By May 8, 2019 Read More →

Chapter Kafirun – Part 1

Chapter Deniers, part 1

This is chronologically the 18th revealed chapter.  It fits the period around the end of the 2nd year of the revelation as its content and language demonstrate.

What is a “denier” or “mushrik”?

  • Those who assign divinity to creation.
  • That is those who assign divinity to anything else other than the Creator of the Universe.

No one really says that I believe in God, but this other thing is god as well.

What does the quality of being “divine” mean?

  • Assigning the power to create, to be the source of existence of anything i.e. objects/events in the universe, including a single atom.
  • Example: Person A is the source of my pleasure and I am attaching divine qualities to it. Can the person be the source of existence or the means of attaining pleasure?

Can I be the source of existence of anything?

For example, artists say that I created this art. Did this person give existence to the art? Or did the person use the already given ability, material, qualities given and presented to him/her?  The talent is given.  No one can claim to give existence to it.

One can say that I have tried to use the given ability within the existing potentiality.  I do not give existence to the potentiality, so what am I claiming then?  As if the quality of trying within me is given existence by myself. Or, did I find it already existing within me?  We must use our free will, which is already created in my being, to develop the quality in practical terms.

We practice and do exercises with the given means.  We can say that I used my free will to improve the quality.  For example, after learning a language, only after practicing does one start speaking it.  The potentiality to speak a language is already there, I did not make it.  I can choose to make it grow by practice using the given order of the universe.

Another example, the growth of a plant takes place within the given order in the universe, not that water is giving existence to the plant

If I am talented about anything, I cannot claim that I am the Source of Existence of this skill.  People want to attribute any outcome of their actions to themselves are addicted to an egoistic attitude and we should be watchful of that.  The potentiality even to believe is within me and I ask the Creator for opportunities to grow it.  If I am a careful person, I must be thankful to the one who creates the crop or the ability to believe.

  • I asked for the potentiality to grow – a prayer and the Creator is the one that makes it grow.

We will continue with the discussion on chapter Kafirun (deniers) in the next set of notes.  The following part discusses what fasting is and how we can benefit from it.

What is fasting?

Not well understood among many of us who fast, so let’s work on it. Mostly the focus is actions. Increasing the actions versus increasing the meaning, understanding of what requires of fasting.

The example in the Quran is “saum”.  When the word “saum” is used in relation to fasting in Ramadan, it is not easily understandable when we take it as not eating and drinking etc. during a period of time in a day. In practical terms, it does not give way to what fasting is. If we look at Maryam’s story in the Quran, not the historical story from Torah narrations but how it is narrated in the Qur’an, then we can understand what is required of fasting.  Most of the outward forms of the stories mentioned in the Quran, are in Torah as well.  In the Rabbinic studies such as Talmud, rabbi’s commentaries on the Torah also mention this. The commentaries are huge compared to the text of the Torah (Pentateuch) itself with a lot of explanations added on; similar to the exegesis of the Quran. The commentaries were tied to the time dimension and that is taken as the “Torah” representing all of them.

Translations are not the Quran. Torah is originally in Hebrew and then translation into Aramaic, Greek, Arabic etc. Practical example: Bring me the Quran and one would bring the translation of the Quran. The cover of the translation says, “The Holy Quran”, interpretations while being translated into other languages that the translated Torah went through.

Story of Mary (Jesus Christ’s mother -Maryam in the Qur’an) as historically narrated:

Mary was devoted to the temple from childhood. She grew in the temple. Studying solely religious matters among the certain tribe of the Jewish community. The Levi tribe out of 12 tribes is not supposed to deal with anything in worldly affairs but religious knowledge and teaching, ever present in the service of the Temple only.

Prophet in his early period was a shepherd and later on as the administrator. As the administrator, he was propagating the message. He had a small partnership of his camels and shared the profit/loss

Mary was a chaste lady and well known in the temple as such and modest. At a young age of 15 or 16, she became pregnant. When she became pregnant, she couldn’t understand. Quran uses: no one has touched me. How can I explain this?  She went away out of shame and gave birth. She came back to her tribe as she had no other way. She was a Jew and following the tribe which is pure with legal requirements from the Lord.

Quranic story – the people say – how can you be an unchaste modest girl and you come from a good virtuous family while you hold a baby with no marriage bound.  People see the events in terms of cause and effect and understand events within the accustomed order, they don’t expect any miracle from anyone except from a prophet, let alone a woman prophet?  On a side note, the Roman tradition did not account for animals, women, slaves as citizens without any right to vote.

Mary could not have any explanation for the people according to their capacity. After being accused by her own tribe, the Levi tradition, which keeps the purity of lineage, she observed “saum” (fasting) by not speaking.  A heavy accusation according to the customs of the time. Miracles were only demonstrated by prophets. She did not claim to be a prophet. Quran says, she prefers to make “saum”, not to speak. Traditional scholarship says “saum” means “abstaining,” in case of Mary abstaining from speech. However, this word “saum” is also related to the fasting of Ramadan. While fasting from eating and drinking , we are only expected to mention the truth, what is worth to be mentioned, not talk about idle matters. Fasting requires the virtue of fasting of speech as well. However, the legal requirement is not eating, drinking, etc.

We must understand that she did not understand and did not know how to verbalize what is happening.  People came and she didn’t speak per her fasting. The Torah doesn’t mention this, but the Quran mentions that she pointed to baby Jesus in the cradle (probably a month or two old). Pointing at Jesus, by silently saying: “look at him. See the miracle of the Creator”, That is fasting.

  • We must see the miracles.
  • Any action is a miracle of the Creator.

See the world in this light (as depicted above). We usually attribute events to cause and effect. It rarely comes to our mind that the result is a miracle and nothing to do with the cause and effect relationship.  Any result created in the universe is a miracle.

Quran repeatedly states in many verses that everything is an “aya” (sign, miracle). Sentences of the Quran are also called aya, from God. The prophet’s miracles are aya and so are the results in this creation we experience.  Read them and see that they are from God directly, the One who gives them existence and speaks to conscious beings.

When Maryam pointed out the baby, what are people expected to see in the baby? A miracle, the presence of the baby is nothing but a miracle. She did not make the baby, neither can anything in this universe can make a baby.

From another aspect, the birth of Jesus is a miraculous birth, prophethood is given to Jesus at birth – a miracle of the prophet coming into this world without being confined to the accustomed order of this world; unlike prophet Muhammad’s prophethood which started around the age of 40. If we don’t take things as accustomed way and shifts the way we view the world with a new perspective, then everything becomes a miracle.

  • Miracles serve that purpose as it attracts my attention as something that I am not accustomed to.

Quran says – how can a baby talk? The question is asked by the people. How ignorant of us to think that talking is only the ability to speak from the mouth.

  • The universe talks.

The Quran says your feet, hands, complexions will talk. (Chapter Fussilat, 41: 27) Allegorical teaching in a certain setting: “I will ask them” – expected of the Creator of the Universe to ask what you made out of this world.

Anta ka nalallah hul lazi anta kun shai in (verse, 41: 27,) the One who made us speak (not only verbally), made everything else speak.

  • I am a part of the universe, so I am speaking.

Jesus’s body will speak: “I am the messenger of God”.  (For a detail description of the event, see Chapter 19 of Quran.)

People said to Maryam (pbuh): how can a baby in the cradle speak?

  • Kallama means just to speak.
  • Antaqa – speak according to logical consistency. Making something speak with logical consistency. “Every being in the universe makes logical speech in the way they are brought into existence”.
  • Nutuq– making public speech
  • Mantiq is logic.

Every action of creation is a messenger of God.  Baby says that I am created by God and my job is to worship Him. He gave me the book/revelation and made me a Nabi (messenger from my Creator to you).

A’tani al Kitaba – He gave me the book. What is the book?  The message contains the message of the Creator. Kitab includes explanation of what is out in the universe. Every creature is a Kitab for a person to read.

  • When the Quran uses Kitab, it refers to the verbal revelation as well as action performed (revealed) in the creation of the universe.

Everything is a Kitab (book) to be read.  Kitab includes explanation of the Speech of God verbally and action/display wise.  We don’t usually read it as a book revealed by the Creator, we read as if without the author. For example, the flower I witnessed today is a book revealed by my Creator to be read.

  • Scripture and universe are both books and go hand in hand.
  • Universe is always waiting to be read, although we may read it as a book without an author.

When Mary pointed to the baby – as a result from inspiration from God, that is fasting from defending herself with a human speech, which means, the universe speaks and I do not have to speak in literal sense, that is an evidence enough for me about the Source of my Existence.  If I take things literally, then I will say that baby Jesus (PBUH) literally spoke, which is also possible for the Creator of the human beings and animals with the ability to speak.

While fasting we should do nothing but read the book. Reading the book of creation we should be busy with it.  After all that reading, reflecting, contemplation, you can reestablish your relationship with the rest of the universe any month of the year, except Ramadan daytime, you can eat, drink, have relations, etc.

  • Don’t reflect on anything else but read book of creation, that is fasting. Read during the time set between dawn and dusk as well while practicing the ritualistic fasting of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, I must be busy reading the book. An intensive reflective time. Fasting is a very difficult, dense form of worship which is why it is so important. Prayer is momentary in one’s life, 5 times assigned for reflection. Do it in the physical form with reflection.  However, real fasting – can we speak as we do now? We must keep ourselves busy with the meaning of the idol actions.  How conscious am I with what I am doing? After many hours of reflection, one needs a break at sunset.  Fasting is not a dot, rather a line.

When one is performing Hajj – 3 days continuous “fasting,” there is no break every day unlike Ramadan.  While in ihram (state of acknowledgment of the Source of my existence), it means that I am fasting.  In other words, 3 days of fasting from futile concerns is called “hajj” (pilgrimage.)


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