August 15, 2022 | Muharram 17, 1444
Abasa (The Frowning) - Chapter 80: Verses 1-4
The divine instructions which followed this incident are much more far reaching than appears at first sight. They are indeed a miracle. These instructions, the principles they seek to establish and the change they aim to accomplish in human society are, perhaps, the most important miracle of Islam. But the instructions are made here as a direct comment on a single incident. It is part of the Quranic method to make use of isolated incidents in order to lay down fundamental and permanent principles. The principles established here and their practical effects, as seen in the early Islamic society, are indeed the essence of Islam. They constitute the truth which Islam, and all divine religions that preceded it, seek to plant in human life.
The point at issue here is not merely how an individual or a class of people should be treated. This is indeed the significance of the Quranic comment on the incident itself, taken in isolation. The heart of the matter is, however, something far more important. It is: how should people evaluate everything in their lives? From where should they derive the values and standards necessary for such an evaluation?
What the divine instructions contained in the opening part of the surah seek to establish is that people must base their values and standards on divine considerations, laid down by God. No social circumstances, traditions or practices, nor any concept of life derived from them should be allowed either to encumber or determine these values and standards. There is no denying the difficulties involved in conducting human life on the basis of values and standards laid down by the Divine Being, free from the pressure of all worldly considerations.
If we consider the pressure of society on the individual’s feelings and attitudes, and the weight of considerations to be taken into account such as traditional values, family and social ties, as well as the values that prevail in one’s own environment, we can appreciate the difficulty of carrying out these divine instructions. Our appreciation of such difficulty is even greater when we remember that in order to convey it to people, Muhammad himself (peace be upon him) needed this special directive, or rather censure. Reference to this is sufficient to convey the gravity of the matter. For Muhammad (peace be upon him) attained greater heights of sublimity and greatness than any man can aspire to. Yet the fact that special instructions were required for him to convey a certain principle makes that principle greater than greatness, subliminally unique.
This is, indeed, a true description of the principle established here, namely that mankind should derive their values and standards from the Divine Being, after they have freed themselves from the pressure of their social set-up with all its values and standards.
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 18, pp. 37, 38
From Issue: 861 [Read original issue]
Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet said: 'A believer is not bitten from the same hole twice'. [Muslim, Ibn Majah]
The Prophet uses a word here for biting that is associated primarily with biting by reptiles or other poisonous creatures. This hadith means that while it is possible for a believer to suffer a bite by a snake or a similar creature because he is taken unawares, the same thing should not be allowed to happen twice. He should always be careful so that he does not commit the same mistake twice, or be in the same situation of overlooking real danger.
While this hadith speaks of a real-life situation that requires paying full attention to one's surroundings at all times, it is also meant figuratively. Indeed, the circumstances leading to this statement provide a clear indication that it is so. During the Battle of Badr, one of the unbelievers taken prisoner by the Muslims was Abu Azzah, a poet who often attacked Islam and the Prophet. When the Prophet decided that the prisoners could be freed in return for ransom, Abu Azzah spoke to the Prophet and appealed to him to grant his release without a ransom, because he was poor and had a family to support. The Prophet granted his request after the man pledged that he would never criticise the Prophet or attack Islam again. However, soon after he was granted his freedom, Abu Azzah reverted to insulting the Prophet and satirising Islam in his poetry. Some time later, he was again taken prisoner by the Muslims. Again he appealed to the Prophet for his release, protesting that he had a poor family to support. In reply to his appeals, the Prophet made this statement: 'A believer is not bitten from the same hole twice'.
Thus, the hadith means that a believer should never be so gullible that he is deceived by the same trick more than once, in the same way one who is bitten by a snake is very careful not to be bitten again.
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi
From Issue: 1057 [Read original issue]
God has set the Quran apart through its distinct arrangement, style and structural unity, as well as through its contents, the ease with which it can be memorized, its impact, and the inability of its contemporaries, or anyone else for that matter, to meet the challenge to produce something comparable to it. He has declared the Quran above doubt and suspicion, free of contradiction and, hence, of indisputable reliability, its verses clear and unambiguous. The Quran's authenticity does not depend, nor should it depend, on any narrative, however well-attested it might happen to be. Its definitive certainty is founded on the fact that it is the speech of God to which no falsehood can gain access in any way whatsoever. The Prophet received it through Gabriel, and as he began reciting it to others at God's command, he inspired in them the desire to memorize and recite it, to teach it and circulate it both orally and in writing. Yet it was God who undertook to gather it together in the Prophet's mind, causing him to recite it properly, making its meanings clear, and preserving it.
The Book of God needs no validation via narratives passed down from one generation to the next. It is likewise independent of all the recitations, be they canonical or otherwise, which have been associated with it. Nor is the Quran subject to self-abrogation.
The Quran and everything relating thereto is a divine concern alone. If the Quran were dependent for its certainty on human narratives, as are hadiths and other historical reports, it would not have been possible for God to challenge both human beings and the jinn to produce something comparable to it. The Quran stands above all mere narrative. As such, it stands above all human methods of preserving texts, and it should not be subjected to the critical methods to which we would subject some other discourse. Consequently, it is shameful for some to say, as some, in fact, have said, that next to the Quran, Sahih al-Bukhari is the most well-authenticated book of the Islamic heritage. It would be perfectly valid for us to compare Sahid al-Bukhari to some other book of the same type. One might say, for example, that Sahih al-Bukhari is better authenticated than Sahih al-Muslim, Musnad Ahmad, or Imam Malik's Al-Muwatta. But to compare it to the Quran itself evinces an audacity and a lack of reverence for the Quran. For the Book of God is without equal, and it would be unthinkable to view it as comparable, parallel, or subject to being measured against any other entity whatsoever. It is nothing but truth and unquestionable, unchanging certainty.
"Reviving The Balance: The Authority of the Qur'an and the Status of the Sunnah" - Taha Jabir Alalwani, pp. 109 - 111
From Issue: 986 [Read original issue]