Islam

Chapter u64 The Holy Qur'an

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

Course Assignment

Introduction

Revelation

 

Lectio Divina by Surah

#1 (Surah 1 - 3)
#2 (Surah 3 - 6)
#3 (Surah 5 - 9)
#4 (Surah 8 - 12)
#5 (Surah 12 - 18)
#6 (Surah 18 - 26)
#7 (Surah 25 - 34)
#8 (Surah 33 - 42)
#9 (Surah 42 - 58)
#10 (Surah 58 - 114)

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

When reading an page of English text, can you "hear" it (in your mind)?  When looking at a a musical score can you hear the music (in your mind)?

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Bibliography

'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali. The Meaning of The Holy Qur'an.  11th Edition with Revised Translation and Commentary. ISBN 1-59008-026-2. $17.00   -- I have selected this edition because it has a good reputation, and because I find it is the "most book for the money" -- and will give you some reference material in case you need a "footnote" to a text.

You can hear the first surah (al fathia) recited at www.youtube.com/watch?v=hze3ybouY9Q

Michael Sells.  Approaching the Qur'an (Ashland Oregon: White Cloud Press) ISBN#: 1-883991-26-9.  "Michael Sells' Approaching the Qur'an is a wonderful and unusual non-Muslim introduction to hearing and learning and digesting the Qur'an -- aesthetically as well as spiritually -- as devout Muslims do. It comes with a CD of moving and mind-opening Qur'anic recitation." [Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith]

Muhammad Asad, The Message of the Qur'an. (Asad was a Jewish convert to Islam.)  "A masterful English translation" [Dr. Scott Alexander]

M. J. Arberry, The Qur'an Interpreted.   "Most poetic version of the Qur'an in English."  [Dr. Scott Alexander]

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Course Assignment

1.  As one of the assignments for this course, each week you are to prayerfully read 3/30ths of the Qur'an as indicated in the syllabus.  Before midnight on the day before the class meets, post on MOODLE the text of the 3 verses you found most meaningful to you.  Then post a 50 to 100 word "inspirational" meditation on one of them (i.e. a few sentences explaining why you though the verse you selected was a beautiful, or meaningful verse for you).

2.  The Holy Qur'an plays such an important role in Islam that in dialogue with Muslims it is tremendously helpful to be able to say that "I have read the Holy Qur'an."   I want to give you the opportunity (and motivation) to read the text during this course.

3.  I have discussed this assignment with other teachers and often they do not give a similar assignment.  However, we are in a seminary context, a prayerful formation context.  My intention is not merely to ask you to read the Holy Qur'an, but to prayerfully read the Qur'an -- with a type of "Lectio divina" -- integrating the assignment into you prayer life during these months. 

4.  In the margin of the Meaning of the Holy Qur'an are symbols which divide the book into 30 approximately equal parts [or Juz'] to aid the devout in reading the text during the 30 days of Ramadan.  During the course we will read 3 Juz' each week and will have read the entire Qur'an by the end of the semester.

5.  In past "student evaluations" many students have found this assignment to be a valuable part of the course, sometimes being mentioned as the most valuable part of the course.  Other students have found it less useful.  Note that in the syllabus there is no "final exam" or "pop quiz" over the weekly readings.   You can adapt the assignment according to your personal needs and motivation (and time).  You can set a schedule for yourself, and read the entire text of the Qur'an, taking note of 3 verses you found meaningful and then post a 50 to 100 word "inspirational" meditation on one of them (i.e. a few sentences explaining why you though the verse you selected was a beautiful, or meaningful.)  Or you can read as much of the text as time allows.  Or you can simply skim the text, find 3 verses, and comment on one of them.   I suggest the first option; but the choice is yours. 

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Introduction

Culture  The historical and cultural context of Islam is important for understanding the holy Qur'an.  As Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson says regarding understanding the Gospels:  "The Gospels are 1) written in Greek about 2) a Jewish Messiah who was executed 3) by Roman authority during 4) the first century Mediterranean world.  All four dimensions of this statement must be taken into account for an adequate reading of the Gospels:  Greek Jewish, Roman, Mediterranean."  Similar words could be said about studying the Qur'an. 

Language  A major difference between Christianity and Islam is related to the language in which the revelation was made and received. The Qur'an was dictated in Arabic to Arabic speaking people. The Qur'an is truly the Qur'an, only in Arabic. Translations are not the Qur'an . To be a Muslim, one must speak [at least some] Arabic.  (I remember my first contact with this fact when I was "sponsor" for Friday prayers at the local prison and some Muslim offenders who were hardly literate in English gathered to pray in Arabic).  Christianity, in contrast, "is a translated religion, without a revealed language."

Lamin Sanneh writes:  "Being the original Scripture of the Christian movement, the New Testament Gospels are a translated version of the message of Jesus, and that means Christianity is a translated religion without a revealed language. The issue is not whether Christians translated their Scripture well or willingly, but that without translation there would be no Christianity or Christians. Translation is the church's birthmark as well as its missionary benchmark: the Church would be unrecognizable or unsustainable without it. Consequently, the more Christians press for a return to the origins of their religion, the more they stumble un-reassuringly in the gap between the infinitely varied languages adopted for Scripture and worship and the language in which Jesus preached.  Since Jesus did not write or dictate the Gospels, his followers had little choice but to adopt a translated form of his message. The missionary environment of the early church made translation and the accompanying interpretation natural and necessary. Mission in that sense was liberating, just as rejecting it was regressive.  If we view Christian origins in the light of the translated milieu of the church, then we come upon a remarkable point with respect to the history of religions. Christianity seems unique in being the only world religion that is transmitted without the language or originating culture of its founder. In the early centuries of the Christian movement Scripture played a major role in Christian formation, community nurture, and institution building. The apostolic epistles, written mostly on the fly, became timely standards of instruction and interpretation, and were an effective instrument for ensuring a measure of unity amidst the resulting diversity of styles and emphases. Still, there was a lot of splintering as rival or dissenting communities of believers searched for idioms and patterns made necessary by each fresh situation and encounter." (Lamin Sanneh Whose Religion is Christianity, pp 97-98.)

"We would do well to remember that the language of Christianity is the language of the people, whoever they happen to be." (Lamin Sanneh, Whose Religion is Christianity, p 69)

Difficulties in reading the Qur'an   "Yet for Westerners who do not read or speak Arabic, the effort to get even a basic glimpse of what the Qur'an is about has proved frustrating.  The Qur'an is not arranged in chronological order or narrative pattern.  Indeed, the passages associated with the very first revelations given to Muhammad, those learned first by Muslims when they study the Qur'an begins with the longest and one of the most complex chapters, one from Muhammad's later career, which engages the full array of legal, historical, polemical, and religious issues in a  fashion bewildering for the reader not immersed in the history and law of early Islam.  For those familiar with the Bible, it would be as if the second page opened with a combination of the legal discussions in Leviticus, the historical polemic in the book of Judges, and apocalyptic allusions from Revelation, with the various topics mixed together and beginning in mid-topic."  (Sells, p 3)

Reciting the Qur'an   The rules of recitation are called tajwid and involve strict standards about when and how to make elision between words, when and how to draw out certain vowel sounds or make certain sound effects with consonants.  These rules are not like a musical overlay.  Indeed for Muslims, the Qur'an is not "sung" and is not considered music.  Instead, the literary and rhythmic qualities of the text are extensions of the inherent quality of the text itself rather than superimposed musical ornamentations. (Sells, p 146)

Muslims experience a mysterious presence when they recite the Qur'an or sit in front of the texts from the holy book that decorate the walls of their mosques.  We have seen that it is as central to Muslim spirituality as Jesus, the Word of God, in Christianity.  Later, some Muslims would claim that it was the utterance in normal human speech of the 'Uncreated Word', like the Logos in the Prologue to St. John's Gospel.  The Qur'an, therefore, is more than an imparting or privileged information, it is a symbol similar to the symbols of the Torah, the Person of Christ or the sacraments, which people in other traditions have cultivated as 'signs' of the divine in our midst.  (Armstrong, Karen Muhammad:  A Biography of the Prophet, pg 126)

Muslims today would claim that the miracle of the Qur'an consists in its ability to continue to have this effect on people today, even on those who are not native Arabic speakers.  Thus the distinguished Iranian scholar Sayyid Hossein Nasr points out that the Qur'an still demands that Muslims change their lives.  The fragmentary, incoherent verses -- especially of the earlier Surahs  -- demonstrate human language crushed under the weight of the divine Word:  it also reveals in incoherence in the individual.  In order to discover the inner, symbolic meaning of the Qur'an, the Muslim must integrate his or her life.  Reading or listening to the Qur'an is not a cerebral experience to get information or to receive a clear directive, but a spiritual discipline.  The process of ta'wil (symbolic interpretation) is a search for an inner meaning that demands that the individual also penetrate the depths of his or her own being.  Tajwid literally means to take something back to is beginning or origin and the Qur'an also demands that when Muslims encounter the sacred text they too go from the external (zahir) to the secret, interior (batin) of their being to discover its Ground and Origin.  (Armstrong, Karen Muhammad:  A Biography of the Prophet, pg 126)

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Revelation

USCCB and The Islamic Society of North America: Midwest Dialogues of Catholics and Muslims,  Revelations:  Catholic and Muslim Perspectives.  Washington, D.C.: 2006 USCCB Publishing ISBN 1-57455-630-4.  $6.95 (below cited as "Revelations")

Common to Both the Bible and the Qur'an

Distinct To the Bible

Distinct to the Quran (Dr. Scott Alexander in his course on Islam at the Catholic Theological Union enumerated these distinctive features of the Quran)

Lectio Divina by Surah

Fair Use  The following translations of the Holy Qur'an (unless otherwise noted) are those of 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali in The Meaning of The Holy Qur'an: 11th Edition with Revised Translation and Commentary. ISBN 1-59008-026-2. $17.00   They are reprinted here under the Fair Use Act.  It is presumed that the students using this page will have purchased 'Abdullah Yusuf 'Ali's The Meaning of The Holy Qur'an which is being used as a text in this course.

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Reading #1 of 10
(Surah 1 - 3)

Surah 1 Al-Fatiha (The Opening) 

Al-Fatiha (that is, the first Surah [book/chapter] in the Qur'an) reads in English:   (Compare to our "Sign of the cross" "Glory be" and "Our Father")

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Praise be to God, who loves and sustains the world.
God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful,
Master of the Day of Judgment.
We worship you, O God, and seek your aid.
Show us the straight path --
The way of those on whom
You have bestowed your grace; --
The way of those whose portion
is not wrath, and who go not astray.  Amen.

In the name of God the Compassionate the Caring
Praise be to God lord sustainer of the worlds
the Compassionate the Caring
master of the day of reckoning
To you we turn to worship
and to you we turn in time of need
Guide us along the road straight
the road of those to whom you are giving
not those with anger upon them
not those who have lost the way  (Translation by M. Sells) 

Surah 1:6 Comment  The Didache begins: “There are two ways, the way to life, and the way to death, and there is a great difference between them.”  

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Surah 2 Al Baqarah (The Heifer)

Title of the Surah, "The Heifer" comes from the parable in 2:67-71.

2:25.  Water  Comment  When you read references to water and rivers in the Holy Quran think of the sand and the desert that we have seen in the movies viewed during class.  (As a sacramental a theologian I find this meditation helpful because our own religion was first preached in a land with a similar view of water.) 

2:31  Adam  Comment  Note that Islam does not have doctrine of original sin.  Role of Satan in 2:34 has various interpretations. 

2:44  Evil Shepherds  Comment  This verse reminds me of the prophetic warnings against shepherds who do not care for the sheep even to the even to the extent that eventually Allah says, "I myself will shepherd them. 

2:49  Remember  Comment  Note the frequency of "and remember" in the text.  Make a connection with the Catholic concept of Anamnesis.

2:54  Oft-Returning Comment  How many ways can you name God?  As you read the Holy Quran make note of The Ninty-Nine Beautiful Names of Allah.   "The first characteristic of true religion is closeness to God, or rather, God's closeness to us. Ancient Israel's claim to be God's people rested not on its numerical superiority or military might but rather on God's closeness to this people and God's wise and life-giving commandments in the Torah."  (Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., America, August 28, 2006 pg. 38)  "For what other great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is whenever we call to him?" (Deuteronomy 4:7 NRSV)

2:61  Manna  Comment  Compare this story with our biblical tradition of the Manna in our ancestors. 

2:62 Tolerance for All Monotheistic Religions   Comment  Note that the Holy Quran affirms that Jews and Christians, the people of the book, are loved by God and if they follow the way revealed to them, they too achieve eternal happiness in Heaven.  2:82 continues this same theme.  Moses and Jesus are both signs of God's revelation, both strengthened by the Holy Spirit. 

2:79 Inspiration  Comment  These verses affirm the divine origin of the Holy Quran.  It was not written with human hands. 2:97 affirms that it is Gabriel who has brought us the Holy Quran. 

2:83 Ten Commandments  Comment  Note the summary and interpretation of the Ten Commandments given in 2:83. 

2:99 Ayat  Comment  What we would call (in the Bible, "verses", the Holy Quran calls Ayat, or signs.  Each of the "verses" of the Surah ("step") are manifest signs of God's will and revelation.

Citing the Bible / 1) Book  2)  Chapter : 3) Verse  // Citing the Qur'an / 1) Surah : 2) Ayat

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Reading #2 of 10
(Surah 3 - 6)

Surah 4 Al Nisa' (The Women)

4:86  When a (courteous) greeting
Is offered you, meet it
With a greeting still more
Courteous, or (at least)
Of equal courtesy.
Allah takes careful account
Of all things.
TRR Comment
  Pro

4:92  Never should a Believer
Kill a Believer; but...

TRR Comment
  This reminds me of the Irish penitentiaries. 

4:100 He who forsakes his home
In the cause of Allah,
Finds in the earth
Many a refuge,
Wide and spacious:
Should he die
As a refugee from home
TRR Comment
  Pro

4:148  Allah loves not that evil
Should be noised abroad.
TRR Comment
  Pro

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Reading #3 of 10
(Surah 5 -9)

Surah 5 Al Ma'idah (The Repast)

5:3 "As for him, however, who is driven (to what is forbidden) by dire necessity and not by inclination to sinning, behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace." al-Qur'an 5:3

Text on a T-Shirt: Necessity makes the forbidden permissible.  The Law of Necessity: There is a principle in Islamic Law that states "Necessities make forbidden things permissible". In fact this principle has become one of the important laws that govern Islamic Jurisprudence. Muslim scholars interpreting and formulating various regulations of Islamic Law have always taken into account this law of necessity.  Ayat 2:173 and 5:3 of al-Qur'an explicitly lay down this principle. The majority of scholars are of the opinion that these two references do not just cover cases of extreme hunger (which make the eating of otherwise prohibited categories of meat permissible) but also other situations in which overwhelming force beyond a person's control may compel him against his will to do something that is normally prohibited by Islamic Law.  (From:  The Muslim Law [Shariah] Council, London)

5:6  O ye who believe!
When ye prepare
For prayer, wash
Your faces, and your hands
(And arms) to the elbows;
Rub your heads (with water);
And (wash) your feet
To the ankles.
If ye are in a state
TRR Comment
  This is the "source" for the ablutions which are carried out before the five daily prayers.

Allah doth not wish
To place you in a difficulty,
But to make you clean,
And to complete
His favor to you,
That ye may be grateful.
TRR Comment
  Pro

5:51  O ye who believe!
Take not the Jews
And the Christians
For you friends and protectors;
They are but friends and protectors
To each other.
TRR Comment
  Pro

5:69  Those who believe (in the Quran),
Those who follow the Jewish (scriptures),
And the Sabians and the Christians --
Any who believe in Allah
And the Last Day
And work righteousness --
On them shall be no fear, Nor shall they grieve.
TRR Comment  Salvation is possible for Jews and Christians, even though they do not convert to Islam.

5:89  for expiation, feed
ten indigent persons,...

TRR Comment
  Pro

5:90  O ye who believe!
Intoxicants and gambling,...
Are an abomination
TRR Comment  Prohibition of alcohol and gambling

5:110  "O Jesus the son of Mary!
Recount My favour
To thee and to thy mother... 
TRR Comment  The Quran recounts the miracles of Jesus, both those we know of in the       Gospels those from other sources

5:112  A Table set
From Heaven?

TRR Comment
  This verse gives its name to the chapter.

Surah 6 Al An'am (The Cattle)

6:59  With Him are the keys
Of the Unseen, the treasures
That none knoweth but He.
On the earth and in the sea.
Not a leaf doth fall
But with his knowledge:
There is not a grain
In the darkness (or depths)
Of the earth, nor anything
Fresh or dry (green or withered).
Gut is (inscribed) in a Record
Clear (to those who can read).
TRR Comment
  Pro

6:111  Even if We did send
Unto them angels,
And the dead did speak
Unto them, and We gathered
Together all things before
Their very eyes, they are not
The ones to believe,
Unless it is in Allah's Plan.
But most of them
Ignore (the truth).
TRR Comment
  Compare this to what Jesus says in the parable of the rich man who died and Lazarus.

6:119  Why should ye not
Eat of (meats) on which
Allah's name hath been
Pronounced?

TRR Comment
  As I read this I was listening to a lecture by Professor Luke Timothy Johnson on the Gospel of Mark.  He was speaking of the relation between Paul and the Gospels and Paul goes a great length to explain what is clean and unclean apparently unaware that Jesus had pronounced all things clean.

6:141  Eat of their Fruit
In their season, but render
The dues that are proper
On the day that the harvest
Is gathered.  But waste not
By excess:  for Allah
Loveth not the wasters.
TRR Comment
  As a Franciscan I find this very appropriate. 

6:159  As for those who divide
Their religion and break up
Into sects, thou hast
No part in them in the least:
Their affair is with Allah;
He will in the end
Tell them the truth
Of all that they did.
TRR Comment
  This is always a problem in religion.  It happened early on in Christianity, and it was this divided and sectarian Christianity which Mohammed knew.  Even the founders of religious orders have this problem.  The Franciscans divided into sects early on over poverty and other issues.  When St. Bonaventure was elected minister general he wrote a new life of St. Francis and ordered all other previous biographies and manuscripts and records to be burned so that there would be but one standard biography.

6:162  Say:  "Truly, my prayer
And my service of sacrifice,
My life and my death,
Are (all) for Allah,
The cherisher of the Worlds;
TRR Comment
  This is a beautiful prayer also for a Christian.

Surah 7 Al A'raf (The Heights)

7:40  ...nor will they
Enter the Garden, until
The camel can pass
Through the eye of the needle.
TRR Comment
  See Gospel

7:180  The most beautiful names
Belong to Allah:
So call on him by them;
But shun such men as
Use profanity in His names:
For what they do, they will
Soon be requited.
TRR Comment
  See reference to the most beautiful names in the section on devotional prayer.

7:204  When the Qur'an is read,
Listen to it with attention,
And hold your peace:
That ye may receive Mercy.
TRR Comment

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Reading #4 of 10
(Surah 8 -13)

Surah 8 Al Anfal (The Spoils of War)    

8:2  For, Believers are those
Who, when Allah is mentioned,
Feel a tremor in their hearts,
TRR Comment
  See quotation from "The Life of Mohammed"

8:41  And know that out of
All the
Booty that ye
May acquire (in war)

A fifth share is assigned
To Allah--and to the Messenger
And to near relatives,
Orphans, the needy
And the wayfarer.
TRR Comment
  Note it is this verse that gives to title to the Surah Al Anfal

8:60  Whatever
Ye shall spend in the cause
Of Allah, shall be repaid
Unto you, and ye shall not
Be treated unjustly.
TRR Comment
  I find this a very consoling text, especially for those in ministry. 

Surah 9 AL Tawbah (The Repentance) or Bara'ah (The Disavowel)

9:36-37  The basis for the Islamic calendar; its proper observance is a sacred duty for Muslims.
TRR Comment
  Pro

9:109  Which then is best?--he that
Layeth his foundation
On piety to Allah
And His Good Pleasure?--or he
That layeth his foundation
ON an undermined sand cliff.
TRR Comment
  Pro

9:111  And who is more faithful
To his Covenant than Allah?
TRR Comment
  P

 

Surah 11The Holy Prophet

11: 69  And Our messengers came to Abraham with good news:  they said, "Assalaam Alaikum."  He said, "Wa Alaikum Assalaam," and without delay set out a roasted calf.  70  But when Abraham saw they did not touch it, he felt offended by them, and had a foreboding fear of them.  They said, "Do not fear; for we were sent to the people of Lot."  71 Then his wife, who was standing there, laughed; but We announced to her good news of Isaac, and of Jacob after Isaac.  72  She said, "Woe is me!  Shall I give birth now that I'm an old woman and my husband an old man?  This is indeed a strange thing?"  73  They said, "Do you marvel at the order of God?  The mercy and blessings of God are on you, people of the house.  Truly God is most praiseworthy, most glorious."  [Adapted from the translation of Thomas Cleary]

TRR Comment  When I read this and similar passages, I cannot help but feel that the text of the Quran is "enriched" for me by my knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures.  For example, in this case: 

Genesis 18:1-16 (NAB)  1 The LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. / 2 Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, / 3 he said: "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. / 4 Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. / 5 Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way." "Very well," they replied, "do as you have said." / 6 Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, "Quick, three seahs of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls." / 7 He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. / 8 Then he got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before them; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate. / 9 "Where is your wife Sarah?" they asked him. "There in the tent," he replied. / 10 One of them said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son." Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him. / 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods. / 12 So Sarah laughed to herself and said, "Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?" / 13 But the LORD said to Abraham: "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?'  14 Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son." / 15 Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, "I didn't laugh." But he said, "Yes you did." / 16 The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom; Abraham was walking with them, to see them on their way.

 

11:114   And establish regular prayers at the two ends of the day and at the approaches of the night.
TRR Comment   This ayat is one of the sources for Salat, the daily prayers. 

 

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Reading #5 of 10
(Surah 12 -19)

Surah 12  Yusuf / Joseph

TRR Comment   In Surah 12 we read the story of Joseph and his brothers.  This is the one extended narrative in the Qur'an.  It is a very informative exercise to compare the story of Joseph in the Qur'an with the story of Joseph in the Bible. 

 

Surah 13 The Thunder

13:12 He it is Who shows you the lightning causing fear and hope and (Who) brings up the heavy cloud.

TRR Comment  "The Qur'an makes it clear that Muslims are expected to use every human effort to look after themselves and not lazily leave everything to God:  'Verily God will not change the state of a people, unless they change the state of their own selves.'"  (Karen Armstrong, Muhammad:  A Biography of the Prophet, p 138)

13:13  And the thunder declares His glory with His praise, and the angels too for awe of Him; and He sends the thunderbolts and smites with them whom He pleases, yet they dispute concerning Allah, and He is mighty in prowess.

13:39 Allah makes to pass away and establishes what He pleases, and with Him is the basis of the Book.

Surah 16 The Bee

16:41 And those who fly for Allah's sake after they are oppressed, We will most certainly give them a good abode in the world, and the reward of the hereafter is certainly much greater, did they but know;

16:61 And if Allah had destroyed men for their iniquity, He would not leave on the earth a single creature, but He respites them till an appointed time; so when their doom will come they shall not be able to delay (it) an hour nor can they bring (it) on (before its time).

16:125 Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and have disputations with them in the best manner; surely your Lord best knows those who go astray from His path, and He knows best those who follow the right way.

Surah 17 The Children of Israel

17:1 Glory be to Him Who made His servant to go on a night from the Sacred Mosque to the remote mosque of which We have blessed the precincts, so that We may show to him some of Our signs; surely He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

TRR Comment  This was a very special event in the life of the Prophet (think of the transfiguration and the ascension of Jesus.  This "night journey" also explains the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims.

17:23 And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) "Ugh" nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word.  17:24 And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little.

17:31 And do not kill your children for fear of poverty; We give them sustenance and yourselves (too); surely to kill them is a great wrong.

TRR Comment  Regarding the importance of dreams at this period see:  Peter Brown, The Making of Late Antiquity pg 65 - "It [a dream] was a paradigm of the open frontier between human and divine.  When a man was asleep and his bodily sense were stilled, the frontier lay wide open between himself and the gods".  (quote in Armstrong, p 272)

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Reading #6 of 10
(Surah 18 - 26)

Surah 18 The Cave

18:23 And do not say of anything: "Surely I will do it tomorrow ..."

TRR Comment  The origin of future tense with insha'Allah. 

18:24Unless Allah pleases; and remember your Lord when you forget and say: Maybe my Lord will guide me to a nearer course to the right than this.

18:45 And set forth to them parable of the life of this world: like water which We send down from the cloud so the herbage of the earth becomes tangled on account of it, then it becomes dry broken into pieces which the winds scatter; and Allah is the holder of power over all things.

18:46 Wealth and children are an adornment of the life of this world; and the ever-abiding, the good works, are better with your Lord in reward and better in expectation.

 

Surah 19

TRR Comment   In Surah

 

Gloss on Surah 19 Mary

The Christian's and the Muslim's argued

Jesus is the Son of God begotten on God

The Muslims argued God neither begets or is begotten

The Christians argued Jesus is Divine and Muhammad is merely a man.

And the Muslims argued Muhammad is indeed a man and a prophet and messenger of God as is Jesus.

And while they argued the widows starved and the orphans were sold into slavery.

And the Christians and the Muslims were both led off into hell as cattle are led to water.

For neither observed the teachings of Jesus nor the teachings of the Holy Qur'an.

 

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Reading #7 of 10
(Surah 25 - 34)

 Surah 26

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 28

28:60 And whatever things you have been given are only a provision of this world's life and its adornment, and whatever is with Allah is better and more lasting; do you not then understand?

Surah 30

30:17-19  So give glory to Allah, When ye reach eventide and when ye rise in the morning:  Yea, to Him be praise, in the heavens and on earth; And in the late afternoon and when the day begins to decline.  It is He Who brings out the living from the dead, and bring out the dead from the living, and Who gives life to earth after it is dead:  and thus shall ye be brought out (from the dead).

TRR Comment   This ayah is one of the basis for Salat the second pillar of Islam, the ritual prayers performed daily during five specified intervals, facing Mecca, at (1) dawn, (2) midday, (3) mid-afternoon, (4) dusk, and (5) after dark.

30:54  It is Allah Who created you in a state of helpless weakness, then gave you strength after weakness, then, after strength, gave you weakness and a hoary head.

TRR Comment   This ayah anticipates "ages of growth" studies!  Infancy, childhood, adulthood, old age...

30:60  So patiently persevere:  for verily the promise of Allah is true:  nor let those shake thy firmness, who have themselves no certainty of faith.

Surah 31

31:27  And were every tree that is in the earth (made into) pens and the sea (to supply it with ink), with seven more seas to increase it, the words of Allah would not come to an end; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.

TRR Comment   In Surah

31:34  Surely Allah is He with Whom is the knowledge of the hour, and He sends down the rain and He knows what is in the wombs; and no one knows what he shall earn on the morrow; and no one knows in what land he shall die; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware.

 

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Surah 33 Al Ahzab

33:35  Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember-- Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 34 Saba'

34:10 And certainly We gave to Dawood excellence from Us: O mountains! sing praises with him, and the birds; and We made the iron pliant to him,

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 35 Fatir

35:9 And Allah is He Who sends the winds so they raise a cloud, then We drive it on to a dead country, and therewith We give life to the earth after its death; even so is the quickening.

TRR Comment   In Surah

35:15 O men! you are they who stand in need of Allah, and Allah is He Who is the Self-sufficient, the Praised One.

TRR Comment   In Surah

35:27 Do you not see that Allah sends down water from the cloud, then We bring forth therewith fruits of various colors; and in the mountains are streaks, white and red, of various hues and (others) intensely black?

TRR Comment   In Surah

35:45 And were Allah to punish men for what they earn, He would not leave on the back of it any creature, but He respites them till an appointed term; so when their doom shall come, then surely Allah is Seeing with respect to His servants.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 36 Ya Sin --  (Note:  This Surah is sometimes considered to be the very heart of the Qur'an.  It is often used at funerals.) 

36:12 Surely We give life to the dead, and We write down what they have sent before and their footprints, and We have recorded everything in a clear writing.

TRR Comment   In Surah

36:51-58 And the trumpet shall be blown, when lo ! from their graves they shall hasten on to their Lord.
They shall say: O woe to us! who has raised us up from our sleeping-place? This is what the Beneficent God promised and the apostles told the truth.
There would be naught but a single cry, when lo ! they shall all be brought before Us;
So this day no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and you shall not be rewarded aught but that which you did.
Surely the dwellers of the garden shall on that day be in an occupation quite happy.
They and their wives shall be in shades, reclining on raised couches.
They shall have fruits therein, and they shall have whatever they desire.
Peace: a word from a Merciful Lord.

TRR Comment   Compare the text of the Dies Irae

36:82-83 His command, when He intends anything, is only to say to it: Be, so it is.
Therefore glory be to Him in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things, and to Him you shall be brought back.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 37 Al Saffat

37:54 He shall say: Will you look on?

TRR Comment   In Surah

37:57 And had it not been for the favor of my Lord, I would certainly have been among those brought up.

TRR Comment   In Surah

37:77-78 And We made his offspring the survivors.
And We perpetuated to him (praise) among the later generations.

TRR Comment   In Surah

37:83 And most surely Ibrahim followed his way.

TRR Comment   In Surah

37:100-113 My Lord! grant me of the doers of good deeds.
So We gave him the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance.
And when he attained to working with him, he said: O my son! surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see. He said: O my father! do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones.
So when they both submitted and he threw him down upon his forehead,
And We called out to him saying: O Ibrahim!
You have indeed shown the truth of the vision; surely thus do We reward the doers of good:
Most surely this is a manifest trial.
And We ransomed him with a Feat sacrifice.
And We perpetuated (praise) to him among the later generations.
Peace be on Ibrahim.
Thus do We reward the doers of good.
Surely he was one of Our believing servants.
And We gave him the good news of Ishaq, a prophet among the good ones.
And We showered Our blessings on him and on Ishaq; and of their offspring are the doers of good, and (also) those who are clearly unjust to their own souls.

TRR Comment   In Surah

37:180-182 Glory be to your Lord, the Lord of Honor, above what they describe.
And peace be on the apostles.
And all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 38 Sad

38:24 He said: Surely he has been unjust to you in demanding your ewe (to add) to his own ewes; and most surely most of the partners act wrongfully towards one another, save those who believe and do good, and very few are they; and Dawood was sure that We had tried him, so he sought the protection of his Lord and he fell down bowing and turned time after time (to Him).

TRR Comment   In Surah

38:27 And We did not create the heaven and the earth and what is between them in vain; that is the opinion of those who disbelieve then woe to those who disbelieve on account of the fire.

TRR Comment   In Surah

38:72 So when I have made him complete and breathed into him of My spirit, then fall down making obeisance to him.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 39 Al Zumar

39:5 He has created the heavens and the earth with the truth; He makes the night cover the day and makes the day overtake the night, and He has made the sun and the moon subservient; each one runs on to an assigned term; now surely He is the Mighty, the great Forgiver.

TRR Comment   In Surah

39:23 Allah has revealed the best announcement, a book conformable in its various parts, repeating, whereat do shudder the skins of those who fear their Lord, then their skins and their hearts become pliant to the remembrance of Allah; this is Allah's guidance, He guides with it whom He pleases; and (as for) him whom Allah makes err, there is no guide for him.

TRR Comment   In Surah

39:28 An Arabic Quran without any crookedness, that they may guard (against evil).

TRR Comment   In Surah

39:69-70 And the earth shall beam with the light of its Lord, and the Book shall be laid down, and the prophets and the witnesses shall be brought up, and judgment shall be given between them with justice, and they shall not be dealt with unjustly.  And every soul shall be paid back fully what it has done, and He knows best what they do.

TRR Comment   In Surah

39:72 It shall be said: Enter the gates of hell to abide therein; so evil is the abode of the proud.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 40 Ghafir

40:31 The like of what befell the people of Nuh and Ad and Samood and those after them, and Allah does not desire injustice for (His) servants;

TRR Comment   In Surah

40:64-65 Allah is He Who made the earth a resting-place for you and the heaven a canopy, and He formed you, then made goodly your forms, and He provided you with goodly things; that is Allah, your Lord; blessed then is Allah, the Lord of the worlds.
He is the Living, there is no god but He, therefore call on Him, being sincere to Him in obedience; (all) praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

TRR Comment   In Surah

40:67-68 He it is Who created you from dust, then from a small lifegerm, then from a clot, then He brings you forth as a child, then that you may attain your maturity, then that you may be old-- and of you there are some who are caused to die before-- and that you may reach an appointed term, and that you may understand.
He it is Who gives life and brings death, so when He decrees an affair, He only says to it: Be, and it is.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 41Fussilat

41:46 Whoever does good, it is for his own soul, and whoever does evil, it is against it; and your Lord is not in the least unjust to the servants.

TRR Comment   In Surah

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Reading #9 of 10
(Surah 42 -58)

 

Surah 42

42:40 And the recompense of evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah; surely He does not love the unjust.

But this active righting of wrongs, whether by physical or by moral or spiritual means, which are commended as better, is an antithesis to the monkish doctrine, when you are smitten on one cheek, to turn the other also.  This would not suppress, but encourage wrongdoing.  It is practiced by none but poltroons, and is preached only by hypocrites, or men who want to make slaves or others by depriving them of the power of self-defense.  It occurs in two of the four canonical Gospels (Matt v 39 and Luke vi.  29), but we need not therefore assume that his was preached by Jesus.

TRR Comment   In Surah

42:43 And whoever is patient and forgiving, these most surely are actions due to courage.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 43

43:35 And (other) embellishments of gold; and all this is naught but provision of this world's life, and the hereafter is with your Lord only for those who guard (against evil).

TRR Comment   In Surah

43:57 And when a description of the son of Marium is given, lo! your people raise a clamor thereat.

Jesus was a man, and a prophet to the Children of Israel, "though his own received him not".  Some of the churches that were founded after him worshipped him as "God" and as "the son of God", as do the Trinitarian churches to the present day.  The orthodox churches did so in the time of the Holy Prophet.  When the doctrine of Unity was renewed, and the false worship of others besides Allah was strictly prohibited, all false gods were condemned, e.g., at 21:98.  The pagan Arabs looked upon Jesus as being in the same category as their false gods, and could not see why a foreign cult, or a foreign god, as they viewed him, should be considered better than their own gods or idols. There was no substance in this, but mere mockery, and verbal quibbling.  Jesus was one of the greater prophets:  he was not a god, nor was he responsible for the quibbling subtleties of the Athanasian Creed.

TRR Comment   In Surah

43:81 Say: If the Beneficent God has a son, I am the foremost of those who serve.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 44

44:10 Therefore keep waiting for the day when the heaven shall bring an evident smoke,

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 45

45:36-37  Therefore to Allah is due (all) praise, the Lord of the heavens and the Lord of the earth, the Lord of the worlds.  And to Him belongs greatness in the heavens and the earth, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 46

46:12  And before it the Book of Musa was a guide and a mercy: and this is a Book verifying (it) in the Arabic language that it may warn those who are unjust and as good news for the doers of good.

TRR Comment   In Surah

46:15  And We have enjoined on man doing of good to his parents; with trouble did his mother bear him and with trouble did she bring him forth; and the bearing of him and the weaning of him was thirty months; until when he attains his maturity and reaches forty years, he says: My Lord! grant me that I may give thanks for Thy favor which Thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may do good which pleases Thee and do good to me in respect of my offspring; surely I turn to Thee, and surely I am of those who submit.

That leaves six months as the minimum period of human gestation after which the child is known to be viable.

TRR Comment   In Surah

46:21  And mention the brother of Ad; when he warned his people in the sandy plains,-- and indeed warners came before him and after him-- saying Serve none but Allah; surely I fear for you the punishment of a grievous day.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 47

We have now finished more than five-sixths of the Quran.  The remaining sixth consists of short Surahs, but these are again grouped according to subject matter.

47:15  A parable of the garden which those guarding (against evil) are promised: Therein are rivers of water that does not alter, and rivers of milk the taste whereof does not change, and rivers of drink delicious to those who drink, and rivers of honey clarified and for them therein are all fruits and protection from their Lord. (Are these) like those who abide in the fire and who are made to drink boiling water so it rends their bowels asunder.

TRR Comment   In Surah

47:38  Behold! you are those who are called upon to spend in Allah's way, but among you are those who are niggardly, and whoever is niggardly is niggardly against his own soul; and Allah is Self-sufficient and you have need (of Him), and if you turn back He will bring in your place another people, then they will not be like you.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 48

48:1  Surely We have given to you a clear victory

TRR Comment   In Surah

48:9  That you may believe in Allah and His Apostle and may aid him and revere him; and (that) you may declare His glory, morning and evening.

TRR Comment   In Surah

48:27-29  Certainly Allah had shown to His Apostle the vision with truth: you shall most certainly enter the Sacred Mosque, if Allah pleases, in security, (some) having their heads shaved and (others) having their hair cut, you shall not fear, but He knows what you do not know, so He brought about a near victory before that.
He it is Who sent His Apostle with the guidance and the true religion that He may make it prevail over all the religions; and Allah is enough for a witness.  Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah, and those with him are firm of heart against the unbelievers, compassionate among themselves; you will see them bowing down, prostrating themselves, seeking grace from Allah and pleasure; their marks are in their faces because of the effect of prostration; that is their description in the Taurat and their description in the Injeel; like as seed-produce that puts forth its sprout, then strengthens it, so it becomes stout and stands firmly on its stem, delighting the sowers that He may enrage the unbelievers on account of them; Allah has promised those among them who believe and do good, forgiveness and a great reward.

If we take it in its literal sense, the traces might mean the marks left by repeated prostration on their foreheads.  Moreover, a good man's face alone shows in him the grace and light of Allah; he is gentle, kind and forbearing, ever helpful, relying on Allah and possessing a blessed Peace Calmness that can come from no other source.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 49

49:10  The believers are but brethren, therefore make peace between your brethren and be careful of (your duty to) Allah that mercy may be had on you.

TRR Comment   In Surah

49:12  O you who believe! avoid most of suspicion, for surely suspicion in some cases is a sin, and do not spy nor let some of you backbite others. Does one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? But you abhor it; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah, surely Allah is Oft-returning (to mercy), Merciful.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 50

50:16-18  And certainly We created man, and We know what his mind suggests to him, and We are nearer to him than his life-vein.  When the two receivers receive, sitting on the right and on the left.  He utters not a word but there is by him a watcher at hand.

One sits ont he right side and notes his good deeds and the other on the left, to note his bad deeds; corresponding to the Companions of the Right and the Companions of the Left mentions in 46:27 and 41.

Then each "word" spoken is take down by a "sentinel".

TRR Comment   In Surah

50:30  On the day that We will say to hell: Are you filled up? And it will say: Are there any more?

TRR Comment   In Surah

50:34  Enter it in peace, that is the day of abiding.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 51

51:57-58  1 do not desire from them any sustenance and I do not desire that they should feed Me.  Surely Allah is the Bestower of sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Strong.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 52

52:19-28  Eat and drink pleasantly for what you did,  Reclining on thrones set in lines, and We will unite them to large-eyed beautiful ones.  And (as for) those who believe and their offspring follow them in faith, We will unite with them their offspring and We will not diminish to them aught of their work; every man is responsible for what he shall have wrought.  And We will aid them with fruit and flesh such as they desire.  They shall pass therein from one to another a cup wherein there shall be nothing vain nor any sin.  And round them shall go boys of theirs as if they were hidden pearls.  And some of them shall advance towards others questioning each other.  Saying: Surely we feared before on account of our families:  But Allah has been gracious to us and He has saved us from the punishment of the hot wind:  Surely we called upon Him before: Surely He is the Benign, the Merciful.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 53

53:13  And certainly he saw him in another descent,

The second was at the prophet's Miraj or Ascension...

TRR Comment   In Surah

53:21  What! for you the males and for Him the females!

But when we consider in what low opinion Pagan Arabia help the female sex, it was particularly degrading to show Allah, or so-called daughters of Allah, in female shapes.

TRR Comment   In Surah

53:27  Most surely they who do not believe in the hereafter name the angels with female names.

TRR Comment   In Surah

53:32  Those who keep aloof from the great sins and the indecencies but the passing idea; surely your Lord is liberal in forgiving. He knows you best when He brings you forth from the earth and when you are embryos in the wombs of your mothers; therefore do not attribute purity to your souls; He knows him best who guards (against evil).

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 54

54:32  And certainly We have made the Quran easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 55

55:26-27  Everyone on it must pass away.  And there will endure for ever the person of your Lord, the Lord of glory and honor.

TRR Comment   In Surah

55:56-57  In them shall be those who restrained their eyes; before them neither man nor jinni shall have touched them.  Which then of the bounties of your Lord will you deny?

Goodness and Beauty are specially feminine attributes.

TRR Comment   In Surah

Surah 57

We have now studied the contents of nearly nine-tenths of the Quran.  We have found that the arrangement of the Surahs in the present Text is not haphazard, but that they follow a distinct logical order more helpful for study than the chronological order.  The comprehensive scheme of building up the new Ummah or Brotherhood and its spiritual implications is now complete.  The remaining tenth of the Quran may be roughly considered in two parts.  The first contains ten Surahs (S. 57 to S. 66), all revealed in Madinah, and each dealing with some special point which needs emphasis in the social life of the Ummah.  The second (S. 67 to S. 94) contains short Makkan lyrics, each dealing with some aspect of spiritual life, expressed in language of great mystic beauty.

57:1-4  Whatever is in the heavens and the earth declares the glory of Allah, and He is the Mighty, the Wise.
His is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; He gives life and causes death; and He has power over all things.  He is the First and the Last and the Ascendant (over all) and the Knower of hidden things, and He is Cognizant of all things.  He it is who created the heavens and the earth in six periods, and He is firm in power; He knows that which goes deep down into the earth and that which comes forth out of it, and that which comes down from the heaven and that which goes up into it, and He is with you wherever you are; and Allah sees what you do.

TRR Comment   In Surah

57:18  Surely (as for) the charitable men and the charitable women and (those who) set apart for Allah a goodly portion, it shall be doubled for them and they shall have a noble reward.

TRR Comment   In Surah

57:20  Know that this world's life is only sport and play and gaiety and boasting among yourselves, and a vying in the multiplication of wealth and children, like the rain, whose causing the vegetation to grow, pleases the husbandmen, then it withers away so that you will see it become yellow, then it becomes dried up and broken down; and in the hereafter is a severe chastisement and (also) forgiveness from Allah and (His) pleasure; and this world's life is naught but means of deception.

TRR Comment   In Surah

57:29  So that the followers of the Book may know that they do not control aught of the grace of Allah, and that grace is in Allah's hand, He gives it to whom He pleases; and Allah is the Lord of mighty grace.

TRR Comment   In Surah

 

59:24  He is Allah, the Creator, the Evolver, the Bestower of Forms (or colors). To Him belong the Most Beautiful Names: Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare His praises and Glory; and He is Exalted in mighty, the Wise.

Surah 60:5
Our lord! Make us not
A (test and) trial
For the unbelievers
But forgive us, our Lord!
For thou are the exalted
In might, the wise.

Surah 62

62:9 O you who believe! when the call is made for prayer on Friday, then hasten to the remembrance of Allah and leave off trading; that is better for you, if you know.

Friday, is primarily the Day of Assembly, the weekly meeting of the Congregation,

Surah 66

66:12 And yet that is the doctrine to which the Christian idea of "the only begotten Son of God" leads.

 

Surah 67

We have now read 14/15ths of the Quran.  We have seen the development of the establishment of the Ummah or Brotherhood of Islam.  There is a logical break here.  The remaining fifteen Surahs consists of short spiritual Lyrics, mostly of the Makkan period, dealing mainly various aspects of our inner life. They are similar to Hymns or Psalms in Christian literature.

Surah 68

This is a very early Makkan revelation.  The general opinion of Muslim Commentary is that a great part of it was second in order of revelations, the first being S. 96.

Surah 81

81:8-9 When the female (infant), Buried alive is questioned -- for what crime she was killed;

A striking example before the Quraysh was female infanticide.  The crime was committed in the guise of social plausibility in secret collusion, and no questions was asked here.  But in the spiritual world of Justice, full questions will be asked, and the victim herself -- dumb here -- will be able to give evidence, ...

Surah 86

86:17Therefore grant a delay to the unbelievers:  Give respite to them gently (for awhile).

Gentle forbearance with Evil shows our trust in Allah and Allah's Plan:  for it can never be frustrated.

 

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Reading #10 of 10
(Surah 58 -114)

Surah 96 Al'alaq or Iqra'

Verses 1-5 of this Surah were the first direct Revelation to the Holy Prophet.  The circumstances, material and psychical, in which they came, are described in C. 28-30, which should be referred to.

Proclaim! (or Read!)
In the name
Of thy Lord and Cherisher,
Who created--

Created man, out of
A (mere) clot
Or congealed blood:

Proclaim!  And they Lord
Is Most Bountiful--

He Who taught
(The use of) the Pen--

Taught man that
Which knew not.

TRR Comment  These words are the first revelation received by the prophet.

Surah 97

97:5  Peace!...This until the rise of morn!

When the night of spiritual darkness is dissipated by the glory of Allah, a wonderful Peace and a sense of security arise in the soul. 

Surah 102

102:1 The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world" diverts you (from the more serious things).

Acquisitiveness, that is, the passion for seeking an increase in wealth, position, the number of adherent or followers or supporters, mass production and mass organization, may affect an individual as such, or it may affect whole societies or nations.

Surah 110

This beautiful Surah was the last Surah to be reveals as a whole, though the portion of the verse 5:4, "This day I perfected your religion for you" etc., contains probably the last words of the Quran to be revealed.  The date of this Surah was only a few months before the passing away of the Holy Prophet from this world.

 

Concluding Remarks of the Translator Abdulla Yusuf

Cowper wrote:  "Oars alone can ne'er prevail to reach the distant coast; the breath of heaven must swell the sail, Or all the toil is lost."  I praise and glorify the name of Allah for He has enabled His humble servant to complete in manuscript the work of Interpretation at which he in Lahore on the fourth of April 1937, my sixty-fifth birthday according to the solar calendar.  My inner history during these three years has been one of joyful and concentrated exploration, undisturbed by the storms that vexed my outer life.  I had not imagined that so much human jealousy, misunderstanding, and painful misrepresentation should pursue one who seeks no worldly gain and pretends to no dogmatic authority.  But I have been much consoled by numerous appreciative letters from distant readers.  I thank them and wish them to feel that they and I are fellow riders (Arabice, Zamil) on a steed or research in a field that is unlimited in scoop and sublime compared to all ordinary knowledge.  Such relationship is closer in spirit than ties of blood, or country, or any other joint enterprise whatsoever. ...  And so I take leave of thee, Gentle Reader, and pray for thy spiritual advancement, as I wish thee to pray for mine.

19th Jumada al Ula 13:45 A.H.
14 November 1937 A.C.

TRR Comment I find several interesting points in this final commentary by the translator.  First of all his humility as a translator in his attribution to God as the one who enabled the work to be completed.   Second I found another area where Christianity and Islam are very similar.  Those of you reading this who are actively engaged in ministry know that "you can't please all the people all the time" and even when you are trying humbly, sincerely, and intelligently to serve your brothers and sisters there will be those who will attack you with "human jealousy, misunderstanding, and painful misrepresentation".  It was interesting that Abdulla experienced the same thing in his ministry!  Third, as Abdullah Yusuf prays for us may we ask Allah to bless him and reward him for his service for us in making accessible the meaning of the holy Qur'an.

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To Think About

What are some of the differences between the Bible and the Quran?

In the story of the Exodus, when the Pharaoh sees Moses lead people through the Red Sea, Pharaoh has a change of heart, and converts.  10:90   "We took the children of Israel across the sea. Pharaoh and his armies followed them in insolence and spite.  At length, when overwhelmed with the flood, Pharaoh said: 'I believe that there is no God except Him whom the children of Israel believe in: I am one of those who submit to Allah in Islam.'"

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 11/15/14.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org