Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Common Kindness

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy

"[Prophet], have you considered the person who denies the Judgement? It is he who pushes aside the orphan and does not urge others to feed the needy. So woe to those who pray but are heedless of their prayer; those who are all show and forbid common kindnesses."
Quran 107
- Translated by Haleem, M. A. S. Abdel

In the Pslams of David it is written, according to Sahl al Tustari, "Ask those who attend at the temples with their bodies, keeping the positions of the worshipers, while yet their heads are occupied with the world, whether they value Me lightly, or are they trying to deceive Me?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Issues of Quranic Interpretation

Both non-Muslims eager to criticize Islam and some Islamic extremists have historically misinterpreted the Quran to justify their views ... M.A.S Abdel Haleem shows how in his translation of the Quran available on Amazon - "The Quran".

"The verse ‘Slay them wherever you find them’ (2: 191),17 thus translated by Dawood and taken out of context, has been interpreted to mean that Muslims may kill non-Muslims wherever they find them. In fact the only situations where the Qur’an allows Muslims to fight are in self-defence and to defend the oppressed who call for help (4: 75), but even in the latter case this is restricted to those with whom the Muslims do not have treaty obligations (8: 72). The pronoun ‘them’ here refers to the words ‘those who attack you’ at the beginning of the previous verse. Thus the Prophet and his followers are here being allowed to fight the Meccans who attack them. The Qur’an makes many general statements but it is abundantly clear from the grammar and the context of this statement that this is not one of them. ‘Wherever you find them’ or ‘come up against them’ is similarly misunderstood. As exegetes and commentators explain, the Muslims were anxious that if their enemies attacked them in Mecca, which was and is a sanctuary (in which no Muslim is allowed to fight, or kill even an animal or plant), and they retaliated and killed, they would be breaking the law. The Qur’an simply reassured the Muslims that they could defend themselves when attacked, even if they killed their attackers, whether within the sanctuary or outside it.

Misinterpreted and taken out of context is what has become labelled as ‘the sword verse’ (9: 5) although the word ‘sword’ does not appear in the Qur’an: ‘When the [four] forbidden months are over, wherever you find the polytheists, kill them, seize them, besiege them, ambush them’. The hostility and ‘bitter enmity’ of the polytheists and their fitna (persecution: 2: 193; 8: 39) of the Muslims during the time of the Prophet became so great that the disbelievers were determined to convert the Muslims back to paganism or finish them off: ‘They will not stop fighting you [believers] until they make you revoke your faith, if they can’ (2: 217). It was these hardened polytheists in Arabia, who would accept nothing other than the expulsion of the Muslims or their reversion to paganism, and who repeatedly broke their treaties, that the Muslims were ordered to treat in the same way—either to expel them or to accept nothing from them except Islam. But, even then, the Prophet and the Muslims were not simply to pounce on such enemies, reciprocating by breaking the treaty themselves: an ultimatum was issued, giving the enemy notice that, after the four sacred months mentioned in 9: 5 above, the Muslims would wage war on them. Yet the main clause of the sentence—‘kill the polytheists’—is singled out by some non-Muslims as representing the Islamic attitude to war; even some Muslims take this view and allege that this verse abrogated many other verses, including ‘There is no compulsion in religion’ (2: 256) and even, according to one solitary extremist, ‘God is forgiving and merciful’. This far-fetched interpretation isolates and decontextualizes a small part of a sentence and of a passage, 9: 1–15, which gives many reasons for the order to fight such polytheists: they continually broke their agreements and aided others against the Muslims, they started hostilities against the Muslims, barred others from becoming Muslims, expelled them from the Holy Mosque and even from their own homes. At least eight times the passage mentions the misdeeds of these people against the Muslims. Moreover, consistent with restrictions on war elsewhere in the Qur’an, the immediate context of this ‘sword verse’ exempts such polytheists as do not break their agreements and who keep the peace with the Muslims (9: 7); it orders that those enemies seeking safe conduct should be protected and delivered to the place of safety they seek (9: 6). The whole of this context to verse 5, with all its restrictions, is ignored by those who simply isolate one part of a sentence to build on it their theory of war and violence in Islam."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Gift

“Love cannot be attained even if the whole world tries for it, nor can it be repelled even if the whole world tries for it. This is because love is a Divine Gift and cannot be achieved by effort. Man is finite but love is infinite, and finite has no control over the infinite. God knows best.”
- Kashful Mahjub, Syed Ali Hujweri

It is one thing to read this statement, and another to come to know of it by experience.

Related post on Love.