II.THE VIEWS OF RICHARD BELL

CHAPTER  V

THE ORIENTALISTS ON THE QUR’ANIC WAHY:

II. THE VIEWS OF RICHARD BELL

I. SuMMARY OF BELL’s AssuMPTIONS

Bell put forth his views mainly in a series of two articles published in two consecutive issues of the Moslem World for 19341• In them he advanced the following suggestions:

(a) That the traditions regarding the coming of wai!J are inventions of a later age and are founded upon the Qur’anic passage 53:1-18.

(b) That before he “encountered” the “visions” in the above mentioned passage the Prophet had been “speaking” in some manner but had not started delivering or composing the Qur’an.

(c) That the term wahy does not mean verbal communication of the text of the Qur’an but “suggestions”, “prompting” or “inspiration” to “compose” the Qur’an.

(d) That according to the passage 53:1-18 the Prophet claimed to have seen Allah; but as he became better informed and also met with objections he mystified and introduced modifying verses in it giving the impression of a “spiritual vision”.

(e) That as he subsequently became aware of the existence of angels he reasserted in surah 81 ( ai-Takwir) that he had seen the angel messenger on the clear horizon; and

(f) That  still  more  subsequently,  at  Madina,  he  introduced  Jibril  as  the conveyer of wahy.

It is to be hoted that with the exception of the suggestions at (a) and (c) the other suggestions are merely a repetition of Muir’s and Margoliouth’s views discussed in the previous chapter. Thus the suggestion at (b), namely, that the Prophet had been “speaking” in some manner before delivering the Qur’an is a reiteration of what Muir says about the Prophet’s pre-wa0′ or pre-Qur’an deliverances,2 Similarly the suggestions at (d), (e) and (f) are an elaboration of Margoliouth’s assumptions that the Prophet initially claimed to have seen Allah and that subsequently he modified this by saying that an angel had delivered to him the text and that still more subsequently at Madina the angel Jibril was

.

1 RICHARD BELL, “Mohammed’s call”, Tbe Moslem World, January, 1934, pp. 13-19 and “Mohammed’s visions”, Ibid., April, 1934, pp. 145-154. The term “Moslem” has subsequently been modified into “Muslim” in the title of the journal.

2 Supra, pp. 94-97.

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introduced as the conveyer of wahy. Let us now consider the suggestions one by one.

II. CONCERNING THE TRADITIONS ABOUT THE COMING OF WAHY

Bell’s reasons for discounting the traditions concerning the coming of wahy are four. (i) He says that ‘A’ishah (r.a.), the original authority for the traditions, “was not born at the time of the Call, and could at best have got the story” from the Prophet himself and that much has subsequently “been attributed to her which she probably never said. “1

(ii) The story as it has come down to us “in the earliest form” in Ibn Ishaq’s/Ibn Hisham’s work makes ‘A’ishah (r.a.) responsible only for “the first part of it, viz., that the Messenger of Allah began by seeing true visions in sleep; that they came to him like the dawn of the morning, and that he began to love solitude. The rest of the story is given on quite a different, and far less reliable isnad.2 

(iii) The statement that taf;annuth (the solitary stay and contemplation at Hira’) was a pre-Islamic Quraysh practice, as mentioned in Ibn Ishaq’s work, is not correct. The “ascetic note in such a practice was entirely alien to Mohammed’s nature” and the “accompanying fasts” have no support in the Qur’:in. “Fasting was not introduced till the Madinan period, and then as an imitation of Jewish practice.”3 (iv) The expression Namus, derived from the Greek term nomos and meaning Jewish law, could not have been used by Waraqah ibn Nawfal in his reported conversation with the Prophet; for the Qur’an does not contain the expression, and, says Bell, as the Prophet was fond of “borrowing religious technical terms it was to be expected that, if he had known this word he would have used it, especially ifWaraqa had used it at such a momentous point in his life.” Hence the “whole story is the invention of a later age. “4

Clearly, Bell seeks to cast doubt on the tradition about the coming of wal{y as given even in Ibn Ish:iq’s work with a view to proving that the account of the angel Jibril’s coming with the wal;y to the Prophet is not reliable. His main hypothesis (i. e. at iv) that the term Namus could not have been used by Waraqah and the Prophet at that time and that the “whole story is an invention of a later age” calls for a substantiation of three other hypotheses before it could be adduced as a valid argument. These hypotheses are :

(a) that the Prophet himself composed the Qur’an;

(b) that he was fond of borrowing foreign religious technical terms and

(c) that all unfamiliar terms (ghara’ib) occurring in the hadith

1 The Moslem World, January, 1934, p. 14.

2 Ibid.

Ibid., 16.

4 Ibid.

112 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS

literature should invariably be found in the Qur’an. Needless to say, none of these hypotheses is an established fact. Particularly the crux of the whole argumentation, that the Prophet himself composed the Qur’an, is the very point at issue and it should not therefore be first assumed as a fact and then that should not be made a point to prove that very fact.

Bell here seems merely to depend upon A. Jeffery’s suggestion. 1 In fact this very argument about Namus rebounds on Bell’s own argument and destroys his thesis that the particular traditions about the coming of wab to the Prophet are inventions of a later age. If, as Bell says, the word Namus is of Greek origin meaning Jewish law and if the Prophet (or any one else) had fabricated the story when the alleged initial claim of the Prophet’s having seen Allah had been allegedly modified and consequently the angel had been introduced as the conveyer of waby, he would definitely have used the term angel or Jibril in the story instead of the admittedly unfamiliar and, according to the meaning suggested, rather incongruous expression Namus in it. Thus, according to Bell’s own reasoning, the word Namus, since it is used in the tradition, could not, even if Greek in origin, have meant Jewish law; for it is well-known that words of foreign origin change meanings in the process of adoption and naturalization in another language. The very fact of the use of the word in the tradition in question as an expression of Waraqah’s is a decisive evidence of the genuineness of the account.

As regards Bell’s argument at (i), namely, that ‘A’ishah (r.a.) received the account from the Prophet, it is of course true that she did so. It is also likely that something might have been subsequently given out in her name which she probably had never said. But this probability only calls for a more careful examination of the isnad rather than for treating all traditions emanating from her as suspect. Bell is also wrong in seeking to discredit the story on the ground that ta~annuth was not a pre-Islamic Quraysh practice as given out in the version of the report given in Ibn Ish:iq’s work, nor was fasting, which is said to have accompanied it, introduced till at Madina. Now, without discussing whether fasting was not known in Pre-Islamic Arabia or whether it was introduced in imitation of the Jews, it may be pointed out that ‘A’ishah’s (r.a.) report about tabannuth, as given in Bukhdri, does neither mention that it was a pre-Islamic Quraysh practice nor does it make any allusion to fasting being a necessary part of it. It is also to be noted that the reporters in Ibn Isl;l:iq’s work do not claim to

1 A. JEFFERY, Tbe Foreign Vocabulary of tbe Koran, Baroda, 1938. Bell must have seen the work before its publication, as he had seen Jeffery’s other work before its publication.

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have received their account from her. Thus Bell’s argument here suffers from a dual methodological fault. He seeks to discredit her account in general on the basis of statements that are nowhere claimed to have been made by her; and he bases his conclusion on the statements that he himself acknowledges to have come down on a “far less reliable isnad.”.

Again, Bell seems to admit the genuineness of the very first part of ‘A’ishah’s (r.a.) report as reproduced in Ibn Ishaq’s work because, according to Bell, it is found here “in the earliest form”. It says, as Bell puts it, “that the Messenger of Allah began by seeing true visions in his sleep; that came to him like the dawn of the morning, and that he began to love solitude.” 1 Bell emphasizes that this earliest version does not make her responsible for anything more than that. It is to be noted that Bell is not quite correct in translating the expression al-ru’ya al-sadiqah here as “true visions”. Its correct meaning is “True dreams”, for ru’ya in sleep means dreams, not visions. He is also not quite right in translating the expression (~1 JlA5′ …::..>~\.>.. ja’at kafalaq al-[ubl;) as “they came like the dawn of the morning”. Its correct sense is “they came true like the dawn of the morning”. Be that as it may, two things need to be specially noted about this statement. First, it is obviously part of the story, not the whole of it; for ‘A’ishah (r.a.) could not have stopped abruptly without indicating what the Prophet did or what happened to him after he had began to love solitude. She must have said something in continuation and completion of the story. Second, whatever the nature of the ru’ya in sleep, there is no hint here at the appearance of any entity before the Prophet at that stage. Nor does Bell seem to take what he translates as “visions” to be the ones which he assumes are “recounted” in the Qur’anic passage 53:1-18; for if it was a question of only a “vision” in sleep, i.e., dream, no one would have bothered to controvert or discredit it, for anyone can experience any sort of unusual dream in sleep. Clearly the “vision” which is supposed to have caused the controversy leading to its supposed clarification in the passage 53:1-18 must have been different from the dreams (visions) in sleep and it must have taken place before its alleged “recounting” in the above mentioned passage. The question that naturally arises is: How and when did the Prophet have that experience which he gave out to the people and which elicited criticisms, thereby making it necessary for him to “recount” and clarify it in the passage in question. Bell does not of course ask himself this question; but the part of ‘A’ishah’s (r.a.) report quoted in

I M.W, 1934, p. 14.

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Ibn Ishaq’s work and Bell’s own theory both indicate that something remains to be said in completion of the story. That something is in fact related in A’ishah’s (r.a.) report which is given in full and correctly in Bukhari but it is given in Ibn Ishaq’s work in a different and less reliable form, by a different group of narrators who have at least the honesty of not citing ‘A’ishah (r.a.) as the authority for their version of the account.

While rejecting the story about tabannuth and the Prophet’s conversation with Waraqah, Bell does not elsewhere rule out the possibility of the Prophet’s contact with the latter and such other people with a knowledge of Christianity and its scripture. Indeed, such contacts are implicit throughout Bell’s other thesis, The Origin of Islam in its Christian Environment. 1 Be that as it may, even in the present instance he implies that the Prophet had given out his initial experience at the outset of his career; for, if he had not, there would have been no need for “recounting” it. Therefore the question arises: To whom could the Prophet have first disclosed his experience, if not to such persons as his wife Khadijah (r.a.) and their relative Waraqah who, by all accounts, were the most likely ones to listen to him with sympathy and attention? Taf.Jannuth, the experience at Hira’ and the

subsequent conversation with Waraqah, which are the two most important items in ‘A’ishah’s (r.a.) report, thus appear to be just in the nature of things and are moreover in accord with Bell’s own lines of argument.

III. THE ASSUMPTION OF PRE-QUR’AN DELIVERANCES

As regards the second assumption that prior to his recounting the “visions” in the passage 53:1-18 the Prophet had been “speaking” in “some manner” but had not started delivering or “composing” the Qur’an , Bell advances three arguments.

(i) The word yantiqu (~) in the passage (‘qyah 3) “is a general one and is not elsewhere associated with the recitation of the Qur’an”.

(ii) The word “Qur’an” is derived from the Syriac qerydnd. Hence the idea of supplying a Qur’an “was suggested by the scripture readings of the Christian Church”. Therefore the Prophet “had gathered some sort of a congregation before he set about supplying them with “readings”.

(iii) The word ‘awbd used in ‘ayah 4 of the passage does not “necessarily imply the communication of the words of the Qur’an.” 2 Also, the various uses of the word wahy in the Qur’an show that it means “suggestion”, “prompting” or “inspiration”.3

1 London, 1926.

2 M. W., 1934, p. 146.

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Now,  the  last  argument  (i.  e.  iii)  relates  mainly  to the  third  of  Bell’s assumptions mentioned above, namely, the nature of wahy in the Qur’an. Hence this argument will be dealt with along with his assumptions about wahy in general at the end of this chapter. Before that his other arguments and assumptions are discussed one by one.

As regards Bell’s argument (i), namely, that initially the Prophet had been only “speaking” in some manner and not delivering the Qur’an and that he commenced delivering the Qur’an only when he gathered a sort of a congregation, it is simply a reiteration of Muir’s assumption noticed earlier. The faults in that assumption have already been noted. 2 So far as Bell’s addition to the argument in this connection is concerned, it may be noted that he puts a very narrow and rather misleading construction on the expression yanfiqu occurring in 53:3, divorcing the word from the whole context of the passage and the situation in which it was given out. The unmistakable purport of the passage is to contradict the unbelievers’ objection to the effect that what the Prophet had been giving out to them was not Allah’s words but the Prophet’s own. In reply to that objection it is stated that the Prophet “does not speak out of his own whim; it is nothing but a divine .communication (wahy) delivered (to him).” The expression here is ma yan(iqu (he does not speak), not simply yan(iqu (he speaks). It is thus just the appropriate phrase in that context. It is not used simply in the general sense of “speaking”, as Bell would have us believe, and it does not imply that the Prophet had been “only speaking in some manner”. It implies that the Prophet had been claiming his deliverances to be Allah’s communications, that the unbelievers’ were objecting to that claim and that the passage therefore rebuts that objection by categorically asserting that the Prophet did not speak out of his own mind and imagination – it was no statement of his own, born out of his whims, but wahy (divine communication) delivered to him. Bell totally misconstrues the expression divorcing it from the context of the passage. If the Prophet had not claimed that what he was giving out was Allah’s words, the Qur’an, there would have been no reason for the unbelievers’ raising any objection to his claim and therefore no need for a rejoinder to that objection, as the passage in question admittedly is.

Bell is somewhat confusing and self-contradictory in his statement in this connection. He says with regard to the supposedly pre-Qur’an deliverances that

I Ibid., 147, 148.

2 Supra, pp. 94-97.

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wahy  does not mean the verbal communication of the text of a revelation, but it means a ‘suggestion’, ‘prompting’ or ‘inspiration’ coming into a person’s mind from outside himself. “1 He further says that the Prophet had, before the delivery of the passage in question, been only speaking “by wahy, by suggestion from a heavenly person” whom he had seen.2 Obviously Bell makes these statements to avoid the implication of the assertion in the passage that what the Prophet was giving out was not his speech but wahy delivered to him. Bell is thus forced to give an interpretation of the term wahy in relation to what he calls pre-Qur’an deliverances. But this interpretation of Bell’s in effect eliminates the distinction between what is called the pre-Qur’an deliverances and the deliverances constituting the Qur’an. Bell is thus both confusing and self-contradictory. He himself in effect nullifies his assumption of pre-Qur’an deliverances by the Prophet.

As regards Bell’s other assumption that the Prophet got the idea of delivering a Qur’an (reading) from the scripture readings in the Christian church and that he thought of producing such “readings” only when he had already gathered a sort of a congregation round him, it is simply an absurd proposition inspired obviously by the similarly absurd assumption of Muir’s that by his pre-wahy or pre-Qur’an utterances the Prophet had already gathered a band of followers when he thought of standing forth as a Prophet and speaking in the name of God. 3 And the same objections apply in Bell’s case as well. It is simply unreasonable to think that any group of persons would become the Prophet’s followers unless they were convinced of the truth of his position as a divinely commissioned teacher and of his utterances in relation to his teachings as divine communications. Moreover, if the Prophet got the idea of congregational “readings” from the scripture readings in the Christian church, it does not necessarily follow that he waited till he gathered a band round him. Intelligent and careful as he was by all accounts, he would have started his mission by having a set of readings ready at hand!

Lastly, Bell’s statement that prior to his “recounting” of the “vision” in the passage 53:1-18 the Prophet had been only speaking in some manner implies that the passage 53:1-18 is the earliest and the first passage that was revealed of the Qur’an. That proposition, however, is simply wrong. It is neither supported by the sources, in spite of differences in the reports regarding the order of

M.W, 1934, P· 148.

2Ibid.

Supra, pp. 94-97.

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revelations, nor is it admitted by the orientalists themselves. Even Bell does not appear to strictly hold that view; and he in effect contradicts himself a little earlier when he says: “If Mohammed was commissioned to produce a Koran (recitation), then the command ‘iqra’ (recite) would naturally come first. This argument may even now appeal to a critical mind, and indeed most European scholars have accepted the passage as the earliest. “1 Thus does Bell in effect say that before the delivery of the passage 53:1-18 the ‘iqra’passage of the Qur’an had been revealed. Muhammad (p.b.h.) had thus not just been speaking in some manner, but delivering the Qur’an before the so-called “recounting” of the “vision” in 53:1-18.

IV. BELL1S ASSUMPTION ABOUT THE VISION OF GOD

As regards Bell’s assumption that in the passage 53:1-18 (sural al-Najm) the Prophet initially claimed to have seen Allah, it is an elaboration of Margoliouth’s assumption and is based totally upon a wrong interpretation of the passage. The meaning and implication of the passage have been noted earlier.2 Here Bell’s arguments and observations are taken into consideration.

Bell translates ‘ayah 4 of the passage ( ‘allamahu shadfd al-quwa) as: “There taught him (or it) one strong in power.” The plain translation of the ‘ayah should be: “One strong in power taught him.” There is nothing in the ‘ayah to warrant the insertion of the word “there” at the beginning of the sentence; for the description of what he calls the “vision” come after two more ‘ayahs, i.e., in ‘ayahs 7-9. Bell’s main argument, however, centres round ‘ayah 10 of the passage which runs as: fa ‘awpa ‘ila ‘abdihi ma ‘awpa. He rejects what he calls the Muslim commentators’ view that the subject of the verb ‘awhd is Jibril while the pronoun in ‘abdihi is Allah, saying that it is an unnatural use of language. He admits that Allah is indeed the pronoun in ‘abdihi and then says that “this involves that Allah is also the subject of the verb and in fact is being spoken of all through.” 3

It needs only to be pointed out here that unlike in English, in Arabic pronouns do not always relate to the immediate antecedent, nor is the same subject assumed in the cases of all the verbs in a single sentence. Instances of such use of pronouns are abundant even in modern Arabic. Even in English this particular grammatical rule is not always strictly observed and the meaning of an expression can be properly understood only with reference to the context and with a

I M.W, 1934, p.17. 2 Supra, 106-110.

‘ M. W, 1034, 148-149.

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background  knowledge  of the  facts. 1  So  far  as  Arabic is  concerned,  however, there would be no unnatural use of language if there is one pronoun for the verb ‘awf;d in the ‘ayah in question and another pronoun for the expression ‘abdihi in it. There are many instances in the Qur’an of such use of different implied pronouns in different verbs in a single sentence.

In fact the nature of the entity spoken of should be understood primarily on the basis of its description in ‘ayahs 5-9, and not so much on the basis of ‘ayah 10 alone. It is described in ‘ayahs 5-6 as “one strong in power” and “endowed with wisdom (or mental and physical fitness)”. Bell himself acknowledges that the term mirrah in ‘ayah 6 is taken to mean fitness either of figure or of intellect.2 These adjectives are clearly relative in nature and can by no stretch of the imagination be taken as attributes of Allah. Nowhere in the Qur’an is God described in such terms and by such attributes. On the other hand, angels are described, among others, by the adjective shadid and its plural shidda.3 Thus, even if the traditions on the subject are not brought in to bear on the passage, its internal evidence decisively militates against any assumption that the entity spoken of is Allah. On the contrary, keeping the descriptive phrases in mind and relating this description to ‘ayah 18 of the same surah which speaks of what is seen as “one of the greatest signs of his Lord”, and not the Lord Himself, the unavoidable meaning is that the entity spoken of is the angel. This is further clear from the Qur’anic passage 81:19-27 which should be taken into consideration in this connection and which speaks of the entity as a “noble messenger”, besides describing him as one “possessing power” (dht quwwah). Bell of course suggests that ‘ayah 18 of sural ai-Najm and the passage 81:19-27, and the angel Jibril, are all subsequent introductions. But the grounds on which these assumptions are made, as will be seen presently, are all untenable.

Bell seeks to support his assumption by suggesting that the Prophet, having claimed that he had seen Allah, subsequently realized the mistake and also faced objections to it. As evidence of this supposed “uneasiness” and “objections” Bell cites 17:60[62] which reads, in Bell’s translation: “We appointed the vision which We showed thee simply as a test for the people.”Bell argues that this ‘ayah refers

1 See for instance this statement: “Perhaps his [Al-Zubayr’s] relationship to Khadijah through his father and to Muhammad through his mother made conversion easy.” (Watt, M. at M., 92) One not knowing the facts might take the last “his” in the sentence to refer to the immediate antecedent, Muhammad (p.b.h.), and the “mother” spoken of to be his rather than Al-Zubayr’s, but it is the latter which is meant here.

2 M. W, 1934, p. 145, n.4.

3 Q. 66:6 and 72:8.
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not to isra’ and mi’raj alluded to in 17:1, as the Muslim commentators hold, but to the “vision” narrated in surat ai-Najm; for, according to him, 17:1 does not speak of any “vision”.1 This argument of Bell’s is, however, not at all tenable; for 17:1 does speak of a vision and also qualifies it as a vision of some of the “signs” of Allah – li nurfyahu min ‘ayatina- “in order that We might show him some of Our signs”. Thus, the very argument on which Bell builds up his assumption of “uneasiness” and “objections” about the “vision” in surat ai-Najm is wrong.

Proceeding on the basis of these two faulty assumptions, namely, that in surah al-Najm the Prophet first claimed to have seen Allah and that there was “uneasiness” and “objections” about that claim, Bell suggests that the Prophet therefore subsequently modified his position; and this modification is noticeable in ‘qyahs 11-18 of the surah. Bell translates its ‘ayah 11 – ma kadhaba alfu ‘ad ma ra ‘a – as: “The heart did not falsify what it saw”, and says that the Prophet thus attempted to give the impression of a “spiritual appearance”2

Here again Bell makes a mistake about pronouns. The pronoun implicit in the verb ma ra’a is the Prophet, not “it”, i.e., the heart; for the simple reason that it does not make sense to say that the heart did not falsify, i.e., invent the vision, if the intention was to stress that it was only a mental vision. On the contrary, since the “vision” was very much corporeal it was emphasized that the heart did not “falsify” it, i.e., it was no mistaken impression, no mere imagination, no hallucination on his part about what he saw. Far from mystifying the “vision”, the statement here only emphasizes the reality of the experience. The pronoun in ma ra’a is thus the Prophet. That the experience was one of physical sight is indicated again in ‘ayah 13 which speaks of its happening at another “descent” and, further, in ‘ayah 17 which specifically mentions ba[ar, i.e., eye, as the instrument of the sight. Had the intention been to mystify and modify, neither the expression “another descent” nor ba[ar would have been mentioned in

connection with the so-called modifying statements. The alleged modification is totally groundless and the ‘ayahs 13, 17, and 18 do not at all modify anything.

Moreover, as already pointed out, the passage 53:1-18 should be interpreted in connection with 81:19-27 (surat ai-Takwir) which speaks of an “honourable messenger”, i.e., an angel, as the conveyer of wary. Bell suggests that this passage should not be allowed to influence the interpretation of 53:1-18. His reasons for this suggestion are:

(a) that it is not until the Madinan period that Jibril is

I M.W,l934,p.l51.

2 Ibid.

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mentioned in this connection and

(b) that when the Makkan unbelievers raised the objection, in Bell’s words, “that an angel should have been sent as messenger or that at least an angel should have been conjoined with him”, the Prophet’s reply was “not that an angel was actually conveying the message to him, but simply that all former messengers had been men, xvi:45, or that if an angel had been sent, that would have been the end of the matter, and there would have been no respite, vi:8.” 1 Bell further states that the “whole new world” of angels “opened up” to the Prophet much subsequently- “note the phrase in xxv:l, ‘He addeth in the creation what He pleaseth’ as indicating that the creatures there spoken of were new to Muhammad.”2 Thus arguing, Bell concludes that “the angel messenger of surah lxxxi must be later than the description of the visions in surah liii, and should not be allowed to influence its interpretation. “3

Now, Bell is very much wrong in all his assumptions here, namely,

(a) that the Prophet became aware of the existence of angels at a later date than his utterance of surah al-Najm;

(b) the assumption about the nature of the Makkan unbelievers’ demand for an angel messenger and

(c) the assumption that Jibril was mentioned as conveyer of wahy only at Madina.

As regards the first assumption it is decisively disproved by the very argument which Bell himself adduces to support his thesis. The fact that the Makkans asked for an angel messenger or an angel coadjutor with the Prophet shows that the Makkan unbelievers, not to speak of the Prophet himself, were very much aware of the existence of angels. In fact, at three places in surah al-Najm itself the unbelievers’ misconception about angels are corrected. Thus ‘ayah 21 points out their mistake in thinking that angels are Allah’s daughters. 4 ‘Ayah 26 says that there are indeed many angels in the heaven but their intercession would be of no avail to anyone except with Allah’s leave and pleasure;5 and ‘ayah 27 states that “those who believe not in the hereafter name the angels with female names.6 There are a large number of early Makkan passages in the Qur’an showing that knowledge about the existence of angels had been fairly common in Arabia, particularly at Makka, since pre-Islamic times. 7 Hence, nothing could be farther

I M.W,1934,p.149.

2Ibid., 154.

Ibid., p.150.

4The text runs thus: ._;;’-!• .J ) .?.i.JI ~~

5The text runs thus: ~ .r.J ,!..!., .:r-J.JJI .;,;~ .;,!

.»., ~ ‘JI “‘-‘(‘”Pl.c..>f'” ‘J “-”)L…..JI J ..!.lJ.. ~ r5″)

‘The text runs thus: ._;;’-!1..,…_, .S:.”JW1 0 _,…-,1

i _,…’:It; 0 r  y. ‘J .:r..i.ll 01

7See for instance Q. 69:17; 70:4; 74:31; 89:22 and 97:4 out of some fifty such passages.

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121

from the truth and more misleading than the assertion that the existence of angels dawned on Muhammad (p.b.h.) at a later stage of his career.

Similarly Bell misconstrues the passages 16:45 and 6:8 which relate to the unbelievers’ demand for an angel to be sent as messenger to them and the replies given to that demand. It should be noted that these two are not the only passages in the Qur’an dealing with the matter. There are at least ten more such passages relating to it. 1 These passages do in no way suggest that the Prophet was avoiding the question whether there were angels or not, nor whether an angel had brought to him Allah’s word. A cursory glance at these passages would make it unmistakably clear that the unbelievers’ demand arose out of a two-fold attitude on their part. They refused to believe that a human being like themselves could have been a messenger of Allah. They also sought to discredit the Prophet by saying in effect that if indeed an angel had delivered Allah’s word to him, why not an angel instead was sent to them as His messenger or at least as a co-warner with him. It may also be noted that the Makkan unbelievers could not by themselves have conceived the idea of an angel messenger being sent to them; for , hitherto they only imagined that angels were Allah’s daughters and that their primary function, as Allah’s favoured ones, was to intercede with Him on behalf of human beings. The idea that an angel could be sent as Allah’s messenger therefore appears to have dawned on them only when the Prophet had made the claim that an angel had actually delivered to him Allah’s words. At any rate, their demand was clearly a counter-claim arising out of what the Prophet had asserted.

The nature of the unbelievers’ objection and challenge may be gleaned from 15:6-7 (surat al-If.ijr) and 25:7 (surat al-Furqan). They run respectively as follows:

.~~L.dl .:r ..:-S 01 .s:J’)\…)~ t.:,;G t.. _,J . 0 p:…J -!.11 _?lll ~ J; <_.>lll

4-!l ~ l_,lt:t J

“And they say: ‘0 the one on whom the text has been sent down! Truly you are mad. Why not bring to us the angels, if you are of the truthful?” (15:6-7)

I.1-..L …_. 0 .N ..!)..L. ,YI J;! ~ _,J  Jlr” ty1 .j ~ J iw.JI j)~ j>. )I 1-4J \.. l_,lt:t J

“And they say: ‘What sort of a messenger is this, who eats food and walks in the markets? Why has not an angel been sent down to him to be a warner along with him?” (25:7)

While the second passage shows that the unbelievers could not persuade themselves that a human being could be Allah’s messenger, the first passage illustrates the retorting nature of their demand. The form of the unbelievers’ address in the first passage, “0 the one on whom the text has been sent down”, is very significant. It in no way suggests that they believed in it. It is only a taunting

1 See for instance Q. 6:111; 6:158; 15:7-8; 16:33; 17:95; 23:24; 25:7; 25:21-22; 41:14; 43:53.

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repetition of what they were told, namely, that Allah’s word had been “sent down” to him. 1 The phrase ntfijila (has been sent down) implies that some intermediary had been mentioned as the conveyer of the text. This is further clear from the succeeding ‘ayah 15:7 which demands of the Prophet to produce the angels if he was “truthful”, that is, if he had spoken the truth in stating that an angel had delivered to him the divine text. The form of the Prophet’s claim is discernible from the nature of the retort itself. Surely the unbelievers could not have asked for the angels to be produced before them if the Prophet had stated to them that he had received the text directly from Allah. Thus the very question which Bell raises and the Qur’anic passages relating to them decisively disprove both the assumptions that the Prophet had initially claimed to have received the text directly from Allah and that he became aware of the existence of angels only at a subsequent stage of his career.

Again, while noticing two of the replies given to the unbelievers’ demand, Bell does not mention the other very pertinent reply stated in the ‘ayah immediately following the one he cites, namely, 6:9. This ‘ayah points out that were an angel sent to them he would still have been sent in the form of a human being and in that case they would have been in no less confusion. The folly in their demand is further pointed out in 17:95 where it is stated that had the earth been inhabited by angels walking about there in peace and quietness, certainly an angel would have been sent as a messenger. In all these passages the objection which is being combated is not whether angels did exist or not but, if an angel did really deliver Allah’s word to Muhammad (p.b.h.), why did one not physically appear before them as Allah’s messenger or at least as co-messenger with him? In other words, why did Muhammad (p.b.h.) not ask the angel to come up to vouchsafe for him before his people?

Thus, the suggestion that the Prophet had initially claimed to have seen Allah because he was unaware of the existence of angels at that stage of his career and because the passage 53:1-18 contains indications of such a “vision” and its subsequent “modifications” is totally unwarranted and untenable. Before leaving this particular assumption, however, one more item in Bell’s argument may be noted. While maintaining that the traditions regarding the coming of wahy are later inventions Bell at the same time does not refrain from invoking Jabir ibn ‘Abd Allah’s report on the subject given in Bukhari- to support his assumption.

1See also Q. 38:8 which says: “””.J’.? .i.JI ._,!; J)!  –  “What! has the recit been sent down to him of all of us?”

2Bukhari, nos. 4992-4995.

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He says that J abir’s report implies “that the vision was one of Allah”, adding that as it is “contrary to orthodox sentiment”, it “must have come into existence before orthodox tradition was fixed. “1 Bell says so on the basis of the expression: Fa- ‘idhii huwa jdlis ‘ala kurs!J occurring in the report. He translates this expression as : “and there He was sitting upon the Throne” and argues that the “throne” is “appropriate” to Allah.2

Now, it needs to be pointed out only that the word kurs!J is in the indefinite form in the report in question, meaning “a chair”, and not in the definite form meaning “the Throne”, as Bell mistranslates it. There is thus no question of its being exclusively “appropriate” to Allah. It may further be noted that in two of the versions of the same report in Bukhari (i.e. nos. 4994 and 4995) it is specifically mentioned that the entity seen was “the very angel who had come to me at I;Iira”‘ (Fa ‘idhd al-malak alladi jd’ani bi-I;Iird). Bell is of course aware of this fact; but he attempts to explain it away by saying that Jibril was imported into the story “fairly early.”3 This is an unwarranted statement. He does not even explain what he means by “fairly early”. Does he mean to say that it had happened before this specific version of Jabir’s report came into existence? But even that would not resolve all the difficulty; for Jabir was an’ansari (helper, d. 74 H.) and came into contact with the Prophet after his migration to Madina. Jabir also specifically states that he received his information from the Prophet himself. Now, as Bell says that the Prophet had modified his initial account of the “vision” in view of the objections to it, which obviously took place at Makka, he could not have given an impression of having seen Allah to Jabir after having migrated to Madina. In fact none of the versions of Jabir’s report implies that the “vision” was one of Allah. Also Bell’s statements that the so-called “orthodox tradition” had been formed after Jabir’s report had come into existence and that Jibril was introduced “fairly early” in the story are somewhat self-contradictory and confusing; for, according to Bell’s own assumption the Prophet had supposedly modified his position before the migration. Hence there was no question of the so-called “orthodox tradition” having been formed subsequently to the coming into existence of J abir’s account. All the four forms of J abir’s report, taken together, clearly show that the entity seen was an angel, Jibril, not Allah.

M.W., 1934, 17-18.

2 Ibid

Ibid  18.

124 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS

V.  THE ASSUMPTION ABOUT JIBRIL

Bell’s fifth assumption, namely, that the passage 81:19-27 which speaks of a “noble messenger” as the conveyer of wahy was given out by the Prophet at a later stage of his career and therefore it should not be allowed to influence the interpretation of 53:1-18, has already been shown to be wrong; for the two props on which this assumption is made to stand, namely, that the Prophet was not initially aware of the existence of angels and that he avoided telling the unbelievers that an angel had delivered to him Allah’s words are totally wrong. The passage 81:19-27 should therefore be taken into consideration in interpreting the passage 53:1-18.

This brings us to the last item in the series of Bell’s assumptions, namely, that Jibril was introduced as the conveyer of wahy only at Madina. Now, it has been seen:

(1) that angels had been known to the Prophet and his contemporaries at Makka at least since the beginning of his mission;

(2) that they were spoken of as messengers between Allah and His Prophets;

(3) that it was specifically stated at Makka that a “noble messenger” had brought the divine text to the Prophet;

(4) that it was because of this claim that the Makkan unbelievers came forward with the counter-claim that an angel should have been sent as a messenger or joined as co-messenger with Muhammad (p.b.h.);

(5) that the traditions relating to the coming of waby and specifically mentioning Jibril as its conveyer are not later fabrications, as Bell supposes; and

(6) that even the Christians at Makka and elsewhere in Arabia believed and knew that Jibril was the angel who conveyed Allah’s revelation to His Prophets.

In view of all these proven facts it is just not reasonable to suppose that Jibril came to be known to the Prophet only after he had come over to Madina.

True, Jibril is mentioned by that very name only three times in the Qur’an and all these are Madinan passages, namely, 2:97, 2:98 and 66:4. Of these, it is only in 2:97 where that angel is spoken of as the conveyer of wahy. The wording of the passage clearly shows that it is a reply to objections raised about Jibril in some quarters and that some talk had already been going on before this ‘ayah was given out. In fact, all the reports regarding the occasion of revelation of this passage agree in stating that when the Jews at Madina came to know that the Prophet claimed that the angel Jibril brought revelations to him they expressed their

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antipathy towards that angel and said that had the Prophet said that the angel Mikhael was the conveyer of wa!!J they would have followed him (the Prophet). Thereupon this passage was revealed in reply to their objection. 1 The passage itself and its context as known from the reports do not in any way indicate that Jibril was being spoken of here for the first time as the conveyer of revelations.

Moreover, the fact that Jibril is spoken of by that very name in the Madinan passages only does not mean that there is no reference to him in the Makkan surahs. In fact, the expression rasul karim (a noble messenger) in 81:19 and shadid al-quwa (one strong in power) in 53:3 are taken by all commentators to mean the angel Jibril. It would even seem that the expression shadid al-quwa and the term Jibril are coterminous; for, according to one authority, Jibril is a compound word made up of Jabr and I~ meaning a “brave one of God” or “servant of God”. Jabr in Hebrew is Geber which means “a servant”, and II means “the mighty”, “the powerful”.2 Also the expression RUH~ al Quds (the spirit ofholiness) 3 in 16:102 and al-‘Amin (the trustworthy spirit) in 26:102 are unanimously taken by the commentators to refer to Jibril. It may also be noted that the term Namus occurring in the tradition means the trusted or the confidential angel. 4 Thus, both the Qur’an and the traditions, which should not be kept out of consideration, show that Jibril was mentioned as conveyer of waby from the very beginning of the Prophet’s mission.

VI. BELL’S CONCEPT OF WAI;fY

This brings us to Bell’s assumptions about the nature and implications of wa!!J. He points out some of the various senses in which the term waby and its derivatives are used in the Qur’an and on that basis asserts that the general meaning of the word is “suggestion”, “prompting” or “inspiration”. He then cites some of the instances of waby where Allah gave directive to His Prophets to do some particular things, such as to Nub. to build the ark, to Musa to set out with his people by night and to strike the rock with his staff and to MuQ.ammad (p.b.h.) to follow the religion of Ibrahim. On the basis of such instances Bell concludes that waf;y means God’s suggestions or promptings to His Prophets “for a pracuca.lline o f cond uct. “5

1 See for instance AI-‘fabari, Tajjlr, II, 36 and Ibn Kathir, Tajfir, I, 185-191.

2 William Geseneus, Hebrrw English Lexicon, cited in Malik Ghulam Farid, The Holy Qurdan English Tran.rlation and Commentary, Rabwah (Pakistan), 1969, p. 46, n.123.

‘  Not “Holy Spirit”, for the construction is murfd/mucfdf ‘ilaybi, not ,rifat-mmv!iif

•  See the term in the Usan a!- ‘Arab.
126 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS

Now, before taking up the meaning of waf?y in general and of Qur’anic wapy in particular, some general faults in Bell’s analysis may be pointed out. To begin with, when he argues that wapy means suggestions for a practical line of conduct, Bell does not go the whole way and does not explain how the suggestion or prompting, as he prefers to call it, could have been communicated to the Prophet. Also, if he had not been too inclined to use the terms “suggestions” and “prompting” he would have easily seen that the instances he cites are clearly God’s “commands” and directives to His Prophets, and not merely suggestions. These commands and directives for the practical conduct, it may be pointed out, constitute God’s words. The command ‘iqra’, which Bell admits to be the earliest passage of the Qur’an, is God’s word.

Bell seems to acknowledge this fact when he says that the “practical suggestions are indeed often formulated in direct speech” and that there are “cases in which the formula has reference to doctrine rather than to conduct.”2 Yet, he insists that these formulations are “always quite short, the sort of phrase…which might flash into a person’s mind after a consideration of a question, as the summing up of the matter. “3 One may only remark here that if in the ultimate analysis wapy means “the sort of phrase” which flashes into one’s mind after consideration of a question as the decision and summing up of the matter, then there is no need for importing God or any external being into the scene and no sense in adding, as Bell does a few lines further on, that wal!J means “suggestion”, “prompting” or “inspiration” which comes into a person’s mind apparently from outside himself. 4 The fact is that waqy, in its technical sense, does not mean suggestion, prompting or inspiration, nor a person’s intuition and conclusion after consideration of a matter, but divine communication to His Prophets and Messengers.

Continuing his analysis Bell says that wapy means, “at any rate in the early portions of the Qur’an”, not that it had been conveyed to the Prophet verbally, but “that the idea of composing a Qur’an” had been “suggested” to him. Bell next states that as the Prophet’s “theory of revelation developed” he “extended the signification of the word to cover the communication of long passages in verbal

I Ibid., 147.

2 Ibid.

Ibid.

4 Ibid., 148.
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form”; for “there are some passages in which this would be the natural implication”1 such as 11:40, 12:102. 18:27 and 20:45. 1 Thus would Bell appear to suggest that parts of the Qur’an are God’s verbal communications and parts are not so. But he would not really commit himself to that position; for having made the above statement he attempts to neutralize its effect by saying that the passages referred to “are probably fairly late, and in all of them it would be at least possible to avoid giving the word the sense of actual verbal communication. “2 Clearly, Bell here betrays his ultimate intention to “avoid”, by any means, “giving the word the sense of actual verbal communication”. One may only observe that it is of course possible to twist and “avoid” that sense, but that is “their natural implication”, as Bell admits, perhaps unguardedly.

It may also be noted in this connection that whenever a Qur’anic passage runs counter to his assumption Bell attempts to assign it a late date or an earlier one, as it suits his purpose. The passages cited are all Makkan. Even if for argument’s sake it is admitted that they are “probably fairly late”, Bell does not appear consistent in his assertion that as the Prophet’s theory of revelation developed he extended the signification of the word to cover verbal communication. For having said so he cites 42:50 (in fact 42:51) which says: “It is not for man that Allah speaks to him except by waf;y, or from behind a veil or He sends a messenger who communicates by His order what He wills … “3 And a little further on he states that in this passage “one almost sees Muhammad’s conception of how the revelation came to him, growing before our eyes … “4 Thus Bell would have us believe in the same breath that as the Prophet’s conception of waf;y developed he extended its meaning to cover verbal communication, and that at the same time he said that waf(y could not be verbal communication! The fact is that neither was the Prophet nor is the Qur’an so inconsistent. It is Bell himself who has misunderstood the sense of waf;y as given by the Qur’an. He has also misunderstood the meaning of the passage 12:51. It does in no way mean that wafty cannot be verbal communication; it merely describes the manner and methods of communicating Allah’s words to man. It would seem that as the passage says that Allah does not speak to man directly, i.e., face to face, Bell takes waf?y to means Allah’s “indirect speech” in the English grammatical sense!

1 Ibid. The italicization is mine.

2 Ibid.

3 The passage runs as follows: … ,w., Lo ~.r.’ ~_…..; J—” ;I yL…- ,I;; .:r ;It,.. J ~~ .o.lll ~ 0! _,..:.,)015′ Lo J

4 M.W.,1934,p.148.

128 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS

That Bell puts that English grammatical sense of “indirect speech” is further clear from what he observes next, saying that the passage 42:51 is a confession that the “direct speech of Allah in some of the Qur’anic passages where He speaks “in His proper person in the first person singular” is wrong. Bell writes: “There are still one or two passages in the Qur’an in which Allah is made to speak in His own proper person in the first person singular; c.f. li:56-58, lxxiv:11-15. If this direct speech of Allah to the Prophet was wrong, as the above passage seems to confess, how much more the claim to have actually seen Him.” 1

It should at once be pointed out that the passage 42:51 does not say that waf;y cannot be verbal communication; it does not confess that the statements in the Qur’an in “direct speech” of Allah (in the English grammatical sense) is wrong. Bell’s assumption throughout that the Qur’an is the Prophet’s own composition is wrong and it is the point at issue. Not only the “one or two passages” cited above by Bell, nor even those admitted by Bell to imply verbal communication, but the entire Qur’an, whether a passage is formulated in “direct speech” or in “indirect speech”, is verbal communication of Allah’s words. Also the assumption that the Prophet initially claimed to have seen Allah is wrong. It remains to see what actually is the signification of wa!!J glimpsed from the Qur’an itself and how and where Bell has erred in thinking that waf;y means “suggestion” or “inspiration”.

To anyone who has a knowledge of the Qur’an it should be obvious that Bell’s survey of the Qur’anic use of the word wab.J is not at all comprehensive, nor even objective. He has selected only such passages as he thinks would support his view that the word does not mean verbal communication of a text; for that is what he confessedly intends to “avoid” even where that sense is the “natural” one. Even then, the meanings he puts on the word do not appear to be adequate or appropriate in respect of all the instances he has cited. Thus, in the instances of wafo to the Prophets for what he calls practical lines of conduct the meaning of the term should be, as pointed out earlier, command or directive and not simply suggestion or prompting as such. Again, the ‘iqra’ passage, where of course the term wafo does not occur but which Bell himself acknowledges to be part of the Qur’anic waf;y, is a command, and not suggestion. More specifically, the waf(y to be given to the earth on the doomsday will not be a suggestion or prompting. Bell in fact commits a mistake in saying that the earth would be prompted to give up its dead- the meaning of the ‘qyahs 99:4-5 is: “On that day she shall speak out her

Ibid.

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affairs, because your Lord will waljy her.” Clearly the sense here is that Allah will command the earth, together with giving her the speaking power, to speak out her affairs. Waljy here bears this dual sense; for every one knows that the earth as it is at present has no speaking power, and no simple suggestion or prompting will make her speak. To give just one instance outside Bell’s survey. “That is some of the tidings of things unseen which We wa!J.y to you”, so runs 3:44. 1 Here the term wa!J.y clearly means the communication of some unseen (unknown) affair, and not at all suggestion or inspiration about some unknown affair. Thus the meanings suggest~d by Bell do not appropriately and adequately convey the sense of the term even in respect of the instances he has cited. If indeed a common English equivalent for wal;y must needs be found out, it should be “communication”, rather than suggestion, prompting, etc. This expression would probably fit in all the situations.

Since the word waljy is used in various senses in connection with different subjects and situations the proper course in understanding the sense of the term in relation to any particular subject is to examine the uses made of it in connection only with that subject. It is on that basis that in Islamic religious parlance the term wa!J.y is applied to Allah’s communications to His Prophets and Messengers. In other words, the technical meaning of wa!J.y, apart from its general meanings, is Allah’s communications to His Prophets and Messengers. And just like the English word ‘communication’, wab.J means both the act or process of communicating (i.e. as verb) and also that which is communicated (i.e., the subject matter). As such waljy may be of various types in accordance with the manners or processes of its communication, as well as in accordance with the nature of the subject which is communicated.

The passage 42:51 noticed above speaks about the manners or processes of the coming of wa!J.y to the Prophets. The ‘qyah mentions three ways in which Allah’s words are made to reach His chosen man, namely, (a) by means of wa!!J, (b) from behind the veil and (c) by sending a messenger (the angel Jibril) who “by His order communicates (yubi) what He wills”. It may be observed that the nature of the first category is not further elaborated here. Obviously it includes all the various processes besides the other two. An example of the second category is the famous incident of Allah’s speaking to Musa while remaining unseen. The third type is self-explanatory and is mentioned also in the New Testament.

1 Thetextrunsas: …. .!.\,11-,..y..,._,ojl,t,;I.J’.!.ll; SeealsoQ.l2:102.

130 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS

Similarly waf.!y may be of different types depending on the nature of the matter communicated. And of such various types according to subject-matter only one particular type of wa!!J forms the scripture, the Book or Recitation (Qur’an). Thus, when Musa was commanded to follow what is called a practical line of conduct, such as striking the rock with his staff, that was of course waf?y, but not the Torah. Only that which was specifically communicated as Torah was Torah. Likewise, of the various types of waf?y made to Mul;ammad (p.b.h.) only that which was communicated as Qur’an is Qur’an. And only this type is to be called the Qur’anic wa!!J. Hence, while each and every word of the Qur’an is undoubtedly wary, each and every wa!!J to Mul).ammad is not the Qur’an. There are many examples of non-Qur’anic waf.!y to him, such as f;adith qudsi, the information given him in dream about the nature of the place of his migration, etc.

It should be clear from the above that to understand the nature of Qur’anic waf.!y it is necessary to concentrate our attention upon such passages of the Qur’an as speak of its communication to the Prophet, and not upon all the passages where the term wa~ occurs in its general sense. If we did so, it would be seen that there are a number of such passages which, while speaking about the delivery of the Qur’an to the Prophet, also use the specific term waf!y. There are, however, a large number of passages which very much speak about the coming of the Qur’an to the Prophet but which do not employ the term wab.J. In fact, it is this latter group of passages that contain more significant expressions elucidating the nature of Qur’anic waf!y.

There are some forty passages in the Qur’an wherein the term wary occurs in connection with its coming to the Prophet. While in the majority of such passages there is no particular indication of the nature of Qur’anic wa!!J, there are at least a dozen of them that contain expressions explaining its nature. An examination of these passages yields the following facts:

(1) The Qur’anic waf.!y itself, and not anything else, which is to be recited/read out. Thus 13:30 states:

… ~I 1..:,>-} -,>.iJI ~ lp r-“i 4J.,j .y cl>- ..U ;;_.f J .!.ll:.L) .;.l.l£

“Thus have We sent you (as Messenger) among a people before whom (other) peoples have passed away, in order that you recite unto them that which We have wal;y-ied to you … “.

Here the clear implication is, it is that type of waf.!y which is to be read out. That means, it is in the form of a readable text and not simply a suggestion which is to be worked out and presented in the form of a reading material. And it is precisely

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131

because this type of wal;y is to be recited and read out, its other name is Qur’an, the Reading or Recitation.

(2) It is a scripture (Book) which is wa~-ied and which is to be recited. Thus,

18:27 states:

… .ul.KJ J…~.,-o ‘1 ~J yl:S’ ,y ..:.l,Ji

“And recite what I wafty to you of the Book of your Lord. No one can change His words … ”

Similarly 29:45 states:

… y\.::()1 ,y ..:.L,.ll )f L,. Jl

“Recite what I waf;y to you of the Book. … ”

Again, 35:31 states:

…. ~I Y’ y\.::()1 ,y ..:.l,Ji l.,>- Jf (,?.ill)

“And that which I have wafty-ied to you of the Book is the truth …. ”

Thus, what was communicated (wal;y-ied) to the Prophet was a Book, not that it was suggested to him to produce a Book. It is also noteworthy that the first passage in this series speaks of the Qur’anic waf!y as Allah’s “words” (kalimdkht), emphasizing that there is none to change His words.

(3) That which was waf!y-ied is a “Recitation – Qur’an”, and in a specific language. Thus, 42:7 states:

… l.:!_r lil~} ..:.L,.ll L.,..-} .;J.l£ )

“Thus have We wafty-ied to you a Qur’an (Recitation) in Arabic.

The same fact is stressed 12:2 where the term ‘a’!Jalnd (We have sent down), instead of ‘awqqynd (We have communicated) is used. Thus , it is a “Recitation” which had been wab-ied to the Prophet, not that he was wal;y-ied to produce a recitation.

(4) That the Prophet was first to listen to what was being wa~-ied to him, and not to hasten to repeating/reciting it before the completion of its communication. Thus 20:114 states:

… .,… )  ..:.L,.ll ~ 0! J.i ,y 01~ ;J~ ..}-.,.; ‘1 )

“And be not in haste with the Qur’an (Recitation) before its wab-ing is completed.”

(5) That the Qur’anic waf!y, and not simply the Qur’an as such, consists of narrations/ accounts. 12:3 thus states:

… 01~ }JI \.La. ..:.l,Ji l.,>-} ~ ~I ..:.,->”( ~ ~ ~

“We narrate unto you the best of narratives as we  wa!!J to you this Qur’an.”

132 THE QUR’AN AND THE ORIENTALISTS

Here “the best of narratives” is a description of the waf?y which is communicated as Qur\1n. Indeed the verbs naquf.fU (We narrate) and ‘awf?qynli (We waf(y) used in the passage are more or less coterminous.

(6) To the same effect are the passages that say that the Qur’anic waf.!y itself, not simply the Qur’an as such, consists of tidings/reports of events and affairs. Thus 11 :49 states:

.. . c.l,Ji 4>- j  ~I ~~ \ ,y -!.11′

“Those are the tidings of the unseen that We waf!y to you … ”

Similarly 12:102 states:

… c.l,Ji 4>- j  ~I ~~~ ,y ..!..lb

“That is one of the tidings of the unseen which We waf!y to you … ”

(7) Last but not least, it is specifically stressed that the Qur’an ·is no composition of the Prophet himself and that nothing could be a graver sin on his part than to give out as Allah’s words that which was not actually communicated to him as such. 6:93 states this very emphatically as follows:

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“And who could be a worse transgressor than the one who forges a lie against Allah or claims: ‘It has been waf!y-ied to me’, while nothing has been waf!y-ied to him, and the one who says: ‘I shall bring down the like of what Allah has sent down … ?”

In the passages cited above the word waf.!y has not been translated but left as it is, with the suffixes ‘ied’ or ‘ing’ to indicate the tense in English. The meaning should be clear from the context of the sentence. It should also be clear from the above mentioned passages that it is a description of the Qur’anic waf;y itself that

(a) it is some specific text which is to be recited,;

(b) that it is the Book which is communicated and which is Allah’s words (kalimlitiht);

(c) that it is communicated in Arabic language;

(d) that the Prophet is to listen to it carefully before hastening to repeat it; (e) that sometimes it consists of “narratives” and “reports” and (f) that it is no composition of the Prophet himself and that nothing could be a graver sin on his part than to compose a text and then give it out as one from Allah. All these facts unmistakably emphasize textual and verbal communication and not at all communication of ideas or thoughts nor what is called “suggestion, “prompting”, “inspiration”, “intuition”, etc.

These facts are drawn only from such passages as contain the term wal;y (in its various forms) in connection with the communication of the Qur’an to the Prophet. These are, however, very strongly supplemented and corroborated by a far larger number of passages dealing with the same subject but not using the

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term waf!y and showing clearly that the Qur’an was delivered to the Prophet verbatim and in the form of specific texts. These passages will be considered a litde later on in connection with the discussion on the views of Watt who, it will be seen, attempts in his own way merely to substantiate the views of

Bell. 1 It should be clear from the above, however, that Bell’s confusion and mistakes arise from:

(a) his having concentrated his attention on the general use of the term waqy in the Qur’an;

(b) his having failed to notice that the meanings he has suggested for the word do not properly convey its sense even in the cases he has cited (e.g., waf?y to the earth);

(c) his having made no distinction between the general sense and the technical sense of the term;

(d) his not having recognized the distinction between the Qur’anic waqy on the one hand and the other types of waqy to the Prophet, on the other;

(e) his not having taken proper account of even those passages that use the term waf!y in speaking about the transmission of the Qur’an to the Prophet, and, finally,

(f) his not having at all taken into consideration the vast number of passages that deal with the same subject without using the term waqy but employing a number of other expressions that very clearly and unequivocally elucidate the nature of Qur’anic waqy. In fine, it may once again be pointed out that one is of course free to believe or not to believe that the Qur’an is Allah’s words; but if one attempts to pronounce a judgement on its nat~re on the basis of the Qur’anic evidence, one must take into account the whole range of evidences and should not simply satisfy oneself with those that are not quite to the point and, further, should not twist or misinterpret, instead of admitting the “natural” sense of any expression or statement.

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12. Eid al-Ad.h.ā ( عِيْدُ اْلأضْحَى)

12. Eid al-Ad.h.ā ( عِيْدُ اْلأضْحَى)

Eid (‘Id) al-Ad.h.ā is also called ‘Id al-Qurbān, ‘Id al-Nah.r, meaning “the Sacrifice Feast” and al-‘Id al-Kabīr, “the Major Festival”.
The word qurbān is derived from qurbah ( قُرْبَة, nearness). The term qarīb (قَرِيْب , means “near” as well as “a relative”, a person who is near to us in blood relation. The word qurbān ( قُرْبَان) becomes noun (ism) and verbal noun (mas.dar) at the same time; the thing or the act of being near. People who are close to the king, such as his ministers and personal close friends are called his qarābīn (pl. of qurbān), his close associates (قََرَابِيْنُ الْمَلِكِ وَ وُزَرَاؤُه وَ جُلَسَاؤُهُ وَ خَاصَّتهُ) . Later in religious sense the term qurbān means مَا يُتَقَرَّبُ بِهِ إِلَى اللّهِ تَعَالَى مِنْ نُسُكٍ وَصَدَقَةٍ وَعَمَلٍ صَالِحٍ “acts by which make oneself near to Allah, such as living in piety, giving charity and doing good deeds.”). It is in this sense that the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said: الصَّلاَةُ قُرْبَانُ كُلٍّ تَقِيٍّ which means “The prayer (s.alāh) is the qurbān (act of nearness) for every taqī (pious person).” Then the term developed further and now becomes animals slaughtered as an act of making oneself closer to Allah.

The practice of qurbān, is a very old tradition. It goes back to the time of Prophet Adam (a.s.), when his two sons Qābīl (Cain) and Hābīl (Abel) both gave offerings. In the Qur’ān Allah said:
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آَدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ

مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الْآَخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ .

لَئِنْ بَسَطْتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِي مَا أَنَا بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِيَ إِلَيْكَ لِأَقْتُلَكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ .

إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَنْ تَبُوءَ بِإِثْمِي وَإِثْمِكَ فَتَكُونَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ وَذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ الظَّالِمِينَ . فَطَوَّعَتْ

لَهُ نَفْسُهُ قَتْلَ أَخِيهِ فَقَتَلَهُ فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ . فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ غُرَابًا يَبْحَثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ

لِيُرِيَهُ كَيْفَ يُوَارِي سَوْأَةَ أَخِيهِ قَالَ يَا وَيْلَتَا أَعَجَزْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِثْلَ

هَذَا الْغُرَابِ فَأُوَارِيَ سَوْأَةَ أَخِي فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ النَّادِمِينَ

(المائدة ٥ :٢٧-٣١)

“And convey unto them, setting forth

the truth, the story of the two sons of Adam – how

each offered a sacrifice, and it was accepted from one of

them whereas it was not accepted from the other. (And Cain)

said: “I will surely slay thee!” (Abel) replied: “Behold, God accepts only

from those who are conscious of Him. Even if thou lay thy hand on me

to slay me, I shall not lay my hand on thee to slay thee: behold, I fear

God, the Sustainer of all the worlds. I am willing, indeed, for thee to

bear (the burden of) all the sins ever done by me as well as of the sin

done by thee: (but) then thou wouldst be destined for the fire, since

that is the requital of evil-doers!” But the other’s passion drove him to

slaying his brother; and he slew him: and thus he became one of the

lost. Thereupon God sent forth a raven which scratched the earth, to

show him how he might conceal the nakedness of his brother’s body.

(And Cain) cried out: “Oh, woe is me! Am I then too

weak to do what this raven did, and to conceal the

nakedness of my brother’s body?”– and was

thereupon smitten with remorse.”

(Qur’ān: 5-27-31, Asad’s translation).

In the Genesis: 4 it is said that Cain, being a farmer, “brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord.” Abel, a shepherd, “brought the first lamb born to one of his sheep, killed it, and gave the best part of it as an offering.” Abel’s sacrifice was accepted while Cain’s sacrifice was rejected. 
How do we know that a sacrifice is accepted or rejected? After giving the sacrifice he prostrates praying to Allah that his sacrifice or offering will be accepted. If it is accepted, fire will come from the sky and burn it. If no fire, it means his offering is not accepted. As Qābīl’s offering was not accepted by Allah, he became jealous and furious, and therefore, killed his brother Hābīl, who was the first man killed.
It is said that in the past when a prophet wanted to sacrifice, he slaughtered an animal, such as a sheep, a cow or a camel, and then prayed to Allah. White light, smokeless and roaring fire would come from the sky and burned the sacrifice indicating that his offering was accepted. So, it was like lightning, burning but smokeless. To some prophets this was evidence of their prophethood.

This practice was later abrogated and replaced with other miracles. Time, condition and the people changed. The evidence of prophethood also changed to suit the condition of people. Prophet ‘Isā (Jesus) (a.s.) did not give sacrifice any longer, but healed the sick and revived the dead. This was one of the reasons the Jews rejected Prophet ‘Isā (Jesus) (a.s.). He did not give an offering which would be consumed by smokeless fire from heaven as a sign of his prophethood.

This is also the argument of the Jews of Madinah in rejecting Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) as a messenger of Allah. He did not make a sacrifice the way they expected him to do. Allah says about them as follows:
الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَهِدَ إِلَيْنَا أَلَّا نُؤْمِنَ لِرَسُولٍ

حَتَّى يَأْتِيَنَا بِقُرْبَانٍ تَأْكُلُهُ النَّارُ قُلْ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِنْ قَبْلِي بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَبِالَّذِي

قُلْتُمْ فَلِمَ قَتَلْتُمُوهُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ . فَإِنْ كَذَّبُوكَ فَقَدْ كُذِّبَ رُسُلٌ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ

جَاءُوا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَالْكِتَابِ الْمُنِيرِ.

(آل عمران ٣ :١٨٣-١٨٤)

“As for those who maintain,

‘Behold, God has bidden us not to believe

in any apostle unless he comes unto us with burnt

offerings’ – say [unto them, O Prophet]: ‘Even before

me there came unto you apostles with all evidence

of the truth, and with that whereof you

speak: why, then, did you slay them,

if what you say is true?'”

(Qur’ān 3:183-184, Asad).

This is a highlight of the background of the sacrifice in general. With regard to the Feast of Sacrifice celebrating today, this feast of sacrifice is a commemoration of the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham (a.s.) of the ram as dispensation from Allah, to release him from sacrificing his only son Ismā’īl. This happened before his other son Ish.āq (Isaac) was born. When he confirmed his obedience to Allah in carrying out His command, Gabriel came and brought a ram at the very last moment.
When Prophet Abraham (Ibrāhīm, a.s.) became old and still had no son, his wife Sarah permitted him to marry his servant Hajar. From Hajar, Ishmael (Ismā’īl) was born. The Old Testament said that Abraham was 86 years old at that time. (Genesis 16:16). Fourteen years later, when Abraham was 100 years old, Isaac (Ishāq) was born from Sarah. Before Ishaq was born Allah had ordered him to sacrifice his only son, namely, Ismācīl, instead of a ram as done by prophets before. As mentioned in the Qur’ān: 
وَقَالَ إِنِّي ذَاهِبٌ إِلَى رَبِّي سَيَهْدِينِ . رَبِّ هَبْ

لِي مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ . فَبَشَّرْنَاهُ بِغُلَامٍ حَلِيمٍ . فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ

قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّي أَرَى فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنِّي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَى قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ

مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ. فَلَمَّا أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ . وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَنْ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ .

قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ . إِنَّ هَذَا لَهُوَ الْبَلَاءُ الْمُبِينُ .

وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ . وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِي الْآَخِرِينَ . سَلَامٌ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ .

(الصّافات ٣٧ :٩٩-١٠٩)

“And (Abraham) said: ‘Verily, I shall

(leave this land and) go wherever my Sustainer

will guide me!’ (And he prayed:) ‘O my Sustainer! Bestow

upon me a gift of (a son who shall be) one of the righteous!’ –

whereupon We gave him the glad tiding of a boy-child gentle 

(like himself). And (one day,) when (the child) had become old enough

to share in his (father’s) endeavours, the latter said: ‘O my dear son! I

have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee: consider, then, what

would be thy view!’ (Ishmael) answered: ‘O my father! Do as thou art

bidden: thou wilt find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient 

in adversity!’ But as soon as the two had surrendered themselves to

(what they thought to be) the will of God, and (Abraham) had laid him

down on his face, We called out to him: ‘O Abraham, thou hast already

fulfilled (the purpose of) that dream-vision!’ Thus, verily, do We

reward the doers of good: for, behold, all this was indeed a trial, clear

in itself. And We ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice, and left

him thus to be remembered among later generations:

‘Peace be upon Abraham!'”

(Qur’ān, 37:99-109, Asad’s translation).

This is the Qur’ānic version. Although it is said in the Old Testament, Genesis 16:16, that Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86 years old, and Genesis 21:5 said that Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old, Genesis 22:2 that God talked to Abraham: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into land of Moriah.” (There is insinuation here that Abraham did not like his elder son Ishmael, as the only son he loved was Isaac).

Unlike the Qur’ānic version where Prophet Ibrāhīm told his son Ismā’īl about his vision, Genesis chapter 22 says that Abraham did not tell his son Isaac that God wanted him to be sacrificed. He kept it secret when Isaac asked: “…but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…” (Genesis 22:7-8). He did not ask his son’s view. Isaac only knew that he was “the lamb” to be sacrificed when he was bound as mentioned in Genesis 22:9. 

As mentioned in the Qur’ān, Ismā’īl was consulted, informed, that he was to be sacrificed by the command of Allah. He told his father: “Do as you are commanded, I shall be patient.” He was not bound. Both the father and the son were obeying Allah’s command, a tremendous test for both. A man approaching his 100 years longed for a son, but when he was blessed with a son, the only son at that time, he had to sacrifice him. Following the example of Prophet Ibrāhīm a.s. we Muslims perform the pilgrimage at Makkah, and throw pebbles at the stones symbolising Satan and sacrifice a lamb at Mina. Now the ritual is much easier. The sacrifice on ‘Id day is highly recommended. The Prophet was reported to have said that whoever can give a sacrifice on the ‘Id al-Ad.h.ā (sacrifice) day but does not want to do it, he should not come to our mosque. This statement of the Prophet was interpreted by Imām Abū H…anīfah as an incumbent act (wājib, obligatory but not with strong evidence) upon Muslims who can perform it. Other jurists, however, say that it is highly recommended. 

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12. Eid al-Ad.h.ā ( عِيْدُ اْلأضْحَى)

12. Eid al-Ad.h.ā ( عِيْدُ اْلأضْحَى)

Eid (‘Id) al-Ad.h.ā is also called ‘Id al-Qurbān, ‘Id al-Nah.r, meaning “the Sacrifice Feast” and al-‘Id al-Kabīr, “the Major Festival”.
The word qurbān is derived from qurbah ( قُرْبَة, nearness). The term qarīb (قَرِيْب , means “near” as well as “a relative”, a person who is near to us in blood relation. The word qurbān ( قُرْبَان) becomes noun (ism) and verbal noun (mas.dar) at the same time; the thing or the act of being near. People who are close to the king, such as his ministers and personal close friends are called his qarābīn (pl. of qurbān), his close associates (قََرَابِيْنُ الْمَلِكِ وَ وُزَرَاؤُه وَ جُلَسَاؤُهُ وَ خَاصَّتهُ) . Later in religious sense the term qurbān means مَا يُتَقَرَّبُ بِهِ إِلَى اللّهِ تَعَالَى مِنْ نُسُكٍ وَصَدَقَةٍ وَعَمَلٍ صَالِحٍ “acts by which make oneself near to Allah, such as living in piety, giving charity and doing good deeds.”). It is in this sense that the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said: الصَّلاَةُ قُرْبَانُ كُلٍّ تَقِيٍّ which means “The prayer (s.alāh) is the qurbān (act of nearness) for every taqī (pious person).” Then the term developed further and now becomes animals slaughtered as an act of making oneself closer to Allah.

The practice of qurbān, is a very old tradition. It goes back to the time of Prophet Adam (a.s.), when his two sons Qābīl (Cain) and Hābīl (Abel) both gave offerings. In the Qur’ān Allah said:
وَاتْلُ عَلَيْهِمْ نَبَأَ ابْنَيْ آَدَمَ بِالْحَقِّ إِذْ قَرَّبَا قُرْبَانًا فَتُقُبِّلَ

مِنْ أَحَدِهِمَا وَلَمْ يُتَقَبَّلْ مِنَ الْآَخَرِ قَالَ لَأَقْتُلَنَّكَ قَالَ إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللَّهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِينَ .

لَئِنْ بَسَطْتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِي مَا أَنَا بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِيَ إِلَيْكَ لِأَقْتُلَكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ .

إِنِّي أُرِيدُ أَنْ تَبُوءَ بِإِثْمِي وَإِثْمِكَ فَتَكُونَ مِنْ أَصْحَابِ النَّارِ وَذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ الظَّالِمِينَ . فَطَوَّعَتْ

لَهُ نَفْسُهُ قَتْلَ أَخِيهِ فَقَتَلَهُ فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ . فَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ غُرَابًا يَبْحَثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ

لِيُرِيَهُ كَيْفَ يُوَارِي سَوْأَةَ أَخِيهِ قَالَ يَا وَيْلَتَا أَعَجَزْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِثْلَ

هَذَا الْغُرَابِ فَأُوَارِيَ سَوْأَةَ أَخِي فَأَصْبَحَ مِنَ النَّادِمِينَ

(المائدة ٥ :٢٧-٣١)

“And convey unto them, setting forth

the truth, the story of the two sons of Adam – how

each offered a sacrifice, and it was accepted from one of

them whereas it was not accepted from the other. (And Cain)

said: “I will surely slay thee!” (Abel) replied: “Behold, God accepts only from those who are conscious of Him. Even if thou 

lay thy hand on me to slay me, I shall not lay my hand on thee to slay thee: behold, I fear God, the Sustainer of all the worlds. I am willing, indeed, for thee to bear (the burden of) all the sins ever done by me as well as of the sin done by thee: (but) then thou wouldst be destined for the fire, since that is the requital of evil-doers!” But the other’s passion drove him to slaying his brother; and he slew him: and thus he became one of the lost. Thereupon God sent forth a raven which scratched the earth, to show him how he might conceal the nakedness of his brother’s body.

(And Cain) cried out: “Oh, woe is me! Am I then too

weak to do what this raven did, and to conceal the

nakedness of my brother’s body?”– and was

thereupon smitten with remorse.”

(Qur’ān: 5-27-31, Asad’s translation).

In the Genesis: 4 it is said that Cain, being a farmer, “brought some of his harvest and gave it as an offering to the Lord.” Abel, a shepherd, “brought the first lamb born to one of his sheep, killed it, and gave the best part of it as an offering.” Abel’s sacrifice was accepted while Cain’s sacrifice was rejected. 

How do we know that a sacrifice is accepted or rejected? After giving the sacrifice he prostrates praying to Allah that his sacrifice or offering will be accepted. If it is accepted, fire will come from the sky and burn it. If no fire, it means his offering is not accepted. As Qābīl’s offering was not accepted by Allah, he became jealous and furious, and therefore, killed his brother Hābīl, who was the first man killed.
It is said that in the past when a prophet wanted to sacrifice, he slaughtered an animal, such as a sheep, a cow or a camel, and then prayed to Allah. White light, smokeless and roaring fire would come from the sky and burned the sacrifice indicating that his offering was accepted. So, it was like lightning, burning but smokeless. To some prophets this was evidence of their prophethood.

This practice was later abrogated and replaced with other miracles. Time, condition and the people changed. The evidence of prophethood also changed to suit the condition of people. Prophet ‘Isā (Jesus) (a.s.) did not give sacrifice any longer, but healed the sick and revived the dead. This was one of the reasons the Jews rejected Prophet ‘Isā (Jesus) (a.s.). He did not give an offering which would be consumed by smokeless fire from heaven as a sign of his prophethood.

This is also the argument of the Jews of Madinah in rejecting Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) as a messenger of Allah. He did not make a sacrifice the way they expected him to do. Allah says about them as follows:
الَّذِينَ قَالُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَهِدَ إِلَيْنَا أَلَّا نُؤْمِنَ لِرَسُولٍ

حَتَّى يَأْتِيَنَا بِقُرْبَانٍ تَأْكُلُهُ النَّارُ قُلْ قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رُسُلٌ مِنْ قَبْلِي بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَبِالَّذِي

قُلْتُمْ فَلِمَ قَتَلْتُمُوهُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ . فَإِنْ كَذَّبُوكَ فَقَدْ كُذِّبَ رُسُلٌ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ

جَاءُوا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَالزُّبُرِ وَالْكِتَابِ الْمُنِيرِ.

(آل عمران ٣ :١٨٣-١٨٤)

“As for those who maintain,

‘Behold, God has bidden us not to believe

in any apostle unless he comes unto us with burnt

offerings’ – say [unto them, O Prophet]: ‘Even before

me there came unto you apostles with all evidence

of the truth, and with that whereof you

speak: why, then, did you slay them,

if what you say is true?'”

(Qur’ān 3:183-184, Asad).

This is a highlight of the background of the sacrifice in general. With regard to the Feast of Sacrifice celebrating today, this feast of sacrifice is a commemoration of the sacrifice of Prophet Abraham (a.s.) of the ram as dispensation from Allah, to release him from sacrificing his only son Ismā’īl. This happened before his other son Ish.āq (Isaac) was born. When he confirmed his obedience to Allah in carrying out His command, Gabriel came and brought a ram at the very last moment.
When Prophet Abraham (Ibrāhīm, a.s.) became old and still had no son, his wife Sarah permitted him to marry his servant Hajar. From Hajar, Ishmael (Ismā’īl) was born. The Old Testament said that Abraham was 86 years old at that time. (Genesis 16:16). Fourteen years later, when Abraham was 100 years old, Isaac (Ishāq) was born from Sarah. Before Ishaq was born Allah had ordered him to sacrifice his only son, namely, Ismācīl, instead of a ram as done by prophets before. As mentioned in the Qur’ān: 
وَقَالَ إِنِّي ذَاهِبٌ إِلَى رَبِّي سَيَهْدِينِ . رَبِّ هَبْ

لِي مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ . فَبَشَّرْنَاهُ بِغُلَامٍ حَلِيمٍ . فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ مَعَهُ السَّعْيَ

قَالَ يَا بُنَيَّ إِنِّي أَرَى فِي الْمَنَامِ أَنِّي أَذْبَحُكَ فَانْظُرْ مَاذَا تَرَى قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ

مَا تُؤْمَرُ سَتَجِدُنِي إِنْ شَاءَ اللَّهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ. فَلَمَّا أَسْلَمَا وَتَلَّهُ لِلْجَبِينِ . وَنَادَيْنَاهُ أَنْ يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ .

قَدْ صَدَّقْتَ الرُّؤْيَا إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ . إِنَّ هَذَا لَهُوَ الْبَلَاءُ الْمُبِينُ .

وَفَدَيْنَاهُ بِذِبْحٍ عَظِيمٍ . وَتَرَكْنَا عَلَيْهِ فِي الْآَخِرِينَ . سَلَامٌ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ .

(الصّافات ٣٧ :٩٩-١٠٩)

“And (Abraham) said: ‘Verily, I shall

(leave this land and) go wherever my Sustainer

will guide me!’ (And he prayed:) ‘O my Sustainer! Bestow

upon me a gift of (a son who shall be) one of the righteous!’ – whereupon We gave him the glad tiding of a boy-child gentle 

(like himself). And (one day,) when (the child) had become old enough to share in his (father’s) endeavours, the latter said: ‘O my dear son! I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice thee: consider, then, what would be thy view!’ (Ishmael) answered: ‘O my father! Do as thou art bidden: thou wilt find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient in adversity!’ But as soon as the two had surrendered themselves to (what they thought to be) the will of God, and (Abraham) had laid him down on his face, We called out to him: ‘O Abraham, thou hast already fulfilled (the purpose of) that dream-vision!’ Thus, verily, do We reward the doers of good: for, behold, all this was indeed a trial, clear in itself. And We

ransomed him with a tremendous sacrifice, and left him

thus to be remembered among later generations:

‘Peace be upon Abraham!'”

(Qur’ān, 37:99-109, Asad’s translation).
This is the Qur’ānic version. Although it is said in the Old Testament, Genesis 16:16, that Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86 years old, and Genesis 21:5 said that Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old, Genesis 22:2 that God talked to Abraham: “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into land of Moriah.” (There is insinuation here that Abraham did not like his elder son Ishmael, as the only son he loved was Isaac).
Unlike the Qur’ānic version where Prophet Ibrāhīm told his son Ismācīl about his vision, Genesis chapter 22 says that Abraham did not tell his son Isaac that God wanted him to be sacrificed. He kept it secret when Isaac asked: “…but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…” (Genesis 22:7-8). He did not ask his son’s view. Isaac only knew that he was “the lamb” to be sacrificed when he was bound as mentioned in Genesis 22:9. 
As mentioned in the Qur’ān, Ismācīl was consulted, informed, that he was to be sacrificed by the command of Allah. He told his father: “Do as you are commanded, I shall be patient.” He was not bound. Both the father and the son were obeying Allah’s command, a tremendous test for both. A man approaching his 100 years longed for a son, but when he was blessed with a son, the only son at that time, he had to sacrifice him. Following the example of Prophet Ibrāhīm a.s. we Muslims perform the pilgrimage at Makkah, and throw pebbles at the stones symbolising Satan and sacrifice a lamb at Mina. Now the ritual is much easier. The sacrifice on ‘Id day is highly recommended. The Prophet was reported to have said that whoever can give a sacrifice on the ‘Id al-Ad.h.ā (sacrifice) day but does not want to do it, he should not come to our mosque. This statement of the Prophet was interpreted by Imām Abū H…anīfah as an incumbent act (wājib, obligatory but not with strong evidence) upon Muslims who can perform it. Other jurists, however, say that it is highly recommended. 

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18. Islamic Ethics: Kindness

18. Islamic Ethics: Kindness

Sufyān ibn ‘Uyaynah reported from al-Sha’bī that when Gabriel came to the Prophet with the verse: 
خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ

(الأعراف ٧ :١٩٩)

“Keep to forgiveness (O Muhammad), and enjoin

kindness, and turn away from the ignorant”

(Qur’ān 7:199),

the Prophet asked him, “What is this, O Gabriel?” The angel Gabriel answered, “I do not know until I ask my Lord.” He went away and came back later, saying: “Verily, Allah the Most High, has ordered you to forgive those who wronged you, to give those who deprived you, and to make good relation with those who severed their relationship with you.” 

The commentator al-Qurt.ubī gave his commentary on the above verse. He said that the verse “Keep to forgiveness” includes the order to keep good relationships with those who sever their relationship with you, to forgive the sinners, to be gentle with believers and to possess other noble characteristics of obedience to Allah.

 “Enjoin kindness” includes the order to keep good relationship with relatives and friends, to fear Allah in dealing with h.alāl (what is legal) and h.arām (what is illegal, prohibited), to lower our sight (namely, to be humble and modest), and to prepare ourselves for the lasting abode, namely, the Hereafter. “Turn away from the ignorant” means an order to seek and have association with knowledge, to avoid arguing with foolish people, to dissociate from ignorant people, and to have other noble qualities and behaviour.

Al-Qurt.ubī states further that these noble characteristics need elaboration. They have been elaborated and combined by the Prophet in his advice to Abū Jūrā Jābir ibn Sālim who said:

 “I rode my camel and came to Mecca to see the Messenger of Allah. I stopped my camel at the door of the Mosque, and people showed me the Messenger of Allah. He was sitting and wearing a woolen garment with red stripes. I greeted him, saying, 

‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah.’ He answered, saying, ‘And you, too, peace be upon you.’ I said to him, ‘We, people of the desert, are people with roughness. So, teach me something with which Allah will give me benefit.’ He said, ‘Come closer, come closer, come closer!’ So, I came closer to him. He said, ‘Promise me that you will do what I shall tell you!’ After promising to do what he would tell me, he said,

 ‘Fear Allah, never underestimate any good deed, meet your Muslim brother with cheerful face, empty your bucket and pour its water to the container of the thirsty people; if anyone abuses you because of something he does not know from you, never abuse him (back) because of something you know he has, for Allah will give you a merit and will give him a demerit (wizr, lit., “a burden”). Never abuse anything over which Allah has given you power.’ Since then, by Allah Who possesses me in His power, I have never abused any sheep or camel.” (Reported in meaning by Abū Bakr al-Bazzār in his Musnad).

The Prophet said regarding good character:

“My Lord has ordered me with nine characteristics:

1.honesty, either in privacy or in public; 

2.justice, either being content or angry; 

3.moderation, either in richness or poverty;

4. forgiving those who wronged me; 

5.keeping relationship with those who severed their relationship with me;

6.giving those who deprived me; 

7.making my talk dhikr (remembrance of Allah);

8.my silence contemplation; 

9.and my view an example.”

He also said: “You do not win people with your wealth, but with your cheerful face and noble characteristics.”

The verse ended with “turn away from the ignorant” meaning “if you have given them evidence and told them to do good and still ignored you, then turn away from them”. Although the statement was directed to the Prophet, it is a lesso

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COMMENTARY OF SURAT AL-MĀ‘UN (Q. 107)

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2017
23. COMMENTARY OF SURAT AL-MĀ‘UN (Q. 107)

23. COMMENTARY OF SURAT AL-MĀ‘UN (Q. 107)

          This sūrat al-Mā‘ūn (Qur’ān, chapter 107) was a Makkan one, revealed in in Makkah, before the Prophet’s migration to Madinah. It consists of seven verses. The commentary of this chapter is as follows:

أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ . فَذَلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ . وَلَا يَحُضُّ

عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ.   فَوَيْلٌ لِلْمُصَلِّينَ. الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ.

الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَاءُونَ. وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ (الْمَاعُونَ:1-7)

Have you seen him who denies the Recompense?                                    That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly), And urges not on the feeding of the needy, So, woe to those performers of Ṣsalāt (prayers) (hypocrites), Those who delay their Ṣsalāt, Those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men), And withhold al-Mā‘ūn (small kindness likesalt, sugar, water) (Q. 107:1-7)

(The Noble Qur’ān: Ministry of Islamic Affairs,

 Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

 The name of the surah, namely al-Mā‘ūn, is translated by Pickthall, Ali, and Asad as “small kindness,” “the neighbourly needs,” and “assistance” respectively.

The commentary:

أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ

Have you seen him who denies the Recompense?

M.M. Pickthall: “Hast thou observed him who belieth religion?”

A.Y. Ali: “See you one who denies the Judgment (to come)?”

M. Asad: “Hast thou ever considered [the kind of man] who gives the lie to all moral law?”

          As the term dīn means “religion, recompense and judgment” each of the above translators used one of them, except Asad, who translates it “all moral law” and explains his reason, namely, “that there is any objective validity in religion as such and, thus in the concept of moral law (which is one of the primary connotation of the term dīn…. Some commentators are of the opinion that in the above context dīn signifies ‘judgement’, i.e.  the Day of Judgment, and interpret this phrase as meaning ‘who calls the Day of Judgment a lie.’” (M. Asad, The Message of the Qur’ān,  p. 979, n.1)

          Who were they who denied the Recompense or Judgement intended in this surah? 

(1)  al-‘Āṣ ibn Wā’il al-Sahmī, according to Ibn ‘Abbās, al-Kalbī, and Muqātil; 

(2) al-Walīd ibn al-Mughīrah, according to al-Suddī; 

(3) ‘Amr ibn ‘Ā’id, according to al-Ḍaḥḥāk; 

(4) an unidentified hypocrite, also according to  al-Ḍaḥḥāk, and Ibn ‘Abbās 

(5) Abū Sufyān, according to Ibn Jurayj; he slaughtered a camel every week (?), and one day an orphan begged him for meat, but Abū Sufyān hit him with his stick, so, the above surah (chapter) was revealed; (6) Abū Jahl, according to unidentified mufassir (Qur’an commentator).

فَذَلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ

That is he who repulses the orphan (harshly)

M.M. Pickthall: “That is he who repelleth the orphan”

A.Y. Ali: “Then such is the (man) who repulses the orphan (with harshness)”

M. Asad: Behold, it is this [kind of man] that thrusts the orphan away,”

Al-Ḍaḥḥāk reported from Ibn ‘Abbās: he is the one who neglects the orphan and deprives him from his right.

Qatādah: he is the one who subjugates and wrongs him.

          They said that the Arabs in pre-Islamic Arabia did not give share of inheritance. They said inheritance was only for   persons “who stab with spearheads and strike with swords”, namely, for males only, not for females and children. The Prophet mentions the merit of taking care of the orphans. He said:

مَنْ ضَمَّ يَتِيمًا بَيْنَ مُسْلِمَيْنِ إِلَى طَعَامِهِ وَشَرَابِهِ حَتَّى

يَسْتَغْنِيَ عَنْهُ، وَجَبَتْ لَهُ الْجَنَّةُ الْبَتَّةَ (رواه الطبراني)

Whoever takes care of an orphan of Muslim parents

 with his foods and drinks until he satisfies with it

 Allah would definitely make Paradise

 indispensable for him.  (Reported by al-Ṭabrānī)

         A similar ḥhadīth was also reported by Imām Ahmad.

وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ

  And urges not on the feeding of the needy

M.M. Pickthall: “And urgeth not the feeding of the needy”

A.Y. Ali: “And encourages not the feeding of the indigent”

M. Asad: “and feels no urge to feed the needy”

          This verse means that the person does not urge people on feeding the poor because he himself is miser and does not believe in recompense, that good and evil deeds will be rewarded and punished respectively. People will enter Hell because, among other things, as mentioned in the Qur’ān,

وَلا يَحُضُّ عَلى طَعامِ الْمِسْكِينِ (الحاقة:34)

… and he urged not on the feeding of the needy (Q. 69:34)

          Those stingy people who ignored the poor, when they were asked the motive of ignoring them, their answer would be

أَنُطْعِمُ مَنْ لَوْ يَشاءُ اللَّهُ أَطْعَمَهُ (يس:47)

 … Shall we feed those whom, if Allah willed, He

(Himself) would have fed… (Q. 36:47)    

فَوَيْلٌ لِلْمُصَلِّينَ. الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ.

So, woe to those performers of Ṣsalāt (prayers)

 (hypocrites), Those who delay their Ṣsalāt

M.M. Pickthall: “Ah, woe unto worshippers, Who are heedless of their prayer”

A.Y. Ali: “So woe to the worshippers, Who are neglectful of their prayer ”

M. Asad: “Woe, then, unto those praying ones, whose hearts from their prayer are remote”

 Ibn ‘Abbās reported by al-Ḍaḥḥāk -: They are people who pray without expecting reward from their prayer, and do not fear of any punishment by neglecting it. They are people who delay the time of prayer. They are hypocrites who pray just to be seen. Ibn ‘Abbās says further that the term wayl (woe) here means “a severe punishment in Hell.”   

Al-Ḍaḥḥāk also as well as Ibrāhīm reported by al-Mughīrah: they delay the times of prayers, they neglect them.

Ibrāhīm also: those who prostrate in prayer but they raise their heads and turned them.

Abū ‘l-Āliyah: they do not pray on time, and they do not perform bowing and prostration completely in their prayer.

Quṭrub: They neither read the Qur’ān, nor remember Allah.

الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَاءُونَ

Those who do good deeds only to be seen (of men)

M.M. Pickthall: “Who would be seen (at worship)”

A.Y. Ali: “Those who (want but) to be seen (of men)”

M. Asad: “those who want only to be seen and praised”

The showing off is either orally or by action. Orally by showing resentment against people whose concern is on worldly matters (أهل الدنيا), and showing admonition and regret of missing good deeds and obedience. Showing off by action is in performing the prayer and in giving charity, or praying better to be seen by people. A man was said to have performed a long grateful prostration in the mosque, and it was said to him that performing this long prostration at home would have been better to avoid showing off.

وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ

And withhold al-Mā‘ūn (small kindness

like salt, sugar, water)

M.M. Pickthall: “Yet refuse small kindness!”

A.Y. Ali: “But refuse (to supply (even) neighbourly needs.”

M. Asad: “and, withal, deny all assistance [to their fellowmen].

          Asad explains the meaning of the term al-mā‘ūn as follows: “The term al-mā‘ūn comprises the many small items needed for one’s daily use, as well as the occasional acts of kindness consisting in helping out one’s fellow-men with such items. In its wider sense, it denotes “aid“ or “assistance” to people who need help.

          Al-Qurtubī mentions twelve views on this last verse, as follows:

1.    Al-mā‘ūn is the zakat of wealth, according to ‘Ali, and Ibn ‘Abbās according to al-Ḍaḥḥāk. They are the hypocrites. The hypocrites pray in hypocrisy. Mālik said that if they miss the prayer they would not regret for it. They refuse to pay the zakat (the obligatory charity). Zayd ibn Aslam said that if the prayer could be performed secretly like paying zakat, those hypocrites would not have done it. Al-Ṭabarī included those who said that al-mā‘ūn was the zakat Ibn ‘Umar, Qatādah, al-Ḥasan, and Sa‘īd ibn Jubayr.

2.    Al-mā‘ūn is the wealth in the Quraysh language, according to Ibn Shihāb and Sa‘īd ibn al-Musayyab.

3.    Al-mā‘ūn is household utensils, such as  axes, the  cooking pots, fire, etc., according Ibn Mas‘ūd and Ibn ‘Abbās

4.     Al-mā‘ūn in pre-Islamic Arabia is any useful thing, such as an axe, a cooking pot, a leather bucket, a flint, anything big or small.

5.    Al-mā‘ūn is something borrowed, according to Mujāhid,  and reported from Ibn ‘Abbās.

6.    Al-mā‘ūn is anything people are occupied with among themselves (الْمَعْرُوفُ كُلُّهُ الَّذِي يَتَعَاطَاهُ النَّاسُ فِيمَا بَيْنَهُم), according to Muḥammad ibn Ka‘b and al-Kalbī.

7.    Al-mā‘ūn is water and pasture (الْمَاءُ وَالْكَلَأُ) 

8.    Al-mā‘ūn is water only.

9.    Al-mā‘ūn   is the truth, the right thing (  الْحَقِّ)

10. Al-mā‘ūn is using the benefit of wealth (الْمُسْتَغَلُّ مِنْ مَنَافِعِ الْأَمْوَالِ)    

11. Al-mā‘ūn is obedience

12. Al-mā‘ūn is probably something light and easy but made heavy and difficult by Allah, according to al-Māwardī.

Another view is that al-mā‘ūn are three things which have to be shared with people, namely: water, salt, fire, including (water of) the well. Ibn ‘Abbās mentioned the different views of people about the meaning of al-mā‘ūn: zakat, obedience, and borrowed objects.

          ‘Ikrimah the mawlā (freed slave) of Ibn ‘Abbās said that the maximum of al-mā‘ūn is the zakat, and its minimum are borrowed objects. He was asked whether the woe was to any person who withholds (refuses) al-mā‘ūn. He replied that he was, if he combined the three things mentioned in this sūrah, namely, he neglected the prayer, he was a hypocrite, and was stingy with his wealth. The following Qur’ānic verses mentioned these qualities of the hypocrites:

وَإِذا قامُوا إِلَى الصَّلاةِ قامُوا كُسالى يُراؤُنَ النَّاسَ

وَلا يَذْكُرُونَ اللَّهَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا   (النساء:142)

And when they stand up for the prayer, they stand

with laziness and to be seen of men, and they do not

 remember Allah but little (Q. 4:142)

وَلا يُنْفِقُونَ إِلَّا وَهُمْ كارِهُونَ  )التوبة: 54(

… and that they offer not contributions

 but unwillingly (Q. 9:54)

We have seen how mufassirīn (Qur’ān commentators)   give deeper and boarder meanings of the above verses. 

(CIVIC, 17 February, 2017)          

  المراجع:

 المكتبة الشاملة

تفسير الطبري (ت. 310 هـ)

تفسير القرطبى (ت. 671 هـ )                                                      

تفسير ابن كثير (ت. 774 هـ)

تفسير ابن عباس (3 ق هـ – 68 هـ / 619 – 687 م)

تفسير الخازن (678-741 هـ / 1280-1341م)

The Noble Qur’ān: Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Muhammad Asad. The Message of Islam.

Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall. The Glorious Qur’ān.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’ān.    

  

POSTED BY DR. MUHAMMAD AMIN A. SAMAD AT 12:26 PM NO COMMENTS: 

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COMMENTARY OF Q. 41:30-35 (1) istiqāmah (being steadfast, standing firm) 

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2017
24. COMMENTARY OF Q. 41:30-35 (1)
 
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ. نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَاؤُكُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِي أَنْفُسُكُمْ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ. نُزُلًا مِنْ غَفُورٍ رَحِيمٍ . وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِمَّنْ دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ. وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ . وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ (فصلت:30-35)  

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ

أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ

Verily, those who say: “Our Lord is Allah (Alone),” and then

 they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time

 of their death) (saying): “Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!”

M.M. Pickthall: “Lo! Those who say: Our Lord is Allah, and afterwards are upright, the angles descent upon them, saying: Fear not nor grieve, but hear good tidings of the paradise which ye are promised.”

A.Y. Ali: “In the case of those who say, ‘Our Lord is God’, and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): ‘Fear you not!” (they suggest), nor grieve But receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), that which you were promised.”

M. Asad: “[But,] behold, as for those who say, ‘Our Sustainer is God,’ and then steadfastly pursue the right way-upon them do angels often descend, [saying:] ‘Fear not and grieve not, but receive the glad tidings of that paradise which has been promised to you!’”

Commentary:

‘Aṭā’ reported from Ibn ‘Abbās that the verse was revealed in the case of Abū Bakr r.a. The idolaters said, “Our Lord was Allah and the angels are His daughters which are our intercessors to Allah,” but they were not firm. Then Abū Bakr r.a. told them: “Our Lord is Allah Alone, no partner with Him, and Muhammad, may Allah bless him, is His servant and His Messenger,” then he stood firm.

The meanings of istiqāmah (being steadfast, standing firm) are as follows:

1.    Abū Bakr and Mujāhid: It is not taking partner with Allah

2.    ‘Umar: It is standing firm in what is enjoined and what is prohibited without turning away like the trick of the fox.

3.    ‘Uthmān: It is standing firm in working for Allah’s sake.

4.    ‘Ali, al-ḤHasan, Qatādah, Ibn Zayd and ibn ‘Abbās: It is performing the duty, obeying Allah in His injunction and His prohibition.

5.    Ibn ‘Abbās, Mujāhid, and ‘Ikrimah: It is sticking to the shahādah,   that there is no god but Allah until death

6.    Abū ‘l-‘Āliyah and al-Suddī: It is sincerity in religion and in practicing it till death.

7.    Anas reporting from the Prophet: It is sincerity and stick to it until death.

8.    It is standing firm in words and action.

9.    It is standing firm secretly and openly

10.         Ibn Sīrīn: It is not deviating.

11.         Sufyān al-Thawrī: It is standing firm in practicing what    they say.

12.         Muqātil ibn Sulaymān: It is standing firm in believing in Allah as their Lord.

13.         Al-Rabī‘: It is turning away from other than Allah.

14.         Al-Qutabī: It is standing firm in obeying Allah.

15.         Muqātil ibn Ḥayyān: It is standing firm in what they know as the truth (المَعْرِفَة), and do not retrieve from it.

16.         Fuḍayl ibn ‘Iyāḍ: They forsake the transient, namely, worldly things, and desire the eternal, namely, the Hereafter.

 The meanings of “the angels descend on them …etc.”

1.    Ibn ‘Abbās, Zayd ibn Aslam, and Mujāhid: The angels will descend on them after their death. This is also the view of the vast majority of Muslim scholars. They say that the angels will descend on dying people, while they are leaving the world and facing the Hereafter. They become extremely fearful of what they will be facing, and extremely sad of what they are leaving. The angels will comfort them not to fear of the future, because they have been upright and stood straight. They told them not to grieve over the past, as nobody who leaves the world but feels sorry for not doing more good deeds.

2.    Muqātil and Qatādah: This will happen were they are raised from their graves.   

3.    Wakī‘ ibn al-Jarrāḥ, and Zayd ibn Aslam: The angels will descend on them and give good tidings in three places: when they die, when they are in their graves, and when there are raised on the Judgment day.

4.    Al-Kalbī: “When they die, the angels descend on them and give them good news, saying “do not be afraid of punishment in front of you, and do not be sad of what you have left behind in the world.”

5.      Muqātil ibn Sulaymān: The angels who record man’s actions will come to them (after their death), introducing themselves that they are the keeper of men’s deeds, and gave them the good-tiding that they will enter Paradise.

6.      ‘Aṭā’ ibn Abī Rabāḥ: The angels will tell them not to fear that their good deeds will not be rewarded, and not to grief for their sins, as Allah will forgive them.

7.     Mujāhid: The angels will tell them not to fear death, and what they have done for the Hereafter, and not to grieve their families and children they have left behind, for they will have substitute them all for you (فإنا نخلفكم في ذلك كله) .

8.      ‘Ikrimah: The angels with tell them not to fear what they are facing and not to grieve for those whom they left behind, such as their families and their children.

 نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَاؤُكُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ  وَلَكُمْ  فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِي

أَنْفُسُكُمْ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ. نُزُلًا مِنْ غَفُورٍ رَحِيمٍ

We have been your friends in the life of this world

 and are (so) in the Hereafter. Therein you shall have

(all) that your inner selves desire, and herein you

 shall have (all) for which you ask. An entertainment

(from Allah), the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

M.M. Pickthall: We are your protecting friends in the life on the world and in the Hereafter. There ye will have (all) that your souls desire, and there ye will have (all) for which ye pray. A gift of welcome from the Forgiving, the Merciful.

A.Y. Ali: We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter: therein shall you have all that your souls shall desire; therein shall you have all that you ask for–! A hospitable gift from One Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful!

M. Asad: We are close unto you in the life of this world and [will be so] in the life to come; and in that [life to come] you shall have all that your souls may desire, and in it you shall have all that you ever prayed for, as a ready welcome from Him who is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace!

Commentary:

Mujāhid: It means, the angels say, “We are your associates who have been with you in the world,” and in the Hereafter they will say, “We shall not leave you until we take you to Paradise.”

Al-Suddī: It means, the angels say, “We are the keepers of your deeds in the world, and your sponsors in the Hereafter.”

(Unidentified): It means, the angels say, “We are the keepers of your deeds in the world, and we shall not leave you in the Hereafter until you enter Paradise.

(Unidentified): It means, the angels say, “We are your sponsors in the world with guidance, and in the Hereafter with   honor (generosity).

Ibn Zayd: “There ye will have (all) that your souls desire” means the eternity, as they wished it when they were in the world.

Abū Umāmah: “There ye will have (all) that your souls desire” means the blessings (of Allah).

Ibn Kathir:  The angels will say to believers when they are dying, “We have been your companions in the lives of the world, we have shown you the right way, we have made you successful, and we have protected you with Allah’s decree. Likewise, we shall be with you in the Hereafter, we shall entertain you in your loneliness in the graves, when the trumpet is blown, warrant you on the Day of Resurrection, and pass over the straight path with you, and will take you to  Paradise. In Paradise you can get whatever you like, as hospitality, gift, and a favor from the Most Forgiving Who has forgiven your sins, and the Most Merciful Who has mercy on you.   

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلاً مِمَّنْ دَعا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صالِحاً وَقالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

And who is better in speech than he who invited

(men) to Allah, and does righteous deeds, and says:

I am one of the Muslims”

  M.M. Pickthall:  And who is better in speech than him who prayeth unto his Lord and doeth right, and saith: Lo! I am of those who surrender (unto him).

A.Y. Ali: Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to God, works righteousness, and says “I am of those who bow in Islam”?

M. Asad: And who could be better of speech than he who calls [his fellow-men] unto God, and does what is just and right, and says: “Verily, I am of those who have surrendered themselves to God”?

          Commentary:

The best discourse is the Qur’ān, and the person intended in the above verse is Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., according to Ibn Sīrīn, al-Suddī, Ibn Zayd, and al-ḤHasan. When al-ḤHasan read this verse he said, “This is the Messenger of Allah, this is Allah’s beloved, this is Allah’s friend, this is Allah’s best friend, this is Allah’s best choice, by Allah, he is the person among the people of the earth whom Allah loves most; Allah answered his call, and he called people to what Allah answered.

According to ‘Āishah r.a., ‘Ikrimah, Qays ibn Abī Ḥāzim, and Mujāhid, the above verse was reveal upon mu’adhdhinīn (callers for prayers). Abū Bakr ibn al-‘Arabī says that the above verse was a Makkan (revealed in Makkah), whereas the adhān (calling for prayer) was a Madinian, namely, instituted in Madinah. However, they are included in the meaning of the verse, although they are not included when the verse was just revealed. Any good speech containing tawhḥīd (the Oneness of Allah), and faith is included in the above verse, such as the statement of Abū Bakr to a person strangling the Prophet, “Are you going to kill a person just because he said that Allah is His Lord?”

(CIVIC, 24  February, 2017)

المراجع:

 المكتبة الشاملة

تفسير الطبري (ت. 310  (992/

تفسير القرطبى (611 – 671 هـ / 1214 – 1273 م(                        

تفسير ابن كثير (ت. 774(1373/

تفسير ابن عباس (3 ق هـ – 68 هـ / 619 – 687 م(

تفسير الخازن (678-741 هـ / 1280-1341م(

تفسير الماوردي (364 – 450 هـ / 974 – 1058 م(

المسالك في شرح مؤطأ مالك

The Noble Qur’ān: Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Muhammad Asad. The Message of Islam.

Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall. The Glorious Qur’ān.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’ān.   
THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 2017
25. COMMENTARY OF Q. 41:30-35 (2)

25. COMMENTARY OF Q. 41:30-35 (2)

          The third view is that of al-HḤasan and Qays ibn Abī Ḥāzim. They say that the above verse was revealed upon every believer who calls people to Allah.

There are many interpretations of “doing righteous deed” in the above verse: it is praying two rak‘ahs between ādhān and iqāmah according to Abū Umāmah; it is praying and fasting, according to ‘Ikrimah; and it is performing the religious duties according to al-Kalbī. This last interpretation is the best one according to al-Qurṭubī, adding with “avoiding prohibited things and doing many recommended things.”

وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ

 فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ .

The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal.

 Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah

 orders the faithful believers to be patient at the

 time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them

 badly) then verily he, between whom and you

there was enmity, (will become) as though

he was a close friend.

(The Noble Qur’ān, Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Riyadh)

M.M. Pickthall: The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.

A.Y. Ali: Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: then will be better whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate!

M. Asad: But [since] good and evil cannot be equal, repel thou [evil] with something that is better—and lo! he between whom and thyself was enmity [may then become] as though he had [always] been close [unto thee], a true friend!

  “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal” means that the condition of the believers is not equal to that of idolaters, as the former believe in the Oneness of Allah, whereas the latter is idolatry. Al-Māwardī mentions six interpretations of the good deed and the bad deed, as follows:

1.     amiable behavior –  rudeness (reported by Ibn ‘Īsā)

2.     patience –  aversion

3.     īmān (belief) –  idolatry (according to Ibn ‘Abbās)

4.    forgiveness –  revenge (according to Ibn ‘Umayr)

5.    ḥilm (gentleness, forbearance, understanding) – indecency, abominableness (according to al-Daḥḥāk)

6.    loving the Prophet’s family – disliking them (according  ‘Ali)  

  “Repel (the evil) with one which is better” has many interpretations, as follows:

 Ibn ‘Abbās: Repel with your ḥilm (gentleness, forbearance, understanding) the jahl (stupidity, foolish act)[1] of the person who behave foolishly towards you. If someone abuses you, you tell him, “if you are right, may Allah forgive me, but if you are wrong, may Allah forgive you.” It was reported that Abū Bakr had said the same thing when someone wronged him.  

(Unknown): repel offense of the offender with disregarding it.

Mujāhid and ‘Aṭā’: Repel hostility from someone who is hostile against him with greeting with peace, namely, السَّلامُ عَلَيْك (“Peace be upon you!”).

Bakr ibn al-‘Arabī: Repel evil with shaking hands. Narrated by ‘Aṭā’ al-Khurasānī narrated that the Prophet said:

 تَصَافحُوا يَذهَب الغِلُّ، وَتَهادَوْا تحَابُّوا، وتَذْهَبِ الشَّحَنَاءُ

Shake hands, the hatred will go away, be gentle, so

you will love each other, and enmity will go away.

          Imām Mālik says that this ḥhadīth is mursal (its chain of transmitter is not connected with the Prophet), so that he does not see the necessity of shaking hands, although he said it was permissible. He recommended it after he had said that he disliked it. This is the opinion of group of Muslim scholars. Sufyān al-Thawrī convinced him, saying to him that the Prophet had shaken hands with Ja‘far when he returned from his refuge in Ethiopia. Mālik told him that it was special for him. Sufyān said, “what is special for the Prophet is also special for us, and what is general for him is also general for us,” and therefore, shaking hands is acceptable, and cannot be denied. Moreover, Qatādah asked Anas whether the companions of the Prophet did shake hands, and he answered, “yes”.

                        Narrated by al-Barrā’ ibn ‘Āzib that the Prophet said:

  مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمَيْنِ يَلْتَقِيَانِ فَيَتَصَافَحَانِ إِلَّا غُفِرَ لَهُمَا قَبْل أَنْ يَتَفَرّقَا

(رواه أحمد و أبو داؤدو والترمذي)

 Whenever two Muslims met each other and

  shook hands their sins will be forgiven before

  they departed (Reported by Aḥmad,

 Abū Dā’ūd and al-Tirmidhī)

There are many ḥhadīths and statements of Qur’ān commentators dealing with the legality and the validity of shaking hands, among which are as follows:

عَنْ أَنَس قِيلَ يَا رَسُول اللَّه الرَّجُل يَلْقَى أَخَاهُ أَيَنْحَنِي لَهُ؟ قَالَ لَا.

 قَالَ : فَيَأْخُذ بِيَدِهِ وَيُصَافِحهُ ؟ قَالَ : نَعَمْ (أَخْرَجَهُ التِّرْمِذِيّ)

Narrated by Anas that it was said to the Prophet,

“O, Messenger of Allah, if a man meets his (Muslim) brother, should he bow to him?” He said, “No.” He

asked, ”Should he take his hand and shake

 hands with him?” He sad, “Yes.”

 (Reported by al-Tirmidhī)

عَنْ الْبَرَاء  لَقِيت رَسُول اللَّه صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

فَصَافَحَنِي ، فَقُلْت : يَا رَسُول اللَّه كُنْت أَحْسِب أَنَّ هَذَا

مِنْ زِيّ الْعَجَم ،  فَقَالَ : نَحْنُ أَحَقّ بِالْمُصَافَحَةِ

(أَخْرَجَهُ أَبُو بَكْر الرُّوْيَانِيّ فِي مُسْنَده)

Al-Barrā’ narrated, “I met the Messenger of

Allah s.a.w., then he shook hands with me; so,

  I said to him, ‘O, Messenger of Allah, I thought

that this practice was among the customs of

 non-Arabs;’ then he said: ‘It is more appropriate

 for us.’” (Reported by Abū Bakr al-Ru’yānī)

Ibn Baṭṭāl says that shaking hands according to the ‘ulamā’ (Muslim scholars) is a good practice. Al-Nawawī says that it has been agreed upon that shaking hands at the moment of meeting is recommended. Al-Nawawī says further that shaking hands in basically recommended, and keeping it in some cases remains recommended. As regards to shaking hands after every fajr and evening prayers is considered permitted innovation.

“… then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend” was revealed, according to Muqātil, in the case of Abū Sufyān who annoyed, irritated, and hostile to the Prophet; but he became the Prophet’s walī (helper, friend, relative, helper, protector) through marriage (his sister married the Prophet), especially after he converted to Islam. This view was mentioned by al-Tha‘labī and al-Qushayrī.

Another view was mentioned by al-Māwardī that the verse was revealed on the case of Abū Jahl ibn Hishām who annoyed the Prophet, then Allah ordered him to be patient and to forgive him. It was said that this verse was revealed before the injunction of fighting for self-defence was revealed.                  Ibn ‘Abbās said that in this verse Allah ordered the Prophet to         be patient when he became angry, to be gentle when he was foolishly treated, and forgive when he was wronged. If people did all these, Allah would protect them from Satan, and their enemy would surrender to them.      It is reported that when a man abused Qanbar, ‘Ali’s freed-slave, ‘Ali told him to leave the abuser and ignore him, so that he would please Allah the Merciful and displease Satan,  and the abuser would be punished.      

وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ

But none is granted it (the above quality) except

 those who are patient – and none is granted it except

 the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the

 Hereafter, i.e., Paradise, and of a high moral

 character) in this world.

M.M. Pickthall: But none is granted it save those who are steadfast, and none is granted it save the owner of great happiness.

A.Y. Ali: And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, – none but persons of the greatest good fortune.

M. Asad:  Yet [to achieve] this is not given to any but those who are wont to be patient in adversity: it is not given to any but those endowed with the greatest good fortune.

Commentary:

“But none is granted it except those who are patient”  means: (1) none is granted with repelling badness with goodness, except those who are patient with forbearance; (2) none is granted with Paradise except those who are patient in obeying (Allah).

“…and none is granted it except those endowed with the greatest good fortune” means (1) those who have good fortune according to al-Suddī; (2) those who have good luck, according to Ibn ‘Abbās; (3 those who have good luck which is Paradise, according to al-Ḥasan. It is said that Qatādah and ibn ‘Abbās held the same view.

 One example of the significance of patience is that one day Abū Bakr was abused by someone while the Prophet was present. Abū Bakr forgave him for a while, but later he became angry and abused the abuser as revenge, and the Prophet stood up and left. Abū Bakr followed him and said, “O Messenger of Allah, he abused me and I forgave him, and you remained sitting; but when I abused him back for revenge, you left.” The Prophet said to him: “Actually, an angel was replying on your behalf. But when you took revenge, the angel started leaving, and Satan came. By Allah, I did not like to sit with Satan, O Abū Bakr!” So, if someone abuses you, forgive him, and let the angel abuse him for you.

                                                                                (CIVIC, 3 March, 2017)

المراجع:

 المكتبة الشاملة

تفسير الطبري (ت. 310922/   (

تفسير القرطبى (611 – 671 هـ  / 1214 – 1273 م)                      

تفسير ابن كثير (ت. 774/ 1373 (

تفسير ابن عباس (3 ق هـ – 68 هـ / 619 – 687 م(

تفسير الخازن (678-741 هـ / 1280-1341م(

تفسير الماوردي (364 – 450 هـ / 974 – 1058 م)

المسالك في شرح مؤطأ مالك

The Noble Qur’ān: Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Muhammad Asad. The Message of Islam.

Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall. The Glorious Qur’ān.

Abdullah Yusuf Ali. The Meaning of the Holy Qur’ān.    
[1] The term جَهْل  (jahl) means: to be ignorant, to be irrational, to behave foolishly. The pre-Islamic era is also called الْعَصْرُ الْجَاهِلِي , the era of ignorance, whereas “the Golden Age” is called الْعَصْرُ الذَّهَبِي.  This “era of ignorance” could also mean “the era of irrationality,” as it was the era where people behaved irrationally, such as their delight in war, their strong passion, and fiery in temper, ardent in love, bitter in hate. The pre-Islamic poet عَمْرُو بن كَلْثُوم التَّغْلبي  (‘Amr ibn Kalthūm al-Taghlibī)  in his poem said:  أَلاَ لاَ يَجْهَلَنْ  أَحَـدٌ  عَلَيْنَا  *   فَنَجْهَلَ  فَوْقَ  جَهْلِ  الجَاهِلِينَا  “Know that never anyone shall behave foolishly against us, otherwise we shall behave foolishly against him more than the foolish behavior of the fool.” In Indonesia we say that a person who like to do bad things, as having tangan jahil, (“mischievous hands”), like drawing on walls, i.e. graffiti.

POSTED BY DR. MUHAMMAD AMIN A. SAMAD AT 10:23 PM 

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20. JINN

20. JINN 

The word genie comes from the Arabic jinn (sing. masc., jinnī, sing., fem., jinniyyah). Jinn are invisible beings constituting a whole race, like mankind. Unlike man who is created from clay, or the angels who are created from light, the jinn are airy or fiery bodies created from fire, a different kind of fire. It is called in one verse of the Qur’ān,

مَارِج مِنْ نَار (الرحمن ٥٥:١٥) , 

translated as “a confusing flame of fire” (Q. 55:15),

 namely, “non-corporeal elements” (M. Asad),

 “smokeless fire” (M. Pickthall), and 

“fire free of smoke” (A.Y. Ali). 

Many interpretations are given by classical commentators for the above verse, among which are as follows:

 Ibn ‘Abbās: “pure fire”, “flame”, “flame which appears at the top of fire with different and mixed colours: red, yellow and green;

 Abū ‘Ubaydah and al- H…asan: “mixed fire”; and

 al-Jawharī, “smokeless fire from which the jinn are created” (al-Qurt.ubī, al-Jāmi c, 17:161).

 It is also mentioned in a h.adīth on the authority of ‘A’ishah that the Prophet said:
“The angels are created from light, the jinn from smokeless fire,

and Adam from what has been described to you (namely, of clay).”

(Reported by Muslim).

In another Qur’ānic verse it is said that jinn are created from

 نَار السَّمُوم (الحجر ١٥:٢٧),

 translated as “the fire of scorching winds” (Q. 15:27, Asad),

 “essential fire” (Pickthall), and 

“the fire of a scorching wind” (A.Y. Ali). 

According to Ibn ‘Abbās, it is “hot wind that can kill” and “smokeless fire” (thunderbolt is an example of it), and 

it means “hot wind” according to al-Jawharī. 

We do not see them (unless they make themselves appear to us), but they see us (Q.7:27).

Jinn were created earlier than man as mentioned in the above verse:
وَالْجَانَّ خَلَقْنَاهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ … (الحجر ١٥ :٢٧)

“and the Jinn race, We had created before, …”

(Qur’ān 15:27).

They are intelligent, imperceptible, and able to appear in different forms. Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s understanding of jinn as “a spirit” and “an invisible or hidden force” (see his translation of the Qur’ān, p. 318, n. 929) has been corrected in a revision of his translation, as follows:

“…. The authoritative Islamic texts show that they are not merely a hidden force or a spirit. They are personalized beings who enjoy a certain amount of free will and thus will be called to account.”

(see The Holy Qur’ān, A.Y. Ali’s translation revised and edited by the Presidency of Islamic Researches, Iftā’, Call and Guidance, in Saudi Arabia, p. 372, n. 932).

Some jinn are good, believers, and others are evil and unbelievers (Q. 6:130 and 72:11 and 14). 

Like human-beings, many of them will also be punished in Hell, (Q. 11:119 and 32:13). 

Some of them heard the Qur’ān cited by the Prophet and believed (Q. 72:1-2). 

There were also jinn among the army of Prophet-King Solomon (Q. 27:17 and 34:12).

Poets, prophets, mad people and genius were all accused of being possessed by jinn. When Prophet Noah called his people to worship Allah, he was accused of being possessed by jinn (Q. 23:23-5).

 Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) was also accused of being possessed by one of them (Q. 34:8). Mad and geniuses people were thought to have been touched and taught by them respectively.

The relation of jinn to Iblīs and Satan (Shayt.an) is obscure. 

According to the view attributed to Ibn ‘Abbās: al-Jān is the father of the jinn, as is Adam the father of men and Iblīs the father of Satan. It is also said that jinn and men are mortal, whereas Iblīs and Satan will remain till the Judgement Day (al-Qurt.ubī, al-Jāmi c, 10:25). 

According to the commentators al-H…asan al-Basrī and Qatādah, Iblīs is the father of jinn as is Adam the father of man. Although created from fire and among the jinn (Q.18:50), Iblīs was formerly among the rank of angels (as implied in Q. 2:34), according to the commentators Ibn ‘Abbās, Ibn Mascūd, Ibn Jurayj and Ibn al-Musayyab. But when Iblīs disobeyed Allah by refusing to prostrate to Adam, he was called Satan (al-Qurt.ubī, al-Jāmic, 1:294). The word satan (Arabic shayt.ān) is derived from the verb shat.ana meaning “to be far away from goodness”.

The word jinn was derived from janna (to become hidden) or ijtinān (becoming hidden or concealed). The angels were also called “jinnah” (jinn) in a Qur’ānic verse, because of their being concealed from us.

Allah says:
وَجَعَلُوا بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ الْجِنَّةِ نَسَبًا.(الصافَّات ٣٧ :١٥٨)

“And they have invented a blood-relationship

between Him and the Jinn…”

(Qur’ān 37:158),

the majority of commentators say that jinn here means angels, since they are according to the pagan Quraysh tribe, “the daughters of Allah”.

According to al-Shāficī the Qur’ānic verse mentioning that the angels prostrated to Adam except Iblīs (Q. 2:34) does not mean that Iblīs was one of the angels. Al-Shāfi’ī contends that exception also occurs with something different in another verse of the Qur’ān, as follows:
لَا يَسْمَعُونَ فِيهَا لَغْوًا وَلَا تَأْثِيمًا . إِلَّا قِيلًا سَلَامًا سَلَامًا .

(الواقعة ٥٦ :٢٥-٢٦)

“There hear they no vain speaking nor recrimination.

(Naught) but the saying: Peace (and again) Peace.”

(Qur’ān 56:25-26, Pickthall).

Here, the word “peace” is not a kind of vain speaking or recrimination. The example in the classical poetry is “… in a country where there is nobody except hyenas and white camels.” Here the hyenas and the white camels do not belong to human beings, but animals. (See al-Qurt.ubī, al-Jāmi c, 10:26).

There are many kinds of jinn. ‘Ifrīt who is very powerful is one of them. He said that he could bring the throne of Queen Bilqis in Sheba to Prophet-king Solomon in Palestine before he rose from his place (see Q. 27:39). Satan is a malicious jinn. When the Quraysh people discussed at Dār al-Nadwah (town hall) how to deal with the Prophet, either to kill him, imprison him or banish him, Satan appeared among them, disguised as an old man of Najd (Central Arabia) and suggested to them that the Prophet should be killed. Another kind of jinn is called عَامِر (‘āmir) who likes to accompany people. There is also another kind of jinn who likes to accompany babies. The Prophet called this kind of jinn which seemed to be female, umm al-s.ibyān ( أُمُّ الصِّبْيَان (lit., ” the mother of babies”). He recommended us to read the ādhān (the call to prayer) on the right ear and iqāmah (the call to stand in prayer) into the left ear of a newly born baby as protection against harm.

 Dr. Muhammad Sadiq of Edmonton (Canada) related his experience as a child in Pakistan. One night he felt somebody patting his back. At first he thought she was his mother. When he looked back and saw an old woman smiling at him in the fairly dark night he was scared and screamed. The old woman hit him to show her disappointment and disappeared.

Like human beings, jinn also have animals. When the Muslims among the jinn asked the Prophet for provision he told them that the bones on which the name of Allah is mentioned that came to them are more abundant that the meat that had been on it, and that the dung of the animals of man are fodder to their beasts. (Reported by Muslim on the aurthority of Ibn Mas‘ūd).

 In the early 1950s the writer who lived with his parents in a remote village in Indonesia used to hear in the dark night the wailings of a dog called by the local people (Buginese) asu panting (a devil dog) that seemed to come from a distant place but at the same time was clear as as if it was from nearby, so that it was heard by the whole family. We do not know whether the so-called poltergeists (lit. “noisy spirits”) belong to the category of jinn, animals of jinn, or of elementals (low level of spirits).

With regard to the habitat of jinn, according to al-H…asan al-Bas.rī, some of them live on land, others at sea and in the air. It is said that they like to live in deserts, ruins, graveyards and impure places, such as dunghills and toilet rooms. Ghouls (desert demons), demons who haunt old and uninhabited houses and graveyards are examples of these jinn. However, in general they live everywhere on this earth.

Therefore, apart from the satan who constantly accompanies us, wherever we go, there is always possibility of encountering these hidden creatures, either with their mischief or help. Occasionally, they appeared as human beings to help people. It was reported that when the great scholar Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728/1328) was punished by the ruler for his opinion, he was put in jail. However, some people still saw him visiting and helping the sick and the needy. When this event was reported to him in his prison, he said that it must have been one of the jinn who took pity on people and helped them by disguising as Ibn Taymiyyah. 

Satan is mischievous in two ways: among jinn and among man. Every prophet faced these two kinds of satan. (Q. 6:112). In a h.adīth the Prophet said that everybody has a satan with him. When he was asked “even you, O Messenger of Allah?”, he answered that Allah had assisted him by converting the satan into a Muslim, so that he whispered to him good things only. (Reported by Muslim on the authority of Ibn Mascūd; a similar h.adīth was reported by Bukhārī on the authority of ‘Ā’ishah). 

The pious Mālik ibn Dīnār was reported to have said: “The satan among men is harder for me than the satan of the jinn. If I seek refuge by reciting the ta ‘awwudh, namely, أَعُوْذُ بِاللّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيْم (‘I seek Allah’s protection from the accursed satan’), the satan of the jinn will run away, but of men will stay.” Imām al-Ghazālī said that it is the duty of Muslims to know the temptation of satan, should free themselves from the satan of the jinn, and beware of the satan of man.

The influence of satan becomes very strong when one is angry, as the angry person cannot control his behaviour; also when there is a holy war, as satan reminds people of their family left behind, so that they would desert the front; and when a man is alone with a woman who is not one of his close relatives (muh.rim).

It is said that the jinn sleep in the day time and work at night. It is at nightfall that they are most frequently present. One is therefore urged not to let children play outdoors after sunset, and not to go to sleep with strong a food ordour, for the jinn may come and lick the odour; the door should be closed, and food should be covered by saying bismillāh al-rah.mān al-rah.īm (“by the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful”) (Reported by Bukhārī).

 This formula should also be read soon before eating, so that the jinn do not eat our food. Abū al-Dardā’ among the companions of the Prophet related that a man was eating near the Prophet without saying the formula. Suddenly, he remembered the formula and be cited it, saying بِسْمِ اللَّهِ أوَّلُهُ وَآخِرُهُ (“by the name of Allah in the beginning and in the end”), and the Prophet laughed, saying: “Satan has kept eating with him, and when he remembered mentioning Allah, Satan vomited what he had just eaten.”

Man is made of clay, but of a different kind of clay. He has no longer his nature of clay. His food is also of different clay. Fruit, grains and anything grows on earth takes their food from the soil, namely, the clay, and man eat from it. Similarly, the jinn are created from fire or flame, but a different kind of flame. They have no longer their fiery nature. Their food is also of different kind, food odour and vapour, and their drink is steam, water vapour or foam. 

When the Prophet said that bones are the food of the jinn, Ibn Mas’ūd asked him how these could be. The Prophet said that they would still find the meat in the bone as if it had not been touched by humans. What the Prophet means is that the taste and the odour which they need are still there in the bone.

Like human beings, the disbelievers among the jinn will also be punished in Hell. When a man asked a scholar how the jinn which are created from fire will be punished by fire, the scholar threw some hard clay at him. The questioner felt the pain and complained to the ruler. At court the scholar said that what he had done was answer the questioner’s question: as a human being created from clay and feels the pain of the clay thrown at him, so the jinn who are created from fire will also feel pain from fire in Hell.

Al-Shāfi’ī and al-Bayhaqī reported the following incident: 

a man among the ans.ār (الأَنصَار; lit., “helpers”, namely, the natives of Madinah who helped the Muslim emigrants from Makkah) went to pray ‘ishā’ (night prayer) in the mosque. Suddenly he was captured by the jinn, and disappeared for many years. His wife who was not able to wait any longer found another husband. Several years later, the man appeared again in Madinah. When ‘Umar asked him what had happened, he said that a group of jinn had kidnapped him. Then they were attacked by a group of Muslim jinn, and the kidnappers who were non-believers were defeated. When the conquerors found him, they said: “You are a Muslim, and we should not capture you.” They gave him a choice, either to join them or to return him to his family. He chose the latter, and they brought him back to Madinah.

“What do they eat?”, asked ‘Umar.

“Beans and any thing in which the name of Allah is not mentioned”, said the man.

“What do they drink?”, asked ‘Umar again.

“Foam,” said the man
The jinn live among us, but can manifest themselves in many different forms, such as snakes, scorpions, dogs, birds and cattle. What some people thought to be the spirits of their deceased relative who came to rescue them when they were in danger were most probably jinn who took forms similar to those of the deceased, rather than the deceased themselves came to them as spirits. Before the earthquake occurred in the Maharashtra area in India in January 1994, a snake had appeared in the house of a Muslim family. The person who saw the snake woke up his family and told them to leave the house immediately. Soon after they had been outside their house, at 03.58 at dawn the earth started shaking violently, and this Muslim family was safe. This snake might have been a Muslim jinni who came to warn this Muslim family from the disaster. Over forty thousand people perished inside their houses and over one thousand people were injured. However, a mosque in the midst of a destroyed village stood untouched, as well as a fifteen-day-old baby was rescued after being trapped under the rubble of her house for five days. She was the only survivor among her family.

Jinn are hidden, mortal and intelligent beings, although the level of their intelligence is beyond our perception. Some are good and helpful, and others are bad and harmful. Some are Muslims and others are non-believers. Like human beings, they will be accounted in the Hereafter for what they did here on this earth. Some of them will enter Heaven, others will enter Hell. Unlike human beings who live in the world of matter, they probably live in the world of what scientists call “anti-matter”.

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