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

Monday, June 14, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 42

Sura 42 - Ash-Shura

5. The skies are near to bursting asunder above them (for awe of Him), and the angels sing the praises of their Lord, imploring forgiveness for the dwellers of the earth. Is it not that God is forgiving and merciful?

Does this part about angels "imploring forgiveness for the dwellers of the earth" mean they are interceding somehow? So Muhammad and the angels are intercessors in Islam?


8. If God had pleased He would have made them one community of belief; but He admits whom He please to His grace; yet the sinners have neither friend nor helper.

That's pretty clear that God predestined some to hell and others to heaven.

17.  It is God who has sent down the Book with the truth, and the Balance. How do you know the Hour is not near? 18. Only they who do not believe in it wish to hasten it; but those who believe are in fear of it, for they know it to be true. Surely those who are in doubt about the Hour are wandering far astray.

Why do believers fear the Hour? Is the Balance, the scale to see who will be admitted into heaven? Is this why Muslims fear the Hour? Because they aren't sure if they were good enough?

30. Whatever misfortune befalls you is a consequence of your deeds; yet He forgives much.

How do you reconcile this with bad things happening to "good people"? How does this play out with the suffering we see in the world among many people groups including the Palestinians in Gaza and Iraqis and Afghanis who have suffered under both Westerners and their own people? Are they being punished for their misdeeds? What about Job? This doesn't seem to mesh with his story of being righteous before God.

40. The retribution of evil is the equal of evil (done); yet those who forgive and rehabilitate will be rewarded by God. Verily He does not like those who do wrong. 41. If one avenges himself after he has been wronged, there is no way of blaming him. 42. Blame lies on those who oppress, and terrorise the land unjustly. For them there is painful punishment. 43. But he who bears with patience and forgives, surely complies with divine resolve.

Justice. Reverted to Moses Style. I like that patience and forgiveness are noted as traits of he who "complies with divine resolve."

49. To God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates whatsoever He wills, bestows daughters on whosoever He will, and gives sons to whom He choose. 50. On some He bestows both sons and daughters, and some He leaves issueless. He is all-knowing and all-powerful.

So why do some men think they need to more wives in order to have sons? If God is the issuer of sons and daughters and He chooses who gets what, why fight it?

8 comments:

Wafa' said...

(Why do believers fear the Hour? Is the Balance, the scale to see who will be admitted into heaven? Is this why Muslims fear the Hour? Because they aren't sure if they were good enough?)
because even though we believe in God and prophet Muhammad, it's still not enough. We have to follow the teachings and orders of Islam one by one.
This is what we have been told , you should do this to go to heaven otherwise you are headed to hell. If you steal, lie,kill...etc and even though you are still a believer you MIGHT go to hell to be punished for what you did and then go to heaven. Although it's clear in the Quran that believeing in Allah as the only God and don't worship anyone else with him then you are going to heaven.
Sad , happy and confused i am about it. Sad because no matter what you did, you might not be good enough.Happy because in a way it shows a fair God who won't let you go to heaven just because you are a believer before being paid for what you did. Confused because something says so and other things says so !!!


(How do you reconcile this with bad things happening to "good people"? How does this play out with the suffering we see in the world among many people groups including the Palestinians in Gaza and Iraqis and Afghanis who have suffered under both Westerners and their own people? Are they being punished for their misdeeds? What about Job? This doesn't seem to mesh with his story of being righteous before God.)
again another confusing matter. We believe that yes bad things happening to you might be a punishment and a consequences for your actions and behavior-the bad ones-. And sometimes it's afflicting and a test from God to see if you are going to be patient about it or not , kinda like what happened to Jacob. As for me, i believe only in afflicting . And as they say it makes you even closer to God.

Suroor said...

Yea, intercession is a weird thing. In several places you will read "Allah and His angels" like in Allah and His angels bless Muhammad which makes you wonder if angels are demi-gods or more powerful than we imagine them to be. That is definitely thin ice for me.

Sarira said...

Oh yes, there is intercession in Islam :) I'll answer that in my weekend, inshaAllah, cause I feel that would take some time to explain as there are different kinds of intercession and forbidden things regarding intercession. I will say right here though that we when you go to Madinah, where the Prophet is buried, the officials there are very quick to remind you not to ask Prophet Mohammed for intercession- warning you that if you do so, you fall into shirk ! Why? Because no intercession is given by a person’s consent. Only whomever Allah permits to intercede can intercede. So we can ask Allah to let Prophet Mohammed intercede for us but we cannot ask Prophet Mohammed to intercede for us with Allah. Again, I’ll explain more later inshaAllah but right now, though I want to explain verse 7 :)

First, before I do that I do want to let you know it’s great you’re asking this question! We know that some of the Companions asked the Prophet about this issue of predestination. When they asked him that, the Prophet answered with these verses (actually he started from number 5, but I thought I would start from number 4, so you could see the full context).

Indeed, your efforts are diverse. (4) As for he who gives and fears Allah (5) And believes in the best [reward], (6) We will ease him toward ease. (7) But as for he who withholds and considers himself free of need (8) And denies the best [reward], (9) We will ease him toward difficulty. (10)

See, Allah who is the Just and who is beyond Time, looks deep into our hearts, and decrees each person’s destiny for a reason- those who want to be guided are guided and those who do not are not. His Divine knowledge of what each person will do cannot affect a person’s freedom to decide and act for himself because he doesn’t know that the Lord has decreed and thus, he is entirely responsible for his choice.

Now, in this verse, I can see how you understood it. But remember, we have to take all the verses ‘together’ that deal with predestination. As you saw in the previous surah, those who preferred misguidance get misguidance.

So what’s happening here?
Well, the context of this ayah is very important.

Let’s take a look:
And those who take as allies other than Him - Allah is [yet] Guardian over them; and you, [O Muhammad], are not over them a manager. (6) And thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur'an that you may warn the Mother of Cities [Makkah] and those around it and warn of the Day of Assembly, about which there is no doubt. A party will be in Paradise and a party in the Blaze. (7) And if Allah willed, He could have made them [of] one religion, but He admits whom He wills into His mercy. And the wrongdoers have not any protector or helper.

You see, verse 7 was said as a consolation to Prophet Mohammed who was very ‘worried’ about the people who were choosing to disbelieve. Prophet Mohammed kept grieving about it- worrying himself sick- to the point that he thought that he wasn’t doing his job fully. Allah Subhanoo Wa’ Tala revealed this verse to explain that it isn’t in the Prophet’s hands and he shouldn’t grieve over it excessively. When a person intends to do evil in spite of His Creator’s warnings and guidance [the Qur’an- which is verse 6] Allah is displeased and leaves the person to himself- is not His Helper.

Why? Not because Allah just wanted people to go to Hell, but because Allah chose to let mankind come to him voluntarily.That is what He Willed. Yes, He could have made every single person here a believer as He stated in the verse, but Allah willed that men shall be free in regard to matters of belief and disbelief. Allah Almighty says, “Say: The truth is from your Lord; so let whosoever will believe, and let whosoever will disbelieve.” (Al-Kahf: 29)

So, Allah is basically reminding the Prophet that He is the One chose for people to have free will, and that those who want Allah’s Guidance will be let into Allah’s Mercy, but those who do not….well, He won’t admit them to His Mercy.

Sarira said...

My tafisr book says:

It is meant to instruct and console the Holy Prophet, as if to say:"Do not grieve so much at the ignorance and deviation of the disbelievers of Makkah and their stubbornness and obduracy. It is Allah's will that man should be granted the freedom of choice and action: then whoever desires to have guidance should be given guidance, and whoever wants to remain. astray should be allowed to go astray. Had this not been Allah's will, there was no need whatever of sending the Prophets and the Book; for this only a creative hint of Allah Almighty's was enough: all human beings would have become as obedient as the rivers, mountains, trees, stones, and all other creatures. " (In this connection, please also see AI-An'am: 35-36, 107).
It’s similar to these verses:
So remind, if the reminder should benefit; (9) He who fears [Allah] will be reminded. (10) But the wretched one will avoid it - (11) [Surah 87]
As for fearing the hour, my Qur’an teacher explained that this is not a ‘paralyzing fear’ but a ‘fear that propels us to do good, race to meet our Lord with good deeds, especially considering the fact that we are all ‘sinners’.
In fact, if we look here, we can understand it better:
But when there comes the greatest Overwhelming Calamity - (34) The Day when man will remember that for which he strove, (35) And Hellfire will be exposed for [all] those who see - (36) So as for he who transgressed (37) And preferred the life of the world, (38) Then indeed, Hellfire will be [his] refuge. (39) But as for he who feared the position of his Lord and prevented the soul from [unlawful] inclination, (40) Then indeed, Paradise will be [his] refuge. (surah 79)

We realize that fearing the Hour means fearing standing in front of the Lord and facing Him with sins. It is what pushes us to not sin, not disobey Him, ask Him for His forgivness, etc.

And I so know what you mean about the last verse. I had a friend’s father who decided to get a second wife to ‘have a son’. He ended up having another daughter ;)

Sarira said...

Oh, Wafaa's comment reminded me to answer the part about 'bad things happening to good people'.

I understand this verse to be addressing 'the bad people', lol, the ones who 'drown themselves in disbelief' ;)

Why? Because a fundemental rule in Islam is that there is nothing 'bad' that happens to the believers.

What do I mean by this?

Well, ironically enough, this morning I read a nice note on my facebook account that explained it, so I'll just copy paste it ;)

Bad things happen, right? Wrong! Everything that happens to a believer is good or it has more good in it than bad. Alhamdulillah, it is always a win-win situation for the believer. Consider the hadith of Rasoolullah (SAW) told to us by Suhaib in which Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “The affair of the believer is amazing! The whole of his life is beneficial, and that is only in the case of the believer. When good times come to him, he is thankful and it is good for him, and when bad times befall him, he is patient and it is also good for him” (narrated by Muslim).

Indeed, we all fall sick, get into accidents, or are sadden at times of despair. However, the believer easily overcomes such hardships. Rasoolullah (SAW) said that, “When the believer is afflicted with pain, even that of a prick of a thorn or more, God forgives his sins” (narrated by Bukhari). It is reported that Abu Hurayrah, the companion of the Prophet, had a favorite illness! He is reported to have said, “There is no illness that afflicts me more beloved to me than fever; it enters every part of me and [because of it] Allah the Mighty and Sublime gives every part of me its share of reward” (narrated by Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad). Subhana’Allah, if only we could all celebrate when we got sick or something misfortunate happened to us!

In terms of hardship, we should look to the Quran for guidance as it states, “Those who patiently preserve will truly receive a reward without measure” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 39:10) and “And bear in patience whatever maybe fall you: this, behold, is something to set one’s heart upon“(Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 31:17). In times of hardship, many of us remember Allah (SWT), but do we remember Allah (SWT) in times of ease? Rasoolullah (SAW) said, “Remember Allah in times of ease, and He will remember you in times of hardship” (narrated by Ahmad).

Whenever something afflicts us, we should smile and say Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah). Consider the story of the King and his servant, Abdullah. Abdullah would say Alhamdulillah to everything that would happen to him, whether good or bad. One day while hunting, the King accidently shot-off his finger and Abdullah responded with his normal, Alhamdulillah. Upset, the King jailed Abdullah to which Abdullah responded Alhamdulillah. Soon thereafter, the King went out hunting again by himself. He strayed into tribal enemy grounds and was captured. The tribe was about to sacrifice him before they realized he was missing a finger. Knowing full-well they should not sacrifice an incomplete human being, they released the King. Ecstatic, the King knew that his misfiring the other day saved his life. He went back home and freed Abdullah. Afterwards, he asked Abdullah, “I understand the loss of my finger was something worth saying Alhamdulillah over, but why did you say it when I jailed you?” Abdullah responded, “Had I been with you that one day instead of in jail, I would have been sacrificed, since I did have all of my fingers!”

Verily, the Quran states, “but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not” (Translation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, 2:216). Therefore, O Muslim, always be optimistic and respond with Alhamdulillah!


(Written by brother Bilal).

my battery's gonna die! pressing submit before checking typos ;)

Susanne said...

Wafa', I love how honest you are in stating what things mean to you and how they make you feel. You admit to being sad, happy and confused and I love that honesty! So you believe bad things that happen are only a test and never a punishment or consequence for past actions such as what happened to the Israelites in the OT. I'm glad you shared that. I am so happy when I see your comments. They are so real and you explain well! Please keep commenting as you have time! Thanks, sweet Wafa'. :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, ah, interesting observation about the power/role of angels. I don't know why I was under the impression that Muslims did not believe in intercession. Now I see it a lot in the Quran. Silly me! :-P Thanks for your comment. I always appreciate how you add to the discussions!

Susanne said...

Sarira, I'll look forward to your post about intercession. Sounds interesting and definitely is something I am confused about. :)

"So, Allah is basically reminding the Prophet that He is the One chose for people to have free will, and that those who want Allah’s Guidance will be let into Allah’s Mercy, but those who do not….well, He won’t admit them to His Mercy."

Thank you for taking time to explain the predestination thing. I know I keep noting it, but it's really not for argument sake. I just get a bit confused with it also in Christianity. So it was nice to read the Islamic point of view on it. I think that is how I believe mostly. God knows what we will choose so in there is foreknowledge because God knows all. Anyway, I appreciate your taking time to share what you did. Please remember I write many of these notes several days before I post them so even though a question may have been answered in previous comments, I still often post my original notes just for the sake of pointing out what stood out to me as I read the chapters. Thus why sometimes I will state a point that I already had answered by you, Durriyah, Wafa' or Suroor. Thank you all! :)

"We realize that fearing the Hour means fearing standing in front of the Lord and facing Him with sins. It is what pushes us to not sin, not disobey Him, ask Him for His forgivness, etc. "

Aha! Yes, that makes sense! It's a fear that compels you to live godly and not just go around doing wrong with no thought of accountability to God. Thanks!

I enjoyed reading what your brother wrote about "bad things" happening to Muslims. So you think the Palestinians should just have this attitude and thank God for the oppression they've endured? I agree that it's an optimistic way to look at things. :) Thanks much for sharing what Bilal wrote!

BTW, I also often write my comments in Gmail drafts because occasionally Blogger will eat the comments before they post and I don't want to lose them. (Your comment about your laptop battery made me think of this.)

Good reading your comments, Sarira! :)