in certain areas during ancient times.

I also finished another book I'd been reading for about three weeks, God & Government. It talked about how the Kingdom of God wasn't something you could bring into society by political means, but it was about change happening on a more personal level when people's hearts and minds and thus behaviors are changed by God. The author didn't say Christians shouldn't be involved in politics; only that we should remember that the societal changes we want aren't going to happen through legislation. In other words, our hope is God not government. I already shared the Father Jerzy story which I got from this book. I also have some sentences from the book that I copied for another post. I wanted to remember some of the principles I learned from it.

I have read through sura 45 now and made note of a few things from each which I'll share in upcoming posts. Here are the next in line to discuss.

Sura 39 - Az-Zumar

Mostly just a repeat of the message of the Quran: God is one. This sura also depicts some about heaven and hell and the people being lined up for judgment. I was visualizing these verses as I read 65-70.

First, all who associate anyone with God are cast aside. No matter what good deeds you did.

65.  Surely you have been commanded, as those before you were: "If you associate (any one with God), wasted will be all your deeds, arid you will perish."

A trumpet blasts and people "swoon away" except those God chose to not swoon away (vs. 68). Then another trumpet blast will cause everyone to stand with expectation. The earth will light up with the presence of the Lord. Each person will be given his or her ledger of deeds. The apostles and witnesses will be called. Judgment passed equitably with no wrong being done. And finally,

70. Each soul will be paid in full for what it had done. He is cognisant of what you do.

The following verses describe the unbelievers being driven to Hell in groups and their arrival and welcome into the gates of Hell. Then "those who were mindful of their duty to their Lord" will be driven to Paradise in groups where they will be welcomed with peace and live in joy.

75. You will see the angels hover round the Throne, singing the praises of their Lord; and justice will be done between them equitably, and it would be said: "All praise to God the Lord of all the worlds."

Sura 40 -- al-Ghafir

7. The bearers of the Throne, and those around it, sing the praises of their Lord and believe in Him, and seek forgiveness for those who believe: "O our Lord, Your mercy and knowledge embrace everything; so forgive those who turn to You in repentance and follow Your path; and preserve them from the torment of Hell.

8. Admit them, O Lord, to the garden of Eden which You promised them, and those of their fathers, spouses and progeny who are upright. You are truly all-mighty and all-wise. 9. Protect them from evil; and whosoever You preserve from evil on that Day shall have surely received Your mercy. This will be the great triumph."

Who are these bearers of the Throne? And why are they seeking forgiveness on behalf of the believers? Do the believers need intercessors speaking for them? I thought I'd read in an earlier sura about no intercessors in Islam. Is this like a prayer for the believers?

Is God seated like a king on a throne and people are holding it up (thus bearing it)? Or does this have another meaning?

I just recalled discussing Islamic intercession late last year in this post about Muhammad or Jesus - Who is Interceding for You. So I guess intercession is a part of Islam.


Wafa' said...

let me start by saying that i still envy you for reading so many books. i want to read more and i have the time and the books but i am wayyyyyy too lazy to do so :(

( First, all who associate anyone with God are cast aside. No matter what good deeds you did) , we have been told that no good deed is wasted and that non-believer or non muslims are going to be awarded that in life , on earth, and that's that. But...i can not digest that, i mean someone like Mother Terresa would be in hell for not being a Muslim despite her great work !!!! and someone like -lots of them Muslims names are rushing into my mind as i am writing - Saddam will go to hevean just because he is a Muslims no matter what he did !!! .
Again, i think we are taught wrong because the God i love is just and fair and merciful one. It's not up to me to say who should go to heaven or hell though if i have their keys i would lock hell for good, but sometimes it's depressing especially if you believe in the hereafter.
But-another but- are not all religion talking about the same thing, no matter what good you do if you don't believe in our God or prophet ,you are going to hell. Islam, Christianity and Judaism !!!
we are all guilty , sadly :(

( I guess intercession is a part of Islam) . Muslims believe that Christianity is the religion depending mostly on intercession.
So let me tell you what i know. Muslims say that we have direct contact with Allah and that's what Islam is mostly about. But yes, we are asked to pray that Muahammd will be our intercessor. It's actually considered a great thing that if Muhammad is your intercessor. I know it's kind of contradiction but i am not the best person to tell you why. But -again- i believe that there is this is happening in every religion, right ?

God, how much religions have in common !!!

Susanne said...

Wafa', I just love reading your thoughts! Yeah, it does seem we are quite similar, doesn't it? :)

Yes, I know we have many Christians who believe in intercessors, whereas even the Bible says that JESUS is the mediator between God and man. I just always got the impression that Muslims thought that was such a joke so I wanted to point out that the concept is also in Islam. It's NOT a Christian-only thing. As you said, there are many similarities! That was my point for including that. So glad you brought it up for discussion!

True also what you said about believing the right thing. I have also struggled with issues such as you said about 'good' people going to hell simply because their belief is 'wrong' according to our beliefs. Sometimes I think it's better to just hope for the best and pray for God's mercy on ALL of us who strive to please Him. :)

Thanks much for your great comment! Enjoyed it!

Durriyyah said...

Surah 39 - I love how clear cut the descriptions of the Day of Judgement, Paradise and Hellfire are. I believe this helps us know the Truth with certainty and to bring our current reality into focus when we realize the forthcoming reality.

40:7 - The bearers of the Throne are angels. Angels can intercede on our behalf, especially angels that record our good works.

"Is God seated like a king on a throne and people are holding it up (thus bearing it)? Or does this have another meaning?" - As Muslims, we take the words as they are without delving into "how" too deeply because this can quickly take us into straying ideas, like anthropomorphism. If we say that God is seated in a throne, are we then implying that God needs something to hold His "weight?" And if Angels are holding it up, does it mean that God can not do so without them? Obviously these things are 1) not important to our daily faith and practice and 2) not befitting to God Almighty. It does give us a brief picture of the Day of Judgement… an outline really, because our current perceptions can not completely picture what our world will be like after we are resurrected.

Oh, and about your comment, it is the idea that Jesus (pbuh) is an -intermediary- that boggles the mind of many Muslims. Mediator is another word I've heard from Christians describing Jesus (pbuh) and his role to humankind. The way that it has been described by some is that you can not connect with God, the Father, without going through Jesus first, or even the Holy Spirit, then Jesus, then you get to the Father. But they are all one, but they are called on separately and have different purposes. So yeah, there's the confusion. :)

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, glad you brought up anthropomorphism. I remember reading about the hand of God in these suras so it seems anthropomorphism is used already in the Quran with no problem.

Thanks for sharing your ideas on intercession in Islam. Sarira promised to write a post about that, but never did. My current post talks a bit more about why I was confused about it. Thanks for letting me know that it exists even in Islam as I thought it did not! :)

Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb is the mediator...yes. When God looks at us and we've accepted Jesus' work on the cross, He then sees us as cleansed from our filth. So we cannot be pure in His sight without being "washed in the blood." Sounds so gory, I know. :)