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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 57 - 60

Sura 57 - al-Hadid

This sura started off with some very pleasant verses about God's power and majesty.

13.  The day the hypocrites, men and women, will say to the believers: "Wait for us that we may borrow a little light from your light," they will be told: "Go back, and look for your light." A wall shall be raised between them in which there will be a door. Within it will be benevolence and retribution without.

This reference to borrowing light reminds me of a parable Jesus told about ten virgins in Matthew 25.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9 “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Here is one explanation of it.

Sura 58 - al-Mujadalah

The beginning of this sura had some peculiar story about men wanting to divorce their wives so they called them "mothers." I guessed that they were coming to Muhammad for advice and he got this revelation from God on how to deal with this custom.

This sura makes the point that there are no secrets from God as He is all-knowing and the fourth person in your group of three and sixth among your group of five (vs. 7).

Verses 12 and 13 make Muhammad seem like some counselor or psychiatrist with God commanding the people to give alms in the name of God before they went to talk with him.

  22. You will not find those who believe in God and the Day of Resurrection, loving those who oppose God and His Prophet, even though they be their fathers, sons, or brothers or their kin. God has inscribed on their hearts belief, and has succoured them with His own grace, and will admit them to gardens with rivers flowing by, where they will abide for ever, God accepting them, and they, happy in the pleasure of God. They are verily the army of God. Will not the army of God be victorious?

This verse made it pretty clear that believers will not love their enemies (even their families if they disbelieve). I suppose there was no such thought as winning the unbelievers to their side by showing them the love of God in action, right?

Sura 59 - al-Hashr

These verses about God decreeing expulsion (vs. 2-3) made me think of the Palestinians of today. I know it was talking about people of the Book who refused to believe Muhammad, but that whole talk of God driving them from their homes and decreeing their expulsion made me think of more modern times and something similar happening less than one hundred years ago in Palestine.

9. Those who came to the city and to faith before them, love those who take refuge with them, and do not feel for themselves any need for what is given them, and give them preference over themselves even if they are indigent. Whoever preserves himself from his own greed will be prosperous.

I thought this was a very nice verse as it described how to treat the refugees and poor among the community. Great tidbit at the end about preserving ourselves from greed.

11. Have you never considered the hypocrites? They say to their brethren among the people of the Book who do not believe: "If you are driven out we shall go with you, and will not listen to any one in what concerns you; and if there is war against you, we shall aid you." But God is witness they are liars. 12. If they are driven out, they will not go with them; and if they are attacked, they will not aid them. And even if they aided them, they will turn their backs, then they will not be helped.

I know this refers to hypocrites among the people of the Book, however, again, I couldn't help thinking of Muslims today and how so many of them do nothing for the Palestinians. I suppose these truths about the errant people of the Book can also apply to any person today - including erring Muslims.

14. They will not fight you in a body except in fortified cities, or from behind the walls. Their enmity among themselves is great. You think they are united, but divided are their hearts. That is because these people are devoid of sense,

I just thought this verse was cute in a way. Division among people because they are void of sense - nice way to put it!

22. He is God; there is no god but He, the knower of the unknown and the known. He is the benevolent, ever-merciful. 23. He is God; there is no god but He, the King, the Holy, the Preserver, Protector, Guardian, the Strong, the Powerful, Omnipotent. Far too exalted is God for what they associate with Him. 24. He is God, the Creator, the Maker, the Fashioner. His are all the names beautiful. Whatever is in the heavens and the earth sings His praises. He is all-mighty and all-wise.

Very lovely verses!

Sura 60 - al-Mumtahanah

Verse 4 describes the excellent model of Abraham who declared "enmity and hate" and rejection to the people who disbelieved in God. I question if this is the same model we should use for today. I can understand removing yourself from disbelievers so you won't pick up their pagan practices, but how do we balance this removal with the need for the unbelievers to see the good works of the believers so they will glorify God? If we reject the unbelievers and declare division, enmity and hate, how will this show them the divine qualities of our beliefs? Do we not attract people better with honey than vinegar?

7.  It maybe that God will create love between you and your enemies. God is all-powerful, and God is forgiving, ever-merciful. 8. God does not forbid you from being kind and acting justly towards those who did not fight over faith with you, nor expelled you from your homes. God indeed loves those who are just. 9. He only forbids you from making friends with those who fought over faith with you and banished you from your homes, and aided in your exile. Whoever makes friends with them is a transgressor.

I started to get a little bit excited to see perhaps that God would create love between Muslims and their enemies (vs. 7.) God declared His power, forgiving and merciful qualities and that He could even create love between foes. But then it seems He qualifies His statement by allowing Muslims to be kind towards those who are just and who didn't fight with the believers over faith issues. But the true enemies (as I'd see it) are the ones God still wants you to keep at a distance. So no loving your enemies after all.

10.  O believers, when believing women come over to you as refugees, then examine them. God alone is cognisant of their faith. If you find that they are believers, do not send them back to unbelievers. They are not lawful for them, nor are infidels lawful for believing women. Give the unbelievers what they have spent on them. There is no sin if you marry them provided you give their dowers to them. Do not retain your (marriage) ties with unbelieving women. Ask for the return of what you have spent (on them); and the unbelievers should ask for the return of what they have spent. This is the judgement of God. He judges between you. God is all-knowing and all-wise.

Does this part about not retaining your marriage ties with unbelieving women mean you should divorce those daughters of the Book (Jewish and Christian women) whom you previously were allowed to marry?

Its interesting to read how to treat those women who convert to Islam and the ones who go to the unbelievers' side. In verse 12 we see Muhammad is supposed ask God to forgive the Muslim convert women's sins.


Suroor said...

Ya Allah! What is this, Susie? This post is packed :-D I don't know what to do.

OK, I don't know which questions are rhetorical and which are genuine so if you want me to think about any specific questions please wind the key on my nape :-D

Susanne said...

Ha, ha! You're cute. I didn't realize this one was so packed. :)

How about this from sura 60

"If we reject the unbelievers and declare division, enmity and hate, how will this show them the divine qualities of our beliefs?"

and also

"Does this part about not retaining your marriage ties with unbelieving women mean you should divorce those daughters of the Book (Jewish and Christian women) whom you previously were allowed to marry?"

And, of course, anything else you'd like to write about that strikes your interest, please do! :)

Tauqeer said...

You have done an interesting job here and I appreciate your curiosity to learn about Islam.

The correct way would be not to read the translation alone, but you should read 'tafseer' or commentary as well, since that will actually explain what verse came at what time and in which environment and seriously that's how it makes more sense.

Probably you know, but for most of the Muslims, Islam is not confined in the Holy book (Quran) only but 'Sunnah' or life of Holy Prophet is the real guide for us.

Quran is just like a text book and Muhammad is the teacher who explains it, but verbal explanation and the way he lived his life.

I'll surely come back to your blog again :)

Susanne said...

Tauqeer, welcome and thank you for your helpful comment. I realize I'm cutting corners by only reading the Quran. But in my view a holy book should speak to me and be able to stand on its own. It should interpret itself through other passages perhaps so this is what I am looking at for now. I realize the commentary would be helpful though in understanding background information! So true!! :) For now I want to read this most holy book of Muslims and see what it says, see how it portrays the belief system, the message, the God and the man who brought this message from God. Also it's enlightening to see how the biblical characters are portrayed in this new book! I don't have time or inclination at this point to delve into the hundreds or thousands of hadith of which some are debated even by Muslims. Since they all agree on the Quran, I thought it would be a good place to start. :)

Thanks again for your comment. Feel free to explain things from past and future posts as well. Have a great evening!