By Muhammad Yunus & Ashfaque Ullah Syed
(Published exclusively on New Age Islam with Permission of the authors and publishers)
5 May 2015
2.1. Essence of Faith
An unqualified and wholesome belief in the One Almighty God (tawhid), without the slightest association of anything with Him (shirk) distinguishes the Qur’an as the epitome of the purest form of monotheism. The Qur’an repeatedly asserts the transcendence of God and uses a rosary of attributes to convey the multifarious manifestations of His Words (kalimat). It recounts almost a hundred attributes of God such as, the Sustainer (Lord), the Sovereign, the Holy, the (source of) Peace, the Secure, the Preserver (of safety), the Mighty, the Inexorable, the Supreme, the Eternal Source (of everything), the Complete, the Fearless, the Exalted, the Wise, the Permanent, the Merciful, the Independent, the Omnipotent, the Originator of Heaven and Earth etc. The Qur’an however makes it clear that all Words are due to Him:
“Say (O Muhammad!): ‘If the ocean were an inkwell for the Words* of my Lord, sooner would the ocean be exhausted than my Lord’s Words (kalimat), even if We brought the same to replenish (it)’” (18:109). *[Scholars have connoted the word kalimat in this verse with ‘wisdom’ or ‘knowledge.’ It can also mean manifestations.]
“If all the trees on earth were (made into) pens and the oceans (were ink), with seven oceans for replenishment*, the Words (kalimat) of God will not be exhausted. Indeed God is Almighty, Wise” (31:27). *[Lit., ‘after that’]
The Qur’an calls upon humankind to submit [orient themselves] to God, and to seek His forgiveness. It advocates belief in the ‘unseen:’ what is impenetrable to human perception (the angels, jinn), and affirms the certainty of the Day of Judgment.
2.2. Reference to past and Biblical Prophets / Scriptures
The Qur’an states that God sent messengers to different communities from time to time (10:47),1 and declares that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets.2
“And there has been a messenger for every community, and when their messenger comes, judgment is passed among them justly, and they are not wronged” (10:47).
It calls upon Muslims to believe in all the prophets and previously revealed scriptures, and to make no distinction between any of the Prophets (4:152),3 and affirms that all the messengers are not mentioned in the Qur’an (40:78).4
“As for those who believe in God and His messengers, and do not make a distinction between any of them – it is they who will be given their rewards, for God is Most Forgiving and Merciful” (4:152).
“Certainly We have sent messengers before you (O Muhammad!): Some of them We have mentioned to you, while there are others that We have not mentioned to you…” (40:78).
The Qur'an enjoins the same true religion as the Judeo-Christian prophets had preached (2:136),5 but it unequivocally rejects the notion of divine incarnation and trinity (Nicene Creed) which describes Jesus as Son of God, and one of three among a multiple deity (4:171).6
“Say, ‘We believe in God, and in what was revealed to us, and in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We do not make a distinction between any of them. To God alone do we submit” (2:136)
“O People of the Book, do not commit excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God but the truth. The Messiah Jesus, the Son of Mary, was a messenger of God, and His Word that He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit from Him. Therefore, believe in God and His messengers, and do not say ‘Trinity’ - it is best for you to refrain (from this). God is one sole deity, too glorified to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth, God is enough of a Patron” (4:171).
The Qur’an mentions twenty-four of the Biblical prophets by name, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, to name the noted ones. However, the Qur’an does not tell the story of its prophets in a linear fashion. With the exception of the story of Joseph (Sura 12), the Qur’anic allusions appear in bits and pieces scattered across its text. Thus for example, Jesus is spoken of some 35 times either by his name Isa, or by some other title (Messiah, the Son of Mary),7 and some aspects of the story of Moses occur in 44 different passages.8
At the time of the Prophet, varying versions of Biblical accounts were held by diverse Christian sects,9 but the Qur’anic references to the missions of Biblical prophets, though fragmentary, are fully consistent. Accordingly many Christian priests and Rabbis saw the truth in the Qur’anic revelation (2:146),10 and listened to it with overwhelming awe, admiration, and devotion (17:107).
“Those to whom We have given the Book, know this (to be true) as they know their own sons…” (2:146)
“Say: ‘Whether you believe in it - or you do not believe, indeed, those who are given knowledge before this (Qur’an), fall down prostrating on their faces when it is recited to them’” (17:107).
2.3. Qur’anic guidance is broad based and universal
The Qur'an sets out the highest principles of belief and a framework of moral values and social guidelines. However, its guidance is timeless, designed for universal communities, and is therefore broad based, and not spelled out in any details. For example, it lays great emphasis on good deeds and zakah (traditionally rendered as charity) - but does not define either. Its treatment of social and civil norms, finance etc. is in general terms. It does not give any detailed instructions in civil law or administration of justice, though it touches on the punishment for some of the major prevalent offences and crimes, while emphasizing on justice and equity in general terms. However, the Qur’an is specific when it radically changed what existed at the time. Accordingly, it clearly spells out the various facets of family and inheritance laws, thereby ensuring the rights and privileges of women in different capacities: as an independent person, a wife, a mother, a widow, or as an inheritor of property from the next of kin.
The Qur’an remains silent about the physical setting of life, as the latter changes with time, place, and state of civilization. Thus, it refers to man’s eternal need for eating but does not say how to prepare the food. It refers to man’s eternal need for lodging, but does not say a word about the type or nature of his abode. It refers to man’s need for traveling to distant lands, but does not prescribe any mode of communication. It refers to man’s eternal need for harnessing the forces of nature for his use, but does not elaborate on the methodology or the process to accomplish this.
To put it in a word, the Qur’an is practically silent about the myriad of objects, articles, gadgets, tools, instruments, and equipment that man has been developing with the progress of civilization. Contrary to the once popular notion, the Qur’an does not even condemn music, though of course good Muslims should be cautious as far as certain types of music are concerned (because they neatly go together with drugs, alcohol and prostitution).
Historically, the orthodox have been suspicious of all new things. Their objection, in the historical perspective, has ranged from the introduction of the handkerchief in the post Prophetic era, to the use of printing machine in late medieval era and photography, microphone and television in more recent times. But the Qur’an does not provide any basis to prevent humans from using the God given faculty of their minds, and to change the physical setting of their life through enterprise, innovation, discovery and invention.
2.4. Qur’anic commandments are not gender biased
The Qur'an addresses its believers using a common gender pronoun, aa’manu, but the Qur’an also uses this word to denote the male believer. Therefore, to leave no ambiguity that its commandments are directed to both men and women, the Qur’an states:
“Indeed, for Muslim men and Muslim women, for believing men (mu’minin) and believing women (mu’minat), for devout men and devout women, for truthful men and truthful women, for patient men and patient women, for humble men and humble women, for charitable men and charitable women, for fasting men and fasting women,11 for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who remember God a lot - God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward” (33:35).
“Anyone, whether a man or a woman, who does good deeds, and is a believer – it is they (who shall) enter the garden and will not be wronged at all” (4:124).
2.5. The Transformative human language of the Qur’an
Some of the Qur’anic verses regard the manifestations of nature as well as the day-to-day happenings of life as totally dependent on God’s Will or Command. Any simplistic comprehension of such verses, typified below could lead to confusion and misinterpretation.
“…He sends down mountain-masses (of clouds) from the sky with hail in them, and He strikes with it anyone He wills and turns it away from anyone He wills…” (24:43).
“...God leaves straying anyone He wills and guides anyone He wills...” (14:4, 74:31).
“…God multiplies things for anyone He wills…” (2:261).
These stipulations seemingly suggest that man need not make any effort to do anything on his own, as everything depends on God’s Will. But such an interpretation is totally out of line with the following Qur’anic assertions appearing in two of its verses:
“… God does not change the favor which He has bestowed on a people, unless they change themselves*…” (8:53).
“… God does not change the condition of a people, unless they change themselves*…” (13:11).
*[Lit., ‘change that which is in themselves.’]
These Qur’anic assertions point to both a divine law of cause and effect and to the fundamental premise of man’s free will to choosing the right path out of the “two highways shown to him” (90:10/Ch.17.1).
The truth remains, God is above any comparison with any of His creations. Therefore, as Ali al-Tantawi explains, human attributes, such as ‘will’, ‘wish’, etc. when employed to express God’s Might and Power, cannot be interpreted to mean the same as when used in the context of human beings.12
2.6. Manual handling of the Arabic Qur’an
One of the verses of the Qur’an (56:79) declares: “None but the pure (mutatahhirin) can touch it (the Qur’an).” In the context of the revelation, this probably meant approaching the Qur’an with a pure heart (Note 19/Preface), the Muslims generally regard this as an instruction to attaining purity (tahara) by doing the ritual ablution (wudu) before touching any printed copy of the Qur’an, or a part of its text. The Qur’an however uses the word tahara to denote the various dimensions of purity, such as purity or clarity of mind, spiritual purity, purity in sexual behavior, purity of a drink, etc.13 Therefore, while applying the injunction to non-believers, the Qur’anic word tahara may be understood in its broader sense. Furthermore, the Qur’anic guidance is for all humanity,14 and it is ‘a reminder for all the worlds.’15 Therefore anyone of any faith, who may not feel obliged to comply with the Qur’anic injunction on ablution, may still touch and read it, and benefit from its guidance. It would therefore follow that the non-Muslims may touch, or read the written text of the Qur’an without undermining its sanctity.
2.7. The Qur’an’s clue to its mysterious character
One of the earliest verses of the Qur’an (74:30) refers to the overlooking of hellfire by nineteen angels. The passage is allegorical, but the subsequent verse (74:31) has some clear stipulations that are worth pondering:
“Over it are nineteen (angels) (74:30), and We have made none but the angels the wardens of hellfire; and We have not set their number (at 19), except as a trial for those who deny (this revelation) - so as to convince those who were given the Book, and to strengthen the faith of those who believe; so that those who were given the Book and who have faith (in One God) may not be in doubt, and that those with sickness in their hearts, and the disbelievers may say: ‘What does God mean by this example?’ God leaves straying anyone He wills and guides anyone He wills...” (74:31).
If we ponder over the number 19, as the verse (74:31) apparently invites us to, we find some easily verifiable clues that point to a mysterious bearing of this odd prime number in the formatting and composition of the Qur’anic text. Thus for example:
The Qur’an’s opening benediction, Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim [In the name of God, the Benevolent, the Merciful] has 19 letters.
The Qur’an has 114 chapters (Suras) - the number is a multiple of 19.
The Qur’an’s first revealed passage (96:1-5/Ch. 1.2) contains 19 words, 76 or 19X4 letters, and is located in the chapter (96) - which stands 19th from the end (counting 114 as 1, 113 as 2…) and contains 19verses, and 304 or 19X16 letters.
The number of Qafs in the 50th chapter, Surah Qaf, which begins with the letter Qaf as a Qur’anic Initial (maqta)*, is 57, or 19X3.
*[muqattat, (pl. form of maqta) are letters of unknown meaning which appear at the beginning of some of the Qur’anic chapters, as Qur’anic Initials.]
The number of Qafs in the 42nd chapter, Surah al-Shura, which is the only other chapter beginning with a Qur’anic Initial containing a Qaf (42:2), is 57, or 19X3.
The 42nd and 50th Qur’anic chapters having a Qaf in the Initial have 53 and 45 verses respectively, and the sum of the chapter as well as verse number in each case (42+53, 50+45) is 95, or 19X5.
14 Arabic letters appear in 14 different combinations in 29 chapters as Qur’anic Initials, and the sum of these numbers is 57 (14+14+29), or 19X3.
Though the 9th Qur’anic chapter (Surah al-Tawbah) does not begin with Bismillah…, there is an extra Bismillah…in the text of Chapter 27, giving a total of 114, or 19X6 Bismillahs…in the Qur’an.
The 27th chapter (which has an extra Bismillah…) counts 19th from the 9th chapter, which does not begin with a Bismillah…
The number of Qafs in the first 19 verses of the first Qur’anic chapter having at least 19 verses (Surah al-Baqarah, 2) is 19.
Given the innate incapability of human mind to comprehend a sentence or a passage with a predetermined arithmetical order to have a mathematical consistency of a completed work, it is just not possible to have the cited 15 easily verifiable examples as a mere coincidence.16
1. 13:38, 15:10, 23:44, 30:47, 35:24, 43:6, 57:25.
3. 2:177, 2:285, 57:19.
5. 3:3, 3:84, 42:13.
7. Geoffery Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, Oxford 1996 reprint, p. 18.
8. Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur’an, 2nd edition, Oregon 2007, p. 15.
9. Geoffery Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, Oxford 1996 reprint, Chap. 3.
10. 6:20, 28:52, 28:53, 26:197.
11. The underlined expression represents the traditional rendering of the words sa’imin and sa’imat, based on the Qur’anic usage of the word siam for fasting in the month of Ramadan. However, the Qur’an also connotes this word with abstinence (19:26), and if this meaning is applied, then the underlined expression will read: “for men and women who abstain (from greed and vices).” - Muhammad Asad, Message of the Qur’an, Gibraltar 1980, Chap. 33, Note 38.
12. Ali al-Tantawi, General Introduction to Islam, English translation, Makkah 1994, p. 88.
13. List of different derivatives of the word tahara used in the Qur’an:
- mutahhir, tahhar: God purified Jesus (3:55) and Mary (3:42).
- tahhir, tahhar: purifying one’s thoughts (74:4) sanctifying the House (for worship) (2:125, 22:26).
- athar: a pure mental state that is conducive to one’s treating his divorced wife with honor and generosity (2:232), to give out in charity (58:12), and to overcome sexual desire (33:53); purer sexual relationship between man and woman as against homosexuality (11:78).
- mutahhra: the pure and sacred contents of the revelation (80:14, 98:2); pure companions (2:25).
- yatatahhru: purity in sexual behavior (7:82, 27:56); spiritual purity of people attending the mosque (9:108).
- tahura: pure rain water (25:48); a most pure drink (76:21).
- yutahhir: God purifies the faithful (5:6); He does not purify the pagans (5:41); the charity offered to the Prophet purified the faithful (9:103); God purified the Prophet’s wives (33:33).
- tatahhr: women’s physically pure state outside their monthly courses (2:222).
14. 2:185, 10:108, 14:52 [Same as footnote 15, Preface]
15. 38:87, 68:52.
16. The statistical chance of such a repeated occurrence of 19 as a factor in all the above noted 15 instances is 1 in 1915 (15,000,000,000,000,000). In other words, if one was to go through more than fifteen million billion books, statistically he will find only one meeting the above arithmetical logic. It is indeed quite mysterious.
Muhammad Yunus, a Chemical Engineering graduate from Indian Institute of Technology, and a retired corporate executive has been engaged in an in-depth study of the Qur’an since early 90’s, focusing on its core message. He has co-authored the referred exegetic work, which received the approval of al-Azhar al-Sharif, Cairo in 2002, and following restructuring and refinement was endorsed and authenticated by Dr. KhaledAbou El Fadl of UCLA, and published by Amana Publications, Maryland, USA, 2009.
Rational,For Muhammad Yunus also there are only two categories - believer and non-believer. There is no third category of those who have not rejected and are potentially believers and who cannot be called kafir.Once God passes the verdict of “Kufr” on a nation, none among this nation will believe after the verdict and this nation is then completely destroyed. Examples are the people of Noah, Lut, Hud, Saleh and Shoaib.God did pass such a judgment on some of the people from among the People of the Book and the polytheists and called them the worst of creatures and who these people were, are covered in Surah 98 and in my article. Except for the people of the Book and the Polytheists who have been clearly and precisely identified in my article Who Are The Worst Of Creatures In The Quran? God did not confirm the guilt of Kufr on any other people of the Prophet’s times through any verse of the Quran, although there are several verses in the form of dire warning, but allowing for repentance.
The proof of the fact that God did not pass the judgment of kufr on all the Polytheists is that almost all of the polytheists accepted Islam several years after the revelation of Surah 98. Yunus Sb has himself given the figure of only 2000 that perished as disbelievers.
The earlier Prophets such as Noah, Moses, Lut, Shoeb, Saleh and Hud also preached to the Mushrikin of their times. At the end of the mission, the disbelievers were totally destroyed by an act of God. The persons who had become kafir by virtue of rejecting the “truth” were not known even to the Prophets, unless Allah informed them about it. For example, Yunus (pbuh) (verses 37:139 to 142) assumed that kufr of belief was proven against the people to whom he was sent. He therefore left them and this is described as an act worthy of blame. He was swallowed by a fish, repented and went back to the people who then accepted belief.
Another example is Noah (pbuh) who is informed by Allah in verse 11:36 that "None of thy people will believe except those who have believed already!....”. This verse confirms the guilt of kufr of belief on the remaining people. Noah is asked to build an ark and take the believers with him and the rest are drowned in a flood.
IN THE CASE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S MISSION, NOT ALL MUSHRIKIN ARE TREATED AS KAFIR EVEN AFTER THE CONQUEST OF MECCA
1. Freedom from (all) obligations (is declared) from Allah and His Messenger to those of the Mushrikun, with whom you made a treaty.2. So travel freely for four months (as you will) throughout the land, but know that you cannot escape (from the Punishment of) Allah, and Allah will disgrace the kafaru.3. And a declaration from Allah and His Messenger to mankind on the greatest day that Allah is free from (all) obligations to the Mushrikun and so is His Messenger. So if you repent, it is better for you, but if you turn away, then know that you cannot escape (from the Punishment of) Allah. And give tidings (O Muhammad ) of a painful torment to the kafaru.4. Except those of the Mushrikun with whom you have a treaty, and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor have supported anyone against you. So fulfill their treaty to them to the end of their term. Surely Allah loves Al- Mattaqun.5. Then when the Sacred Months (the Ist, have passed, then kill the Mushrikun wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. But if they repent and perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat, then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.6. And if anyone of the Mushrikun seeks your protection then grant him protection, so that he may hear the Word of Allah (the Qur'an), and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are men who know not.Verses 9:1 and 9:2 declare amnesty of four months to all Mushrikin but with a warning that the Kafirun (not Mushrikin) among them will be covered with shame at the end of the period.9:3 and 9:4 announces dissolution of all treaties with the Mushrikin except with those who never broke their treaty and warns the Kafirun (not Mushrikin) of a grievous penalty.Verse 9:5 is a command to kill all Mushrikin at the end of the four month period with the exception of:1. Those who never broke their treaty or never fought the Muslims (9:4)2. Those who accept Islam offer prayers and pay Zakat (9:5)3. Those who seek asylum (9:6)If the command was to kill only the Kafirin, then the problem would have been how to identify them since there was no longer an enemy standing in battle. The enemy standing in battle against the Muslims is always referred to as the Kafaru and never as the Mushrikin. The verses identify the non Kafir among the Mushrikin through the exceptions listed above. Verse 9:5 read together with 9:4 and 9:6 then becomes a command to kill only the Kafirin among the Mushrikin.Both the terms Mushrikin and Kafaru that appear in 9:3 cannot mean the same thing. The Quran’s style is elliptic. It never uses any word unnecessarily. If it meant the same, there was no need to use Kafaru at all. Also, a point to ponder is why does the Quran avoid mentioning any punishment by using the term Mushrik but instead uses Kafaru or Kafirin whenever it speaks about punishment? Clearly the Quran has never equated the Mushrik with the Kafir. A person born as Mushrik does not become a kafir until he rejects "the truth". All those who fought against the Muslims are clearly treated as kafir but not those who never fought or even those who seek asylum or those who never broke their treaty. Verse 9:6 is proof that those Meccans who had not accepted Islam despite the Prophet preaching in Mecca for 13 years and for another 8 years in Medina, were to be treated as merely “those without knowledge” and not as kafir, even if they had fought against the Muslims earlier. The mere act of seeking asylum was to be treated as a sign of non-defiance or of not being a kafir.The following verses further elaborate the point beyond which a mushrik becomes a kafir for not accepting belief.
(41:53) Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that thy Lord doth witness all things?
27:14 "And they rejected those Signs in iniquity and arrogance, though their souls were convinced thereof: so see what the end of those who acted corruptly was!
Whether the truth has become manifest in their own souls, God alone can say. A Mushrik does not become a kafir for rejection of the message until the truth has become manifest in his own soul.
If we are to go by what Yunus Sb says, then Allah had pronounced the verdict of “Kufr” on all the polytheists in the early Medinian period itself! On the contrary, there is a verse asking the Prophet to be patient and not be like Prophet Yunus and despair of the people accepting the faith.
Yunus Sb will however never budge from the position that he has taken in his book “Essential Message of Islam” as we know from past experience even though verse 98:6 has been discussed also from a purely linguistic perspective and by comparing with verse 13:23 of similar construction in my comment By Naseer Ahmed - 5/11/2015 11:34:52 AM. I have also cited the names of several translators including Yusuf Ali and Ashraf Ali Thanvi who have the same understanding as I have. Those who interpret as Yunus sb are mercifully in the miniscule minority.
If Yunus Sb interprets 98:6 in the manner he does, then by what leap of imagination does he consider the Hindus as not Kafir in this day and age of information and 1400 years after the advent of the Prophet and when the Hindus have lived among the Muslims for close to a 1000 years? There is neither rhyme nor reason in his confused thinking.
Born Polytheists cannot be treated as Kafir for the very same reason the Mushrikin of Mecca or the Mushrikin of the times of Noah, Lut, Hud, Salih, Shoeb, Yunus, Yusuf, Moses etc were not treated as Kafir until they had rejected the Messenger sent to them in a decisive manner and until Allah had stamped the seal of Kufr on their hearts after which they could never believe even if they had lived another 1000 years.
A born Mushrik does not become a kafir until he has rejected Islamic belief after it has been presented to him in a manner that convinces him, and his inner self has acknowledged it as the truth. Thereafter, his own self becomes both the witness and accuser against him. If he runs away from the truth or evades the question, then that is also kufr.
what is your verdict on following translations and translator of the Quran?
25:56] .We have sent you (Rashad) as a deliverer of good
news, as well as a warner
[36:3] Most assuredly, you (Rashad) are one of the
[42:24] Are they saying, "He (Rashad) has fabricated lies
about GOD!"? If GOD willed, He could have sealed your mind, but
GOD erases the falsehood and affirms the truth with His words. He
is fully aware of the innermost thoughts.
A person could belong to one of the three categories: 1) believer, 2) a person who has rejected belief 3) or a person who is undecided.
Accepting and declaring belief was not easy. You are aware of the persecution and loss of business suffered by the early Muslims, The migration to Abyssinia and finally to Medina leaving behind their homes.
Surah 98 is an early Medina Surah revealed before the battle of Badr when the Muslims consisted of those who had suffered and migrated and the Ansars who gave them shelter and half of what they possessed or the Vanguard Muslims. These are referred to as the best of creatures and this description is exclusively used in the Quran for the Vanguard Muslims for very obvious reasons. These were people of exceptional faith who had till then known nothing but only making great sacrifices.
The worst of creatures is used for the knowledgeable among the People of the Book and the Polytheists who eagerly awaited the coming of the Prophet based on prophecies and when he came with clear proofs rejected him. The Kafaru clearly describes their kufr. When a verse uses the word Kafaru and also describes the kufr of the kafaru, then the word Kafaru has a specific meaning. This term does not cover all people of the Book who did not accept Islam either but specifically a particular group as described above who rejected belief.
As far as the Meccan Mushrikin are concerned they fled from the Prophet as donkeys flee from the Lions because on the one hand the Prophet was describing Hell in the most vivid terms and the likes of Abu Jahl was threatening to tear them apart if they became Muslim. The situation was so bad that the Muslims were permitted to lie about their faith under threat of severe torture or death. A person must be out of his mind to label as the worst of creatures all such Polytheists who did not accept Islam for the severe challenge acceptance of faith posed! God does not require such supreme sacrifices either but rewards handsomely those who make those sacrifices. Surely not everyone was expected to accept Islam under such trying circumstances with a most uncertain and bleak future with nothing going for them except unshakable belief. When the "Chiefs of Unfaith" were either killed or accepted Islam the rest willingly accepted Islam in droves - many of them before the conquest of Mecca. Certainly these had not accepted belief when Surah 98 was revealed nor can they be called the worst of creatures.
Please read once again the article:
Who Are The Worst Of Creatures In The Quran?
and also my comment which add considerable additional information. Also always remember that there is a third category of people who have neither rejected nor accepted and potentially believers.
Saheb, one of my friends has asked me to
post this as comment in the present discussion. He doesn't want to give his
name and also use a pseudonym:
we go by Naseer saheb's interpretation of 98:6 and create a category of
polytheists among the Prophet's audience who did not believe, it will imply
that there were polytheists among the Prophet's audience who believed. Such a
hypothesis will falsify the Qur'an which repeatedly refers to the polytheists
(mushrikin, verb form allathina ashraku) as one group as illustrated below:
you will undoubtedly find them the greediest of all people for life, (greedier)
than even those who associate partners (allathina ashraku) with God. Every one
of them wishes if only he might be spared for a thousand years.. (2:96)
who disbelieve among the People of the Book and those who associate partners
(allathina ashraku) with God love not that there should be sent down on you any
good from your Lord….” (2:105).
they (the Jews) say, "Be Jews" or (the Christians say,) "Be
Christians that you may be rightly
guided." Say (to them, O Messenger): "Rather, [we chose] the Way of
Abraham of pure faith " Abraham was never of those who associate partners
(mushrikin) with God.
not marry the women who associate partners (mushrikat) with God until they
believe. A believing slave-girl is better than a (free) woman who associates
partners (mushrikah) with God, even though she pleases and attracts you . Nor
marry the men who associate partners with God (mushrik) until they believe...” (2:221)
was not a Jew, nor a Christian; but he was one pure of faith and Muslim (who
submitted to Godt). He was never of those who associate partners with God
are scores of similar verses in the Qur'an.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ فِي نَارِ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أُوْلَئِكَ هُمْ شَرُّ الْبَرِيَّةِ
Sahih International: Indeed, the Kafaru among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.
The translation of Sahih International is true to the Arabic text and twenty other translators follow the same. Is there room for doubt whether the qualifying expression “the kafaru among” covers both the groups of peoples viz. the People of the Scripture and the Polytheists or only the first group?
There should be no room for doubt since it is easy to see that if the intention was to cover only the first group of people, then the wording would have been “Indeed, the Polytheists and the Kafaru among the People of the Scripture will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the worst of creatures.” This is a simple rule of clear speech or writing that all of us follow and here we are talking about divine speech. The qualifying expression “the kafaru among” therefore covers the polytheists as well. Even to entertain a doubt as to the correct meaning is to have an evil thought about God in more than one way. The first is that God does not follow the simple rule of clear speech. The second is that God should hold all Polytheists as the worst of creatures which then would hold true for all time and for all polytheists! This hardly looks reasonable!
There are ten translators who leave no scope for any misunderstanding by deviating from the literal translation and translating it as:
Yusuf Ali: Those Kafaru, among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures.
The others who follow the example of Yusuf Ali are: Muhammad Asad, Ali Unal, Shabbir Ahmed, Syed Vickar Ahmed, Bilal Muhammad, Maududi, Amatul Rahman Omar, George Sale, John Medows Rodwel.
Aisha Bewley is an exception among the English translators in whose translation the qualifier qualifies only the People of the Book:
Aisha Bewley: The People of the Book who are kafir and the idolaters will be in the Fire of Hell, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. They are the worst of creatures.
Among the Urdu translators, Thanvi translates it as: Be shak jo log ahlekitab aur mishrikin mein se kafir huay woh atish dozagh mein javenge…..
Clearly he does not include all the mushrikin or ahle kitab in the description of kafaru
Fateh includes all of them – ahle kitab as well as the polytheists in the definition of kafaru!
Ahmed Ali includes all polytheists in the description of kafaru.
Now to remove all doubt let us consider verse 13:23 from the Quran with similar construction:
جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ يَدْخُلُونَهَا وَمَنْ صَلَحَ مِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَالمَلاَئِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِم مِّن كُلِّ بَابٍ
(23) Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation):
The expression "the righteous among" governs or qualifies "their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring
wa man salaha min - and whoever were righteous among
Aabaaihim - their fathers
wa azwajihm - and their spouses
wadhurriyyātihim - and their offsprings
In 98:6, to remain consistent, we must take "inna alladhina kafaru min" meaning "Indeed the kafaru among" to govern both the people of the Book and the polytheists.
else we should take 13:23 to mean:
(23) Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, and all their spouses, and all their offspring: and angels shall enter unto them from every gate (with the salutation):The spouses and offspring need not be righteous and get a free ticket!
There is no verse in the Quran that talks of the punishment of the Mushrikin except 98:6 which covers only a specific group among them and
(48:6) And that He may punish the Hypocrites, men and women, and the Polytheists men and women, who imagine an evil opinion of Allah. On them is a round of Evil: the Wrath of Allah is on them: He has cursed them and got Hell ready for them: and evil is it for a destination.
The above cited verse is from surah Al Fatah and is about the incidents surrounding the treaty of Hudaybiyah and the Muanfiqin and Mushrikin are the specific people involved who imagined an evil opinion of Allah. The Punishment is also not confirmed on them and there is only a warning in the verse. This also implies that some or even all of them may have subsequently reformed and accepted Islam.
There is no other verse that speaks about the punishment of the Mushrikin. All verses dealing with punishment speak of the Kafirin only and these are the evil doers of all faiths and deliberate rejecters of the truth of Islam after the truth has become manifest to them.
There is also no verse that describes all the mushrikin as kafirin.
Over and above this, Surah 98 is clearly talking about a particular group of people among the Muslims, ahle kitab and the polytheists as the best of creatures and the worst of creatures. The best are those who accepted the Prophet and supported him – the vanguard Muslims. The worst are not the ordinary ahle kitab or the Mushrikin but those who were knowledgeable and eagerly awaited the coming of the Prophet but when he came with clear signs, rejected him. This is discussed in detail in my article:
There is much more evidence in Surah 9 discussed in Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Part 2): Muslim– Non-Muslim Relationship
The evidence is overwhelming. You namy choose to close your eyes to it.
Dear Naseer Sahab,
It is true I said to Sultan Shahin Sahab to split the subjects of the verse 98:6 as below (in red ink)
Those who disbelieved among the People of the Book al-mushrikin - those who associate partners with God.
In other words the Qur'an as addressed to an audience that comprised the People of the Book and the 'Polytheists' is warning those among the People of the Book who rejected it and all the Polytheists.
It is also true that I agreed with your following claims:
- the Quran does not characterize any religious group as "Kafir" including the polytheists
- "kufr" is relative to what one knows and believes to be the truth without denying or rejecting the truth one may learn in the course of his life.
But it also true that I included the following generic interpretation of the word kufr in the above noted commentary in blue:
kufr: Willful rejection or denial of any self-evident or irrefutable proposition. The Qur’an refers to itsrecalcitrant audience by the plural noun forms kafirun, kafirin, which, for want of any appropriate English counterpart have been rendered as disbelievers or deniers as appropriate. The Qur’an also connotes kufr withcanceling or effacing something (29:7, 47:2), being thankless or ungrateful (17:27, 76:24).
In your final comment following my above endorsement of your interpretation supplemented by my definition of the word ‘kufr’ you tell me in relation to the verse 98:6: To make the question clearer, is it clear to you now that the Quran is referring only to the Kafaru among the Polytheists of the Prophet's times and not to all the Polytheists of those times as you had argued? By Naseer Ahmed - 5/10/2015 10:23:16 AM
Here is my answer to you.
My interpretation of 98:6 is exactly the same as my original conveyed to Sulatn Shahin Sahab in red above. This how I read the verse 98:6 and will go on reading even if you argue against it one hundred times:
“innaalladina kafaru (those who deny the ultimate truth) min (among) ahlil kitabe (People of the Book), as well as the mushrikin …”y
This means exactly what I wrote in my earlier comment copied above in red ink.
In my understanding of the Qur’an in the context of its revelation, it was the ultimate truth (haqqul yaqin). Not one single polytheists of the era believed in this ultimate truth as it unfolded before their eyes, while some among the People of the Book believed in its divinity as stated in a number of verses: .
“They are not the same: among the People of the Book is an upright community: they recite God’s messages through the hours of night as they bow down before Him (3:113). They believe in God and the Last Day; enjoin the good, and forbid the evil and hasten to good deeds - it is they who are among the righteous (114). Any good they do, they will not be denied it as God knows the heedful (muttaqin)” (3:115)
“There are among the People of the Book those who believe in God, and in the revelation sent to you (O Muhammad,) and in the revelation sent to them. They fear God, and do not sell God's messages for a petty price: it is they who have their reward with their Lord. Indeed God is Swift in reckoning” (3:199).
“If only the People of the Book had believed and heeded (Our message), We would have erased their evils from them and admitted them to gardens of bliss (5:65). If they had only upheld the Torah, and the Gospel, and whatever was revealed to them, they would have availed of all the blessings of life*. There is a community of moderates among them, but vile indeed is what most of them do” (5:66)
Hence, there is no question of the Qur’an dividing the polytheist among its immediate audience as believers and kafirin. In the Qur’anic epistemology, all the polytheists among its direct audience stood as kafirin in God’s sight. But this does not mean that the polytheists of this era (traditional Hindus for example) will also be regarded like the mushrikin of the Prophet’s era – kafirin in God’s sight. I have expounded this in the following article.
The Hindus are not ‘the Mushrikin’ Mentioned in the Qur’an
Naseer Sahab, to be frank with you, I really fail to understand how can you split the polytheists of the Prophets era into two categories by pure scholasticism.
So let this be our last conversation on the interpretation of 98:6 and I will much a appreciate if, as requested earlier you post comment on my last two articles referenced below that I think is immensely more important today than the exact interpretation of a verse addressed to the audience of the Qur'an as a divine aspersion - not as an eternal commandment.
The ISIS and its likes – the Muslim Violent Extremists of this era must be outlawed on historical precedent to save the Middle East from a tsunami of bloodshed and the world from a clash of civilizations.
Countering Violent Terrorism – Muslim Community leaders must warn youngsters against the dangers of Radicalization