Meri Soch aur Meri Awaz

The treasure of a fool is in his tongue, so think before you speak

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Divine Challenge For Those Who Doubt the Revelation

In the name of the Merciful, the Beneficent "If you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to Our servant (Muhammad), then produce one Surah comparable to it and call upon all your witnesses, other than God, if you were truthful. But if you fail, as you will certainly do, then guard yourselves against the fire, fuelled by men and stones, prepared for the unbelievers." [The Cow — "Al-Baqarah" 2: 23-24]
Commentary by Sayyid Qutb — Translated & Edited by Adil Salahi & Ashur Shamis

The Jews of Madinah doubted the truth of Prophet Muhammad’s message, why the hypocrites, like the polytheist Arabs of Makkah, were skeptical and called it into question. Therefore, we find the Qur’an challenging them all, as indeed it challenges mankind in general, into a direct confrontation. It says: "If you are in doubt as to what We have revealed to Our servant (Muhammad), then produce one Surah comparable to it and call upon all your witnesses, other than God, if you were truthful." [2: 23]The challenge starts off with emphasizing an important fact by identifying Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as the "servant" of God. This description is significant in a number of ways. It is, first, an honor to the Prophet, peace be upon him, himself and an indication that to be a "servant" of God is the highest honor a human being can attain. Second, it affirms the essence of "servitude" to God and renounces all patterns that may be associated with Him. Mankind should also emulate the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who, though highly honored by receiving Divine revelations, is nevertheless referred to simply as a "servant" of God.The challenge is also related to the opening of Surah Al-Baqarah, which points out that the Qur’an was composed of the very same letters the Arabs were familiar with in their language. If they were in any doubt as to its truth or veracity, they were free to produce anything, even one Surah, comparable to it, and they could call any witnesses they wished to testify in their favor; the Prophet’s claim had already been supported by God.This challenge remained valid throughout the Prophet’s life, and has done so ever since. The Qur’anic argument stands just as firmly today as it had through the centuries. The Qur’an remains today the unique work it was on the first day it was revealed, clearly distinguished from anything men can ever produce, in fulfillment of God’s words: "But if you fail, as you will certainly do, then guard yourselves against the fie, fuelled by men and stones, prepared for the unbelievers." [2: 24] It is a remarkable challenge indeed, but what is even more remarkable is the absolute certainly with which it is made. Were any of the unbelieving Arabs able to take up the challenger, they would not have hesitated for a moment. The Qur’anic assertion of the futility of their task, and the endurance of that assertion, are in themselves manifest and irrefutable proof it is superhuman nature.The opportunity remains wide open for anyone to pick up the gauntlet and confound the Qur’anic claims of divinity and superiority. But this has not happened and, according to the Qur’an, will never happen. That is the Qur'an’s final word for posterity.Anyone with the honest knowledge or appreciation of literature, philosophy, psychology, social science or any other science at all will not fail to recognize that whatever the Qur’an has to say in any of these fields is something unique, unlike anything human beings would say. Argument over this fact can only arise from blind ignorance or sheer prejudice.The stern warning to "guard yourselves against the fire, fuelled by men and stones" should, therefore, come as no surprise to those who may fail in their challenge to God but persist, nevertheless, with their rejection of the truth.Use of the word "stones" here is intriguing. It is derived from the fact that the unbelievers, for whom "God has sealed their hearts and ears" and whose "eyes are covered", who have failed to take up God’s challenge, and who have persisted in their rejection of His Message, are effectively stone-like themselves. Hence the connection between humans and stones in his verse. The expression amply conveys the horror of the awesome scene in which people and stones are consumed by fire.

Friday, July 07, 2006

To Whom Praise is Due

Commentary by Sayyid Qutb


In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Your Lord creates and chooses whatever He pleases. Never can they have such choice. Limitless is God in His glory and exalted is He above all those they associate with Him as partners.
And your Lord knows all that their hearts conceal and all that they bring out into the open. He is God, other than whom there is no deity. To Him all praise is due at the first and at the last; with Him rests all judgment, and to Him you shall all return. (The Story, Al-Qasas: 28: 68-70)
The surah approaches the end of its comments on an important event that took place when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was still preaching his message in Makkah where its people put up stiff resistance to it. This took place when a Christian delegation including a number of priests arrived in Makkah to check on the Prophet and what he preached. When they met him and listened to the Qur’an, it did not take them long to declare their submission to God and their belief in the truth of Islam. The surah comments on this story and answers the absurd fears of the unbelievers who claimed that should they follow them, they would be run over by other powers of unfaith. The surah told them where real security lied.
The surah then makes it clear that everything is subject to God’s will and His choice. It is He who creates and knows everything. To Him all matters of this life and the life to come are referred. All praise belongs to Him and His is the judgment on anything in this life. For to Him is the eventual return. They cannot choose for themselves or for anyone else. It is God who creates and chooses what He pleases:
“Your Lord creates and chooses whatever He pleases. Never can they have such choice. Limitless is God in His glory and exalted is He above all those they associate with Him as partners. And your Lord knows all that their hearts conceal and all that they bring out into the open. He is God, other than whom there is no deity. To Him all praise is due at the first and at the last; with Him rests all judgment, and to Him you shall all return.” (Verses 68-70)
These verses are stated by way of comment on those that precede them. Verses wherein the unbelievers state their fear about losing their land should they accept the guidance the Prophet presents, and concluding with their position on the Day of Judgment when they face the reckoning and have to answer for their idolatry and erring ways. These comments clearly state that they do not have a choice between security and fear. They also re-emphasize God’s oneness and that all matters are returned to Him.
“Your Lord creates and chooses whatever He pleases.” (Verse 68) This is a fact people often forget or overlook. Indeed, God creates what He is pleased to create. No one can suggest anything to Him, whether an increase or decrease in His creation. No one can introduce any amendment or modification on what He creates. He is the One who chooses whatever and whomever He pleases for the fulfillment of the functions, actions and duties He determines. No one can suggest to Him any candidate, or course of action to follow. None can propose to Him any statement or move. “Never can they have such choice,” whether in what relates to themselves or to anyone else. Everything large or small belongs to God alone.
If only this fact were established in people’s minds and hearts, they would never feel frustrated. They would neither be elated with anything they receive nor be distressed by anything they miss out on. The choice is not theirs to make; it is God who chooses.
However, this does not mean that they should stop thinking or acting as they wish. It simply means that they should accept what happens after they have done their best to consider, reflect, plan and act. They should accept it willingly. All they have to do is their utmost, leaving the results to God.
The unbelievers used to allege that God had partners when God alone is the Creator who chooses everything. He has no partner who has any share in His creation or in what He chooses: “Limitless is God in His glory and exalted is He above all those they associate with Him as partners.” (Verse 68)
“And your Lord knows all that their hearts conceal and all that they bring out into the open.” (Verse 69) He requites them according to what He knows of their situation, choosing for them what they deserve, be it truth or error.
“He is God, other than whom there is no deity.” (Verse 70) No partner does He have either in His creation or His choice. “To Him all praise is due at the first and at the last.” (Verse 70) Praise is due to Him for His choices, blessings, wisdom, planning, justice, grace and mercy. He alone deserves all praise. “With Him rests all judgment.” (Verse 70) His judgment is passed on all His servants, with none able to change any part of what He judges. “And to Him you shall all return.” (Verse 70) He then makes His final judgment on all.
Thus the surah gives us a feeling that God’s overpowering will is supreme throughout the universe. He is fully aware of everyone’s situation, whether hidden or open. Nothing is hidden from Him. To Him all shall return. How can they, then, associate partners with Him when they are under His control?