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

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Notes on Quran - Sura 7

As promised here are more thoughts on the Quran. I finished the 7th sura a few days ago. I really enjoyed many of the verses.

Sura 7 - Al A'raf

3. Follow (O men!) the revelation given unto you from your Lord, and follow not, as friends or protectors, other than Him. Little it is ye remember of admonition.

Not sure if I am thinking of this correctly, but it reminds me that God is our perfect example, truly the only trustworthy one. Too often we are disappointed when a family member, friend or person of influence fails us because of something they did. It's like something I was taught when I was young that people will disappoint us, hurt us, fail us, that's why we trust in God over any mere human. As one Christian hymn goes, "The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own." Because, in reality, I am often that person who disappoints, hurts or fails others. I thought this verse was a good reminder of this fact.

10. It is We Who have placed you with authority on earth, and provided you therein with means for the fulfilment of your life: small are the thanks that ye give!

This is a great reminder that all we have is from God, yet, sadly, we often forget to thank Him for His blessings. I like how it states God has provided the means for the fulfillment of life. As if He has given us the raw materials, but it's up to us to find the fulfillment therein. Using my analogy, I wonder what would the "raw materials" be and what would give you fulfillment in life?

11. It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels bow down to Adam, and they bowed down; not so Iblis; He refused to be of those who bow down.

12. ((Allah)) said: "What prevented thee from bowing down when I commanded thee?" He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay."

13. ((Allah)) said: "Get thee down from this: it is not for thee to be arrogant here: get out, for thou art of the meanest (of creatures)."

First of all "meanest of creatures" is quite the good description of Satan! And it makes me smile for some reason as well. :)

I am always puzzled when I read about God commanding angels to bow down to man. I know at times people bow to royalty and leaders due to their powerful positions and as a show of respect and submission maybe. Perhaps this is the way I should think of this bow-to-Adam story, however, more ingrained in me - especially related to God! - is that we should not bow down before anyone but Him! Therefore, to read this about angels bowing to Adam makes me wonder if this is part of the problem we have now -- man as his own god such as much of humanistic thinking portrays. (Where God is not needed, in fact He is made up. Man has reasoned himself [or maybe evolved is a better word] into a good state, a better state than even God could have come up with.)

I am still mulling over this quite a lot. I do recall in the Bible that Joseph had a dream where his parents and brothers bowed to him, however, I also recall in the New Testament where the apostles of Jesus were bowed down to and in response protested for the people to get up as they were mere men and not God! Also the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego..how these Israelite men were thrown into a fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to a false god. So something about this bowing to Adam just doesn't sit right with me. But I suppose if God tells you to bow, you bow. My problem is more in the thought that God would command such a thing. Guess this is why I'm not a Muslim if I am questioning God on such things! :-) And, in reality, I guess bowing isn't necessarily the same as worshiping so that's the key difference. Perhaps this was to show God had made man higher than the angels? To elevate man somehow. Do you agree that this is the case (men higher than angels)?

38. He will say: "Enter ye in the company of the peoples who passed away before you - men and jinns, - into the Fire." Every time a new people enters, it curses its sister-people (that went before), until they follow each other, all into the Fire. Saith the last about the first: "Our Lord! it is these that misled us: so give them a double penalty in the Fire." He will say: "Doubled for all" : but this ye do not understand.

39. Then the first will say to the last: "See then! No advantage have ye over us; so taste ye of the penalty for all that ye did !"

This shows me that we cannot blame those who went before us for our going down the wrong path. In fact if we want God to curse the first people for this by giving them harsher judgment, He, in fact, created harsher punishment for all. Thus we are not able to use the excuse of others. We are accountable for ourselves.

44. The Companions of the Garden will call out to the Companions of the Fire: "We have indeed found the promises of our Lord to us true: Have you also found Your Lord's promises true?" They shall say, "Yes"; but a crier shall proclaim between them: "The curse of Allah is on the wrong-doers;-

45. "Those who would hinder (men) from the path of Allah and would seek in it something crooked: they were those who denied the Hereafter."

46. Between them shall be a veil, and on the heights will be men who would know every one by his marks: they will call out to the Companions of the Garden, "peace on you": they will not have entered, but they will have an assurance (thereof).

47. When their eyes shall be turned towards the Companions of the Fire, they will say: "Our Lord! send us not to the company of the wrong-doers."

48. The men on the heights will call to certain men whom they will know from their marks, saying: "Of what profit to you were your hoards and your arrogant ways?

49. "Behold! are these not the men whom you swore that Allah with His Mercy would never bless? Enter ye the Garden: no fear shall be on you, nor shall ye grieve."

I found myself trying to visualize this sequence of events in order to keep the story straight. I'm assuming these are neutral observers on the heights who are seeing those in heaven (Companions of the Garden) and those in hell (Companions of the Fire). I think I followed their dialogue well enough until verse 47. Who are the certain men whom they know from their marks? Are these people who have not yet entered into eternity (heaven or hell)? And what are "their marks"? Does this go back to that mistranslation of baptism from sura 2? I think I remember someone saying it was in reality a mark. I didn't really follow 48 and 49 and who was being addressed as arrogant and hoarding and then welcomed into the Garden.

56. Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order, but call on Him with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of Allah is (always) near to those who do good.

This verse is pretty nice although I could argue that "those who do good" don't really need mercy. I think it's the ones who do bad who can appreciate the mercy of God more. :-) But I like the principle of this verse: calling upon God and His mercy being near.

There are things I want to say about verses 157 and 158, but maybe that will be for another post. This one is long enough and it's just one sura!

166. When in their insolence they transgressed (all) prohibitions, We said to them: "Be ye apes, despised and rejected."

168. We broke them up into sections on this earth. There are among them some that are the righteous, and some that are the opposite. We have tried them with both prosperity and adversity: In order that they might turn (to us).

I think this was talking about the Jews. First the reference to turning them into apes was peculiar. But the part in verse 168 I can see since the Jews were scattered throughout the world for hundreds of years. Yet they always kept their longing for their homeland and seemed to have passed this yearning from generation to generation much as the Palestinians of today do with their own children.

204. When the Qur'an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy.

205. And do thou (O reader!) Bring thy Lord to remembrance in thy (very) soul, with humility and in reverence, without loudness in words, in the mornings and evenings; and be not thou of those who are unheedful.

206. Those who are near to thy Lord, disdain not to do Him worship: They celebrate His praises, and bow down before Him.

These are quite lovely verses especially bringing the Lord into remembrance and celebrating His praises. And see bowing down before God as noted here causes me no problems. This is what I expect...not the bowing down to man (Adam) as mentioned above.

"Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!" - Psalm 95:6

This is what I am used to! :)

Today I borrowed an English translation of the Quran from the public library. It's a more contemporary version by Ahmed Ali. I plan to read sura 8 from it next.


Durriyyah said...

Just some notes I jotted down... this time without a todo list at the top. :)

"Perhaps this was to show God had made man higher than the angels? To elevate man somehow. Do you agree that this is the case (men higher than angels)?" - Humans are given a more elevated status because of our free will, where Angels do not have free will and thus can not consciously make the choice to follow God. Bowing to Adam is not seen as a worship to him, but rather a command of God based on His Majesty in His creation.

7:45-49 - I'm not sure exactly who the people "on the Heights" are… if they are Angels, or other souls not yet determined what their fate is, etc. As for the mark of the believer, there are numerous hadith that point to believers having a mark on their forehead from the prostrations they perform in this life. Those who followed the prophet of their time correctly will have a light that goes before them as they cross over a narrow bridge over Hellfire on their way to Heaven. This will help them cross the bridge, but those without the light may stumble and fall into Hellfire per their destiny based on their belief and actions of this world.

7:166 - See also 2:65. It appears this was an incident that happened with a group of Jews that did not observe the Sabbath. I don't know much more than that, but there is the cross reference.

I like how in 7:33, we are told that the things that are forbidden are things that are harmful for us. As a convert, Islam struck me as a lot of rules... but then when I understood them, it felt like such a Mercy from God to be given such guidance! I mean, if we look at our society today in which there are little to no standards and people make their own rules, things such as waiting to have sex until marriage are lost, along with the benefits of doing so. When we open our eyes to the Way of God, we see His Wisdom and Mercy in the "law" that He commands of us. Beautiful.

kat said...

Bowing to Adam---the story will unfold in stages, so have patience.
Basically, God created Prophet Adam (pbuh) and endowed him with knowledge. This knowledge ("the names") was displayed to the Angels and Jinn (Jinn have free-will), after which they were asked to bow to Prophet Adam(pbuh). Iblis (before he became Satan) was arrogant and prideful and told God that he would not bow down to (Prophet)Adam (pbuh) because he (Iblis) was made of smokeless fire and (Prophet) Adam (pbuh) was made of clay---therefore clearly he (Iblis) was superior. According to Al Gazzali, this is "Iblisi Logic"---that is, an arbitrary value judgement of superiority is made out of pride and arrogance.
God passes Judgement but Iblis asks for mercy--that God grant him "respite" until Judgement Day for the punishment to be carried out---God is Compassionate and Merciful and grants Iblis/Satan (and his followers) respite.

Sarah said...

It's so interesting to see your reactions to what you're reading. You are an amazing, open-minded person!

Suroor said...

I will second what Sarah said. You are a real sweet and open-minded person.

I'm happy you enjoyed the surah.

One thing I wanted to mention is that there is a difference between bowing and prostrating. The word used in the Arabic original in verse 11 closely translates to prostrate and not bow. Thus, it has more to do with worship than respect Adam.

It reminds me what my daughter keeps saying to the middle one who really loves me "nobody likes a suck-up!" :) I think Satan was trying to be a suck-up rather than proud, but the thing is no one likes a suck-up except for the one who is being flattered!

In some Sufi thoughts, it is believed that eventually God will pardon Satan because He knows that Satan was blinded by his intense love and jealousy for God, even though the Quran quotes him as being arrogant.

Susanne said...

Durriyyah, yay for notes without to-do lists at the top! ;-) You're funny!

Thank you for explaining your understanding of mankind being elevated above angels. So you believe humans have free will? I tend to think so, however, some friends I know believe strongly in predestination. I've actually seen BOTH in the Quran now that I've read 8 suras. I thought freewill was more prevalent in sura 8 whereas before I saw predestination strongly.

Interesting thoughts about the mark and crossing the bridge over hellfire! I remember someone telling me they knew Muslims long ago who had their hair cut a certain way. They wore one long piece in the back - maybe like a ponytail. It was so that when they walked over the bridge that if they stumbled someone could grab them by this long hair! I wish I could remember who told me. It might have been my mom or grandmother talking about Muslims they knew in Africa, but then I don't see Africans having long hair as easily so maybe I dreamed this! :-P

I think God has rules and standards. Don't get me wrong. I think He desires sex only within marriage for instance. I'm not against rules for morality's sake. I guess it's more the details of rules in Islam which - to me - hearkens back to Moses' Law for the Jews. God specifically set apart the Israelites for the promised messiah. He wanted them to be different. Then I believe Jesus fulfilled the Law by keeping it fully so we are no longer slaves to it. Don't get me wrong. We aren't saved by Jesus to do whatever we want and live however we want as if immorality is suddenly OK. Not at all. As the Bible says, "We are saved to do good works." When we are free in Christ, he can work through us to accomplish God's will and to please God with our lives. But I like reading your thoughts on the rules of Islam. I'm glad you don't find them burdensome. I really appreciate your comment! Thank you.

Susanne said...

Kat, thanks for the explanation on the Adam/Satan story and your urging me to patience! :-)

I thought this was good: " "Iblisi Logic"---that is, an arbitrary value judgement of superiority is made out of pride and arrogance."

I appreciate your comment!

Susanne said...

Sarah, aw, thanks. I don't always think I'm open-minded, but I *am* trying! Maybe you and Suroor have been a good influence on me that way! :-D I'm really hoping I don't sound (overly?) judgmental as I read and post on the Quran. You know I didn't even think to do this (post my thoughts) until you mentioned it! Yeah, really. :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, well, I am learning from you, I reckon! ;)

So you are saying it is in fact more of a worship of Adam than a mere sign of respect? As in God wanted the angels to worship that which He had created (Adam)? I'm trying to get my facts clear.

LOL @ your daughter's comment to middle child! Haaaaaaaaaa! She tells it like it is...like her momma! :-D

So some think Satan refused to bow to Adam partly because of his deep desire to worship God. Hey, I could commend Satan for this! He is refusing to worship that which is created over the Creator. This is quite different from the Biblical version of Satan's fall. He was the most beautiful angel and desired God's position. So it was his arrogance and his desire to be worshiped as God over God Almighty which was his doom. Maybe this is why pride is one of the most hated things by God. And why I have a problem with GOD telling something (His angels) to worship someone (Adam) other than He!

Thanks for your comment to clarify things a bit!

Suroor said...

I personally feel that Satan’s fall is more elaborately thought out in the Bible. I feel this way because Satan’s problem was pride. In the Quran it is both pride and disobedience. This is further compounded by the fact that in Islam angels don’t have free will and hence they can’t disobey; they are also sinless so Iblis (Satan) is considered a Jinn and not an angel. But all Jinns are not bad either!

I know that we have privately talked about this but I forgot this anecdote when we discussed it: I know this woman who was chosen by missionaries in India and given free PhD education in the US. The catch was she had to convert at least ten people to Christianity :) This she did. She married a Chinese Buddhist who is also Christian now.

Anyway, how I met this woman is extremely eerie. I was sitting in my school’s courtyard and she walked up to me and introduced herself and then said if there was something I had to tell her. I was confused. She persisted that she had a dream in which some voice told her that *I* would tell her something about Jesus. I had no idea what to say to her! This was about a couple of weeks ago after I had that dream about Jesus. So I narrated that to her and she began to cry and shake violently. She broke into goosebumps! So I told her about that childhood dream too. Just then it began to rain! I swear upon God, it was so scary. Rain, here, in May! And in exactly a minute it all stopped.

So this woman has started treating me like some saint! Haha! Saint Suroor!

The crux is that she began to talk non-stop NOT knowing that I’m not Christian. She believes that Islam is from Satan. Yea, and hence this surah reminded me of this anecdote. She says she read the Quran and verse 11 proved to her that her suspicion was correct.
She claims that if God could ask angels to prostrate to Adam, why can’t He expect all creation to worship the only sinless man, Jesus? So I asked her why would Satan put this verse in the Quran if he inspired it to Muhammad and her argument was that the verse is a hint that only those with deep insight can notice. According to her Satan carefully plants this verse so those who are on the right path can note that the real aim of Satan is to dissuade human beings from worshipping Jesus according to the commands of God, the Father. According to her all Muslims are rejecting God’s command and ignoring His agent sent on earth.

Now of course I don’t agree with her, although I do (partially) see her point – if Adam can be worshipped, what is so bad about worshipping Jesus when Quran calls Jesus just like Adam? I think her aim is clear – she is a missionary. But I thought it was an interesting point of view and wanted to share it with you.

Signing off,
St. Suroor

Susanne said...

St. Suroor, wow! Verrrrrrrrrrrrrrry interesting. I'm so glad you shared that with me. You have some of the best spiritual experiences to share! I'm sure I'll be thinking on this one for a while. :)

Durriyyah said...

Yes, we absolutely have free will, that is guided by predestination. I feel I have a low level of vocabulary (I can never fill out a cross word!), so forgive me if I fail at describing it clearly. God brings us to choices and we are predestined to HAVE to make a choice, but the choice is still ours. God knows what choice we are going to make in His infinite wisdom, but in no way are we not responsible for the result of those choices because they are, in fact, ours. Some events are absolutely predetermined, such as everyone's time of death.

One thing I tried to explain to my husband (he's a convert to Islam as well) is that many of the "rules" that people find within Islam are really etiquette, or sunnah (following the way of the Prophet, like eating with your right hand), and not obligatory actions that are sinful to not do. For instance, if I eat with my left hand today at lunch out of forgetfulness, it isn't going to be the thing that puts me into Hellfire on the Day of Judgement. We get blessings for doing such things and being constantly mindful of God in each of our actions, and we get great blessing for learning the ways that God has said are the best ways for each action, but to think we are hindered by such guidance is contrary to the intention behind it. :)

And, you do seem very open minded, MashaAllah (God willed it).

Susanne said...

Thank you, Durriyyah. You seem very reasonable in your approach to Islam. I appreciate your willingness to explain things to me. You are very helpful! :)

Suroor said...

That is a great comment from Durriyyah. Most of the rules are good manners actually. They seem annoying to outsiders but have so much to offer to Muslims.

I mean eating with your left hand is not a sin. There are people with only one arm - left! Or thieves whose hands were chopped off had very little choice :)

In all of my 30+ years of being Muslim I have, however, often thought that Islam is not as easy to follow as people think or claim. There are lots of rules still. For example a couple who has intercourse in the night HAVE to take a shower before fajr if they want to offer salah. It gets a little annoying if you have very long hair and it is -3 degrees outside! Eventually you begin to treat the whole intimacy thing as a terribly difficult chore. And it gets worse during Ramadan. LOL.

Durriyyah said...

*hand up* I have to disagree with it being a chore. :) There are ways to get in the shower (which if you are just rinsing off, I've found can take less than 3 minutes - soap is optional, not even sunnah) without it being a hassle. :) So yeah, I'll leave it at that.

Susanne said...

Suroor and Durriyyah, points taken. :)

Well, I guess I complain too much about the Islamic rules when I have no right. They don't affect me except when I let them. It's not like I have to keep them and I don't *have* to read about them. So if people want to keep them, I really shouldn't care. It just gives me something to write about sometime. :)

Thank you both for your further replies. I'm learning a lot. :D

Suroor said...

See now I am the kind of woman whose husband complains that I would rather "sleep with a book than him"! :)

The book doesn't make me take a shower. LOL

3 min? Wow, I could never do that. I have chopped off my locks but I have big hair so it takes me forever to dry it anyway.

Oh that was funny! Enjoyed that bit of humour there.

Suroor said...

I keep forgetting to add, Susanne, where Allah expects angels and Iblis to prostrate to Adam, He also expects all Muslims to believe in Iblis, the jinn and the angels. You can't be a Muslim if you don't believe in angels and Satan.

There are Muslims who believe that Iblis is a metaphor to refer to the evil and proud side of our nafs (nature) in every human being. The problem arises when this belief doesn't match the story of Adam and Eve.

Suroor said...

Also, I keep forgetting, Mashallah this post is so packed, you asked about verse 47-49:

The neutral observers are those who await judgment, thus they look at both the parties and wish to join those in Heaven and not those in Hell.

It is believed in Islam that all evil people bear a mark and so do the believers whose foreheads shine (actually men who pray regularly get a burn on their foreheads from prostrating on the floor - strange women don't get that).

So these neutral people recognise both the evil doers who possess a mark (something like mark of the beast theory).

No it doesn't have anything to do with Sibghatullah (the mark or colour of God) from the other surah.

Sarah said...

I totally agree about ghusl thing being a real inconvenience. It's alright for men who generally have short hair. Surprisingly enough :D

aminahc1 said...

*hand up too*

I completely agree with Durriyyah. The rules in Islam I've found to be very similar to those in the Bible. I don't find the rules to be burdensome, and as Durriyyah said, it's nice to have a clear path because you can clearly see the effects on society when mankind is left to his own desires.

Wafa said...

i have always believed that everyone and anyone can fail you but God . Even if it seems to be disappointed at the beginning of the road, there will be great hope at the end.
I love God :)

Susanne said...

Suroor, so your books are "the other men" in your life, eh? ;-) Well, books *are* less messy, you're right. :D

Is it necessary to wash your hair when you take this after-sex/before-prayer shower? I was assuming it was a rinse off deal if Durriyyah can do it in 3 minutes.

" You can't be a Muslim if you don't believe in angels and Satan."

Wellllllllllll, I could be a Muslim then. ;) But the thoughts of Satan being a metaphor for our evil side is interesting...hmmmm. So it seems Muslims do believe we have a sin nature (one side that draws us towards the anti-God stuff).

Yes, these posts ARE packed. I hope I'm not overwhelming y'all. And this was only ONE sura where my first 2 posts each had three! Maybe I should break them up more.

"(actually men who pray regularly get a burn on their foreheads from prostrating on the floor - strange women don't get that)"

Ha, ha! Well, you know men do things with more fervor! Some of them anyway. Likely they think it's some sort of mark of piety so they *try* to bruise/burn their heads. :)

Thanks for explaining about the neutral observers and the mark being different from the other sura. You've been very helpful! So Muslims also believe in the "mark of the beast"? Interesting!

Susanne said...

Sarah, thanks for sharing your perspective on the cleaning aspect. :)

aminahc1, welcome and thank you for chiming in on this topic. I agree that humans left to their own devices often lead to some bad things and God's standard is necessary and good. (Although some could question why "God's" people often tend to be among the most intolerant and hateful, but that's another post.) I just question some of the standards that don't appear necessary, however, some commenters have explained that some things are more good manners than "rules," per se. Thank you for your comment!

Wafa', agreed! The only One who will never fail us is God! Thanks for your sweet comment! :)

Suroor said...

Susanne, you can rinse and the idea is just that since there was no soap 1400 years ago. But every strand of your hair should be wet so it is a full body (and hair) rinse/wash. With my kind of hair, I can't just go in and rinse and come out. I end up taking a full bath. But yes husband comes out in 3 minutes!

I think (every humbly) that we are confusing rules with rituals, and supporting rituals to claim that lack of rules has made the Other bad. I never liked rituals about the OT either - you have a boy and you are unclean for a shorter time than when you have a girl!

But these are not rules; these are all rituals. I like rules, but find it hard to stick to rituals. I guess everyone is different.

I mean if a woman doesn’t shave her armpits every 40 days she will not become a threat to society and so I don't think she needs to stick to that *ritual* even if it is very much preferred. But she can become a threat to society if she comes home alone drunk. It is a ritual that you wash yourself after going to the loo, many societies don’t do it and it doesn’t make them evil. Many Muslims don’t wash themselves and every Hindu I know washes themselves. It is a ritual, not a rule. A rule is that a man and a woman will not be alone together; that they will not commit adultery. I have nothing against rules, but I can’t say I enjoy rituals.

But again we can’t blame religions if its adherents don’t follow those rules. I have eaten pork twice by mistake – both times it was in the UAE – served unlabeled with other meats in a five star hotel. I was stalked and nearly pulled into a moving car in the KSA. Any time I was ever touched up was in a Muslim country. Yet, I will still say that sexual promiscuity is one reason I didn’t want my children to grow up in the UK. Having rules does not ensure people will follow them. But that is an entirely different discussion.

The problem is that I have lived in Muslim countries for a long, long time: KSA, Oman, UAE and people are more careful about rituals than rules. So it really doesn't do us good to say "look at the evil Other" because any society, whether religious or secular, WILL suffer and will be dangerous if they don't follow rules.

Amber said...

Okay, I'm late to the party. But I'm going to not read the comments (which, okay, I lie, I totally have read them, but I'm going to stick to commenting on the post, capice?)

7:3 - I like your explanation for this verse. We do tend to, all of us, put out faith (not worship, per say, but blind trust, perhaps) in men. Scholars, friends, people. And people, intentionally or not, will disappoint you, at some point.

7:10 - Yep. We're generally an ungrateful bunch, and we like to take credit even where credit's not due.

I'm leaving the whole Iblis thing alone...

The exchange between the people in the Garden and those in the Fire...I don't know. That just sort of struck me as a 'neener neener' sort of moment. That's probably not what's intended, but there you go. If you can taunt the other people, from heaven, why? Why aren't you busy being in the presence of God? Why wouldn't that take up all your attention?

'This verse is pretty nice although I could argue that "those who do good" don't really need mercy. I think it's the ones who do bad who can appreciate the mercy of God more. :-) But I like the principle of this verse: calling upon God and His mercy being near.'

But don't we all need His Mercy? Without it, we'd all be headed for Hell - good, bad, or otherwise. But, I think the idea is that, for people who call on God, His Mercy will be there. If you don't call on God, His Mercy might be right there, but you can't make use of it.

Susanne said...

Suroor, thanks for that interesting and informative comment! I didn't realize every strand had to be wet - wow. Yes, that would take me a while, too! I have very thick hair.

" I never liked rituals about the OT either - you have a boy and you are unclean for a shorter time than when you have a girl!"

Yes, I always thought this unfair - seriously I kind of lashed out about it in a moment of honesty - until I read a pretty good explanation on Amber's blog about it a few months back. Her post (actually I think it was in the comments) made me at least feel better about this. I don't much like ritual either. Funny for a person who doesn't care much for change, huh?

" Having rules does not ensure people will follow them."


Loved your comment. Thanks so much for sharing what you did! You are very helpful. :)

Susanne said...

Amber, I love when you comment as they nearly always are thought-provoking somehow. :)

What? You don't want to share your thoughts on Iblis? *pouts* That's fine. I read your post anyway. :)

"But don't we all need His Mercy? Without it, we'd all be headed for Hell - good, bad, or otherwise."

For sure! And I almost deleted what I wrote for this very reason. We are all "bad" enough to need God's mercy. Maybe I was struck with how it seemed only good people got it -- as if our goodness is what earned mercy. I don't know. But I totally agree with what you said. I realize all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory and all that other Romans Road stuff! ;-)

"But, I think the idea is that, for people who call on God, His Mercy will be there. If you don't call on God, His Mercy might be right there, but you can't make use of it. "

Ohhhh, great point!

Thanks much for your comments!

Amina said...


Amber, I'm the last to the party, LOL. I read the comments but I'm not commenting on those, hehe, because I barely have time to comment on the post ;)

Anyways, about the 'prostration' in the beginning. The way I always understood it is this:

After Allah created Adam with His Hands from dried clay of altered mud and made him in the shape of a human being, He blew life into him and ordered the angels to prostrate before him- this did not mean they were 'worshipping' Adam, but they were honoring Allah's glory and magnificence, worshipping Him, and following His commandment. Remember, the angels in the beginning, Chapter 2, questioned Allah about His decision to create another 'creature'- (it was not a rebellious question but a question because they did not understand). With this prostration, the angels (to me) confirmed that no matter what, whatever decision Allah took upon Him, they would obey Him and Honor His Glory...even if the being seemed to be 'lesser than them'.

The prostration on the outside is to Adam but on the inside is to God- they are prostrating to HIS ORDER and Command.

IN fact, in Islam there's this saying that goes somewhat like the worst prostration is the one whose heart is not prostrating- so it's the inside that counts. Their inside intention is not to worship Adam!

Anyways, this is where Shaytan failed. He 'believed' that Adam was 'lesser than him'-- pride/etc.

This to me is another strong reason to never 'judge' another person; you never know whose ranks is higher in the sight of Allah.

Also, who are the A'raf. I just want to clarify- the Araf are people whose good deeds equaled their bad deeds. They are exactly the same amount.

Don't have time, but from the website tafsir.com

Ibn Jarir recorded that Hudhayfah was asked about the people of Al-A`raf and he said, "A people whose good and bad deeds are equal. Their evil deeds prevented them from qualifying to enter Paradise, and their good deeds qualified them to avoid the Fire. Therefore, they are stopped there on the wall until Allah judges them.'' Ma`mar said that Al-Hasan recited this Ayah,

[لَمْ يَدْخُلُوهَا وَهُمْ يَطْمَعُونَ]

(and at that time they will not yet have entered it (Paradise), but they will hope to enter (it).) Then he said, "By Allah! Allah did not put this hope in their hearts, except for an honor that He intends to bestow on them.'' Qatadah said; "Those who hope are those among you whom Allah informed of their places.'' Allah said next,
(And when their eyes will be turned towards the dwellers of the Fire, they will say: "Our Lord! Place us not with the people who are wrongdoers.'') Ad-Dahhak reported that Ibn `Abbas said, "When the people of Al-A`raf look at the people of the Fire and recognize them, they will supplicate, `O Lord! Do not place us with the people who are wrongdoers.''

Amina said...

"Those who are near to thy Lord, disdain not to do Him worship: They celebrate His praises, and bow down before Him."

Susanne, did you realize that in tafsir, this last verse, is 'literally' referring to the angels? They are the ones who are 'literally' near Allah. Again from tafsir.com:

"Allah reminded the servants of this fact so that they imitate the angels in their tireless worship and obedience of Allah."

So you see, in the beginning of this surah we saw that God told the angels to prostrate to Adam. They did; but as I just mentioned it was not like they were worshipping Adam- their actual prostration was to God and His commands, and the proof is the end of this surah which is this verse(its actual tafsir).

Now, what's interesting to note is that in actuality, we are being told to be like the angels and prostrate to the God. This is because this is known as prostration verse. Did you notice the little sign at the end of the verse?

It means that when we read this verse, we are supposed to prostrate to God, ourselves, and recite a certain dua which goes something like this : I have prostrated my face to the One Who created it, and gave it hearing and sight by His might and His power. Glory is to Allah, the Best of creator

Why am I mentioning this? Because when we take the entire surah as a whole, we realize that all of us, the angels and the humans, have been commanded to worship one God, follow all of his Commandments, and prostrate to Him.

Susanne said...

Sarira, so glad you found this post as well! :)

Thanks for explaining your understanding of the bowing to Adam incident. I liked reading your POV.

" on the inside is to God- they are prostrating to HIS ORDER and Command."

Aha...that makes sense!

" the worst prostration is the one whose heart is not prostrating-"

Yes, I can understand this. God doesn't want outward ritual, but true inward devotion to Him. I completely agree!

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, interesting about the people whose good and bad deeds were equal - wow! Thanks for the explanation!

" Because when we take the entire surah as a whole, we realize that all of us, the angels and the humans, have been commanded to worship one God, follow all of his Commandments, and prostrate to Him."

Thank you so much for sharing that! Very helpful comments!!