Aztec beliefs in the Afterlife: Stephen Hawking and me

moon-pyramid
The temples at Teotihuacán served as an inspiration for the Aztec’s temples. By the time the Aztecs came to power, Teotihuacán was a ruin

Source: Muslim Sunrise: 2012_spring

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Stephen Hawking in a recent interview claimed that there is no heaven. A belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story” for people afraid of death, Stephen Hawking has said.  In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religion, Britain’s most eminent scientist said there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time.[i]

I beg to differ!  I believe that there is a life after death. Neither Hawking nor I have returned from the hereafter and have no eye-witness testimony to present.  Additionally, afterlife, heaven and hell are beyond time, space and matter and so, outside the scope of a scientific study.  However, I have some philosophical arguments to present to Hawking or any other agnostic.  Firstly, there are the revelations of the prophets and saintly people, both in the Islamic and Christian tradition and it is foolhardy to deny them summarily, as there is so much in human culture that we accept on the basis of human testimony.  This is, however, not the argument that I want to focus on in this article.  Secondly, there is a large body of literature about near death experiences, but that is also for another day.

So, I move to present two arguments that are mentioned in the Qur’an, but can be presented on the basis of reason and rationality, rather than on the authority of revelation.  If our universe is an accident and that is your world view and you do not stand in awe of the beauty, elegance and organization of this universe then Hawking is right for you.  But, if you are agnostic, at least to some degree and are amazed at the beauty and organization of our universe as Albert Einstein was, then Hawking is plain wrong for you.  Here I present to you the verses of the Qur’an arguing the case for hereafter, on the authority of the elegance of the first creation:

“Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne. And He pressed the sun and the moon into service: each pursues its course until an appointed term. He regulates it all. He clearly explains the Signs, that you may have a firm belief in the meeting with your Lord” (13:3).

The Qur’an points to astronomy and physics in these verses as an argument. Elsewhere in the Qur’an, Allah extends this discussion to the domain of biology, including human life and plant kingdom that has provided us with food and fuel over the centuries..  In other words the Qur’anic argument extends over the elegance of all natural phenomena as testimony to the possibility and for the believers certainty of the next creation.  Allah says:

“Does not man see that We have created him from a mere sperm-drop? Yet lo! he is an open quarreler!  And he coins similitudes for Us and forgets his own creation. He says, ‘Who can quicken the bones when they are decayed?’  Say, ‘He, Who created them the first time, will quicken them; and He knows every kind of creation full well. He Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, and behold, you kindle from it.  Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth the power to create the like of them?’ Yea, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing.   Indeed, His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!,’ and it is.  So Holy is He, in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things. And to Him will you all be brought back”  (36:78-84).

Read further in this volume of Muslim Sunrise on page 10: Muslim Sunrise spring 2012 volume

Suggested Reading

Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story!’

The holy Quran speaks more often to men than women

gender equality
The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles on women rights especially the Muslim women rights

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

There is a commonly known verse of the Quran: “If you fear that you cannot treat orphans with fairness, then you may marry other women who seem good to you: two, three, or four. But if you fear that you cannot maintain equality among them, marry one only or any slave-girls you may own. This will make it easier for you to avoid injustice.” (4:3)

You don’t have to trust my translation of the verse and right now you can read almost fifty different English translations of this verse.

This verse talks to the Muslim men, how to find a wife and how many. There is no verse in the holy Quran that tells women to go about and find a man of their liking and when and if he brings a second wife or already has a wife, what to do!

I am not talking about polygamy here, not even a little bit, not at all.

Point I am trying to make is very simple. Very often the Quran talks to men and address to women is implied only indirectly and they are often not the first addressee of the scripture. So, as regards the women we are always interpreting the text for them.

The Quran was not revealed in ‘he or she’ idiom as its first addressee was a male dominant society of the seventh century Arabia, where young daughters were buried alive. No doubt, it was a very progressive text in its time. Today, in the context of emphasis on the women rights for the last century or more, we have to read the text in the present day needs and demands of our age.

When Islam or the Quran is criticized by advocates of human rights and women rights, in the West, often the problem is not of the Quran, the left leaning philosophers or the feminists, but of those zealot Muslims and the so called religious scholars, who have such severe nostalgia that they are not open to modern reading of the Quran.

For every believing Muslim lady, who wants to stand on her own two feet, let me help by providing some readings for a more progressive understanding of the Quranic text:

Suggested reading about the holy Quran

The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors

Is God Alive or Dead: A Metaphor for the Scriptures from the US Constitution?

God Is Living, So Why Does Religion Treat God As Dead?

Sources or Criteria for Interpretation of the Holy Quran

A Sexual Offender from ISIS: Is the Quran to Blame?

BBC Video: Ramadan in Iceland: Would Two Hour Fast in December be a Joke?

One of the Best English Translations of the Quran Now Available Online

A New Commentary of the Holy Quran Emphasizing Compassion, Justice and Human Rights Launched

Suggested reading about gender equality

Gender Equality in the Holy Qur’an – In the Beginning Man and Woman Were Equal

Al-Dhariyyat: The Scatterers

Introduction

After attesting to the reality of the Day of Judgment (vv. 1-6) in the Islamic understanding, the surah discusses the intellectual fallacies that lie at the heart of disbelief (vv. 7-14) and contrasts the final end of those who conjecture with the final end of the reverent (vv. 15-19). In other words it describes, what later came to be known as Pascal wager.

Pascal’s Wager is an argument in philosophy presented by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–1662).[1] It posits that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.

Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas he stands to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).[2]

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary, as they discuss the introduction to this surah:

It (the surah) then calls upon the signs within creation and the human soul as evidence of the Day of Judgment (vv. 20-23). This is followed by references to the stories of Abraham, Lot, and Moses (vv. 24-40), transitioning into a discussion of the pre- Islamic Arabian tribes of ‘Ad and Thamud (vv. 4.1-4.5), and concluding with a reference to Noah (v. 46), who preceded all of the aforementioned tribes and peoples. The next passage (vv. 47-55) begins with another allusion to the evidence of Divine Omnipotence provided by the natural order (vv. 47-49) and provides counsel to the Prophet Muhammad. The surah concludes with a discussion of the relationship between the Divine and the human (vv. 56-58) and a final warning to the disbelievers (vv. 59-60)

There are several verses in this surah that bring our attention to religion and science correlation.  The most salient in this regard, in our opinion are the first few verses and, “And the heaven We built with Our own powers and indeed We go on expanding it;” (51:47) and “We created every thing in pairs that you may reflect!” (51:49)  Please see the commentary below.  From a broader perspective, may we suggest: Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature

The holy Quran is a book for the spiritual guidance of man, but it discloses a large number of scientific truths which were not known to man at the revelation of the Book.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

51:1. By those winds that scatter far and wide.

وَالذَّارِيَاتِ ذَرْوًا

51:2. And those that are heavily laden.

فَالْحَامِلَاتِ وِقْرًا

51:3. That blow gently.

فَالْجَارِيَاتِ يُسْرًا

51:4. That distribute rain as ordained!

فَالْمُقَسِّمَاتِ أَمْرًا

51:5. What you people are promised is true.

إِنَّمَا تُوعَدُونَ لَصَادِقٌ

51:6. The judgment will surely come to pass.

وَإِنَّ الدِّينَ لَوَاقِعٌ

51:7. By the sky with its pathways.

وَالسَّمَاءِ ذَاتِ الْحُبُكِ

51:8. You are caught in contradictory assertions.

إِنَّكُمْ لَفِي قَوْلٍ مُّخْتَلِفٍ

51:9. That mislead those who are destined to be turned away.

يُؤْفَكُ عَنْهُ مَنْ أُفِكَ

51:10. Ruined are the liars,

قُتِلَ الْخَرَّاصُونَ

51:11. who flounder about in ignorance.

الَّذِينَ هُمْ فِي غَمْرَةٍ سَاهُونَ

51:12. They ask, ‘When is this Judgement Day coming?’

يَسْأَلُونَ أَيَّانَ يَوْمُ الدِّينِ

51:13. It will be the day when they are afflicted with fire.

يَوْمَ هُمْ عَلَى النَّارِ يُفْتَنُونَ

51:14. ‘Taste the punishment! This is what you wished to hasten.’

ذُوقُوا فِتْنَتَكُمْ هَـٰذَا الَّذِي كُنتُم بِهِ تَسْتَعْجِلُونَ

51:15. The righteous will be in Gardens with flowing springs.

إِنَّ الْمُتَّقِينَ فِي جَنَّاتٍ وَعُيُونٍ

51:16. They will receive their Lord’s gifts because of the good they did before:

آخِذِينَ مَا آتَاهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ ۚإِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَبْلَ ذَٰلِكَ مُحْسِنِينَ

51:17. They slept but little at night

كَانُوا قَلِيلًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ

51:18. and sought forgiveness at dawn.

وَبِالْأَسْحَارِ هُمْ يَسْتَغْفِرُونَ 

51:19. They gave a rightful share of their wealth to the beggar and the deprived.

وَفِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ

51:20.  In the earth are Signs for those who believe firmly

وَفِي الْأَرْضِ آيَاتٌ لِّلْمُوقِنِينَ

51:21. and in yourselves too, do you not see?

وَفِي أَنفُسِكُمْ

 ۚ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ

51:22. In the sky is your sustenance and all that you are promised.

وَفِي السَّمَاءِ رِزْقُكُمْ وَمَا تُوعَدُونَ

51:23. And by the Lord of the heavens and the earth, all that which is being said in the Quran and the Day of Judgment are as real as your speaking to one another.

فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاءِ وَالْأَرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِّثْلَ مَا أَنَّكُمْ تَنطِقُونَ

51:24. Muhammad, have you heard the story of the honored guests of Abraham?

هَلْ أَتَاكَ حَدِيثُ ضَيْفِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ

51:25. They went in to see him and said, ‘Peace.’ ‘Peace,’ he replied, and murmured to himself, ‘These people are strangers.’

إِذْ دَخَلُوا عَلَيْهِ فَقَالُوا سَلَامًا ۖ قَالَ سَلَامٌ قَوْمٌ مُّنكَرُونَ

51:26. He turned quickly to his household, brought out a fat roasted calf.

فَرَاغَ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ

51:27. And placed it before them. ‘Will you not eat?’ he said.

فَقَرَّبَهُ إِلَيْهِمْ قَالَ أَلَا تَأْكُلُونَ

51:28. Beginning to be afraid of them, but they said, ‘Do not be afraid.’ They gave him good news of a son who would be gifted with knowledge.

فَأَوْجَسَ مِنْهُمْ خِيفَةً ۖ قَالُوا لَا تَخَفْ ۖ وَبَشَّرُوهُ بِغُلَامٍ عَلِيمٍ

51:29. His wife then entered with a loud cry, struck her face and said, ‘A barren old woman?’

فَأَقْبَلَتِ امْرَأَتُهُ فِي صَرَّةٍ فَصَكَّتْ وَجْهَهَا وَقَالَتْ عَجُوزٌ عَقِيمٌ

51:30. But they said, ‘It will be so. This is what your Lord said, and He is the Wise, the All Knowing.’

قَالُوا كَذَٰلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْحَكِيمُ الْعَلِيمُ 

51:31. Abraham said, ‘What is your errand, messengers?’

قَالَ فَمَا خَطْبُكُمْ أَيُّهَا الْمُرْسَلُونَ

51:32. They said, ‘We have been sent to a people lost in sin,

قَالُوا إِنَّا أُرْسِلْنَا إِلَىٰ قَوْمٍ مُّجْرِمِينَ

51:33. to bring down rocks of clay, on them.

لِنُرْسِلَ عَلَيْهِمْ حِجَارَةً مِّن طِينٍ

51:34. Which are marked by your Lord for those who exceed all bounds.’

مُّسَوَّمَةً عِندَ رَبِّكَ لِلْمُسْرِفِينَ

51:35. We brought out such believers as were there.

فَأَخْرَجْنَا مَن كَانَ فِيهَا مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

51:36. We found only one household there devoted to God.

فَمَا وَجَدْنَا فِيهَا غَيْرَ بَيْتٍ مِّنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

51:37. And we left the town to be a sign for those who fear the painful punishment.

وَتَرَكْنَا فِيهَا آيَةً لِّلَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ

51:38. There is another sign in Moses: We sent him to Pharaoh with clear authority.

وَفِي مُوسَىٰ إِذْ أَرْسَلْنَاهُ إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ بِسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ

51:39. Pharaoh turned away with his supporters, saying, ‘This is a sorcerer, or maybe a madman.’

فَتَوَلَّىٰ بِرُكْنِهِ وَقَالَ سَاحِرٌ أَوْ مَجْنُونٌ

51:40. So We seized him and his forces and threw them into the sea: he was to blame.

فَأَخَذْنَاهُ وَجُنُودَهُ فَنَبَذْنَاهُمْ فِي الْيَمِّ وَهُوَ مُلِيمٌ

51:41.There is another sign in the Ad: We sent the life-destroying wind against them.

وَفِي عَادٍ إِذْ أَرْسَلْنَا عَلَيْهِمُ الرِّيحَ الْعَقِيمَ

51:42, And it reduced every thing it struck to shreds.

مَا تَذَرُ مِن شَيْءٍ أَتَتْ عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا جَعَلَتْهُ كَالرَّمِيمِ

51:43. And also in the Thamud: it was said to them, ‘Make the most of your lives for a while.’

وَفِي ثَمُودَ إِذْ قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَمَتَّعُوا حَتَّىٰ حِينٍ

51:44. But they rebelled against their Lord’s command, so the blast took them. They looked on helplessly.

فَعَتَوْا عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهِمْ فَأَخَذَتْهُمُ الصَّاعِقَةُ وَهُمْ يَنظُرُونَ

51:45. They could not even remain standing, let alone defend themselves.

 فَمَا اسْتَطَاعُوا مِن قِيَامٍ وَمَا كَانُوا مُنتَصِرِينَ

51:46. Before that We destroyed the people of Noah. They were truly a sinful people!

 وَقَوْمَ نُوحٍ مِّن قَبْلُ ۖ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمًا فَاسِقِينَ

51:47. And the heaven We built with Our own powers and indeed We go on expanding it.

وَالسَّمَاءَ بَنَيْنَاهَا بِأَيْدٍ وَإِنَّا لَمُوسِعُونَ

51:48. We spread out the earth; how well We smoothed it out!

وَالْأَرْضَ فَرَشْنَاهَا فَنِعْمَ الْمَاهِدُونَ

51:49. We created every thing in pairs that you may reflect!

وَمِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَا زَوْجَيْنِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

51:50. Flee therefore unto Allah. Surely, I am a plain Warner unto you from Him.

فَفِرُّوا

إِلَى اللَّـهِ

 ۖ إِنِّي لَكُم مِّنْهُ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ

51:51.  And do not set up any other god or the ultimate goal alongside Him. I am sent by Him to give you clear warning!

وَلَا تَجْعَلُوا مَعَ اللَّـهِ إِلَـٰهًا آخَرَ ۖ إِنِّي لَكُم مِّنْهُ نَذِيرٌ مُّبِينٌ

51:52. Every previous people to whom a messenger was sent also said, ‘A sorcerer, or maybe a madman!’

كَذَٰلِكَ مَا أَتَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِم مِّن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا قَالُوا سَاحِرٌ أَوْ مَجْنُونٌ

51:53. Did they tell one another to do this? No! They are a people who exceed all bounds.

أَتَوَاصَوْا بِهِ

 ۚ بَلْ هُمْ قَوْمٌ طَاغُونَ

51:54. So ignore them Prophet; you are not to blame.

فَتَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ فَمَا أَنتَ بِمَلُومٍ

51:55. And go on reminding people, it is good for those who believe.

وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَىٰ تَنفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

51:56. I have created men high and low, only to worship Me.

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

51:57. I want no provision from them, nor do I want them to feed Me.

مَا أُرِيدُ مِنْهُم مِّن رِّزْقٍ وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَن يُطْعِمُونِ

51:58. Surely, it is Allah Who is a Great Sustainer, the Lord of Power, the Ever Mighty.

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ هُوَ الرَّزَّاقُ ذُو الْقُوَّةِ الْمَتِينُ

51:59. The evildoers, like their predecessors, will have a share of punishment, they need not ask Me to hasten it.

فَإِنَّ لِلَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا ذَنُوبًا مِّثْلَ ذَنُوبِ أَصْحَابِهِمْ فَلَا يَسْتَعْجِلُونِ

51:60. So woe, then, to those who deny the truth of the Day they have been promised.

فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن يَوْمِهِمُ الَّذِي يُوعَدُونَ

Commentary

51:1-4

wind and rain

“By those winds that scatter far and wide.  And those that are heavily laden. That blow gently. That distribute rain as ordained!”

These verses not only allude to the water cycle but also reveal a very profound spiritual reality.

According to Malik Ghulam Farid regarding these verses:

From a phenomenon in physical nature, the four verses (1-4) draw attention to a parallel spiritual phenomenon. The parallelism is very striking. The four words — aI- Dhariyat (those that scatter), al-Hamilat (those that carry), al-Jariyat (those that speed lightly along) and al-Muqassimat (those that distribute) — when pointing to the physical phenomenon, may stand for winds that scatter far and wide, the vapours that rise from the oceans, carry the clouds laden with rain-water, blow gently and then cause rain to fall on dry, parched and burnt land and turn it into a smiling, blooming and blossoming piece of earth, full of verdure, beautiful flowers and sweet fruits. Spiritually speaking, these four words may stand for that band of righteous men, who drinking deep at the spiritual fountain that the Holy Prophet caused to flow, and who, after assimilating and being impregnated with the beautiful and life-giving Quranic teaching, went forth to the remote corners of Arabia and afterwards to far-off lands, carrying their blessed load and scattering the revealed Word of God in countries, reeking with polytheistic beliefs and immoral practices, not with the sword but with love and peace, like winds that blow gently and carry rain to withered lands.

51:7-8

“By the sky with its pathways. You are caught in contradictory assertions.”

According to Malik Ghulam Farid regarding these verses:

Tracks or paths of heaven are the orbits of planets, comets, and stars with which the vault of heaven is strewn. These celestial bodies float in their respective orbits performing their allotted tasks regularly, punctually and unerringly, without trespassing on one another’s sphere of action and all united forming a glorious harmony of structure and motion. That the heaven is full of such tracks on which planets and stars travel, was a discovery made to the world by the Qur’an, at a time when it was believed that the heavens were solid in their formation.

The great astronomical truth revealed in the preceding verse leads to the inference that the Qur’an is God’s own revealed Word and that there exists a unity of purpose and harmony in Divine work, and yet the materialistic philosophers coin far-fetched theories, groping and floundering in ill-founded surmises and conjectures, not believing in God’s Word and in His Prophet.

According to Muhammad Ali regarding the verse number 7:

The description of heaven as full of paths is a scientific truth certainly unknown to the world 1300 years ago.  The paths in the heavens are the orbits of the various planets and of the stars themselves; compared 36:40 where it is stated that ‘all float on in an orbit.’

51:23

“And by the Lord of the heavens and the earth, all that which is being said in the Quran and the Day of Judgment are as real as your speaking to one another.”

We have translated this verse fairly liberally.  The verse cites the creation of the universe, by the Lord of Mercy, as a proof for what is being said and we believe that could imply both the holy Quran and Day of Judgment that is being discussed before in this surah.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary, under this verse:

It is indeed true, refers to that which you were promised in v. 22 (JJ, R), to the Quran as a whole (R), or to the Judgment, as in v. 6 (R). The ending phrase means that just as you have no doubt that you speak, you should have no doubt in its reality (Bd).

All fundamental truths are interrelated and in some sense can be proof of each other.  Suggested reading: We Dream, Therefore God Is!

51:38-40

“There is another sign in Moses: We sent him to Pharaoh with clear authority. Pharaoh turned away with his supporters, saying, ‘This is a sorcerer, or maybe a madman.’ So We seized him and his forces and threw them into the sea: he was to blame.”

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary, under these verses:

The account of Moses, whose name appears 136 times in the Quran, is featured more prominently than that of any other prophet. As with most Makkan surahs that feature the story of Moses (40:23-45; 43:46-56; 44:17-31; 79:15-25), here the account is given more as a spiritual example reflecting aspects of the Prophet Muhammad’s challenge than as history. The more detailed accounts of Moses’ mission are found in 2:49-61; 7:103-55; 10:75-93; 17:101-4; 20:9-97; 26:10-66; 27:7-14; 28:3-46.

51:47

“And the heaven We built with Our own powers and indeed We go on expanding it.”

Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the previous worldwide leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, writes in his book, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth, in the chapter, The Quran and Cosmology, about this verse:

At the time the Holy Quran was revealed, the human understanding of the nature of the cosmos and the movement or the stillness of the heavenly bodies was extremely primitive and obscure. This is no longer the case, as our knowledge of the universe has considerably advanced and expanded by the present age.

Some of the theories relating to the creation of the universe have been verified as facts, whereas some others are still being explored. The concept of the expanding universe belongs to the former category, and has been universally accepted by the scientific community as ‘fact’. This discovery was first made by Edwin Hubble in the 1920s. Yet some thirteen centuries before this, it was clearly mentioned in the Quran:

And the heaven We built with Our own powers (aydin) and indeed We go on expanding it (musi’un).

It should be remembered that the concept of the continuous expansion of the universe is exclusive to the Quran. No other Divine scriptures even remotely hint at it. The discovery that the universe is constantly expanding is of prime significance to scientists, because it helps create a better understanding of how the universe was initially created. It clearly explains the stage by stage process of creation, in a manner which perfectly falls into step with the theory of the Big Bang. The Quran goes further and describes the entire cycle of the beginning, the end and the return again to a similar beginning. The first step of creation as related in the Quran accurately describes the event of the Big Bang in the following words:

Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were a closed-up mass (ratqan), then We clove them asunder (fataqna)? And We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?

It is significant that this verse is specifically addressed to non-believers, implying perhaps, that the unveiling of the secret mentioned in this verse would be made by the non-believers, a sign for them of the truth of the Quran.

In this verse the words ratqan (closed-up mass), and fataqna (We clove them asunder), carry the basic message of the whole verse. Authentic Arabic lexicons give two meanings of ratqan, that have great relevance to the topic under discussion. One meaning is ‘the coming together of something and the consequent infusion into a single entity’ and the second meaning is ‘total darkness’. Both these meanings are significantly applicable. Taken together, they offer an apt description of the singularity of a black hole.

51:49

“We created every thing in pairs that you may reflect!”

Pairs have been discovered in several aspects of nature, since the seventh century when the Quran was revealed.  The pairs have been discovered in plant kingdom and in subatomic particles for example.

About reproduction and pairs in the plant kingdom, Dr. Maurice Bucaille, who was a French medical doctor and author, and in 1973, was appointed family physician to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia writes in his book, the Bible, the Quran and Science:

One must bear in mind that there are two methods of reproduction in the vegetable kingdom: one sexual, the other asexual. It is only the first which in fact deserves the term ‘reproduction’, because this defines a biological process whose purpose is the appearance of a new individual identical to the one that gave it birth.

Asexual reproduction is quite simply multiplication. It is the result of the fragmentation of an organism which has separated from the main plant and developed in such a way as to resemble the plant from which it came. It is considered by Guilliermond and Mangenot to be a ‘special case of growth’. A very simple example of this is the cutting. a cutting taken from a plant is placed in suitably watered soil and regenerated by the growth of new roots. Some plants have organs specially designed for this, while others give off spores that behave like seeds, as it were, (it should be remembered that seeds are the results of a process of sexual reproduction).

Sexual reproduction in the vegetable kingdom is carried out by the coupling of the male and female parts of the generic formations united on a same plant or located on separate plants.

This is the only form that is mentioned in the Quran.

— sura 20, verse 53:
“(God is the One Who) sent water down from the sky and thereby We brought forth pairs of plants each separate from the other.”

‘One of a pair’ is the translation of zauj (plural azwaj) whose original meaning is: ‘that which, in the company of another, forms a pair’; the word is used just as readily for a married couple as for a pair of shoes.

— sura 22, verse 5:
“Thou seest the grounds lifeless. When We send down water thereon it shakes and grows and puts forth every magnificent pair (of plants).”

— sura 31, verse 10:
“We caused to grow (on the earth) every noble pair (of plants).”

— sura 13, verse 3:
“Of all fruits (God) placed (on the earth) two of a pair.”

We know that fruit is the end-product of the reproduction process of superior plants which have the most highly developed and complex organization. The stage preceding fruit is the flower, which has male and female organs (stamens and ovules). The latter, once pollen has been carried to them, bear fruit which in turn matures and frees it seeds. All fruit therefore implies the existence of male and female organs. This is the meaning of the verse in the Quran.

It must be noted that for certain species, fruit can come from non-fertilized flowers (parthenocarpic fruit), e.g. bananas, certain types of pineapple, fig, orange, and vine. They can nevertheless also come from plants that have definite sexual characteristics.

51:51

“Flee therefore unto Allah. Surely, I am a plain Warner unto you from Him.”

The previous verse “We created every thing in pairs that you may reflect!” A Man and a woman, a male and a female are a natural pair and Allah says: “And one of His Signs is this, that He has created wives for you from among yourselves that you may find peace of mind in them, and He has put love and tenderness between you. In that surely are Signs for a people who reflect.” (30:22) But, as humans we not only seek love and tenderness in this life, but, are concerned about our mortality and look forward to an eternal life.  In paradise, our hope and aspiration lies in our relationship with God. In this sense, the pious make an eternal pair with the Lord of Mercy, the God of Abrahamic faiths.  Therefore, the Quran says: “Flee therefore unto Allah. Surely, I am a plain Warner unto you from Him.” (51:51)

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary, under this verse:

That one should not set up equals unto God (2:22) or ascribe partners unto God (4:36; 7:33) is among the most predominant themes of the Quran; see 4:48c; 6:151-52c. Regarding the present verse, al-Ghazzali writes, ‘One who does not see God in everything sees something other than Him. And if there is something other than God to which one gives attention, this attention involves an element of hidden idolatry (al-shirk al-khafi). Rather, pure monotheism (al-tawhid al-khalis) consists in seeing only God in everything’ (Ihya ’, K. Qira ‘at al-Qur’an).

The use of the Arabic word آخَرَ Akhara in this verse highlights that we will have other pursuits and focus of attention but out ultimate devotion and worship should be for Allah alone.

51:56

“I have created men high and low, only to worship Me.”

The word الْجِنَّ Jinn used here is for powerful men and the word الْإِنسَ Ins for the ordinary men or the masses.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary, under this verse:

Together, this and the preceding verse indicate that God did not create human beings merely to seek their own sustenance, but rather to worship and submit to Him (Aj, IK), or in other words to remember God. Al-Zamakhshari argues that this points to the purpose for which human beings were created, even if most of them do not fulfill this function. From this perspective, God only created human beings to worship Him by choosing to worship freely and not being constrained to do it, because He created them as contingent beings. Had God wanted their worship by way of coercion (qasr) and compulsion (ilja’), it would be found among all human beings (Z). Regarding God’s desire that human beings worship, a hadith qudsi states, ‘O Son of Adam! dedicate yourself (tafarragh) to worshipping Me, and I will fill your chest with riches and make your poverty dissipate. Otherwise, I will fill your chest with distractions and will not make your poverty dissipate’ (IK). In this vein, the verse expands upon the command to flee unto God (v. 50), as everything else in which one seeks refuge distracts human beings from their true purpose. This passage could thus be interpreted as another expression of the central Quranic theme that human beings are not created for this world alone, but for the next. Ibn Kathir links this to his understanding of what is reported to have been written in a previous scripture: ‘It has been transmitted in one of the Divine books [that] God says, ‘Son of Adam, I created you to worship Me, so play not! I have taken on the burden of your provision, so tire yourself not! If you seek Me, you will find Me. If you find Me, you have found everything. If I pass you by, everything has passed you by. And I am more beloved to you than everything.’

 

The History of the Qur’anic Text: From Revelation to Compilation

Epigraph:

Indeed, We (Allah) Ourself have sent down this Quran, and most surely We will be its Guardian.  (Al Quran 15:9/10)

quran
The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles about the holy Quran

The History of the Qur’anic Text: From Revelation to Compilation (2nd Edition) a Comparative Study with the Old and New Testaments

Source: Amazon

Book written by Dr. Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami

The Qur’an reigns supreme in Muslim hearts as the most sacred of texts: a profusion of exalted ideas to rouse the mind, noble histories to stir the soul, universal truths to awaken the conscience and precise injunctions directing humanity to its own deliverance, all distilled into the melodious essence that is the Word of Allah. Through fourteen centuries Muslims have persevered in championing the text against corruption, memorising its every word and contemplating its every phrase, so that in our own times untold millions have enthusiastically committed each letter to heart. Beginning with a catalogue of ancient and contemporary attacks on the Qur’an, this expansive book provides unique insights into the holy text’s immaculate preservation throughout its history, as well as exploring many of the accusations leveled against it. The reception of divine revelations, Prophet Muhammad’s role in teaching and disseminating these verses, the text’s compilation under his guidance and the setting of its final external shape shortly after his death, are meticulously and scientifically examined alongside such topics as the origins of Arabic, its paleography and orthography, the so-called Mushaf of Ibn Mas’ud, and the strict methodology employed in assembling textual fragments.

Order the book in Amazon

Suggested reading

Every Thing You Wanted to Know about Compilation and Preservation of the Holy Quran

An Everlasting Miracle of the Holy Quran

Compilation of the Holy Quran into a text

About the author: Dr. Muhammad Mustafa al-Azami

He is one of the world’s premier scholars of Hadith, was born in Mau, India in the early 1930s and received his education successively at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, India (1952), al-Azhar University, Cairo (M.A., 1955), and University of Cambridge (Ph.D., 1966). He is Professor Emeritus at King Sa’ud University (Riyadh) where he also chaired the department of Islamic Studies; he holds a Saudi citizenship. Al-Azami served as curator of the National Public Library, Qatar; Associate Professor at Umm al-Qura University (Makkah); Visiting Scholar at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor); Visiting Fellow at St. Cross College (University of Oxford); King Faisal Visiting Professor for Islamic Studies at Princeton; and Visiting Scholar at University of Colorado (Boulder). He is also an Honorary Professor at University of Wales (Lampeter).

Video Debate: Is There Meaning to Life? | William Lane Craig, Rebecca Goldstein, Jordan Peterson – Toronto 2018

Epigraph:

God created the heavens and the earth for a true purpose: to reward each soul according to its deeds. They will not be wronged. (Al Quran 45:22)

And We (Allah) have not created the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose. That is the view of those who disbelieve. (Al Quran 38:27)

He (Allah) created the heaven and the earth for a true purpose. (Al Quran 39:5)

Suggested reading

Science: The Only Present Day Arbiter Between Religions?

If the Atheists and the Christians Debate, Islam Wins!

Harvard University: Spiritual Upbringing Leads to Happiness

Surah Jathiyah: Kneeling

Introduction

A Meccan surah that takes its title from verse 28, where the kneeling posture of all communities on the Day of Judgement is described.

This surah, like so many others, talks about Monotheism and the Creator God, Who is also the Personal God and will hold us accountable in the Afterlife; the two  fundamental shared articles of faith of all the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The surah addresses some of the arguments put forward by those skeptical of the truthfulness of the Quran. Emphasis is placed on the signs of God’s existence discernible in nature, and on the painful punishment that awaits the doubters on the Day of Judgement.

This Surah is also known to some as al-Shari’ah, because it is the only surah to employ the term shari’ah (verse 18), which later came to denote Islamic Law.

The misguided arrogance of the disbelievers (verses 8 and 31) is contrasted with God’s true greatness (verse 37); references to God’s wisdom and majesty open and close the surah.

Suggested reading

All Knowing, All Seeing God Keeps Us Away from Crime and Sin: See the Evidence

The science is in: God is the answer

Harvard University: Spiritual Upbringing Leads to Happiness

Afterlife A Dream-State or A Virtual Reality?

Science: The Only Present Day Arbiter Between Religions?

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

45:1. The Praiseworthy, The Lord Of Honor.

حم

45:2 This Scripture is sent down from God, the Mighty, the Wise.

تَنزِيلُ الْكِتَابِ مِنَ اللَّـهِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَكِيمِ

45:3. There are signs in the heavens and the earth for those who believe.

إِنَّ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَآيَاتٍ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

45:4 And in your creation and the other creatures God scattered on earth, there are signs for people who have faith.

وَفِي خَلْقِكُمْ وَمَا يَبُثُّ مِن دَابَّةٍ آيَاتٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ

45:5. In the alternation of night and day, in the rain God provides, sending it down from the sky and reviving the dead earth with it, and in His shifting of the winds there are signs for those who use their reason.

وَاخْتِلَافِ اللَّيْلِ وَالنَّهَارِ وَمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مِن رِّزْقٍ فَأَحْيَا بِهِ الْأَرْضَ بَعْدَ مَوْتِهَا وَتَصْرِيفِ الرِّيَاحِ آيَاتٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يَعْقِلُونَ

45:6. These are God’s signs that We
recount to you Prophet, to show the Truth. If they deny God and His revelations, what message will they believe in?

تِلْكَ آيَاتُ اللَّـهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِالْحَقِّ ۖ فَبِأَيِّ حَدِيثٍ بَعْدَ اللَّـهِ وَآيَاتِهِ يُؤْمِنُونَ

45:7. Woe to every lying sinful person.

وَيْلٌ لِّكُلِّ أَفَّاكٍ أَثِيمٍ

45:8. Who hears God’s revelations being recited to him, yet persists in his arrogance as if he had never heard them. Bring him the glad tidings of a painful torment!

يَسْمَعُ آيَاتِ اللَّـهِ تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِ ثُمَّ يُصِرُّ مُسْتَكْبِرًا كَأَن لَّمْ يَسْمَعْهَا ۖ فَبَشِّرْهُ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ

45:9. Who, if he knows anything about Our revelations, ridicules it! Such people will have a humiliating torment.

وَإِذَا عَلِمَ مِنْ آيَاتِنَا شَيْئًا اتَّخَذَهَا هُزُوًا ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ

45:10. Hell lurks behind them and their gains will not benefit them, nor will those beings they took as protectors besides God; a tremendous torment awaits them.

مِّن وَرَائِهِمْ جَهَنَّمُ

 ۖ وَلَا يُغْنِي عَنْهُم مَّا كَسَبُوا شَيْئًا وَلَا مَا اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ أَوْلِيَاءَ ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

45:11. This is true guidance; those who reject their Lord’s revelations will have a woeful torment.

هَـٰذَا هُدًى

 ۖ وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِمْ لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مِّن رِّجْزٍ أَلِيمٌ

45:12. It is God who subjected the sea for you, ships sail on it by His command so that you can seek His bounty and give Him thanks.

اللَّـهُ الَّذِي سَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الْبَحْرَ لِتَجْرِيَ الْفُلْكُ فِيهِ بِأَمْرِهِ وَلِتَبْتَغُوا مِن فَضْلِهِ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

45:13. He has subjected all that is in the heavens and the earth for your benefit, as a gift from Him. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect.

وَسَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِّنْهُ ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

45:14. Tell the believers to forgive those who do not fear God’s days of punishment. He will requite people for what they have done.

قُل لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا يَغْفِرُوا لِلَّذِينَ لَا يَرْجُونَ أَيَّامَ اللَّـهِ لِيَجْزِيَ قَوْمًا بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

45:15. Whoever does good benefits himself, and whoever does evil harms
himself: you will all be returned to your Lord.

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا فَلِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَنْ أَسَاءَ فَعَلَيْهَا ۖ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ تُرْجَعُونَ

45:16. We gave scripture, wisdom, and prophethood to the Children of
Israel; We provided them with good things and favored them above others.

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

45:17. We also bestowed on them clear Signs and commandments.  They differed among themselves out of mutual jealousy, only after knowledge came to them: on the Day of Resurrection your Lord will judge between them regarding their differences.

وَآتَيْنَاهُم بَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ

 ۖ فَمَا اخْتَلَفُوا إِلَّا مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَهُمُ الْعِلْمُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَقْضِي بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فِيمَا كَانُوا فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ

45:18. Now We have set you on a clear path in the matter of the Law; so follow it, and follow not the wishes of those who have no knowledge.

ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاكَ عَلَىٰ شَرِيعَةٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْرِ فَاتَّبِعْهَا وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَ الَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

45:19. They cannot help you against God in any way. Wrongdoers only have each other to protect them; the righteous have God Himself as their protector.

إِنَّهُمْ لَن يُغْنُوا عَنكَ مِنَ اللَّـهِ شَيْئًا ۚ وَإِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۖوَاللَّـهُ وَلِيُّ الْمُتَّقِينَ

45:20. This revelation is a means of insight for people, and a guidance and a mercy for a people who have faith.

هَـٰذَا بَصَائِرُ لِلنَّاسِ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُوقِنُونَ

45:21. Do those who seek to do evil imagine that We shall make them the equal of those who believe and act righteously, in life and in death? Evil indeed is that which they judge.

أَمْ حَسِبَ الَّذِينَ اجْتَرَحُوا السَّيِّئَاتِ أَن نَّجْعَلَهُمْ كَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَوَاءً مَّحْيَاهُمْ وَمَمَاتُهُمْ ۚ سَاءَ مَا يَحْكُمُونَ

45:22. God created the heavens and the earth for a true purpose: to reward each soul according to its deeds. They will not be wronged.

وَخَلَقَ اللَّـهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ وَلِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ 

45:23. Consider the one who has taken his own desire as a god, and whom Allah has adjudged astray on the basis of His knowledge, sealing his ears and heart and covering his eyes; who can guide such a person after God has condemned him? Will you not take heed?

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَـٰهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّـهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَىٰ سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَىٰ بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّـهِ ۚأَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

45:24.  They assert: There is nothing but our present life; we live and we die and it is the passage of time that kills us. But they have no real knowledge of the matter; they do nothing but conjecture.

وَقَالُوا مَا هِيَ إِلَّا حَيَاتُنَا الدُّنْيَا نَمُوتُ وَنَحْيَا وَمَا يُهْلِكُنَا إِلَّا الدَّهْرُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُم بِذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عِلْمٍ ۖ إِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَظُنُّونَ

45:25. When Our manifest Signs are recited to them, their only contention is: Bring back our forefathers if you are truthful.

وَإِذَا تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ مَّا كَانَ حُجَّتَهُمْ إِلَّا أَن قَالُوا ائْتُوا بِآبَائِنَا إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ

45:26. Tell them: ‘It is God who gives you life, then causes you to die, and then He gathers you all on the Day of Resurrection of which there is no doubt, though most people do not comprehend.’

قُلِ اللَّـهُ يُحْيِيكُمْ ثُمَّ يُمِيتُكُمْ ثُمَّ يَجْمَعُكُمْ إِلَىٰ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

45:27. To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. On the day when the Hour shall come, those who follow falsehood will be the losers.

وَلِلَّـهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَاوَاتِ

وَالْأَرْضِ

 ۚ وَيَوْمَ تَقُومُ السَّاعَةُ يَوْمَئِذٍ يَخْسَرُ الْمُبْطِلُونَ

45:28. You will see every community kneeling.  Every community will be summoned to its record: ‘Today you will be repaid for what you did.’

وَتَرَىٰ كُلَّ أُمَّةٍ جَاثِيَةً ۚكُلُّ أُمَّةٍ تُدْعَىٰ إِلَىٰ كِتَابِهَا الْيَوْمَ تُجْزَوْنَ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

45:29. ‘Here is Our record that tells the truth about you: We have been recording everything you do.’

هَـٰذَا كِتَابُنَا يَنطِقُ عَلَيْكُم بِالْحَقِّ ۚ إِنَّا كُنَّا نَسْتَنسِخُ مَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

45:30. Their Lord will admit into His mercy those who believed and acted righteously. That is the manifest triumph.

فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ فَيُدْخِلُهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ فِي رَحْمَتِهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْمُبِينُ

45:31. But those who disbelieved will be asked: ‘When My revelations were recited to you, were you not arrogant and persistent in wicked deeds?’

وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَفَلَمْ تَكُنْ آيَاتِي تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ وَكُنتُمْ قَوْمًا مُّجْرِمِينَ

45:32. When it was said to you, “God’s promise is true: there is no doubt about the Hour,” did you not reply, “We know nothing of the Hour. This is only conjecture in our opinion. We are not convinced?”

وَإِذَا قِيلَ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّـهِ حَقٌّ وَالسَّاعَةُ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهَا قُلْتُم مَّا نَدْرِي مَا السَّاعَةُ إِن نَّظُنُّ إِلَّا ظَنًّا وَمَا نَحْنُ بِمُسْتَيْقِنِينَ

45:33. The evil of their actions will then become clear to them. The punishment they mocked will engulf them.

وَبَدَا لَهُمْ سَيِّئَاتُ مَا عَمِلُوا وَحَاقَ بِهِم مَّا كَانُوا بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِئُونَ

45:34. It will be said, ‘Today We shall ignore you just as you ignored your appointment of this Day. The Fire will be your home and no one will help you.’

وَقِيلَ الْيَوْمَ نَنسَاكُمْ كَمَا نَسِيتُمْ لِقَاءَ يَوْمِكُمْ هَـٰذَا وَمَأْوَاكُمُ النَّارُ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن نَّاصِرِينَ

45:35. ‘Because you received God’s revelations with ridicule and were deceived by worldly life.’ They will not be brought out of the Fire on that Day, nor will they be given the chance to make amends.

ذَٰلِكُم بِأَنَّكُمُ اتَّخَذْتُمْ آيَاتِ اللَّـهِ هُزُوًا وَغَرَّتْكُمُ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا ۚ فَالْيَوْمَ لَا يُخْرَجُونَ مِنْهَا وَلَا هُمْ يُسْتَعْتَبُونَ

45:36. So praise be to God, Lord of the heavens and earth, Lord of the worlds.

فَلِلَّـهِ الْحَمْدُ رَبِّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَرَبِّ الْأَرْضِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

45:37. True greatness in the heavens and the earth is rightfully His: He is the Mighty, the Wise,

وَلَهُ الْكِبْرِيَاءُ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۖ وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

Commentary

45:3-5 and 45:12-13

“There are signs in the heavens and the earth for those who believe. And in your creation and the other creatures God scattered on earth, there are signs for people who have faith. In the alternation of night and day, in the rain God provides, sending it down from the sky and reviving the dead earth with it, and in His shifting of the winds there are signs for those who use their reason.”

“It is God who subjected the sea for you, ships sail on it by His command so that you can seek His bounty and give Him thanks. He has subjected all that is in the heavens and the earth for your benefit, as a gift from Him. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect.”

These verses contain, in addition to Surah Rome, one of the most explicit and extended Quranic discussions about ‘the signs of God,’ enjoining people to reflect upon them and also describing the fate of those who deny them.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary, under verse number 3 of this surah:

This is one of many verses that call human beings to reflect upon God’s signs in the created order, since they are seen as indications of His Oneness (Aj). Signs translates ayat, which refers to the verses of the Quran, the natural phenomena in the heavens and on the earth, and the signs within the human soul. The heavens and the earth are filled with signs for believers (cf. 6:99; 15:77; 16:79; 27:86; 29:24, 44; 30:37; 39:52), for a people who reflect (13:3; 30:21; 39:42; 45:13; cf. 10:24), for a people who hear (10:67; 16:65; 30:23), for those who know (30:22), for a people who understand (2:164; 13:4; 16:12, 67; 30:24; 45:5), for a people who are reverent (1026), for those possessed of intelligence (20:54, 128), for the possessors of intellect (3:190), for those who possess insight (3:13) and for a. people who are certain (45:4; cf. 51:20).  Signs (ayat) occurs twelve times in this short surah, especially in the first section (vv. 3-8), where it is used interchangeably as a reference to the wonders of the created order (vv. 3-5) and the verses of the Quran (vv. 6-8), suggesting a subtle connection between revelation and the created order. This connection has led many Islamic philosophers and mystics to view the created order as ‘the cosmic Quran’ (al-Qur’an al-takwini) as distinguished from ‘the written Quran’ (al-Qur’an al-tadwini). When understood by those with certainty in their hearts, the signs of the created order are said to guide, by their very being (kawn), to the One who brought them into being (al-Mukawwin; ST).

This correlation between the revealed and the created order, reminded the author of a profound quote from Charles Darwin, as he quoted Francis Bacon from his book, Advancement of learning, in the later editions of Origin of Species to establish the proper relationship between religion and natural science:

To conclude, therefore, let no man out of weak conceit of sobriety, or an ill-applied moderation, think or maintain, that a man can search too far or be too well-studied in the book of God’s word, or in the book of God’s works; divinity or philosophy; but rather let men endeavor an endless progress or proficiency in both.

The verse number 12 is one of several verses to refer to seafaring as a blessing from God; see also 2:164; 14:32; 17:66; 22:65; 30:46; 31:31; 35:12; 40:80; 42:32-34. Seek His Bounty refers to the advantages of travel by sea and to the food  and precious jewels that can be obtained from the sea.

In summary, in these verses, 3-5 and 12-13, like in so many others, Allah makes a case for the Creator God, who has created the universe and life on this planet.

Suggested reading

Deism: Common between Islam, Christianity and Judaism

The anesthesia of familiarity: There should be a Creator of Our Universe

Photosynthesis: deserving of our awe or ridicule?

Provident God of the Abrahamic Faiths: Plain Water will Tell you the Story

12 Famous Scientists On The Possibility Of God

Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature

Ten Raised to Five Hundred Reasons for Our Gracious God

A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from?

Did Eve Come from Adam’s Rib — That is the Question?

45:8-9

“Who hears God’s revelations being recited to him, yet persists in his arrogance as if he had never heard them. Bring him the glad tidings of a painful torment! Who, if he knows anything about Our revelations, ridicules it! Such people will have a humiliating torment.”

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary, under these verses:

It is understood as a general reference to all who turn away from God’s signs when they hear them (Aj). Although such people hear the Quran, it is as if they do not hear, because they are spiritually deaf and thus do not understand, as in 6:25: Among them are those who listen to thee, but We have placed coverings over their hearts, such that they do not understand, and a deafness in their ears (cf. 2:171; 5:71; 6:25, 39; 8:22; 10:42; 17:46; 18:57; 21:46; 31:7; 41:5. 44; 47:23); see 6:25c. Although glad tidings usually indicates the good news of the means to salvation that prophets bring, here as elsewhere (see 3:21; 4:138; 9:3, 34; 31:7; 84:24), it is used with a sense of irony indicating that the hypocrites and disbelievers will receive the painful punishment that they seem to ‘desire.’

45:18.

“Now We have set you on a clear path in the matter of the Law; so follow it, and follow not the wishes of those who have no knowledge.”

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in their recent commentary for this verse:

After giving the Israelites gifts (V. 16), God placed the Prophet Muhammad upon a clear path like those upon which He had placed the messengers before him (I). In this context, clear path translates shari’ah, which later became the technical term for Islamic Law, though it occurs only this one time in the Quran. Linguistically, shari’ah means a straight, smooth path that leads to water, which in the deserts of Arabia would also have meant a path to salvation from death. In this context it thus appears to indicate a clear path by which God leads people to the truth (Q).

45:22

“God created the heavens and the earth for a true purpose: to reward each soul according to its deeds. They will not be wronged.”

The Holy Quran makes the above claim about the purpose of the universe, in several other verses also, including:

And We (Allah) have not created the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose. That is the view of those who disbelieve. (Al Quran 38:27)

Also see:

He (Allah) created the heaven and the earth for a true purpose. (Al Quran 39:5)

And:

Allah has created the heavens and the earth for a true purpose. In that surely is a Sign for the believers. (29:44)

Three well known atheists, Prof. Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer and Matt Ridley debated two Christian and a Jewish apologist, including William Lane Craig, in Mexico, in 2010, regarding the purpose of the universe and human life:

45:35

“‘Because you received God’s revelations with ridicule and were deceived by worldly life.’ They will not be brought out of the Fire on that Day, nor will they be given the chance to make amends.”

The Quranic verses should not be read literally or in isolation. Each verse needs to be understood in the context of every other verse of the scripture, for example, here the punishment of hell is implied to be prolonged but not eternal: Hell is Meant for Purification and is not Permanent.

 

Jinn: Do They Exist?

demons
The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles about the holy Quran and religion and science

Source: The Muslim Times

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

jinnThe Muslims, generally speaking, believe in the existence of the unseen world, which generally includes besides Allah, angels, Satan, the hereafter, heaven, hell and jinn. This belief in Jinn is based on many verses from the Quran, which mention that Jinn are one of Allah’s creations, for example: “And the Jinn He created from the flame of fire.” (Al Quran 55:15) In fact, followers of other major religions also believe in the effect of demons, witchcraft, and the evil eye.

It is not an exaggeration to say that approximately 90% of the world’s societies believe in demonic or Jinn possession.

Such possessions is the common understanding of Jinns among the Muslim masses. and I have observed that many a psychological maladies get labelled as demon or Jinn possession among the Muslims, even in the Western countries and among otherwise, very successful and well educated families.

However, despite their belief in the existence of Jinn, Muslim religious scholars and thinkers have differing opinions on their effect on human beings. This is because there is no text from the Quran or the authentic tradition of the Prophet that clarifies this explicitly. According to some, it is impossible that Jinn can possess someone’s body, affect him with any sickness, or cause any harm. To them the real Satan is a person’s own soul and thinking. Hence, they conclude that there is no link between humans and the  Jinn. On the other hand, the second group believes that Jinn can possess people’s body, affect them and cause them sickness. Jinn also can possess human for love and sex and they can even marry each other and have children. According to this group, due to Ibn Taimiyyah and his modern followers’ opinion, anyone who denies the belief in Jinn’s effect on humans is denying what Allah said and as such he or she is an atheist.[1]

We believe such accusations are a little stretch.  We have to read the different mentions of Jinn in the holy Quran and try to understand the meaning in the context.

Jinn is an Arabic collective noun deriving from the Semitic root jnn (Arabicجَنّ / جُنّ‎, jann), whose primary meaning is “to hide” or “to conceal”. Some authors interpret the word to mean, literally, “beings that are concealed from the senses”.[9] Cognates include the Arabic majnūn (“possessed”, or generally “insane”), jannah (“garden”, also “heaven”), and janīn (“embryo”).[10] Jinn is properly treated as a plural, with the singular being jinnī.

The origin of the word Jinn remains uncertain.[2] Some scholars relate the Arabic term jinn to the Latin genius, as a result of syncretism during the reign of the Roman empire under Tiberius Augustus,[11] but this derivation is also disputed.[12] Another suggestion holds that jinn may be derived from Aramaic “ginnaya” (Classical Syriacܓܢܬܐ‎) with the meaning of “tutelary deity“,[13] or also “garden”. Others claim a Persian origin of the word, in the form of the Avestic “Jaini”, a wicked (female) spirit. Jaini were among various creatures in the possibly even pre-Zoroastrian mythology of peoples of Iran.[14][15]

The Anglicized form genie is a borrowing of the French génie, from the Latin genius, a guardian spirit of people and places in Roman religion. It first appeared[16] in 18th-century translations of the Thousand and One Nights from the French,[17] where it had been used owing to its rough similarity in sound and sense.

My best exhibit is a detailed quote from Surah Sheba, which shows that in the holy Quran the word “Jinn,” is mostly used for powerful men. I am presenting the translation of M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published by the Oxford University’s press, to give you the whole context:

The disbelievers say, ‘We will believe neither this Quran nor the Scriptures that came before it.’ If only you could see [Prophet] how the wrongdoers will be made to stand before their Lord, hurling reproaches at one another. Those who were oppressed will say to the oppressors, ‘If it were not for you, we would have been believers.’ The oppressors will say to them, ‘Was it we who prevented you from following right guidance after it had reached you? No! You yourselves were sinners.’ The oppressed will say to them, ‘No, it was your scheming, night and day, ordering us to disbelieve in God and set up rivals to Him.’ When they see the punishment, they will fall silent with regret, and We shall put iron collars on the disbelievers’
necks. Why should they be rewarded for anything other than what they have done? Never have We sent a warner to a community without those among them who were corrupted by wealth saying, ‘We do not believe in the message you have been sent with.’ They would say, ‘We have greater wealth and more children than you, and we shall not be punished.’ Say [Prophet], ‘My Lord gives in abundance to whoever He will and sparingly to whoever He will, though most people do not understand. Neither wealth nor children will bring you nearer to Us, but those who believe and do good deeds will have multiple rewards for what they have done, and will live safely in the lofty dwellings of Paradise, whereas those who work against Our messages, seeking to undermine them, will be summoned to punishment.’ Say, ‘My Lord gives in abundance to whichever of His servants He will, and sparingly to whichever He will; He will replace whatever you give in alms; He is the best of
providers.’ (Al Quran 34:31-39)

These verses, in addition to submission to the Divine message and the prophets, set the stage for two groups of people, the leaders and the led, the powerful and the meek, the rich and the relatively poor.  The Quran describes the human psychology and vulnerability, that the ‘have-nots’ are often mislead by the ‘haves’ and it is for them that the Quran uses the word Jinn. Read the verses that follow:

On the Day He gathers them all together, He will say to the angels, ‘Was it you these people worshiped?’ They will reply, ‘May You be exalted! You are our supporter against them! Really, they worshiped the Jinn – most of them believed in them.’ (Al Quran 34:40-41)

The majority of the Muslims are good Monotheists and only worship Allah.  They don’t worship demons or for that matter the angels.  But, hero worship, celebrity worship and worship of religious leaders, past and present, is not uncommon among the Muslim masses and in that sense they are often misled by them. This is what is implied by the Quranic expression: “Really, they worshiped the Jinn – most of them believed in them,” above. Of course, the masses do not literally worship the heroes, but undue deference is implied here, which leads to them being misled.

The Quran is telling us that often the masses worship the Jinns or the powerful among them.  The Quran is saying that each human is an independent agent and is accountable for the gifts and responsibilities afforded to him or her, in this context we should refuse to be misled and use our God given wisdom to find the truth or the best reading and the commentary of the Quran and put it into our daily lives.

Epilogue

The verses that follow, after the above quoted verses in Surah Sheba, state:

‘So today neither of you has any power to benefit or harm the other,’ We shall tell the evildoers, ‘Taste the torment of the fire which you called a lie.’ When Our messages are recited to them, clear as they are, they say, ‘This is only a man who wants to turn you away from what your forefathers worshiped,’ and, ‘This Quran is nothing but lies he has made up.’ When the Truth comes to the disbelievers, they say, ‘This is just plain sorcery,’ (Al Quran  34:42-43)

These verses highlight that not having independent thinking, sticking to the old ways and idolizing our forefathers, often becomes a human vulnerability and handicap.

From Surah Sheba, I have explained one instance of the use of the word, “Jinn,” in the holy Quran, where it cannot be reasonably translated into demons, rather means powerful and misguided men.

I suspect, the main opposition of the ideas presented here, will come from those, who would insist that we want to interpret and understand these verses as our ‘forefathers’ have and ‘we are not open to new insights.’ Incidentally, the Quran has already covered this nostalgic bias in these verses.

There are at least a score or more mention of the word ‘Jinn’ in the holy Quran and other instances will be focus of the future articles. So long!

Bibliography and suggested reading

  1. Jinn and its Effects on Muslim Society: Jinn possessions

Hamza Yusuf on Jinns: Powerful Men or Demons?

Saving the Muslims From Exorcisms and Jinns

Reading the Quran and the Bible Literally Means Demons and Jinns Will Rule Humans

Possessed by Jinns: Many Medieval Muslim Scholars Need Exorcism

Our Haunted House!

Jinns and Demons: A Rational Islamic Perspective.