Archive for the ‘Alliances and Treaties’ Category

On gentleness and responsibility

Monday, May 7th, 2012

We are such passionate beings we forget the message of Allah is one that encourages the best of manners. But it is more than a superficial gesture. We have to recall the gentleness that the Prophet always carried. We forget the strength of being kind and gentle. The refinement it carries. The respect it brings upon the personhood of the gentle being.

One day a man said something abusive to the Prophet (PBUH). `Aa’isha (RA) was standing there and heard it and she returned it in kind! The Prophet (PBUH) promptly said to her, “Easy now, `Aa’isha, God loves gentleness in everything.” Narrated by `Aa’isha and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

Indeed, the Prophet (PBUH) was gentle and friendly even to his enemies. God says in the holy Quran, “So by mercy from God, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech], thick-hearted (harsh), they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them, ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon God. Indeed, God loves those who rely [upon Him].” (3:159)

A major role for gentleness is in the call to Islam. God emphasizes that calling people to Islam must be done with “wisdom and good preaching” and that arguing with them must be “in the most beautiful manner” (16:125). Yet, you find some Muslims today that drive away potential converts by the way they behave, by the way they talk and even by the way they look! Why would anybody in their right mind consider giving Islam a first look after seeing what these Muslims do?

That is the opposite of Da`wa (proselytizing)! The Prophet’s advice to his missionaries has been, “Make things easy and don’t make them difficult. Give good news and don’t repulse.” Narrated by Anas ibn Maalik and reported by Al-Bukhaari, and also narrated by Abu-Moosa Al-Ash`ari and reported by Muslim. See how beautiful the Prophet’s advice has been and how many Muslims do the exact opposite!

Most major figures in history are either remembered for being gentle or ruthless. But, we forget that a major component of piety is gentleness.

Did you notice that the gentle are far more remembered? How many people remember Abraham (PBUH) and are named Abraham? How many people remember Nimrod, if that’s even his name?

And my major thought; the one that makes me write to you is our lack of understanding of the covenant we have made with Allah. The one we forget so easily. We proclaimed to Allah subhana wa taala, and let me know if I am wrong, that we would take care of His Earth and all its inhabitants. Is not the English word vicegerent? I wish I knew the Arabic word.

The Arabic word is Khaleefa, which means deputy. A deputy’s job is to take care of things on behalf of the King. God made it clear that man’s job on earth was to be His deputies (2:30). When God appointed David (PBUH) King of Israel, He said to him, “O David, We have made you a deputy in the land, so judge between people with the truth and do not follow desire.” (38:26)

As I mentioned in a previous post, all suffering, misery and imbalance in the world is a direct, predictable result of injustice, which comes from not abiding by the truth and following desire instead.

God praises people who cultivate and improve the earth and chastises those who ruin it and spread mischief.

We do not recall that we are the ones who are responsible for the contents of the Quran. We have forgotten that we are responsible and accountable.

Excellent point. In fact, God vowed to preserve the text of the Quran, but left to us the preservation of its teachings. But even the text of the Quran would not have been preserved if it weren’t for the righteous people who did the work! There were attempts early on to have differing versions of the Quran, however slight, but they all failed, thanks to upstanding leaders such as Uthmaan ibn `Affaan, may God have been pleased with him.

You are indeed correct that we have a covenant with God. I talked about that in this earlier post. God expects us to fulfill all covenants we make. Consider:

“O you who have believed, fulfill contracts.” (5:1)

“And fulfill [the terms of] a treaty. A vow will be accounted.” (17:34)

“And remember the favor of God upon you and His covenant with which He bound you when you said, ‘We hear and we obey’; and watch out for God. Indeed, God knows well what is within.” (5:7)

“They fulfill their pledges and fear a Day whose hardship flares up.” (76:7)

Explain the first five verses of Chapter 9

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

It would be great help for me if you explain how to present these verses (9:1-5) to non-Muslims. I was talking with some non-muslim friends and based on tafsir (exegesis) of Quran I could not explain it well.

Muslims had non-aggression treaties with the polytheists of Mecca. Verses 9:1-15 were revealed to declare that after the expiration of the terms of the current treaties with the polytheist that those treaties will never again be renewed. The polytheist will have to live peacefully with Muslims. If they choose to fight, as they have done repeatedly before, then Muslims will fight them back and there will not be any more treaties.

Verse 9:4 makes it clear that the terms of the current treaties that have not yet expired have to be honored,

“Except those you have covenanted of the polytheists and they have not shorted you of anything nor supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until the end of their term. Indeed, God loves the watchful [of Him].” (9:4)

Verse 9:5, called in the classic literature “the sword verse”, and often quoted by Islamophobes, is the most misunderstood verse in the Quran, even by Muslims. It simply says that after the expiration of the terms of the current treaties, aggression of the polytheists will not be tolerated. This is made clear by the next verse, 9:6, which makes it clear that aggression is only directed at the aggressors,

“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of God. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.” (9:6)

The next verses explain the theme further and tell why God does not want Muslims to have more treaties with the polytheists by reminding Muslims of the past hostility and atrocities they committed against Muslims. Verse 9:7, however, makes it clear that peaceful co-existence can happen between Muslims and polytheists,

“How can there be for the polytheists a covenant with God and with His Messenger, except for those you covenanted at the Sacrosanct Mosque? So as long as they have been straight with you, be straight with them. Indeed, God loves the watchful [of Him].” (9:7)

Finally, verse 9:12, emphasizes again that betrayal and aggression from the polytheists must be met with a fight back. Verse 9:13 urges Muslims not to fear the polytheists and reminds them of the long history of injustice done by the polytheists to Muslims.

Did Muslims cancel a treaty unilaterally?

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Chapter 9 starts off with what sounds like a unilateral cancellation of all treaties with polytheists. Is that what it says?

On a side note, why is Chapter 9 the only one that does not start with the Basmala introduction (the words: In the Name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful)?

Unilateral cancellation of obligations is reneging on a promise! Sanctified is God above that.

The “Baraa’a” (disavowal) mentioned in Chapter 9 is a declaration of an end to the practice of having treaties with the polytheists of Arabia. That is, after the terms of the current treaties expire, there shall be no more treaties. Either the polytheists accept Islam or live peacefully with Muslims. If they choose to fight, Muslims will have to fight them back. No more treaties.

As for the Basmala question, lots of explanations were suggested in the literature, but nobody really knows. Neither God nor His Messenger have told us. Therefore, all explanations offered are guesses.

I read an argument, which sounds plausible to me. It says that this Soora (Chapter of the Quran) is very harsh on the hypocrites and that’s why an introduction filled with grace would be unfitting.

There is really no answer, because the only way we can know is if God or His Messenger tells us and they did not.

If that explanation was correct, then how come Soorat Muhammad (Chapter 47) starts with the Basmala? That Soora is also tough on the disbelievers from the first verse. In fact, many Salaf (scholars of old) have called this Soora, Soorat Al-Qitaal (The Chapter of fighting).

The flip side of this argument should also be examined. There is one Soora which has two Basmalas! It’s Soorat An-Naml, Chapter 27. The second Basmala is in verse 30. How come? Does this Chapter contain more of God’s mercy than all other chapters? No. If any Chapter deserved to have two Basmalas by that logic, it would have been Soorat Maryam, Chapter 19. It has the name Ar-Rahmaan 11 times, more than any other Soora.

That explanation sounds nice, but is flawed as an argument.

Cooperation for good works

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

I watched with delight the successful rescue operation of 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for more than two months. Thank God for their safety. Every now and then there are some good news!

This is a wonderful example of how people can get together, work together, use their know-how for good and save lives. Why is that so rare?

God says in the holy Quran, “…And cooperate for goodness and piety and do not cooperate for sin and aggression…” (5:2)

Is Islam violent?

Friday, July 27th, 2007

Is Islam violent? Does the Quran encourage violence? I have seen some of the Quran extracts which talks about Muslims not being allowed to befriend Christians and that the West are all infidels, etc. For example,
“O ye who believe, take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.” (5:51)

Two common fallacies. God tells Muslims in the Quran not to be allies in war with the people of the Book (Christians and Jews). Nothing to do with friendship. The word God uses in the Quran is “Awliyaa'”, plural of “Waliyy”, which means close ally and the context you quote is a context of war as you can see from the very next verse, 5:52. Thus, the quoted translation is misleading.

When there is no war, the instructions from God are, “God does not forbid you to be cordial and just with those who do not fight you in religion or expel you from your homes. God loves the just” (60:8) The next verse emphasizes the different circumstances of wartime, “What God forbids you is to be allies with those who fight you in religion, expel you from your homes or ally themselves with those who do. Those of you who ally themselves with them are the wrongdoers” (60:9)

Even when there is war, God’s instructions are to honor all treaties until the other side breaks them, “Except those polytheists with whom you have treaties and they did not break them nor ally with your enemies: Complete the term of the treaties. God loves those who fear Him.” (9:4) (more…)