Selections from The Qur’an

Selections from The Qur’an - ISLAM For...

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Unformatted text preview: ISLAM For Alamoundaras was most discreet, and well experienced in matters of warfare, thoroughly faithful to the Persians, and unusually energetic, —» a man who for a space of fifty years forced the Roman state to bend the knee. For beginning from the boundaries of Egypt and as far as Mesopotamia he piundered the whole country, pillaging one place after another, burning the buildings in his track and making captives of the population by the tens of thousands on each raid, most of whom he killed without consideration, while he gave up the others for great sums of money. And he was confronted by no one at all. For he never made his inroad without looking about, but so suddenly did he move and so very opportuner for himself, that, as a rule, he was already off with all the plunder when the generals and the soldiers were beginning to learn what had happened and to gather themselves against him. If, indeed, by any chance, they were able to catch him, this barbarian would fall upon his pursuers while still unprepared and nor in battle array, and would tour and destroy them with no trouble; and on one occasion he made prisoners of all the soldiers who were pursuing him together with their officers . . . And, in a word, this man proved himself the most difficult and danger— ous enemy of all the Romans. The reason was this, that Alamoundaras, holding the position of king, ruled alone over all the Saracens in Persia, and he was always able to make his inroad with the whole army wherever he wished in the Roman domain; and neither any commander of Roman troops, whom they call "dukes" nor any leader of the Saracens ailied with the Romans, who are called Tribal Chieftains was strong enough with his men to array himself against Alamoundaras; for the troops stationed in the different districts were not a match in battle for the enemy. 13.2.4 Arabian religion before Islam Drawing on earlier accounts, Ibn al-Kalbi (d. 821/822) described the religions of Arabia before the rise oflslam. The Ka‘ba was the focus of Islamic pilgrimage. Previously it was a pagan site. By connecting the site to Abraham, the site could become a legitimate focus for Islamic pilgrimage'as part of the Islamic prophetic tradition. The Qutaysh were the tribe of Muhammad. Ibn al—Kalbi, The Beak ofldalr 3—23 The Book afldolr, ed. and trans. Nabih Faris (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 195 2) Hisham ibn Muhammad al-Kalbi said: I was informed by my father and others, and I personally checked and ascertained their report, that when ishmael, the son of Abraham, settled in Mecca, he begot many children. Their descendants multiplied so much that they crowded the city and supplanted its original inhabitants, the Amalekites. Later on Mecca became overcrowded with them, and dissension and strife arose 338 ISLAM among them, causing them to fight among themselves and consequently be dispersed throughout the land where they roamed seeking a livelihood. The reason which led them to the worship of images and stones was the following: No one ieft Mecca without carrying away with him a Stone from the stones of the Sacred House (al—Haram) as a token of reverence to it, and as a sign of deep affection for Mecca. Wherever he settled he would erect that stone and walk around it in the same manner he used to walk around the Ka‘ba before his departure from Mecca, seeking thereby its blessing and affirming his deep affection for the Sacred House. In fact, the Arabs still venerate the Ka‘ba and Mecca and journey to them in order to perform the pilgrimage and visitation, conforming thereby to the time— honored custom which they inherited from Abraham and Ishmael. In time this led them to the worship of whatever took their fancy, and caused them to forget their former worship. They exchanged the religion of Abraham and Ishmael for another. Consequently they took to the worship of images, becoming like the nations before them. They sought and determined what the people of Noah had worshipped of these images and adopted the worship of those which were still remembered among them. Among these devotional practices were some which came down from the time of Abraham and Ishmael, such as the veneration of the House and its circumambuiation, the pilgrimage (haj j), the visitation or the lesser pilgrimage (al—‘umra), the vigil on ‘Arafah and Muzdalifah, sacrificing sheucamels, and raising the voice in the acclamation of the name of the deity at the pilgrimage and the visitation, introducing thereinto things not belonging to it . . . The Quraysh were wont to venerate {ah‘Uzza}. The Ghani and the Bahilah, too, joined the Quraysh in her worship. The Prophet, therefore, dispatched Khalid ibn ai—Walid, who cut down the trees, destroyed the house, and demolished the idol. The Quraysh had also several idols in and around the Ka‘ba. The greatest of these was Hubal. It was, as I was told, of red agate, in the form of a man With-[lie right hand broken off. it came into the possession of the Quraysh in this condition, and they, therefore, made for it a hand of gold. 13.3 Muhammad and the Quran According to the Islamic faith, God (Allah) revealed the Quran to Muhammad the Prophet, the last in a series that included Moses and Jews. This sacred text contained God’s good news for humanity as well as a warning about punish— ment for wrongdoing at the end of days. It required that God’s power be praised. The text is in Arabic, which was understood in its context to be a sacred language. Chapters are called Suras. The following excerpts illustrate these major themes. 359 {SLAM ISLAM 13.3.1 God and His praise The opening sure of the Quran describes God. Quran, sura 1.1——7, “The Opening" (revealed at Mecca) [The Meaning of The Gloriom Karen, trans. Marmaduke Pickrhail (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), p. 21] And when the carneis big with young are abandoned, And when the wiid beasts are herded together, And when the seas rise, And when souls are reunited, And when the girluchild that was buried alive is asked For what sin she was siain, And when the pages are laid open, And when the sky is torn away, And when hell is lighted, And when the garden is brought nigh, Then every soul wiil know what it hath made ready. Oh, but I call to witness the planets, The stars which rise and set, And the close of night, And the breath of morning That this is in truth the word of an honoured messenger, Mighty, esrablished in the presence of the Lord of the Throne, One to be obeyed, and trustworthy. In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds, The Beneficent, the Mercifui. Owner of the Day of judgment, Thee alone we worship; Thee alone we ask for help. Show us the straight path, The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the path of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray. 13.3.2 God is transcendent God’s unique and transcendent character is made ciear in suta 2. This verse is often quoted and placed in inscriptions to indicate God’s omnipotence. Quran, sura 2.255, “The Cow” {teveaied at Ai~Madinah) {The Meaning oftbe Glorionr Koren, trans. Marmaduke Pickthail (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), p. 591 13.3.4 God’s apostle Sura 18 explains that God sends apostles to give warning. Quran, sura 1857—8, “The Cave” (reveaied at Mecca) [The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, trans. Marmaduke Pickthali (New York: God! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber Alfred A' Knopf’ 1930)’ p. 501] nor sieep overtaketh Him. Unto Him beiongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that inmrcederh with We send not the messengers save as bearers of good news and warners. Him save by His Leave? He knoweth that which is in from of them and _ Those who disbelieve contend with falsehood in order to refute the Truth that which is behind them, whim they encompass nething of His .- _- thereby. And they take Our revelations and that whetewith they are knowledge save what He will. His Throne includeth the heavens and the I' ' _- threatened as a lESt' - earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the And Who deth greater wrong Khan he Who hath been remindeci 0f the revelations of ‘his Lord, yet turneth away from them and forgetteth what his hands send forward (to the judgment)? Lo! on their hearts We have placed coverings so that they understand not, and in their eats a deafness. And though thou call them to the guidance, in that case they can never be led aright. Tremendous. 13.3.3 God’s judgment In sura 81 the judgment of God is prociainied. Quran, sum 8 i .1-2 1, “The Overthrowing" (Revealed at Mecca) [The Meaning of the Glorious Koran, trans. Marmaduke Pickthail, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), pp, 636g] 13.3.5 A criticism of Christianity The Christian Trinity is obliquely criticized by insisting that God is One. Note also interesr in whether God was brought into being. Quran, sura 112, “The Unity” (revealed at Mecca) [The Meaning of tire Glorious Koran, trans. Marmaduke Pickthall (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), p. 676] In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. When the sun is overthrown, And when the stars fall, And when the hills are Ineved, 340 341 {SLAM ISLAM In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. Say: He is God, the One! God, the eternally Besonght of all! He begetteth not not was begotten. And there is none comparable unto Him. 57. Every soul will taste of death. Then unto Us ye will be returned. 58. Those who believe and do good works, them verily We shail house in lofty dwellings of the Garden underneath which rivers flow. There they will dwell secure. How sweet the guerdon of the toilets. 13.3.9 From oral tradition to written text: how the Qumu 13.3.6 The prophetic tradition “’"5 “53mm”! Muhammad delivered the message of God orally, and his words were memorized. Inevitabiy it became necessary for the Quran to be written down. The following passage describes the process of establishing an authoritative text in the miduseventeenth century. Al—Bukhari, Sabz'b 3.392—4 [Bernard Lewis, ed., Irlam from the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople, Vol. I I : Religion and Society (New York: Walker and Company, 1974), pp. 1—2} The connection with jews and Christians and the biblical prophetic tradition I 15 made ciear in Sura 3. Quran, sura 3.844, “The family of Imram” [The Meaning affine Glorious Kama, trans. Marmaduke Pickthall (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, i930), pp. 76-7} Say (0 Muhammad): We believe in God and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and jacob and the tribes, and that which was vouchsafed unto Moses and Jesus ' and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and onto Him we have surrendered. And whoso seeketh as religion other than the Surrender to God it will not be accepted from him, and he will be a loser in the Hereafter. Zayd ibn Thabit said: Abu Bait): sent for me at the time of the battle of al—Yarnama, and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was with him. Abu Bakr said: ‘Umar has come to me and said, “Death raged at the battle of al«Yamama and took many of the reciters of the Quran. I fear lest death in battle overtake the reciters of the Quran in the provinces and a large part of the Quran be lost. I think you should give orders to collect the Quran.” “What?” I asked ‘Umar, “Will you do something which the Prophet of God himself did not do?” "By God,” replied ‘Umar, “it would be a good deed" . . . Then I sought out and collected the parts of the Quran, whether written on palm leaves or flat stones or in the hearts of men . . . The leaves were with Abu Bakr until his death, then with ‘Umar as long as he lived, and then with Hafsa, the daughter of‘Umar . . . Hudhayfa ibn al—Yarnan went with ‘Uthman when he was preparing the army of Syria to conquer Armenia and Azerbaijan, together with the army of Iraq. Hudhayfa was shocked by the differences in their reading of the Qutan, and said to ‘Uthman, “0 Commander of the Faithful, catch this community before they differ about their book as do the Jews and Christians." ‘Uthman sent to I-Iafsa to say, “Send us the ieaves. We shali copy them in codices and return them to you.” Hafsa sent them to ‘Uthman, who ordered Zayd ibn Thabit, ‘Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr, Sa‘id ibn al-‘As, and ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Harith ibn Hisham to copy them into codices. ‘Uthman said to the three of them who were of the tribe of Quraysh, “If you differ from Zayd ibn Thabit on anything in the Qutan, write it according to the language of Qnraysh, for it is in their language that the Quran was revealed." 13.3.7 God’s message That the Quran was a unique message of God and could nor have been written by Muhammad (as some must have charged) is explained in Sura i0. Quran, sura 1038—9, “jonah” (revealed at Mecca) [Tire Meaning oftbe Glorian Kama, trans. Marmaduke Pickthall (New York: I Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), p. 214} And. this Quran is not such as could ever he invented in despite of God; but is a confirmation of that which was before it and an exposition of that which is decreed for mankind — Therein is no doubt — from the Lord of the Worlds. ‘ Or say they: He hath invented it? Say: Then bring a surah like unto it, and cal}. for help on all ye can besides God if ye are truthful. x~....4M-t....-_.._t_-:.«.-- ~< warm-unmanned“?wig. out). -t-_-.s 13.3.8 Rewards afier death Heaveniy rewards await those who live properly. Quran, sura 2957—8, "The Spider” [The Meaning aftbe Glorious Kama, trans. Marmaduke Pickthali (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930), p. 409] 542 ' 343 ISLAM They did this, and when they had copied the leaves into codicespi ‘Uthman returned the leaves to Hafsa. He sent copies of the codex which _- they made in all directions and gave orders to burn every leaf or codexf -_ which differed from it. 13.3.10 Muhammad’s ordinance for Medina Sometimes called the “Constitution of Medina”, Muhammad put forward .. the basic norion of a community of Believers, the followers oflsiam or Muslims. ' _ - I_ It explains the relations of Muslims and Jews. “Emigrants” are those who first went from Mecca to Medina —- the earliest converts to Islam. "Helpers" are ' _ ' Muslims converted in Medina. Muhammad’s Ordinance for Medina [Norman A. Stillman, Tbejewr vamb Lands: A History and Source Book ' (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979) pp. £15— 118; from Ibn Hisham, al—Sim al—Nahnwz'yya, vol. 1. (Cairo, 1375/1935), pp. 501—4} The Apostle of God — may God bless him and grant him peace — drew up a document between the Emigrants and the Helpers, in which he made a pact and a covenant with the jews, confirming them in their religion and their possessions, and he stipulated certain conditions for them and imposed certain duties upon them: In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent. This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet, between the Believers and Muslims onuraysh [Muhammad’s tribe] and Yathrib [the pre~Islamic name for Medina} and whoever follows them and are attached to them and strives with them. They are a single community in the face of all other men. The Emigrants of Quraysh shall pay the bloodwit among themselves according to their Custom. They shall redeem their captives with kindness and justice among the Believers . . . The Believers are not to forsake any destitute. individuals among them, but are to give him the means, as is considered proper, to pay for ransom orbloodwit. A Believer may not become the ally of a client of another Believer against the latter. The God—fearing Believers shall be against whoever does injustice, whoever seeks power or oppression, or sin, or enmity, or corruption among the Believers. Every man’s hand shall be against him, even if he is the son of one of them. A Believer shall not kill a Believer for the sake of an nnbeliever, nor shall he aid an unbelievet against a Believer. God's protection is one; He grants protection even to the least among 344 ISLAM them. The Believers are responsible for one another in the face of all Other men. Any Jew who follows us shall have aid and comfort. Such a Jew shall not be oppressed not his enemies aided against him. 13.3.11 The Poet of‘Umm" This agreement, attributed to the caliph ‘Umar (63444), regulates the position of non—Muslim Peoples of the Book: Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. it introduces the idea of dbz’mm, the social condition that entails protection by the Muslim authorities as well as certain disabilities within it, particularly a poll tax. There is no idea that people should be equal. This document takes the form of a petition, answered in a way similar to Roman imperial decrees. Al~Turtushi, S imj al~Mzrlzoé 229u30 [Bernard Lewis, ed., Islam from the Prop/yet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople, Vol. II: Religion and S atiery (New York: Walker and Company, 1974), pp. 217—19] When ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, accorded a peace to the Christians of Syria, we wrote to him as follows: In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate. This is a letter to the servant of God ‘Umar [ibn al-Khattab}, Commander of the Faithful, from the Christians of such—andusuch a city. When you came againsc us, we asked you for safe-conduct for ourselves, out descendants, our property, and the people of our community, and we undertook the following obligations toward you: We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, churches, convents, or monks’ cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims . . . We shall not give shelter in our churches or in our dwellings to any spy, nor hide him from the Muslims. We shall not teach the Quran to our children. We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall nor prevent any of our kin {rem entering Islam if they wish it. We shall show respect toward the Muslims, and we shall rise from our seats when they wish to sit. We shall not seek to resemble the Muslims by imitating any of their garments, the headgear, the turban, footwear, or the parting of the hair. We shall not Speak as they do, nor shall we adopt their honorific names. We shall not mount on saddles, nor shall we gird swords not bear any kind of arms nor carry them on our persons. We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals. We shall not sell fermented drinks. . . . 345 ...
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Selections from The Qur&amp;acirc;€™an - ISLAM For...

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