Sura 3. Al-‘Imran – The Family of Imran Medina
This sura was highly valued by Muhammad. It is recorded that he said: ‘Whoso reads this Sura of the family of ‘Imran shall for each verse receive a safe conduct over the bridge of Gehenna’ and again ‘Whoso reads on Friday this Sura in which ’Imran is mentioned, God and His angels shall be gracious unto him until the sun goes down.’ (Baidawi vol 1 p. 193)
This chapter contains a variety of passages belonging to different periods but particularly instructions and warnings in respect of the victory at Badr and the defeat at Uhud. There are however, also interjected important sections referring to the Quran’s view of the birth of Mary, the birth of Christ and the founding of the Ka’aba, which in Islam is said to be the first house of worship.
The title takes its name from the family of ‘Imran (who Muslims say was the father of Moses) and which includes all the prophets descended from ‘Imram such as Moses, Aaron, Zecharias, John and Jesus. The chapter takes its title from the following verse: “Behold! A woman of ‘Imran said: my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service ” (v 35).
God is one
“Allah! There is no god but He,the Living, the Self-Subsisting, Eternal” ( v 2). These words express half the Muslim’s creed.
Plain and obscure verses of the Quran
“He it is who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental; they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our Lord:” and none will grasp the message except men of understanding” (v 7).
The meaning of some verses in the Quran is evident; others are said to be hidden, figurative, ambiguous or intricate. The Arabic terms Muhkam and Mutashabih are very important as a ‘different reading’ led to a great theological dispute between the Mu’tazilas and the orthodox Muslims on the nature of the Quran.
The victory at Badr
“There has already been for you a sign in the two armies that met (in combat): One was fighting in the cause of Allah, the other resisting Allah; these saw with their own eyes twice their number. But Allah doth support with His aid whom He pleaseth. In this is a warning for such as have eyes to see.” (v 13)
The ‘sign’ was the defeat of 1,000 Meccans by Muhammad with 319 men, in the valley of Badr. The battle is memorable as the occasion on which Muhammad first drew his sword in assertion of his claim as the commissioned apostle of the Most High God. The victory was alleged to be a sign of its truth; and Muhammad was received in triumph on his return to Medina.
Islam’s claim to be the true religion
“The religion before Allah is Islam: Nor did the People of the Book dissent there from except through envy of each other, after knowledge had come to them.” (v 19)
Muhammad here declares the neither Christianity nor Judaism are the true religion for they did not reject Islam until the Quran came and then they rejected it out of envy or for the desire to retain their own superiority.
Love to God
“Say: “If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (v 31)
This is one of the few passages in the Quran in which love to God is expressed – fear is the chief feeling expressed. The chief expression in the Bible is God’s love. It shines forth from Genesis to Revelation and is said to have existed from all eternity e.g. ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love: Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.’ (Jeremiah 31:3) The human heart craves a God who loves, a personal God who has close relationships with humanity. The passionate devotion of Sufi poetry has often been seen as outright heresy.
The birth of Mary
“Behold! A woman of ‘Imran said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things.” When she was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!”and Allah knew best what she brought forth ” And no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from the Evil One, the rejected.” Right graciously did her Lord accept her: He made her grow in purity and beauty: To the care of Zakariya was she assigned. Every time that he entered (her) chamber to see her, He found her supplied with sustenance. He said: “O Mary! Whence (comes) this to you?” She said: “From Allah: for Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure.”(v 35-37)
The Quran relates that the child Maryam grew up in a chamber in the temple under the care of Zakariya. Muslim tradition relates that Maryam’s father had died and so her uncle Zakariya claimed authority over her. The temple leaders did not recognise this claim and so the matter was settled by throwing pens or arrows into a river; the only one that floated was that of Zakariya’s. Sura 3:44 refers to this: “Thou wast not with them when they cast lots with arrows, as to which of them should be charged with the care of Mary: Nor wast thou with them when they disputed (the point)”. Every time Zakariya entered Maryam’s compartment he found food provided for her in a miraculous way. The Protev, Jacobi chapter 8 Syrian text page 7 relates this Christian tradition.
Mary in the traditions:
1) Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab: Abu Huraira said, “The Prophet said, ‘No child is born but that, Satan touches it when it is born where upon it starts crying loudly because of being touched by Satan, except Mary and her son.” (Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 71)
2)Narrated ‘Ali: I heard the Prophet saying, “Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, was the best among the women (of the world of her time) and Khadija is the best amongst the women. (of this nation).” (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 642)
3) Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari: The Prophet said, “Many men reached perfection but none among the women reached perfection except Mary, the daughter of ‘ Imran, and Asia, Pharaohs wife. And the superiority of ‘Aisha to other women is like the superiority of Tharid to other kinds of food (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Number 329).
The birth of Christ
“Behold! the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the hereafter and of those nearest to Allah; “He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be of the righteous.” (v 45, 46) Or Pickthal’s translation: “He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous.”
“She said: “O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?” He said: “Even so: Allah created what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, ‘Be,’ and it is! ”And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel, “And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “‘I have come to you, with a sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a sign for you if ye did believe” (47-49).
Here are mentioned two fabulous traditions (Christ speaking from the cradle and forming live birds out of clay) obtained from the eastern Christians which Muhammad accepted as true. An account of these legends were derived from the Apocryphal Gospels.
The stratagem of Allah – taking Jesus into heaven
“And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah Behold! Allah said: “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.” (Al-Imran 3:54, 55)
The taking of Jesus to heaven without death is consistent with the spurious gospel of Barnabas. Al Beidawi however, is of the opinion that Jesus died but was restored to life after some hours and then taken to heaven. Certainly, at times the Quran postulates the death of Jesus while at other times it denies it.
The Similarity of Adam and Jesus
“The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”. And he was. The truth (comes) from Allah alone; so be not of those who doubt. If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge Hath come to thee, say: “Come! let us gather together, our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!” (v 59-61)
Following the submission of the the majority of the Arab pagan tribes Muhammad turned his attention to various Christian tribes. John, the Christian Prince of Ailah, made a treaty with the prophet and agreed to pay an annual tribute. These verses relate to the embassy of the Christians of Najran, under the leadership of Abu Haritha. They refused to accept Muhammad’s understanding of Christ not being divine and his further proposal of imprecation ’Come let us curse each other and lay the curse of Allah on those that lie.’ They did however, agree to pay the jizya tax which was imposed on all none Muslims (Rev. Canon Sell). The Bible is clear, the difference between Adam and Jesus is immense, Adam was made out of dust, so he is of the earth, Christ is the eternal word of God and came from heaven.
Salvation only in Islam
“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam never will it be accepted of him; and in the hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost” (v 85).
The universally accepted Muslim commentator Baidawi says that this verse ‘abrogates all past religions and all which may arise in the future’ (Tafsir volume 1, page 164). In this way conservative Muslims excuse themselves from paying attention to the previous scriptures which the Quran magnifies.
The Ka’ba founded and the duty of pilgrimage
“The first House (of worship) appointed for men was that at Bakka: full of blessing and of guidance for all kinds of beings: In it are signs manifest; (for example), the Station of Abraham; whoever enters it attains security; Pilgrimage thereto is a duty men owe to Allah, those who can afford the journey; but if any deny faith, Allah stands not in need of any of His creatures” (96-97).
Bakka according to Muslims means ’place of crowding’ i.e. Mecca. This verse along with others from suras the Cave, Mary, Repentance, T,H, are woven into the Kiswah or covering of the Ka’aba, which is renewed annually. Those who have enough money to go to Mecca, but cannot go themselves, should hire others to go in their place.
Hearts joined in love
“And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth Allah make His signs clear to you: That ye may be guided.” (Al-Imran 3:98-103)
Muslims believe that one of the miracles of Islam is the uniting of the hearts of the Arabs. The Aus and Khazraj were 120 years before descendents of two brothers but became enemies. Muhammad was able to reconcile the two tribes together despite a faction of Jews who was trying to rekindle the old hatred.
The depth of the joining of the Arab ‘hearts in love’ may be questioned (see section ‘Islam in History’). During the early period of Islam there was no bringing together of hearts, for an environment was created which was rife with wars, deception, and treachery, where enmity and old grudges remained.
The destiny of unbelievers and believers contrasted
“On the day when some faces will be white, and some faces will be black: To those whose faces will be black, (will be said): “Did ye reject faith after accepting it? Taste then the penalty for rejecting faith.” But those whose faces will be white they will be in Allah’s mercy: therein to dwell” (106, 107).
Muslims not to make friends with unbelievers
“O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you. They only desire your ruin: rank hatred has already appeared from their mouths: What their hearts conceal is far worse” (v 118).
Encouragement after the battle of Uhud
“Remember that morning Thou didst leave Thy household to post the faithful at their stations for battle: And Allah heareth and knoweth all things: Remember two of your parties meditated cowardice; but Allah was their protector, and in Allah should the faithful put their trust. Allah had helped you at Badr, when ye were a contemptible little force; then fear Allah; thus may ye show your gratitude. Remember thou saidst to the faithful: “Is it not enough for you that Allah should help you with three thousand angels sent down? “Yea, if ye remain firm, and act aright, even if the enemy should rush here on you in hot haste, your Lord would help you with five thousand angels making a terrific onslaught” (121-125).
At the battle of Uhud, Muhammad was defeated, and lost two teeth by a shot from an arrow, and seventy of his men were killed. Muhammad comforts his followers with the hope that God would assist them with 5,000 angels. Muslims say that the angels at Badr rode on black and white horses, and had on their heads white and yellow sashes.
What should happen if the Prophet be killed
“Muhammad is no more than a messenger: many were the messenger that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; but Allah (on the other hand) will swiftly reward those who (serve Him) with gratitude ………. ” (v 144, 145)
Baidawi says that during the battle of Uhud, Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair, the Prophet’s standard-bearer, was killed by Ibn Qami’a. Thinking that he had killed Muhammad, Qami’a shouted out, ‘I have slain Muhammad.’ When Muhammad fell to the ground wounded the believers cried out ‘What if Muhammad is dead! The Lord dieth not and verily His apostle hath finished his work. Fight on for your faith.’ The response of the Hypocrites (the Munafiqun) was to go back to their homes.’ On the actual occasion of Muhammad’s death many believers could not believe it and it is said that Abu Bakr quoted these verses in order to convince ’Umar and the others that the Prophet was really dead.`
Contemplation after the defeat at Uhud
“Allah did indeed fulfil His promise to you when ye with His permission were about to annihilate your enemy, until ye flinched and fell to disputing about the order, and disobeyed it after He brought you in sight (of the booty) which ye covet. Among you are some that hanker after this world and some that desire the Hereafter. Then did He divert you from your foes in order to test you but He forgave you. Behold! ye were climbing up the high ground, without even casting a side glance at any one, and the Messenger in your rear was calling you back. There did Allah give you one distress after another by way of requital, to teach you not to grieve for (the booty) that had escaped you and for (the ill) that had befallen you.” (v 152, 153)
The victory at Badr had been the occasion of assurance that the divine favour was with the Muslims but what now of this defeat? The Jews derided Muhammad saying that no true prophet would loose his dignity in defeat on the battle-field while his own followers looked to Muhammad for assurances. Muhammad skilfully produced a revelation removing these objections. The defeat at Uhud was partly due to internal dissensions and partly due to disobedience to orders as well as their desire for booty and personal safety.
The disappearance of a beautiful red vestment
In the canonical hadith of the Persian Tirmidhi reference is made to the disappearance of a beautiful red garment. The garment went missing at the time of the large division of booty obtained after the battle of Badr and the hypocrites (Munafiqun) claimed that Muhammad had taken it. Tirmidhi and Ravi say this special revelation came to Muhammad to clear him from this accusation. Sura Al-Anfal 8:1 is also said to concern this matter.
Those who were killed in battle enter Paradise
“Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them, the (martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve” (169-170).
The Prophet is reported to have said ‘When believers were martyrs at Uhud the Most High put their souls into the bodies of green birds which eat and drink of the fruits and rivers of Paradise.’ (Tirmidhi) Baidawi (vol 1 p.184) says that ‘Some refer to those slain at Badr, others to those killed at Uhud.
“God is poor and we are rich“
“Allah hath heard the taunt of those who say: “Truly, Allah is indigent and we are rich!” We shall certainly record their word and (their act) of slaying the prophets in defiance of right, and We shall say: “Taste ye the penalty of the scorching fire!” (v 181)
Not only were the Jews offensive to Muhammad because they refused to accept his ‘divine mission’ but also becuase they refused to provide money to the Muslim community. Baidawi says this verse arose because Abu Bakr asked a Jew for a loan, saying ‘Who will lend God a good loan?’ The Jew replied ’if God wants a loan, then He must be poor.’ Abu Bakr then hit the Jew and went off to complain to the Prophet. Then these words were given in response along with the reward of their ultimate destination.
Jews demand a prophetic sign
“They (also) said: “Allah took our promise not to believe in an messenger unless He showed us a sacrifice consumed by fire (from heaven).” Say: “There came to you messengers before me, with clear signs and even with what ye ask for: why then did ye slay them, if ye speak the truth?” Then if they reject thee, so were rejected messengers before thee, who came with clear signs, books of dark prophecies, and the book of enlightenment.” (v 183, 184)
It was not only the pagans who asked Muhammad to perform a sign but the Jews also. The Jews in Muhammad’s time believed that the fire that descended on the altar of the Tabernacle (Leviticus 9:24) and that later descended on the altar at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chronicles 7:1) was constantly kept alive until the Babylonians destroyed the Temple. They seemed to expect a true prophet would rekindle the fire. Muhammad’s response was that if they rejected early messengers who brought clear signs why should he gratify their desires by sending fire from heaven.
People of the Book who believe in Allah
“And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah, in the revelation to you, and in the revelation to them, bowing in humility to Allah: They will not sell the signs of Allah for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and Allah is swift in account.” (v 199)
Jabir b. Abdullah, Anas, Ibn Abbas and Qatada said that this verse was inspired when Gabriel announced the death of the Negus the Abysinnian leader who had provided sanctuary for Muslim refugees to Muhammad. He told his followers to get up and pray for a brother who has died in another land then Muhammad prayed “Allahu Akbar four times and asked forgiveness for the Negus. Startled that he was praying for a Christian Abyssinian infidel his followers questioned their prophet who replied: “And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book, those who believe in Allah.” (see also Al-Qurtubi’s commentary on this verse).
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4. Sura An-Nisa’ – Women Medina
This chapter is called Women because of the many laws relating to them. These directions were given to the Muslims after the defeat of Uhud. Questions arose about inheritance, the treatment of widows and orphans, marriage and other matters. There are numerous passages on the duty of fighting for the faith, and Christians are reproved for their beliefs. The sura is said to have been given at Medina three or four years after the Hijrah.
Duty to orphans
“To orphans restore their property (when they reach their age), nor substitute worthless things for good ones; and devour not their substance with your own. For this is indeed a great sin” (v 2).
The following hadith is said to give the context of this verse: Narrated Aisha: There was an orphan (girl) under the care of a man. He married her and she owned a date palm (garden). He married her just because of that and not because he loved her. So the divine verse came regarding his case: If you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan girls… (Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 97)
Four wives allowed
“If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly, then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice. And give the women their dower as a free gift; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.” (v 3, 4).
Some have argued that since it is impossible to maintain equality amongst one’s wives then, marrying more than one wife is not permissible. The Quran also recognises this: “Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire” (4:129). The majority of commentators believe that the number should be limited to four because of the reported hadith At-Tafsir al-Kabir, which commented on this verse saying that a man had ten wives but when he became a Muslim Muhammad said to him: ‘ Keep four, and leave the rest.’ Ghazalli, the great Muslim scholar, says: ‘Some men have such a compelling sexual desire that one woman is not sufficient to protect them (from adultery). Such men therefore preferably marry more than one woman and may have up to four wives. (Ihy’a ‘Uloum)
Islam puts great emphasis on the marriage state: Narrated Said bin Jubair: Ibn ‘Abbas asked me, Are you married? I replied, No. He said, Marry, for the best person of this (Muslim) nation (i.e., Muhammad) of all other Muslims, had the largest number of wives. (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 7).
Rules about inheritance
“Allah directs you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth”( v 11).
The following hadith is said to be the context into which this verse was relevant: Narrated Jabir: The Prophet and Abu Bakr came on foot to pay me a visit (during my illness) at Banu Salama’s (dwellings). The Prophet found me unconscious, so he asked for water and performed the ablution from it and sprinkled some water over it. I came to my senses and said, O Allah’s Apostle! What do you order me to do as regards my wealth? So there was revealed: Allah commands you as regards your children’s (inheritance) (Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 101)
Here is another relevant hadith on this subject: Narrated Ibn Abbas: (In the Pre-Islamic Period ) the children used to inherit all the property but the parents used to inherit only through a will. So Allah cancelled that which He liked to cancel and decreed that the share of a son was to be twice the share of a daughter, and for the parents one-sixth for each one of them, or one third, and for the wife one-eighth or one-fourth, and for the husband one-half, or one-fourth (Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 102)
A female inherits only half of a male’s portion. The same concept is applied to the brothers and sisters of a deceased person in a later verse: “if there are brothers and sisters, the male having twice the share of the female” (v 176). Contemporary scholars like Abu al-a’la al Mawdudi (‘Islam In The Face Of Modern Challenges?) writes “There is no room in Islam for the idea that a woman’s portion of an inheritance be equivalent to the man’s portion. The prohibitory reason is one of decisive Islamic law”.
Punishment of adulteresses
“If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, Take the evidence of four witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death do claim them, or Allah ordain for them some (other) way” (v 15).
The Islamic law is almost identical to the law of the Jews (Deuteronomy 23:22, Leviticus 19:22) but the Mosaic penalty applied to betrothed women as well as to married women.
Forbidden degrees in marriage
“Prohibited to you (for marriage) are: your mothers, daughters, sisters; father’s sisters, mother’s sisters; brother’s daughters, sister’s daughters; foster-mothers (who gave you suck), foster-sisters; your wives’ mothers; your step-daughters under your guardianship, born of your wives to whom ye have gone in, no prohibition if ye have not gone in; (those who have been) wives of your sons proceeding from your loins; and two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time, except for what is past; for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful; Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath Allah ordained (prohibitions) against you: except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise” (v 23, 24).
These prohibitions were adopted from the Jewish laws. Muhammad did not consider himself bound by a part of these verses.
Consequences of disloyal or disobedient wives
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband’s) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them, refuse to share their beds, beat them;but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means:For Allah is Most High, great (above you all)” (v 34).
Disobedient wives may be a) rebuked, b) removed to different apartments, c) beaten. Some translators like Yusuf Ali state that the beating was to be light while others like Pickthal and Rodwell translate the word ‘edrebouhon’ as ‘scourge them’. Muhammad limited the number of strokes with which it was lawful to punish a slave, but seems to have left the punishment of a wife to the husband’s discretion.
This verse according to Razi, At-Tasfir al-Kabir, was said to be revealed in connection with a woman who complained to Muhammad that her husband slapped her on the face (which still was marked by the slap). At first the Prophet said to her: ‘Get even with him.’ But then added:’ Wait until I think about it.’ Later on the above verse was revealed, after which the Prophet said:’We wanted one thing but Allah wanted another, and what Allah wanted is best.” The following hadith seems to have been given to restrain the excesses of some Muslim men: Narrated ‘Abdullah bin Zam’a: The Prophet said, None of you should flog his wife as he flogs a slave and then have sexual intercourse with her in the last part of the day (Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 132)
Reconciliation of man and wife
“If ye fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers; if they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation: For Allah hath full knowledge, and is acquainted with all things” (v 35).
This arrangement was intended to prevent divorce. If the action in the above verse proved unsuccessful, arbitration might be tried.
Sand may be used instead of water for purification
“If ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands.” (v 43)
The Arabs complained that often they did not have water, so the above concession was made.
The Quran claims to be free from discrepancy
“Do they not consider the Quran? Had it been from other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much discrepancy” (v 82).
The Quran is full of major discrepancies many of which concern the person and work of Jesus Christ and the flat contradiction of the holy scriptures which it seeks to upheld.
Rules regarding greetings
“When a greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things” (v 86).
Muslims believe this will be the greeting the receive when they arrive in Paradise: “And those who feared their Lord will be led to the garden in crowds: until behold, they arrive there; its gates will be opened; and its keepers will say: Peace be upon you! well have ye done! enter ye here, to dwell therein”.(Az-Zumar 39:73)
Investigation of Muslim status of faith before plundering
“O ye who believe! When ye go abroad in the cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say not to any one who offers you a salutation: Thou art none of a believer! Coveting the perishable goods of this life: with Allah are profits and spoils abundant. Even thus were ye yourselves before, till Allah conferred on you His favours: Therefore carefully investigate. For Allah is well aware of all that ye do” (v 94)
The desire for plunder among the Arabs was so insatiable, that even Muslims were killed on the pretence that they were unbelievers, and might be lawfully plundered. They were then forbidden to rob and murder Muslims, for God would give them much spoil from the unbelievers.
“When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls, they say: In what (plight) were ye? They reply: Weak and oppressed were we in the earth. They say: Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)? Such men will find their abode in hell, What an evil refuge!” (v 97)
The reference is to some people from Mecca who, though they professed Islam would not go with Muhammad to Medina. Such were killed at the battle of Badr and were examined by Munkar and Nakir two fierce looking black angels with blue eyes, who visit every man in his grave and examine him, with regard to his faith in God and Muhammad.’
Prayer in times of danger
“When ye travel through the earth, there is no blame on you if ye shorten your prayers, for fear the unbelievers may attack you: For the unbelievers are unto you open enemies …………. but when ye are free from danger, set up regular prayers: for such prayers are enjoined on believers at stated times.” (v 101, 103).
Prayer may be shortened in time of danger; but when it is over it should be completed.
Terms of peace between a husband and his wife
“If a wife fears cruelty or desertion on her husband’s part, there is no blame on them if they arrange an amicable settlement between themselves; and such settlement is best; even though men’s souls are swayed by greed. But if ye do good and practise self-restraint, Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do” (v 128).
The man has the right to desert his wife if he fears rebellion in her but the wife has no such right. This verse however, encourages diplomacy.
Abu Daud and Al-Hakim quoted Aisha saying that this verse was revealed when Muhammad wanted to divorce his wife Sauda because she had grown old. Sauda said: “I give my day to Aisha.” Muhammad then changed his mind and did not divorce her. He withdrew his divorce because Sauda stated that at her age she no longer needed a man and was just content to be raised as one of the wives of the prophet on the day of Resurrection (Muslim Talaq 35,45; Abu Daud Talaq 39; al-Muwatta Talaq 57). This was an amicable arrangement. For appropriate hadiths please read Bukhari Volume 3, Book 49, Number 859, Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 134 and Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 125.
No friendship with unbelievers
“Yea, to those who take for friends’ unbelievers rather than believers: is it honour they seek among them? Nay, all honour is with Allah” (v 139).
“O ye who believe! Take not for friends’ unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?” (v 144)
Requirement to receive the whole message
“Those who deny Allah and His messengers, and wish to separate Allah from His messengers, saying: We believe in some but reject others: And wish to take a course midway, They are in truth unbelievers; and we have prepared for unbelievers a humiliating punishment. To those who believe in Allah and His messengers and make no distinction between any of the messengers, we shall soon give their rewards: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” (v 150-152).
The Quran once again supporting a high view of the former scriptures condemns those who accept the scriptures only in part.
Jesus not really crucified
“That they said, We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is exalted in power, wise” (v 157-158).
The phrase ‘We killed Christ Jesus’, sounds strange – the Jews would not have killed Christ – the Messiah! The Muslim belief is that Jesus did not actually die, but that God took Him away and another resembling Him was crucified. The Jewish prophets like Isaiah and Daniel foretold the death of Christ and he himself often said that he would die. Jewish, secular and Christian histories attest to the fact of his death, yet over 600 years later Quran denied it.
The Psalms (Zabur) given to David
“ ………. and to David We gave the Psalms” (v 163).
The accounts of David in the Quran are very meagre. Twice it is mentioned that ‘he was given the Zabur‘ – here and in sura Al-Isra 17:55 but the title ‘zabur‘ is found elsewhere.
Christians reproved for their beliefs
“O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not Trinity: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs” (v 171).
Some supposed the ‘three gods’ to be God, Jesus and Mary rather than the Trinity consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whenever the Quran refers to Christianity, it is generally to inveigh against the idea that God has a son.
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