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

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Sunday & Notes on Quran - Sura 41

Good Monday morning! It's not quite 7, but I thought I'd write a bit before I did a few other things. Yesterday we had a great church service about Truth -- What is it? Is it absolute or relative? Why is it important? What does it mean for us to believe it is absolute or not? Stuff like that. Quite a good message and timely also. I really enjoyed the reminder. After the service we drove to some friends' house because they were hosting a graduation party for their son, Alex, who just graduated from high school. George and Marianne had quite a spread - lots of good food for everyone to share. I greatly enjoyed the guests as there were friends from church like Mike and Cindy and also a few I'd never met, but I had fun talking with and teasing. One especially - Mike - who is from upstate New York and has no shy bone in his body. He was joking a lot and especially about North/South stuff (accents, mannerisms, ways of living) that just had me cracking up. He is a big dude and when we left I told him, "It was good pickin' on you today" and we all laughed. Well, we both had been teasing each other quite a bit. I love good-natured bantering with outgoing, fun people! Also George's family was there so I got to meet his parents, sister, Miriam, and her husband, Sam (Sameh), along with their five year old son, Jeremiah. George's parents were so quiet. Granted they don't speak a lot of English so maybe they just liked to sit back and wonder about these crazy Americans. I met Nermin and her husband Sarwat (something like that) -- maybe Tharwat -- and their 8-month-old baby girl, Marlissa. Nermin and Sarwat are from Alexandria, Egypt as are George, his sister, her husband and of course George's parents. Whereas George's family has been in the United States for over twenty years, Sarwat has been here only four and Nermin for three. They were telling us about their country, food, swimming in the sea and so forth. I had to really concentrate to understand them at some points, but I greatly loved meeting and talking with them. In fact we exchanged phone numbers because they said,"You are really friendly and helpful. You will have to come visit us in Charlotte one weekend." (They live about 2.5 hours away.) So anyway that was a fun afternoon for me -- talking accents, teasing Yankees and mingling with people of other cultures are some of my favorite things!

Still been reading away at my translation of the Quran. Keep in mind as you read these notes that often I write them a few days before I post them because I am reading and jotting notes faster than I'm publishing them. I wrote these notes five days ago although I did add a little something from yesterday to the verse about singing.


Sura 41 - Fussilat

17. As for the (tribe of) Thamud, We tried to guide them, but they preferred blindness to guidance; then they were seized by the torment of a humiliating punishment as requital for their misdeeds;

OK, so here it seems God tried to guide this rebellious tribe of Thamud, but the people made a free-will choice of preferring blindness. So which is it? Are we predestined or given free will? Or is it predestined to hell for some and free-will choice for others?

22. You did not hide your (doings) so that your ears or eyes or persons should not testify against you. In fact you thought that God did not know the things you used to do.

My thoughts here likely have nothing to do with this verse except for the fact that verse 22 brought this memory to mind. I've read about people who live in conservative cultures and while in their hometowns they act in the proper and expected ways. Then they leave their hometowns for whatever reason and act quite differently. This tells me we often fear society and family more than God. Maybe people aren't convinced it's God's laws they must follow, but merely society's norms. Because I doubt these people who truly fear God would just abandon all things godly when they are out of their homes. I think of women who travel outside of Saudi Arabia and don't wear the abaya and head scarves that they would wear at home. I've heard of people who have seen the transformation on airplanes. As soon as the women are headed home, they - at some point during the flight - go into the bathroom and change into more society-approved attire. So my thoughts are that either people don't believe that GOD requires as much as society does and/or they don't fear God like they fear their own families. And why is this? Is God more merciful and understanding than their moms and dads? Just something I like to think about. And it's not only Muslims. I know it's probably universal to some extent. I find it interesting that we think of God as more tolerant and forgiving than our own families and society.

34. Good and evil are not alike. Repel evil with what is good. Then you will find your erstwhile enemy like a close, affectionate friend.

Great verse! It reminds me a lot of Jesus' message of loving your enemy. The best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him a friend, right? So this verse reminded me of Jesus. Return good for evil and watch how powerful this is. Even if no one else is suddenly changed, I believe YOU will be changed. You will realize how powerful this action is because it's not normal. It's a choice to do something out of the ordinary and choices can be powerful!

36. If the Devil incite you to evil, seek refuge in God. He is all-hearing and all-knowing.

This reminds me of a Bible verse about drawing near to God, resisting the devil and he (the devil) will flee from you. I think it's in James.

38. But if they become haughty (then remember) that those who are close to your Lord sing His praises night and day and do not grow weary of (doing so).

See??? The ones close to the Lord sing His praises! So singing godly songs - at least - is not haram! Sing, sing, sing! Can y'all tell I like singing since I make note of every quranic verse that mentions it? :) Our singing yesterday at church was really uplifting and wonderful. I couldn't help but think of this verse during our song service! :-)


39. It is among His signs that the earth you see all barren and desolate begins to stir and sprout when We send down rain upon it. Surely He who gives it life will also give life to the dead. Indeed He has power over everything.

This verse is great and reminds me that even nature is a sign of the resurrection. In the winter, things die, yet in spring new life erupts from the earth. I always love that time of year when I see life come out of the barren, brownness of winter. I love the colors of spring! The vibrancy of life. Yay resurrection!


51. When We show Our favours to man he moves away and turns aside; but when in trouble he prays a great deal.

This is so true. Why do we do this? When life is good, we often don't seek God as much as when life is troubling.

I enjoyed many verses in this sura!

12 comments:

Suroor said...

Susie,

I enjoyed this post; especially the introduction. So happy to learn you enjoyed the lunch and the church service. I miss going to church. Inshallah will start again soon.

***

I have stopped believing in an interventionist God. I totally believe in a God and I totally love Him, but I, for myself, don’t believe He likes to intervene. So freewill and predestination work hand-in-hand for me. For example, if I put a bowl full of sweeties for my child and then tell him that it is his choice whether to eat it or not, I WILL know that he will eat it (pre-knowledge which *may* be seen as predestination) but it will be his FREEWILL to decide whether or not he wants to eat them. I will not intervene.

The same way I think God knows everything and so in a way He may seem like predestining our futures (well, if you knew it God, why didn’t you stop that man raping the woman? In that sort of way) but I think we all use our freewill. I don’t believe in a God that blinds me purposefully so I do evil and then He seeks revenge by throwing me in Hell. I believe in a God who has put two paths in front of me: Right and Wrong, and inspired me to head towards the Right Path. If I still diverge and take the Wrong path then He hasn’t blinded me; I did it myself and then I deserve punishment.

Hallelujah!

Sarah said...

My Malawian Christian friend very much believed in predestination. It was something we argued about a bit, because I hadn't really been exposed to that idea. I think it's partly a cultural thing... I have been taught that I have choices and that what happens in my life is up to me, whereas some cultures are much more fatalistic and much more aware of how little control we really have over life and death etc.

I think I used to just think that predestination/preknowledge and free will coexisted in a paradoxical way that we can't understand. I think now I am prepared to entertain the idea that all our choices are predictable if someone knew enough about us, and in that sense, maybe free will just an illusion. But it doesn't make any practical difference. We still have to *make* choices.

What's your take on it? :)

truerivers said...

I like the surah too! And I'm glad that you had a wonderful time at your church!

Pretty good observations you made on this post.I think as humans certain ways are predestined,maybe like life processes,and some are left as free-will for us to choose,perhaps like spirituality.

And another thing is, it's true that people are afraid of what society thinks if they do not comply with popular thoughts.This allows hypocrisy to grow and establish itself as part and parcel of society that it becomes the norm.Praying and worshipping God becomes just for a show.Wonder who is glorifying who.This reminds me of Rumi's peom,

"It's not Me glorified in acts of worship.It's the worshippers! i don't hear the words they say.I look inside at the humility."

It's sad but it's true.I hope I too can catch the singing virus! :)

I AM NOBODY said...

This is definitely prevalent in my life. Someone I know fears their family MORE than God. They hurt other people, they lie to protect secrets all in the same of saving themselves from retribution from the family. BUT, they do not care -or apparently not enough-of what God might think about their actions. About how what they're doing is wrong in every sense of the word. How peoples rights are being denied, how some form of oppression is taking place(and God hates oppression) along with many other things. I mentioned once that you cannot willingly, knowingly or blindly go through life hurting people, stealing from them-robbing them of the truth-shaming them, all with the notion "oh well, I did not INTEND to do it! I don't mean to be this way or do this thing..but I have no choice!" and think that you will be excused. You cannot honestly think that because you never miss your prayers or you don't do any REALLY bad things that what you DO do, is somehow going to be excused on account your intentions were not to hurt people or lie to them. That your reasons are legitimate because you fear the outcome and how your family will react or what sins they will commit in the process when finding out.

It is a clear cut and dry case of not fearing God and instead fearing someone else. To me, and I've mentioned this before, it borders shirk. I say this because there is so much fear of a human-in this case family members and friends-that God and His justice are all but absent in that fear. Also, no one can harm you(or do good to you) unless is it willed by God himself...fearing family enough to lower yourself to such a place where you commit cowardly and wrongful acts towards another human being is showing God and the world that they are the ones who dictate good or bad on you. Basically wiping away those surahs or a main belief as a Muslim or believer.

Just my thoughts.
Hope you're well...I come everyday to check :) and then of course like to come back to see the comments.

Hugs*
Shell

Sarira said...

Hey I’m from Alexandria, Egypt :D
The name was probably Tharwat, but Egyptians pronounce the ‘th’ as s ;) Heheh at 'these crazy Americans'! Funny ;)

I love your thoughts on verse 22 and it reminds me of two other verses:

Have you not considered that Allah knows what is in the heavens and what is on the earth? There is in no private conversation three but that He is the fourth of them, nor are there five but that He is the sixth of them - and no less than that and no more except that He is with them [in knowledge] wherever they are. Then He will inform them of what they did, on the Day of Resurrection. Indeed Allah is, of all things, Knowing (58:7),

And

They conceal from the people, but they cannot conceal from Allah, and He is with them [in His knowledge] when they spend the night in such as He does not accept of speech. And ever is Allah, of what they do, encompassing (4:107)

[b] See??? The ones close to the Lord sing His praises! So singing godly songs - at least - is not haram! Sing, sing, sing! Can y'all tell I like singing since I make note of every quranic verse that mentions it? :) Our singing yesterday at church was really uplifting and wonderful. I couldn't help but think of this verse during our song service! :-) [/b]

LOL, the translator wrote ‘sing’, but if you want to actually check the real word used in the Qu’ran, its not actually the word ‘sing’. It’s ‘yusabih’, which is usually translated to mean ‘glorify’, ‘praise’. I mean the word sing as you are saying is ‘yughani’, or ‘ yanshad’, or ‘shada’, but not ‘yusabih’.

But you are totally right! We do have ‘religious’ songs, though. They are not 'haram'. They are called nasheeds (^noun of yanshad). There are lots and lots of munshids We only differ on whether or not it’s permissible to have musical instruments. But singing Islamic songs are totally fine. Singing pornographic songs that for some reason think we aren’t familiar with the human body is not okay :P

how about you give us a link to a Christian song and we give you one to an Islamic one? :)

I like Suroor's explanation of predestination and hell. I see you brought it up again in the other post so maybe I'll give it a shot and try and explain ;) First, though, I'll look around a bit more at your other posts :D

Susanne said...

Suroor, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, we had a good time Sunday at both church and lunch with old and newly-made friends! :)

I understand why you disbelieve in an intervening God especially after reading your depressing post earlier this week. I believe God does intervene, but not always and I have no idea why He intervenes in some situations and not others. That's what I have a hard time with .. not understanding why He intervenes for some and not others.

Thanks for your easy-to-understand example of how predestination and freewill work together. That's basically how I've understood it in Christianity as well. (Though some disagree and believe God chose some for salvation whereas the others were left to follow their natural selves to their doom.) God has foreknowledge of how we will choose because He is God and knows the beginning and the ending so to speak. You just put it in a great way to understand it. Thanks much for your example!

Susanne said...

Sarah, lots of interesting stuff in your comment. I have many Christian friends who believe in predestination - they usually call themselves Reformed. They believe God chose to save some people. I have a really hard time believing this myself, but I wanted to say your Malawian friend is not in small company. Most Presbyterian churches here believe this way if I'm not mistaken. And I know many Reformed Baptists. I don't think they have the fatalistic view of life, however. They aren't going to not do anything or not take precautions because they believe God has decided how it [generic life things] will turn out. As Suroor said above in her example, I believe God knows how we are going to choose since He is God, however, does He choose it for us? Well, we could argue that in many things He did. For instance I never chose what generation I was born in, what family, what country, what body. :) So those things a Sovereign God chose for me. I guess I am kind of in that "predestination/preknowledge and free will coexisted in a paradoxical way that we can't understand" boat that you mentioned.

"I think now I am prepared to entertain the idea that all our choices are predictable if someone knew enough about us, and in that sense, maybe free will just an illusion."

That's interesting to ponder. My question would be can we know enough about someone to predict how they would act? what decisions they would make? I don't know....I'll have to give this more thought. It seems to mean we are programed a certain way so we will act accordingly, doesn't it?

Thanks for the thought-provoking comment. I always enjoy what you add to the discussions!

Susanne said...

Lat, great to read your comments!

I think this -- "I think as humans certain ways are predestined,maybe like life processes,and some are left as free-will for us to choose,perhaps like spirituality." -- makes a lot of sense. It's not like we chose how we were born or the manner in which food becomes fuel for our bodies and how our bodies use oxygen. True! And even things like marriage -- did God choose whom we would marry or did He merely know beforehand simply because God knows all? Interesting things to ponder, eh? :)

"It's not Me glorified in acts of worship.It's the worshippers! i don't hear the words they say.I look inside at the humility."

That's a really challenging poem in some ways, isn't it? We have to guard against doing things for show by keeping our worship purely for God. It's a struggle sometimes.

LOL...I hope you catch the "singing virus" too! Ha, ha! You're so cute! Thanks much for your comment. You are always so sweet. :)

Susanne said...

Shell, I always love when you have time to comment! I know you are so busy with life so it's a treat for me to hear from you!

" I mentioned once that you cannot willingly, knowingly or blindly go through life hurting people, stealing from them-robbing them of the truth-shaming them, all with the notion "oh well, I did not INTEND to do it! I don't mean to be this way or do this thing..but I have no choice!" and think that you will be excused."

I totally agree. Honestly that whole intention thing bothers me sometimes for this very reason. There is that old saying about the path to hell being paved with good intentions. I know people who have INTENDED to visit their grandparents more, but never made the time. Yet we always make time to do what we really want to do, right? You have time to visit the mall, shop for antiques, watch a movie, but somehow never make the short trip to visit your grandparents. How is this intention good? I can intend I could do something 'til the cows come home, but why not make it happen? Why not just DO it? DO right in the example you gave? While I can appreciate intentions to an extent, I also like to see actions because I don't see your intentions. Your intentions are not what I observe in you. I see your actions and aren't our actions ultimately what make us, us? They are what define "us" to those watching. You can INTEND to treat people justly all you want, but when I SEE you being unjust, guess which will stand out in my mind?

Excellent, excellent observation! I'm so happy you brought this up!

"It is a clear cut and dry case of not fearing God and instead fearing someone else. To me, and I've mentioned this before, it borders shirk."

Amen, Girl! You should've been a preacher! Loved your comment so much! Thanks for taking time to share what you did!

I'm glad you enjoy the posts and comments. I always have you in mind when I read what others write and hope that what they add to the discussion will be helpful somehow. Hugs back to you! :)

Susanne said...

Sarira, that's cool that you are from Alexandria! Did you actually live there any in your life? It always amuses me a little when someone will say they are FROM somewhere yet never lived there at all. I guess I don't have those ties to a certain area like some people do. I know I have amused Samer in the reverse way. When I first met my Arab friends not quite three years ago, I recall some of them asked (online) where I was from. I told them I lived in NC, but was born in SC. A couple would ask, yes, but where are you FROM meaning - I later realized - from what ancestry did you come. Ha! Too cute! :)

And thanks for the heads up about Tharwat/"s" thing. :) Samer will occasionally say "thanks" as "sanks" if he is talking fast. He's not Egyptian, but I guess that's just how it comes out sometimes when he isn't articulating English due to talking quickly. Interesting stuff! :)

"Singing pornographic songs that for some reason think we aren’t familiar with the human body is not okay :P"

Ha! I agree. I really don't like most suggestive songs because of the bad messages many of them have in glorifying ungodly things. I prefer uplifting ones! Yeah, maybe the translator used "sing" when he should not have. Well, singing is all in David's Psalms. He was a musician after all. :)

OK, here is a Christian song. One of many I could share. --

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QoYdQa6Cprc

I didn't even include one that said "Jesus" so it would be more palatable to you. :)


"First, though, I'll look around a bit more at your other posts :D "

That's great. Please jump in and comment as time (and World Cup watching) permits. You can comment on older posts as well. Don't forget the one you inspired about the prophets, too. :)

Durriyyah said...

41:17 - Susanne, do you believe in any sort of predestination? So, God knew that you would marry who you married, or something of the like? I hear often people of all faiths talking about God's guiding hands.

Here's a fairly simple explanation on the question you posted by a very well known Muslim scholar.

Mawlana Mawdudi explained this point in his book Qada’ and Qadar that human freedom and divine power are not mutually contradictory. He says, "If a thing is attributed to several causes then the charge of contradiction is only applicable if it cannot have more than one cause; but if it has several causes then one can refer sometime to one cause and sometimes to another. There is no contradiction in this case."

He explains this point by an example. Suppose it is said that water made the paper wet. Then it is said that 'Fire made the paper wet', then it is said, 'Dirt made the paper wet'. This will be a contradiction, because only one of these things can make the paper wet. But if we say that the country was conquered by the King, and then it is said that it was conquered by the commander of the army, and at another occasion it is said that it was conquered by the army and yet at another time one mentions the names of individual soldiers and attributes victory to them, there will be no contradiction in this case. The conquest of a country can be attributed collectively to the head of state or the commander of the army and separately it can be attributed to the army and the soldiers.

41:22 - I think you're right that people fear their own families or societies more… I think it is the instant response we get. It can get all too easy to tuck away the thought of God and how our actions are going to effect us later when we just want to blend in with everyone else.

41:38 - Who said singing was haram? :) There's lines within the realm of music/singing, but making melody with your voice is not haram. Also, my translation says "celebrate", and I like to have parties, but that's just me… you like to sing. :)

41:39 - Do you believe in an end resurrection? I know my husband believed in going to heaven pretty much right away for the believers and he remembers asking his mom about a resurrection verse he read in the Bible and she said she didn't know about that. Thoughts?

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, I believe God knows what will happen, but do I believe He picked out my husband for me and brought us together in due time? Not so sure about that. Hmmmm. Thanks for the examples you shared about the wet paper and conquering King!

Thankfully not all Muslims say singing is haram.Maybe what I've heard is MUSIC is...of which, I consider singing part of. :) Aw, you like parties, eh? How fun!

Yes, I believe as soon as we die our souls go either to be with God or not. And I believe in a bodily resurrection. I don't believe we lounge around in our graves for years and years while waiting for the Resurrection Day.

Thanks for your comments!