Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Khawatem Surat al Baqara (2): 285-286

Man praying in Aleppo Grand Mosque in Syria

285. The messenger believes in that which has been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah and His angels and His scriptures and His messengers - We make no distinction between any of His messengers - and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Your forgiveness, our Lord. Unto You is the journeying.

Tafseer Al-Alusi: 
The messenger believes:
 Al Zajāj stated: After Allah the Exalted delineated in this Surah of the glorious rank and clear evidence the regulations/duties (Fard) regarding Salāt, Zakāt, divorce, menstruation, marital separation (Ila'), Jihad, stories of the Prophets (AS), the Din and Usury (Ribā), he closes the Sura by elevating the rank of the Prophet and his followers and stressing and detailing all that had been mentioned earlier.
Here Allah the Exalted testifies to those who were addressed in the text of the Sura perfection of belief and good obedience and attests that those attributes are indeed theirs.
Also Allah refers to the Prophet in the indirect address form (the messenger) although he has been referred to elsewhere in the form of direct address (Khitāb), for the rule is that the truth of a testimony intended to last to the end of time is that the one testified to is to be only indirectly addressed.
Here Allah-SubhānaHu- does not mention the details of the believers' attainment of their goals which will be referred to in the invocations that are to follow (in the next Aya/verse); this fact is to be taken as an indication that this attainment is a certainty without need to be elaborated on, in view of what has been detailed previously in the Sura and the address to the Messenger as the bearer of the Message without mentioning his noble name in order to elevate his rank (as messenger) and to introduce the subject matters that are to follow.
Al-Hakem and Al-Bayhaqi have reported through Anas who stated:"When the Aya was descended upon the Prophet (saws): "the messenger believed in that which.." the Prophet stated:" And right was he to believe".

 in that which has been revealed unto him from his Lord ...
in the obligation/rulings mentioned in this Sura and in others- meaning his belief in them in details.
Allah- the Exalted- generalizes here (in the word "Bimā= that which") to glorify the station of the Prophet and to stress the idea that the belief of the Prophet is based on the details as revealed to him as well as his comprehension of all that has been revealed to him, with all that this comprehension entails that cannot be grasped nor attained by the intellects no matter how lofty.
"in that which" there is no necessity to detail the knowledge, it is sufficient to mention it.
The exaltation of the station of the Prophet is apparent also in the special grammatical construction wherein the words" to him" are made to precede the words "from his Lord", in addition to the use of the personal pronoun (referred to the prophet attached) to the word Lord (Rab-i-hi) denoting the relationship of Sovereignty (Rububia).

All of the above, to demonstrate the glorification of the value of the Prophet and to refer to his elevated station.

2:286: “Allah does not task a soul beyond its scope. For it (is only) that which it has earned, and against it (only) that which it has deserved. Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark! Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as You did lay on those before us! Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! Pardon us, absolve us and have mercy on us, You, our Protector,  so give us victory over the disbelieving folk“. 

Allah does not task a soul beyond its scope.
Scope- What a person's ability allows or what is easy for him to follow from what has been proscribed. This scope is more limited than the full extent of his abilities. This means that the Law of Allah the Exalted (Sunnatullah) decrees that He does not burden a soul more than it can bear rather less than that in the various duties from Salāt (Obligatory Daily Prayers) to Fasting…

...For it (is only) that which it hath earned, and against it (only) that which it hath deserved.
This is a sentence stated in order to motivate/encourage the adherence to the proscribed duties and to warn against their negligence.  The imposition of a charge/Task (Taklif) on each Self/Soul coupled with the previous elaboration on the gifts of lightening and easing the burden reveals yet an additional benefit which is received by the Self/Soul itself and by no other- consequently every negligence leads to loss/harm that affects the same Self/Soul and no other. This exclusivity of the benefits of an action for the doer is one of the strongest motivational factors that encourage the Self/Soul to seek to obtain the benefits; likewise, the restriction of harm due to negligence, to the doer, is one of the strongest warnings against its pursuit.
Grammatically we note the use of the word Iktisab (earned) in reference to the Bad Actions while the word Kasb (earned) is used for the good actions.
"Iktisab" is formulated along the Ifti'aal template with denotes an increase in intensity of the basic form (Kasb); this is to point to the fact that the bad is desired by the Self which is attracted to it and is more active in pursuing it. The use of this grammatical formulation shows the way in which the Selves/Souls have been fashioned.  

...Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark (make a mistake)! 
This is the beginning of the invocations after the secret of the imposition of Charges/Tasks has been elucidated.
It is related in Al-Bahr through Al-Hassan: “this is the way it has been decreed” meaning: “Say the following in your invocation”, it is then a teaching from Allah the Exalted to his worshipers in how to say the invocations and how to ask from Hu (IT)-an act of supreme generosity and infinite goodness (Ihsān), He teaches them the asking in order to give them and guides them to ask in order to bring them closer to Hu (ITself).

It has been said in this matter:  

-Had You not wished me to obtain what I desire and aspire to of Your bounty, You would not have taught me how to ask.

-Condemnation is punishment. It has been said that, Allah the Exalted condemns the sinner by punishing him; while the sinner insists on requesting a pardon from His Sustainer for he cannot find any Other to release him from his torture, the sinner clings to Allah out of fear. This is clearly a faulty interpretation.

-The scholars are of different opinions as to the meaning of forgetting and missing the mark/making a mistake.
One opinion is that forgetting means negligence and making a mistake means disobedience as the disobediences are referred to usually with the word “wrong” which is the opposite of the word “right” even if the doer does wrong on purpose. It is as if it is being said: Our Sustainer do not punish us for leaving the duties and committing disobediences.
A second opinion is that both forgetting and missing the mark/making a mistake that lead to excesses and lack of consciousness (Ighfāl) rarely occur without being preceded by lack/inadequacy so that the meaning is : forgive us this lack/inadequacy. 

...Our Lord! Lay not on us (such) a burden 
Meaning a heavy burden (Isr) that imprisons/traps its subject in his place. This refers difficult tasks/duties. It has also been said that the word Isr refers to the sin for which there is no repentance and the meaning of the verse is : do not let us incur sins for which there is no repentance.

…such a burden as thou didst lay on those before us!  
Meaning the difficult tasks/duties placed on those who preceded us like Banu Israel (Children of Israel) in matters of punishment and repentance for murder or details of purification of clothes etc.

...Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! 
A request to be spared from the punishments that are not bearable after having asked to be spared what leads to those punishments. 
It may also be a request to be spared the imposition of Tasks/Duties (taklif) that the human abilities are unable to fulfill, this last proposition would be an indication that imposition (taklif) may include things that are unbearable otherwise there would not be such a request.  

...Pardon us
Wipe away the traces of our sins by dropping/easing the punishment.

...Absolve us 
By covering the negative and revealing the good.

…and have mercy on us
Be compassionate with us.

It has also been said that: (Pardon us) is one of the Acts, (Absolve us) is one of the Words  (Have mercy on us) is the heaviness of the scale. It has also been said that: (Pardon us) in the throes of death  (Absolve us) in the darkness of the grave  (Have mercy on us) on Judgment Day.

Ibn Hayan sees a correspondence between the last 3 sentences and the 3 that preceded them. 
(Condemn us not ) is said by Allah The Sublime (Pardon us) is a response from the worshiper.
(Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden) is in the voice of Allah The Sublime while (Absolve us) is the response of the worshiper 
(Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear!) is stated by Allah The Sublime while the response of the worshiper is (Have mercy on us) .

For Pardon is the result of lack of condemnation and Absolution is the result of non-imposition of burden as Mercy is the result of non-imposition of what cannot be borne. Contemplate then the beauty of this arrangement!

...Thou, our Protector
Our Owner and Master or the Patron of our affairs. 

…so give us victory over the disbelieving folk“. 
Meaning the enemies who are fighting our religion or all disbelievers in general. The causal proposition (so) comes to show that since He is their Master, it is to Hu (IT) that they turn in the invocation to overcome their enemies.

Virtues of the last verses of Surat al Baqara (2) 
1. The six Imams have transmitted this Hadith:
Related through Ibn Masood that the Prophet stated:” Whosoever recites the last 2 verses of Sura al-Baqara in one night needs to do nothing more”
2. Al-Tabarani transmitted with good documentation through Shaddad Ibn Aws that the Prophet said:” Allah, The Sublime, wrote a book two thousand years before He created the heavens and earth. He sent down two of this book’s verses to conclude Sura al-Baqara. If they are read in a house on 3 successive nights no Satan will approach the house.”
3. Ibn Adi transmitted through Ibn Masood al-Insari that the Prophet stated: “ Allah, The Sublime, sent 2 verses from the treasures of Paradise that the Rahman has written with His own hands 2 thousand years before he created creation. Whosoever reads them after the last ‘Ashā (early evening prayer) does not need to do Qiyām (Late night standing prayers) that night”.
4. Al-Hakem and Al-Bayhaqi transmitted through Abi Dhar that the Prophet stated: “ Allah, The Sublime, concluded Sura al-Baqara with two verses that He gave me from His treasure that lays beneath the Throne. Learn them and teach them to your wives and children for they are prayers, Qur’an and invocations”.   
5. Mussaddad documented based on the report of Omar and the Darami reported based on the report of Ali that both said: “ No one sane would go to sleep until he read those verses at the end of Sura al-Baqara”.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Yunus Emre on the Qur'an

Yunus Emre:        

Whoever does not know the Qur'an
is as if he were never born.

(Y 508)

cited in AnneMarie Schimmel
"Mystical Dimensions of Islam"

Monday, June 4, 2012

Surat al Baqara 2:155 "Trials and Patience" "Sabr"

Surat-al-Baqara 2:155
"And most certainly shall We try you by means of fear, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of selves and of [labour's] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity "

From the Tafseer al Kabir of Imam Razi

This verse is related to the verse of the same 
Surat 2: 45 "And seek support with patience and the prayers" meaning seek support as we will be testing you.
1. Earlier in verse 2: 152, Allah swt states " And be grateful unto Me, and deny Me not." Added to " If you show yourself grateful, we will increase our [gifts to you]".  He informed thus that obedience to the proscribed rules leads to blessings. He revealed that the following of those rules involves tests, which require patience. Those tests function as follows:  He gives gifts and demands gratitude and sends trials and commands patience, in order for a human being to reach the rank of Gratitude and Patience together. The Prophet (saaws) stated: " Faith is 2 halves, one half patience and the other half gratitude".
2 . How can we attribute the acts of trials and tribulations of creation to Allah swt?
Earlier in the same Surat Allah swt states 2: 124: "And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands "; the wisdom of using this verse as an introduction to the present one is so that the believers become familiar with the notion of trials and so that their terror decreases. This also serves to inform them that they will be tried without any doubt so that whoever among the believers is a hypocrite will move away from the new revelation for fear of trial. Exclusive Devotion to Allah (Ikhlas) and turning to the door of Allah (swt) during a state of trial and difficulties is a greater proof of sincerity than Ikhlas when life opens its door to the believer. 

3. Know then that all that you may encounter in life of what you may like or dislike can be divided into 1) what exists now 2) what existed in the past 3) and what will exist in the future. If what went on in the past goes through your mind we call that memory or remembrance, and if it is present, we call it taste or Wajd (also used to denote states of rapture), the latter is so named because it is a state that you find in your self (WJD root= Found) , and if you think of something in the future and your thinking overcomes your heart, we call it expectation. If the expected is disliked, it causes a pain in the heart named fear and anxiety while if the expected is beloved it causes repose, so that repose is hope while fear is the pain of the heart awaiting what it is disliked by it.

4. Hunger from famine, loss of belongings and of selves, of family members; and loss of fruits refers to the death of children according to Imam al-Shafei.

"But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity "
Know then that Patience under those circumstances is a duty as He knows that all of those trials and hardships occur in justice and wisdom; as for those who are not settled in their faith, those are the ones described in Surat al-Hajj  22 :11  "There are among men some who serve Allah, as it were, on the verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see! "
Difficulties that are due to the injustice of others must not be borne with, guarding against them or fighting those injustices is allowed, even commanded.
Imam al Ghazali stated: "Know then that Patience is a quality of human beings not expected in angels or in animals; the former because of their perfection, the latter because of their imperfection. The animals are preys to their instinctual desires, which are not opposed by an intellect, so that one could not observe in them a steadfast opposition between the force of the intellect and the desire, a state which is what we call Patience (Sabr). As for the angels, they are dedicated to the longing for the Divine Presence and the enjoyment of the station of Nearness from the Presence (Qurb); they are not prey to instinctual desires, which require the opposition of other forces. 
As for man, in his young age he is as an animal, with desires for food, then for play, etc.. sexuality surfaces eventually, at this stage he still lacks the strength of Patience completely. With maturity, one sees the emergence of the force of the intellect calling to him to move away from the bare instinctual needs and to seek the other spiritual pleasures. It is this action of opposition that is called Patience. 
Know also that there are two types of patience: the physical, which includes privations and tolerance for hard work and pain, and the psychological which entails holding back from the Nafs (worldly self) the various elements of instinctual and characterological desires; all those types of situations have been described under the rubric: patience, by Allah swt as he stated: 
Surat al-baqara 2: 177:….. "and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God." 
Al-Qaffal stated: " Patience does not imply that one does not feel the pain of what is disliked and it does not preclude the hatred of it, for that is not possible. It is rather that, patience is forcing the Nafs (the worldly self) not to show terror, by holding back sorrow and its manifestations even if profuse tears or change of color should appear”. 
The Prophet stated: " Patience is at the first impact"after which most people will show signs and traces of their sorrow and sadness which are expected.
Allah swt mentioned patience in more than 70 verses of the Qur'an and praised it as a virtue, some of the verses are:
32: 24 "And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience"
28: 54 "These shall be given their wage twice over for that they patiently endured"
7:137" The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy"
39:10 "God will recompense the deeds of those who have exercised patience without keeping an account". 

Allah swt has promised those who are patient that He will be with them:
8: 46 "Exercise patience; God is with those who have patience".
He also promised them what he did not promise anyone else:
2 :157 "They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance."
And among the best Ahadith on the subject in addition to what has been mentioned above, the Prophet (saaws) stated: " The best of what humans have been endowed with are certainty of belief and patience; whosoever has been given a generous proportion of them should not worry about what he may have missed of night prayers or days of fasting."
He also stated: " Faith is Patience" similar to his saying: "Al-Hajj is Arafat".
From all of the above we can deduce that:
1.  Trials are NOT punishment, as Allah swt has promised them to the believers including the companions of the Prophet.
2.  When those trials are received with patience, they result in great advancement in the Path towards Allah swt.
3.  All trials are from Allah swt despite what the people of dualism might say in attributing illnesses and problems to other than Allah and the astrologers who attribute them to the stars.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Surat al Hajj (22) 1-8 : "Quake and Resurrection"

Space station over the Ionian Sea
From the Tafsir of Kashani attributed to Ibn Arabi
 22:1 “O people guard against your Lord”: guard against His punishment by divesting your self from its material covers and its human attributes
“Quake”: the commotion that occurs to the earth of the body at the moment of the small personal resurrection [al qiyamat al saghira)

22: 2 “On the day you see it every female that nurses” [the adjective Murdi3a used to refer to a nursing female] "will utterly forget her nursling" refers to the powers nourishing and nursing physical organs 
 “And every female heavy with a load” [adjectival sentence used to refer to a pregnant female]: refers to either 1) forces protective of the perceptive abilities such as imagination, illusions, memory and intellect which will depose their load of what has been perceived due to the intoxication, stunning, confusion and utter stupor or 2) each of the forces supportive of the organs of the body -which act to carry those organs, move them and allow them independence- weakens or 3) each organ lets go of the power that resides within it and, all that has been perfected in it can be let go off as it decays and drops, or 4) each Self carrying forms and attributes- either praiseworthy or despicable- is forced to display them or to show them off as patent from their innermost depth to their outward surface (Buruz)

22:6 “…and you see the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred, it swells, and it puts forth every kind of beautiful growth (in pairs).”
“….and you see the earth barren and lifeless” The earth of the self is lifeless due to ignorance and the lack of the plants of virtues and perfections.
“but when We pour down rain on it” the water of Knowledge [pouring down] from the heaven of the Spirit
“it is stirred” with true life
“it swells” by ascending in the stations and ranks
“and puts forth every kind of beautiful growth” of perfections and virtues which ornament the self

22:7 “That is because Allah is the (Haqq) Truth and because He gives life to the dead and because He has power over all things”
It is because Allah is the Haqq, the unchanging, immovable, permanent; and what is other than Him is changing and doomed to annihilation

22:8 “ and the Hour is coming no doubt in it AND no doubt about it, and He will raise up those who are in the graves”
He revives those who are dead of the death of ignorance (jahl) through divine emanation/effusion (faydd)
“He will raise up those who are in the graves” those who are dead of ignorance will be raised from the graves of the bodies, to be installed in the position of the Heart and be returned to the (fitra) the foundational design, and the life of Knowledge