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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 47

This one came with a warning. :)

Sura 47 -- Muhammad

OK, I'll admit it: I sometimes don't know how to take these suras! Are the promises for Muslims now? Muslims back then? Or Muslims of the future? Or maybe all three since Islam is said by most Muslims to be timely for all generations. I ask because many verses in this sura made me wonder if these were time/event-specific for back then or something Muslims of today count on. I see quite a case for spreading Islam by sword in this chapter. Yet I know most Muslims today will declare Islam a religion of peace and that only extremists try to spread it by force. Indeed we wouldn't dare call Muhammad "extreme" as he was the ideal Muslim, the example for future generations yet this sura which bears his name conveys the spread-by-fighting method. Granted I'm simply reading the chapter and don't know all the background information, but if Islam is for all time and I were just the average nonMuslim off the street curious to see what Muslims believe I'd take sura 47 as one that is rather harsh on anyone who disbelieves.

I know many in the past have wrongly tried to spread "Christianity" by the sword. I say Christianity in quotes because how does one spread Christ's message by sword and it still remain Christ's message? While Jesus does make reference to not bringing peace, but a sword as I discussed here in this post on Jesus' Divisive Sword, most followers of Christ agree that his message was of loving and serving others, even our enemies. In fact this is what makes Jesus' message so different from Muhammad's. Most followers of Jesus will try to take to heart - or aspire to - Paul's words in his letter to the Romans.

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

See there that quote about vengeance ... it is God's to repay. This is why we can relax as we trust in God to rectify situations and not seek to avenge ourselves.

This sura speaks of the importance of obeying God and Muhammad. The two go hand in hand as I suppose for Muslims one cannot obey God unless she also obeys the prophet of Islam. Sadly, his message differs quite a bit from Jesus' message. I've never seen justification in Jesus' message to spread his teachings by fighting others. This is why those who say they are fighting for Christ are so shameful and wrong! Uh, how exactly does one spread a message of "loving your enemies" by sword? I say people are free to choose whatever they want. God will settle things in His own time, like Judgment Day. We can share our faiths with others, but never try to force the message by threatening "you convert or else" as we brandish our swords.

And if these verses were just for one time, I still don't really like the idea of spreading a religion by sword. I don't like that about any group willing to kill others who won't convert to their faith.

Here are the verses I noted from this chapter.

4. So, when you clash with the unbelievers, smite their necks until you overpower them, then hold them in bondage. Then either free them graciously or after taking a ransom, until war shall have come to end. If God had pleased He could have punished them (Himself), but He wills to test some of you through some others. He will not allow the deeds of those who are killed in the cause of God to go waste.

5. He will show them the way, and better their state, 6. And will admit them into gardens with which he has acquainted them. 7. O you who believe, if you help (in the cause of) God He will surely come to your aid, and firmly plant your feet. 8. As for the unbelievers, they will suffer misfortunes, and their deeds will be rendered ineffective.

I see in verse 4 where God "wills to test some of you through some others." Does this also hold true to Muslim lands who are currently being "tested" by others such as the Palestinians who have suffered quite a lot under the oppressive Zionists? So is this merely something God has allowed as a test for the Palestinians? And the same for Iraqi Muslims who have been suffering for many years now. And when God tests us this way is it OK to fight the testing or do we endure it until His will is accomplished in our lives?

I see in the last part of verse 4 through verse 6 what I call the Martyrs' Creed. I have heard of families who seem overjoyed when their children are killed fighting so they will be considered martyrs. And why not when instant paradise with 72 virgins is promised! If I had a choice between instant heaven vs. waiting around for Judgment Day while lying in a grave to see if I MIGHT make it in, I'd want to be a martyr as well!

And verse 7 ... is this one for people now as well? Because in my opinion, it doesn't seem as if God has come to the aid of the Palestinians. Maybe this is a future promise for them? As they endure their testing from God (vs. 4) they will later be given aid from Him? Is this why most Muslims only given token aid to Gaza? They speak of it on blogs and such, but nothing much is actually done for them despite their numbers being bigger than most countries!

35. So do not become weak-kneed and sue for peace, for you will have the upper hand as God is with you and will not overlook your deeds.

Yeah, we all know peace is something only weak-kneed people can handle. Is this why the Muslim world is often a constant pot of turmoil?

Warning: sura 48 also struck a nerve! I'll post those notes tomorrow, Lord willing.


Suroor said...

Susanne, I understand your frustration.

I have come to believe that there is NOTHING in this world a developed human mind can't justify. We can justify every word, every phrase every which ever way we *believe.* You don't understand crusades but I'm sure crusaders could justify it. Mujahideen can justify jihad too but in their case the reasoning is clearer and right in your face :)

Web are at the same time very primitive as well to believe in a God sitting on a throne and commanding to kill. Smite. Ambush. Chop.

We humans are basically bso stupid in our struggle for survival of the fittest we'll kill each other off.

Susanne said...

Suroor, yeah, I agree that we can justify whatever we want. I still don't understand the Crusaders' mentality neither have I really tried. What benefit is there in trying to understand hate when Jesus said to love even our enemies? That's pretty cut-and-dry. I want to focus on Jesus' message. Not hate-filled propaganda and junk about "doing this for Jesus" (or God/Allah or Muhammad). There is quite enough hate in the world without my purposefully saturating my mind and heart with it.

Love is far more powerful than hate. This is why those who hate are taking the easy road. Love is the narrow road, the road less chosen. Hate leads to destruction of others and yourself. Have you ever met a hateful person who radiates love and joy? Neither have I.

Thanks for your comment and for understanding my frustration. Be prepared for it against in my sura 48 notes. :)

Anonymous said...

Love is far more powerful than hate. This is why those who hate are taking the easy road. Love is the narrow road, the road less chosen. Hate leads to destruction of others and yourself. Have you ever met a hateful person who radiates love and joy? Neither have I.

BEAUTIFUL! Could not be more true or better written!

Susanne said...

Shell, thank you! Your comments mean a lot to me. <3

truerivers said...

History is full of such wars whether it's for God,tribe or lover.For us it seems difficult to accept this.But for some it's like drinking water.Unbelievable but true.They know nothing but war in their entire lives.That's how they've learned to survive and solve their problems.

How do you teach such people about love overcoming hatred? The failure to achieve this is largely why in the world there are still places undergoing tremendous hardship like Palestine.Maybe it's not just about the victims but also the aggressors and you're right about the outside world not doing enough beyond the lip service.It's really sad.

When I first read the surahs,I felt they way you did.Knowing their way of life,habits and the eras did help me to overcome some frustrations I had too.

Susanne said...

Lat, what a sweet comment. I'm glad to know you also felt similarly when you first read these suras. I guess we are blessed to live in areas that are mostly peaceful because indeed it does seem much of the world over the centuries has endured conflict. :-/

"How do you teach such people about love overcoming hatred?"

I guess that's the $10,000 question! Maybe it's something as simple as:

If your enemy is hungry, feed him.

If he thirsts, give him drink.

If he's naked, give him clothes.

Meeting needs...I don't know. But I'd really love to see people try to overcome evil with GOOD instead of this awful cycle of conflict. :(

Wafa' said...

sometimes i -at least for myself-sound like a person who can explain anything, lol vain i know. But was just reading your post and couldn't explain it. it was something that i ahve thought about it before, how can we call ourselves peacful and keep saying that Islam is religion of peace while we kill in the name of the Islam and worse those verses in the Quran that ask to kill. That's why i need a good enterptation of the Quran, i need to know why those Suras say what they say , do they have a background?? . I love my religion but sometimes it scares me a lot.

Susanne said...

Wafa', I love your honesty. I know what you mean about being able to explain things for yourself and I don't think that's vain. It's just that you find ways to make things make sense to you. No harm there. Maybe Sarira will have some background on these verses. Usually the background makes the verses seem less harsh than a straight reading does. I appreciate your comment and how you can admit some things that others might be to afraid to say. I really admire that about you! I've been thinking about you today...praying for your family in this rough time. Hugs, Sweetie.