Surah Talaq: Compassion in Divorce

Introduction

The Catholic Church is still struggling with allowing divorce and it is still not allowed in the Vatican city and Philippines.  Islam, though discouraged divorce, but allowed it 14 centuries ago and laid down compassionate rules for it.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues in the introduction to this surah:

The surah can be divided into two main sections. The first (vv. 1-7) provides details regarding the waiting period to be observed in cases of divorce, especially for women who are not menstruating, and the manner in which the husband is to provide for the wife, especially if she is pregnant or suckling. The second section (vv. 8-12) admonishes Muslims to observe these laws by providing reminders of previous peoples who failed to follow the laws revealed by God.

The verses 222-242 of Surah Baqarah also deal with divorce and other related gender issues.  To fully appreciate the wisdom and compassion of the Quranic teachings on this subject, one merely needs to search and review the word divorce in the Old and the New Testaments and read the short articles: Vatican Recognizing Divorce, 1400 Years after Islam Did and Divorce: Islam Versus Christianity.

As we look at each individual tree, or every specific teaching, let us not lose sight of the forest or the big picture.

When practical and profound boundaries are defined for both love and divorce in a marriage then it not only creates harmony and peace in the family, but, also in the larger society that is made of family units. This is what the holy Quran has given to the humanity.

In the seventh century Arabia the men were the bread winners in almost all the cases and child custody issues were described in that paradigm. If women become equal or greater bread winners in the 21st century, then those issues should be adjusted to the new economic realities.

These constraints are due to human limitations and not any deficiency in the knowledge of All-Knowing God, as becomes amply clear from the very last verse of this surah.

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

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

65:1. Prophet, when any of you intend to divorce women, do so at a time when their prescribed waiting period can properly start, and calculate the period carefully: be mindful of God, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their homes, nor should they themselves leave, unless they commit a flagrant indecency. These are the limits set by God, whoever transgresses God’s limits wrongs his own soul, for you cannot know what new situations God may bring about.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا طَلَّقْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَطَلِّقُوهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ وَأَحْصُوا الْعِدَّةَ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ رَبَّكُمْ ۖ لَا تُخْرِجُوهُنَّ مِن بُيُوتِهِنَّ وَلَا يَخْرُجْنَ إِلَّا أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ ۚ وَتِلْكَ حُدُودُ اللَّـهِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَ اللَّـهِ فَقَدْ ظَلَمَ نَفْسَهُ ۚ لَا تَدْرِي لَعَلَّ اللَّـهَ يُحْدِثُ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ أَمْرًا

65:2. When they have completed their appointed term, either keep them honorably, or part with them honorably. Call two just witnesses from your people and establish testimony for the sake of God. Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should pay attention: God will find a way out of difficulties for those who are mindful of Him,

 فَإِذَا بَلَغْنَ أَجَلَهُنَّ فَأَمْسِكُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ أَوْ فَارِقُوهُنَّ بِمَعْرُوفٍ وَأَشْهِدُوا ذَوَيْ عَدْلٍ مِّنكُمْ وَأَقِيمُوا الشَّهَادَةَ لِلَّـهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ يُوعَظُ بِهِ مَن كَانَ يُؤْمِنُ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجًا

65:3. And will provide for them from an unexpected source; God is enough for those who put their trust in Him. God achieves His purpose and He has set a due measure for everything.

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّـهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا

65:4. If you are in doubt, the period of waiting will be three months for those women who have ceased menstruating and for those who have not yet had their monthly courses; the waiting period of those who are pregnant will be until they deliver their burden: God makes things easy by defining for those who are mindful of Him.

وَاللَّائِي يَئِسْنَ مِنَ الْمَحِيضِ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ إِنِ ارْتَبْتُمْ فَعِدَّتُهُنَّ ثَلَاثَةُ أَشْهُرٍ وَاللَّائِي لَمْ يَحِضْنَ ۚ وَأُولَاتُ الْأَحْمَالِ أَجَلُهُنَّ أَن يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ يُسْرًا

65:5. This is God’s commandment, which He has sent down to you. God will remove the ills and increase the rewards of anyone who is mindful of Him.

ذَٰلِكَ أَمْرُ اللَّـهِ أَنزَلَهُ إِلَيْكُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّـهَ يُكَفِّرْ عَنْهُ سَيِّئَاتِهِ وَيُعْظِمْ لَهُ أَجْرًا

65:6. House the wives you are divorcing according to your means, wherever you dwell yourselves, and harass them not that you may make their lives difficult.

If they are pregnant, maintain them until they are delivered of their burdens; if they suckle your infants, give them their due recompense and settle the matters between yourselves equitably.  However, if you encounter difficulty from one another, then another woman may suckle the child for the father,

 أَسْكِنُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ سَكَنتُم مِّن وُجْدِكُمْ وَلَا تُضَارُّوهُنَّ لِتُضَيِّقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن كُنَّ أُولَاتِ حَمْلٍ فَأَنفِقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ حَتَّىٰ يَضَعْنَ حَمْلَهُنَّ ۚ فَإِنْ أَرْضَعْنَ لَكُمْ فَآتُوهُنَّ أُجُورَهُنَّ ۖ وَأْتَمِرُوا بَيْنَكُم بِمَعْرُوفٍ ۖ وَإِن تَعَاسَرْتُمْ فَسَتُرْضِعُ لَهُ أُخْرَىٰ

65:7. And let one who is in easy circumstances spend according to his means. But let him whose provision is restricted spend according to what God has given him: God does not burden any soul with more than He has given him. After hardship, God will bring ease.

 لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَن قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّـهُ ۚ لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّـهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا مَا آتَاهَا ۚ سَيَجْعَلُ اللَّـهُ بَعْدَ عُسْرٍ يُسْرًا

65:8. Many a town that insolently opposed the command of its Lord and His messengers, We have brought sternly to account: We punished them severely.

 وَكَأَيِّن مِّن قَرْيَةٍ عَتَتْ عَنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّهَا وَرُسُلِهِ فَحَاسَبْنَاهَا حِسَابًا شَدِيدًا وَعَذَّبْنَاهَا عَذَابًا نُّكْرًا

65:9. To make them taste the ill consequences of their conduct, the end result of their conduct was ruin.

 فَذَاقَتْ وَبَالَ أَمْرِهَا وَكَانَ عَاقِبَةُ أَمْرِهَا خُسْرًا

65:10. God has prepared a severe torment for them.  So, you who have understanding, you who believe, beware of God. He has sent you the Quran, a source of honor.

  أَعَدَّ اللَّـهُ لَهُمْ عَذَابًا شَدِيدًا ۖ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ يَا أُولِي الْأَلْبَابِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا ۚ قَدْ أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ إِلَيْكُمْ ذِكْرًا

65:11. And a messenger, reciting to you God’s revelations that make things clear, to bring those who believe and do righteous deeds out of darkness into light. God will admit those who believe in Him and do righteous deeds into Gardens graced with flowing streams, where they will remain for ever. He has indeed made excellent provisions for them.

 رَّسُولًا يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِ اللَّـهِ مُبَيِّنَاتٍ لِّيُخْرِجَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ ۚ وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّـهِ وَيَعْمَلْ صَالِحًا يُدْخِلْهُ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ قَدْ أَحْسَنَ اللَّـهُ لَهُ رِزْقًا

65:12. Allah is He, who created seven heavens and a similar number of earths. His command descends in their midst. So you should realize that He has power over all things and that His knowledge encompasses everything.

 اللَّـهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ سَبْعَ سَمَاوَاتٍ وَمِنَ الْأَرْضِ مِثْلَهُنَّ يَتَنَزَّلُ الْأَمْرُ بَيْنَهُنَّ لِتَعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ وَأَنَّ اللَّـهَ قَدْ أَحَاطَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عِلْمًا

Commentary

65:1

“Prophet, when any of you intend to divorce women, do so at a time when their prescribed waiting period can properly start, and calculate the period carefully: be mindful of God, your Lord. Do not drive them out of their homes, nor should they themselves leave, unless they commit a flagrant indecency. These are the limits set by God, whoever transgresses God’s limits wrongs his own soul, for you cannot know what new situations God may bring about.”

The verse is addressed to the prophet but is implied for every believer.  It provides for home and shelter for the divorcee and defines the process, which should not be driven by the heat of the angry moments but a deliberate, slow process, so better angels in our spirits can prevail and divorce becomes a rarity and only when absolutely necessary.

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues:

The waiting period refers to the three courses of menstruation discussed in 2:228. If, however, the marriage were not consummated, no waiting period would be enforced, as stipulated in 33:49: O you who believe! If you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, there shall be no waiting period for you to reckon against them. But provide for them and release them in a fair manner. In the present verse, for the waiting period can also be read to mean ‘during the waiting period,’ in which case it is understood to indicate that a man cannot divorce his wife while she is menstruating, but must wait until her  menstruation is finished.

65:2

“When they have completed their appointed term, either keep them honorably, or part with them honorably. Call two just witnesses from your people and establish testimony for the sake of God. Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should pay attention: God will find a way out of difficulties for those who are mindful of Him.”

The Quranic verse inspires believers to be just and generous to each other as it creates hope in Allah’s Providence by stating: “God will find a way out of difficulties for those who are mindful of Him.” This not only means economic difficulties but also social and other difficulties. It also implies that marital difficulties may subside and lead to reconciliation during the process of waiting period suggested by the Divine command.

65:3

“And will provide for them from an unexpected source; God is enough for those who put their trust in Him. God achieves His purpose and He has set a due measure for everything.”

Allah’s Providence is often beyond our limited imagination and this verse serves for the audacity of hope, no matter what the circumstances.

65:4

“If you are in doubt, the period of waiting will be three months for those women who have ceased menstruating and for those who have not yet had their monthly courses; the waiting period of those who are pregnant will be until they deliver their burden: God makes things easy by defining for those who are mindful of Him.”

If we contrast the Quranic teachings with those of the Bible, we realize that it is the Quran that has set the standards for family values for humanity and boundaries for marriage and divorce.

For 2000 years the Catholic Church prohibited divorce based on some of the verses of the New Testament and in the last century or more has come around to what can be considered as an Islamic standard. Suggested reading: Vatican Recognizing Divorce, 1400 Years after Islam Did and Divorce: Islam Versus Christianity.

65:5

“This is God’s commandment, which He has sent down to you. God will remove the ills and increase the rewards of anyone who is mindful of Him.”

Following the eternal principles mentioned in the Quran leads to countless blessings and removal of many a hurdles and road blocks in our personal, social and spiritual development.

65:6

“House the wives you are divorcing according to your means, wherever you dwell yourselves, and harass them not that you may make their lives difficult.

If they are pregnant, maintain them until they are delivered of their burdens; if they suckle your infants, give them their due recompense and settle the matters between yourselves equitably.  However, if you encounter difficulty from one another, then another woman may suckle the child for the father.”

This is certainly a message of compassion and kindness towards women the husbands are going to divorce, especially if they are pregnant or suckling, a special consideration not only for the mothers but also the children.

However, what was a very compassionate message in the context of seventh century Arabia may seem a sexist message in favor of fathers in the 21st century in the Western countries, as the Quran is giving the child’s custody to the fathers.

In the seventh century Arabia the men were the bread winners in almost all the cases and child custody issues were described in that paradigm. If women become equal or greater bread winners in the 21st century, then those issues should be adjusted to the new economic realities.

Many Western countries have ratified United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention deals with the child-specific needs and rights. It requires that the “nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law”. Ratifying states must act in the best interests of the child. In all jurisdictions implementing the Convention requires compliance with child custody and guardianship laws as that every child has basic rights, including the right to life, to their own name and identity, to be raised by their parents within a family or cultural grouping, and to have a relationship with both parents, even if they are separated.

The details of custody differ from country to country or state to state in USA.  For example, in New York, children under the age of 18 must be supported by both parents to the extent that they are able to support the children under the provisions of the Child Support Standards Act.  The holy Quran for the seventh century Arabia laid the responsibility squarely on the fathers. But, we don’t have to read this literally in different circumstances.  The well being of the children is of fundamental focus and it cannot be divorced from the happiness of the parents. The Quran even describes the suckling needs of the infants and suggests a duration of 2 years (2:233) and goes as far as establishing maintenance and compensation for the nursing mother. As regards the sensibilities and emotions of the mothers and the fathers the Quran states: “No one should be burdened with more than they can bear: no mother shall be made to suffer harm on account of her child, nor any father on account of his.” (2:233)

65:7

“And let one who is in easy circumstances spend according to his means. But let him whose provision is restricted spend according to what God has given him: God does not burden any soul with more than He has given him. After hardship, God will bring ease.”

According to Seyyed Hossein Nasr and colleagues, in commentary of this verse:

Some interpret this verse to mean that the amount  paid by the husband to his former wife depends upon both her needs and his circumstances, while others maintain that the amount the wife must be paid is to be limited to her immediate needs (Q). This verse is also viewed as evidence for the position that the husband is solely responsible for providing provisions for the child whether the couple is married or divorced (Q). The last sentence indicates that if one finds it difficult to meet these obligations, God will ease one’s circumstances, either in this life by providing additional means or in the Hereafter by easing one’s way into the Garden for striving to observe the Command of God even when it was difficult. Regarding the relationship between hardship and ease, see 94:5-6c.

We agree with most of what has been said in the above quote, but we feel, in the present day circumstances, when both women and men are bread winners, at least in the West, both of them can enjoy the perks and the responsibilities arising from that blessing.

65:12

“Allah is He, who created seven heavens and a similar number of earths. His command descends in their midst. So you should realize that He has power over all things and that His knowledge encompasses everything.”

The Quran talks about multiple earths as the number seven in this context in the Quran is generally read as metaphorical and as a large number. For the Quran to talk about multiple earths in the context of seventh century Arabia is fantastic and miraculous to say the least and establishes along with so many other Quranic verses, talking about modern scientific facts: Cataloging 750 verses of the Holy Quran inspiring believers to study nature, that it is a revelation from the All Knowing God.

As we stand in awe of the eternal message of the Quran, which impresses us in the 21st century, we should not forget that sometimes certain verses are best understood, at least in their literal message in a more limited context: The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors.

Here we would also like to present an excerpt form the chapter on extraterrestrial life,  from a book by Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth:

The vision of the universe that the Quran presents is poles apart from the one held by the philosophers and sages of all the past ages. At the time of the Quranic revelation, it was Greek astronomy which dominated the minds of men everywhere in the world and all civilizations seemed to have been influenced by the same. This domination continued uninterrupted until the time of Copernicus. It was universally believed that the heavens consisted of layer upon layer of some transparent plastic material, studded with bright heavenly bodies we know as stars. To be more specific, the following was the sum total of the entire knowledge of the people of that age:

  1. The earth was composed of a mass of dust, rock, water, air and minerals. It was a stationary mass, with a near flat surface neither rotating around itself nor revolving around any other heavenly body.
  2. The earth occupied a unique position in the cosmos, the like of which did not exist anywhere else in space. It remained fixed and stationary in its mooring while the Heavens perpetually revolved around it.

Evidently, this concept of the universe eliminated the possibility of the existence of life elsewhere. The only habitat for life the people of that age knew, was this earth—suspended as they thought it was in mid-space. Contrary to this, the Quran admits neither the uniqueness of the earth nor its being stationary. On the issue of the number of earths, it declares:

Allah is He Who created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof…1

It needs to be explained here that the figure ‘seven’ can be treated as a specific term of the Quran in this verse and many other similar ones. As such it would mean that the universe comprises many units of heavens, each divided into groups of seven (a perfect number), each having at least one earth to it which will be supported by the entire system of that heaven (galaxy).

The book is available online in PDF format: Revelation – Rationality – Knowledge and Truth.

10 Surprising Facts to Know Before Reading the Qur’an

Vatican open to official role for women and married men in Amazon

Epigraph:

Then We caused Our Messengers to follow in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow them, and We gave him the Gospel. And We placed in the hearts of those who accepted him compassion and mercy. But monasticism which they invented for themselves — We did not prescribe it for them — for the seeking of Allah’s pleasure; but they did not observe it with due observance. Yet We gave those of them who believed their due reward, but many of them are rebellious. (Al Quran 57:27)

1
Pope Francis with two nuns

Source: CNN

By Delia Gallagher and Lauren Said-Moorhouse

Rome (CNN)The Vatican says it is open to discussing the ordination of married men and an official role for women, to address a shortage of priests in the Amazon region.
A document prepared for a meeting at the Vatican on the issue, due to be held in October 2019, suggests examining what “type of official ministry can be conferred on women.” The meeting is also expected to discuss a previously-mooted suggestion that older married men could serve as priests in the region.

Pope Francis called the meeting to address a severe shortage of priests in the Amazon basin, which covers more than three million square miles.
The preparatory document, published on Friday, says the resources of the church have been spread too thinly in the region. “One of the main points to be heard is the cry of thousands of communities deprived of the Sunday Eucharist for long periods of time,” the document says.

It says the church should not be afraid to make “daring proposals.”

Read more

The Holy Quran and the Seventh Century Arabian Metaphors

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

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

The holy Quran mentions camels at least 19 times, but we find no mention of cars, planes, kangaroos or bisons  in the Quran, not because the All-Knowing God did not know about them, but because the seventh century Arabs, who were the first addressees of the holy Quran did not know cars, planes, kangaroos and bisons. The nineteen verses are mentioned in the references.

Stating what is obvious to every reader of the Quran, frequent mention of the camels, is not a blasphemy, but an essential to understand the holy Quran in its proper context.

Date palm 2
There are at least 26 mentions of dates or palm trees in the Quran

There are at least 26 mentions of dates or palm trees in the Quran and not a single mention of mangoes.  Dates grow in Arabia and mangoes grow in India and Pakistan. Today there are far more Muslims living in India and Pakistan than in Saudi Arabia. See the references below for the relevant Quranic verses.

Fire and burning of wood is mentioned more than once in the Quran  but there is no mention of fossil fuels, solar or wind energy, in the terms that we talk about them today.

The Quran was revealed in the context of the seventh century Arabia.

Additionally, the Quran was not revealed over night, but piece meal over a period of 22-23 years, in order to answer the questions of its first addressees, a luxury the present day readers don’t enjoy. The holy Quran states:

And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why was not the Qur’an revealed to him all at once?’ We have revealed it thus that We may strengthen thy heart therewith. And We have arranged it in the best form. And they bring thee no argument but We provide thee with the truth and an excellent explanation. (Al Quran 25:33-34)

My references of the Quranic verses are also counting the very first verse of each Surah, namely Bismillah, if your edition does not count the first verse, which is common to all but one Surahs, please adjust the verse numbers accordingly.

My basic theme here is that the context is the king, which we need to take into consideration when we study the Quran.

Many well known scholars of the Quran have categorically stated that there is no political system described in the Quran, it only mentions the ever lasting principles of compassion, justice and equality.

But, even if there was a political system described in the holy book, it would be for the circumstances of the seventh century Arabia, when the rivaling tribes were trying to enforce their will on each other and not in the context of the present day global village and may not be literally applicable to the present situations.

In short, those who dream some literal understanding of so called Shariah Law, I have an offer for them.  I have a bridge to sell them in New York, which will also guarantee them US citizenship and all the perks that go along with that.

More seriously, I am not minimizing the grandeur of the divine Scripture, not by any stretch, not at all.  I honor it so I want to understand it precisely and personally take the responsibility of understanding it rather than delegating this to others.  I revere the Quran and stand in awe of the All-Knowing God, who has revealed it and who knows every secret of the heaven and the earth:

And those who disbelieve say, ‘It is naught but a lie which he (Muhammad) has forged, and other people have helped him with it.’ Indeed, they have brought forth an injustice and an untruth.

And they say, ‘These are fables of the ancients; and he has got them written down, and they are dictated to him morning and evening.’

Say, ‘He Who knows every secret that is in the heavens and the earth has revealed it. Indeed, He is Most Forgiving, Merciful.’ (Al Quran 25:5-7)

I conclude my discourse today, with some suggested readings:

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

The Holy Quran Applauded as a Landmark Contribution to ‘Words of Justice’ by the Harvard University

Reading the Quran: Do They Still Cook You on the Stake, For Knowing the Scripture?

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

Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran

The Quran Only Means What Our Wisdom and Intentions Dictate

Quranic verses about camels

6:145, 7:41, 7:74, 7:78, 11:65, 12:66, 12:73, 17:60, 19:87, 22:28, 22:37, 26:156, 54:28, 56:56, 59:7, 77:34, 81:5, 88:18 and 91:14.

Quranic verses about dates or palm trees

2:267, 4:54, 4:125, 6:96, 6:100, 6:142, 13:5, 16:12, 16:68, 17:92, 18:33, 19:24, 19:26, 20:72, 23:20, 26:149, 36:35, 36:40, 50:11, 54:21, 55:12, 55:69, 59:6, 69:8, 80:30 and 111:6.

The Quran Only Means What Our Wisdom and Intentions Dictate

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

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

The former Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy in a case that has undermined Indonesia’s reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam, in May of 2017.

Ahok said he would appeal against the guilty verdict and sentence.

The five-judge panel said he was “convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy” and ordered his arrest.

Ahok was elected as governor in 2014 and at the time of his reelection in 2016, the right wing Muslim politicians in Indonesia used the following verse to dissuade masses from voting for a Christian.

O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. And whoso among you takes them for friends is indeed one of them. Verily, Allah guides not the unjust people. (Al Quran 5:51/52)

They argued that if the Muslims cannot be good friends with the Christians how can they have a Christian as their governor?

Ahok suggested alternate explanations for this verse and his comments became the grounds of a blasphemy charge against him eventually.  According to the Jakarta Post, he had previously commented on the Quranic verse in his book written in 2008. He also spoke of the verse at an event conducted by a political party and in some interviews with television stations, Kompas TV and Al Jazeera.

Now, let me describe the essence of the message of the Holy Quran towards people of other faiths. Allah wants us to be kind and nice to them, except those who are belligerent and want to make us homeless:

Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.
Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors. (Al Quran 60:8-9/9-10)

These verses we believe are the ground for our compassionate and just interaction with all of humanity, without consideration of their religion.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr translates the verse of the holy Quran that became pivotal in the politics of Indonesia as follows:

O you who believe! Take not Jews and  Christians as protectors. They are the protectors of one another. And whosoever takes them as protectors, surely he is of them. Truly God guides not wrongdoing people. (Al Quran 5:51/52)

A simple change in translation from ‘friend,’ to ‘protector,’ and reading this in the light of the fundamental verses from chapter 60 quoted above, makes a dramatic difference.  Now the verse has a limited context of the political engagement between the Muslim state as it was evolving under the leadership of the prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, and the non-Muslim powers around.

We believe that we need to grasp what is fundamental in the holy Quran and for that matter in any book or writing and not go after the allegorical. Let the fundamental define the allegorical and not vice versa. The Quran says:

He it is Who has sent down to you (Muhammad) the Book; in it there are verses that are fundamental or decisive in meaning — these are the corner stone of the Book — and there are others that are susceptible of different interpretations. But those in whose hearts is perversity pursue those that are susceptible of different interpretations, seeking discord and wrong interpretation of such ambiguous verses. And none knows their right interpretation except Allah and those who are firmly grounded in knowledge; they say, ‘We believe in it; the whole is from our Lord.’ — And none heed except those gifted with understanding. (3:7/8)

So, what is a fundamental teaching?

A fundamental teaching is what is substantiated not from one perspective but from multiple or all angles. It is something which does  not leave the slightest doubt in your heart and mind. It is something that you can easily defend,  no matter who the audience. It is something that you like to preach to your children and you don’t hide from anyone. It is something that is true whether you are on the receiving end or the opposite. It is true whether you are a leader or a follower. It is true whether you are among the ‘haves’ or the ‘have-nots.’ It is not what is preached by one scholar, one leader or one sect of Islam. It is true if it follows the Golden Rule.

It is a fundamental teaching if it fulfills all or a majority of the above conditions.

A fundamental Quranic teaching is one that is not mentioned once or twice in the scripture, rather dozens of times from different angles and perspectives.

Once you have a few fundamentals going for you, you will be able to understand more and more of the Quranic text. The Quran will be made easy for you. You will begin to resolve the apparent conflicts in the Quran. Because your understanding would be in keeping of the Divine understanding and rise above the vulnerability of human inconsistencies and contradictions.

We believe that the verses about compassion and justice in the holy Quran are fundamental. As there are, Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran and scores of verses about justice in human affairs.

We believe that the verses fundamental to the Muslim and the Christian relationship have been quoted above and are:

Allah forbids you not, respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you forth from your homes, that you be kind to them and act equitably towards them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable.
Allah only forbids you, respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends of them, and whosoever makes friends of them — it is these that are the transgressors. (Al Quran 60:8-9/9-10)

Some allege that there are some verses that are allegorical and don’t have any decisive meanings. I believe that it is wrong understanding as it is attributing futility to the word of Allah and He is certainly above any such criticism. These verses are indecisive to some but not to Allah or those firmly grounded in knowledge as the second half of the verse 3:7/8 quoted above states.

The Quranic verses may mean one thing to the Islamophobes or for that matter to those who are Islamomaniacs or Islamists and totally something different to those who are firmly grounded in knowledge and wisdom.  The holy Quran states:

And We are gradually revealing of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers; but it only adds to the loss of the wrongdoers. (Al Quran 17:82/83)

I would like to conclude with the following two verses regarding the Muslim and the Christian interaction:

This day all good things have been made lawful for you. And the food of the People of the Book is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And lawful for you are chaste believing women and chaste women from among those who were given the Book before you, when you give them their dowries, contracting valid marriage and not committing fornication nor taking secret paramours. (Al Quran 5:5/6)

And:

And you shall assuredly find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ to be the nearest of them in love to the believers. That is because amongst them are savants and monks and because they are not proud. (Al Quran 5:82/83)

Suggested Reading

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

The Holy Quran Does Not Exhaust Any Subject in Any One Chapter

Believing in the Blasphemy Laws is ‘the Real Blasphemy’: But, There is No Worldly Punishment

Is He who created the heavens and the earth not able to create the likes of them?

Supernova
Supernova. The Muslim Times has the best collection of articles about religion and science

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

The title of this article is a part of a verse of the holy Quran from Surah Yasin:

Is He who created the heavens and the earth not able to create the likes of them? Of course He is! He is the All Knowing Creator. (Al Quran 36:82/83)

We believe the two fundamental beliefs in Islam, which it shares with Judaism and Christianity are belief in the Transcendent God and accountability in the life after death. (87:16-19) The former is discussed at some length in Surah Al Fatihah and the latter in Surah Al Waqi’ah.

The verse under discussion links the teaching of the Creator God and our accountability.

I believe that a collection of articles below can drive home both these teachings of the holy Quran that are the foundation of Islam and also of the other Abrahamic faiths, Christianity and Judaism:

A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from?

Stephen Hawking has a change of heart: God did not create Universe?

Ten Raised to Five Hundred Reasons for Our Gracious God

Surah Qaf: The First Creation as the Foremost Proof for Afterlife

Allah the Creator, the Maker and the Fashioner: Flowers in the Desert

Plain Water will Tell you the Story

Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape The Universe by Martin Rees

The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? by Paul Davies

Atheism exposed in one paragraph

Moon: Does it have a purpose?

The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences

Where is the Injil, is it the Q document or ‘Q?’

Source: Islam for the West

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

The word Injil occurs several times in the Quran (3:4, 3:49, 3:66, 5:47, 5:67, 5:69, 5:111; 7:158; 9:111; 48:30; 57:28) and refers to the revelation to Isa (Jesus). Muslims believe that Injil was the Gospel given to Jesus, may peace be on him. We do not believe that the Injil in the Quran refers to the four Gospels as they today exist in the New Testament. In Quran, the Injil is instruction for the righteous. According to the Holy Quran:

And We (Allah) caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, fulfilling that which was revealed before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Injil which contained guidance and light, fulfilling that which was revealed before it in the Torah, and a guidance and an admonition for the God-fearing. (Al Quran 5:47)

What is the present day equivalent of what the Holy Quran describes as Injil? Could it be the Q document? Q is sometimes called the Synoptic Sayings Source. What gave me this idea was a comment by one of the experts in the four hour PBS documentary ‘From Jesus to Christ: the First Christians.’ Elaine Pagels says in the documentary, “Whoever collected the sayings of ‘Q’ wasn’t interested in the death of Jesus, wasn’t interested in the resurrection of Jesus, thought the importance of Jesus was what he said, what he preached.” This description parallels what the Holy Quran has to say about Injil.

The New Testament comprises of 27 books of four different genre or kind:

(I) Four Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, between 60 and 100 AD.

(2) Acts, which is the history of the Church, written by Luke in 65 AD.

(3) Epistles, which comprise letters, which were mostly written by Paul.

(4) Revelation which was written by John around 95 AD.

As there was no Prophet of God between Jesus and Muhammad, may peace be on both, the Quran does not recognize the Acts, the Epistles and the Book of ‘Revelation,’ as part of Injil, unless accidentally quoting, what was revealed to Jesus. According to the Quran, interpolations were made in the ‘Tauraat’ and the Injil (2:75 & 2:79). However, the Books of the Old Testament and the Gospels still contain many fragments of the original Revelations and teachings, which were affirmed by the Quran, and referred to as ‘Hudan wa Noor’ that means, guidance and light. (5:44-47)

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, as it talks about the Q document:

‘Q’ biblical literature in the study of biblical literature, is a hypothetical Greek-language proto-Gospel that might have been in circulation in written form about the time of the composition of the Synoptic Gospels—Mark, Matthew, and Luke—approximately between 65 and ad 95. The name Q, coined by the German theologian and biblical scholar Johannes Weiss, is a reference to the German word Quelle (‘source’).

Most biblical scholars agree that the authors of Matthew and Luke based their written accounts largely on The Gospel According to Mark. Matthew and Luke, however, both share a good deal of material—largely made up of logia (Greek: ‘sayings’) attributed to Jesus—that is absent from Mark. This led biblical scholars to hypothesize the existence of an undetermined source from which the shared material was drawn: Q, sometimes called the ‘lost source.’ While no actual source document has been found and some scholars doubt that Q ever existed, others have attempted to reconstruct it through intensive textual analysis.

Please read this article along with the article about the Gospel of Thomas, as there are several parallels between the two.

The Holy Quran states about Injil:

Allah is He besides Whom there is no God, the Living, the Self-Subsisting and All-Sustaining. He has sent down to thee the Book containing the truth and fulfilling that which precedes it; and He sent down the Torah and the Injil, before this, as a guidance to the people; and He has sent down the Discrimination (the Quran).  (Al Quran 3:3-5)

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