This sura begins with a warning about the judgment day when nursing mothers will neglect their babies and when pregnant women will miscarry and the "torment of God will be severe" (vs. 2). Thoughts of God's power follow with some rather picturesque verses about rain and how it makes everything swell and green (vs. 5).
12. Leaving God they pray to those who cannot harm or profit them. That is the limit of going astray.
This reminds me of a post I wrote last year on Jeremiah. In chapter 10 this is how false idols were discussed. Visualize this as you read it.
3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good."
15. He who thinks that God will not help him in this world and the next should stretch a rope to the sky then cut it off and see if his mind is relieved (of doubts) by this stratagem.
Is this rope in the sky thing a dare for God to show how He protects His own?
This sura discusses a bit of the hajj - the pilgrimage to Mecca - which is one of the five pillars of Islam. All able-bodied Muslims who can afford the trip must go to Mecca at least once in his/her lifetime to perform a series of rituals. I understand it's truly a life-changing, awe-inspiring event to worship with so many fellow Muslims. I remember a couple of years ago when Samer's friends wanted to go to Mecca for hajj. Because there are so many Muslims who want to go, yet there are only a select number of "spots" the Saudi officials get to approve or disprove whether or not you are able to travel there. At one time I heard that older Muslims were given preferred status since they - by reason of age - didn't likely have as many years left to perform this important ritual. Samer recalled his father - as a nearly sixty year old man - desiring to go to Mecca because he knew he was dying and didn't have years left to fulfill this religious obligation. Unfortunately he was not one of the chosen, however, since intention is good enough in Islam, I'm sure the Saudis' refusal to allow him to come won't be held against him. On the other hand I was wondering why twenty-two year olds were trying to get spots when the older people were supposed to have first priority! And what really bothered me was that wasta - or who you know, connections - played such a huge role in who got chosen. Why do I feel that something as sacred as the hajj should NOT rely on something as unfair as who you know? It didn't sit right with me for some reason. I guess I don't appreciate the performance of religious duties boiling down to your acceptability by mere mortals.
This part of verse 37
37. It is not their meat or blood that reaches God: It is the fealty of your heart that reaches him.
reminded me that God said in the Bible that He desired mercy and not sacrifice. Here in the Quran it says the faithfulness of your heart is what reaches Him. I think that's a great reminder that performing outward rituals isn't what really pleases God, but the inward attitude, the inner faithfulness and devotion to God.
47. That is how they ask you to hasten the punishment; but God does not go back on His promise. Verily a day with your Lord is equal by your reckoning to a thousand years.
This verse reminded me a bit of II Peter 3
8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Verse 52 started discussing something that took my attention. Satan's ability to tamper with recitations, yet God abrogates what Satan adds and then God confirms His revelations.Then God says these additions by Satan were a test for hardened hearts (vs. 53). Apparently the believers know the difference so those who call God's revelations lies will be punished (vs. 57). So I was pondering Satan's ability to tamper with recitations and all this when I read
72. When Our clear messages are read out to them you can see denial on the faces of unbelievers. They can hardly restrain themselves from attacking those who recite Our revelations. Tell them: "Should I give you news of something worse than this?" -- Hell, which God has promised the infidels. How evil a destination!
about "clear messages" and wondered why there are clear messages and also not-tamper-resistant recitations. Are recitations and revelations different here? Could Muhammad get the recitation wrong because Satan could add something that Muhammad thought was truth from God when, in reality, it wasn't?
This was quite contradictory to earlier verses that declared no one could change God's Word and God guards His message. You remember all those verses from other suras that I quoted as proof to me that the Bible hadn't been corrupted. Yet now I read this about God allowing Satan to tamper with His recitations. Can anyone explain?
67. We have determined for each community a way of worship which they follow. So they should not contend with you in this matter; and you should go on calling them to your Lord. You are surely on the right path. 68. If they argue with you, tell them: "God knows well what you are doing.
I suppose this means God knows some places are Christian, some are Jewish, Buddhist, atheist and so forth yet He wants Muslims to continue calling people to Himself throughout the world.
77. O you who believe, bow in adoration, Worship your Lord and do what is good that you may find success.
I love this and the last part of verse 78 as well -- hold on firmly to God. He is your friend: How excellent a friend is He, how excellent a helper!
It's rather nice to think of God as a friend, isn't it? Is God your friend?
Concerning friends, Jesus said in John 15...
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.In case you missed it, the promised Paul post was published yesterday. :)