Suras 64-77

December 2020

64 Sura At-Taghabun (Mutual Loss and Gain) Mecca/Medina

The Title: There are different suggestions for the title of this chapter possibly it is based upon verse 9 which states that that believers will gain Paradise and intimates that the unbelievers will enter hell on Judgement Day: “The day that He assembles you (all) for a day of assembly, that will be a day of mutual loss and gain (among you), and those who believe in Allah and work righteousness ………. ” (v 9)

Allah the Creator: The familiar topics that Allah is the Creator is once again highlighted: “Whatever is in the heavens and on earth, doth declare the praises and glory of Allah: to Him belongs dominion, and to Him belongs praise: and He has power over all things. It is He Who has created you ……………….. He has created the heavens and the earth in just proportions, and has given you shape, and made your shapes beautiful …….” (v 1-3).

Unbelievers reject the prophets and the message of the resurrection: These familiar topics are also once again recorded: “Has not the story reached you, of those who rejected faith aforetime? So they tasted the evil result of their conduct; and they had a grievous penalty. That was because there came to them messengers with clear signs, but they said ………….. The unbelievers think that they will not be raised up (for judgement)…………………. ” (v 5-7)

Wealth and children must not distract from serving Allah: “O ye who believe! Truly, among your wives and your children are (some that are) enemies to yourselves: so beware of them! ………………. Your riches and your children may be but a trial: but in the presence of Allah, is the highest, reward” (v 14, 15).

Giving a loan to Allah: “If ye loan to Allah, a beautiful loan, He will double it to your (credit), and He will grant you forgiveness: for Allah is most ready to appreciate (service), most forbearing.” (v 17)

 65 Sura At-Talaq (The Divorce)

The Title: Divorce in Islam is an immense subject and cannot be discussed here in detail. The Muslim law of divorce is founded on the Quran and the traditions and its rules occupy a very large section in all Islamic works on jurisprudence. The right to one-sided dissolution of marriage belonged to the man exclusively, among the pre-Islamic Arabs and the Quran’s detailed instructions about this subject suggest that new rules, quite unknown to the Arabs were being introduced. ————- “O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods, and count (accurately), their prescribed periods: And fear Allah your Lord: and turn them not out of their houses, nor shall they (themselves) leave, except in case they are guilty of some open lewdness, those are limits set by Allah: and any who transgresses the limits of Allah, does verily wrong his (own) soul” (v 1 c/f v 7)

Arabs admonished to believe by the fate of former nations: “How many populations that insolently opposed the command of their Lord and of His messengers, did we not then call to account, to severe account? and We imposed on them an exemplary punishment…………………… Therefore fear Allah, O ye men of understanding who have believed! for Allah hath indeed sent down to you a message, A messenger, who rehearses to you the signs of Allah containing clear explanations” (v 8-11)

The seven storeys of heaven and earth: “Allah is He who created seven firmaments and of the earth a similar number………” (v 12). ————- Muhammad taught his followers that just as there are seven heavens one above another, so there are seven earths one beneath another, the distance between each of these regions is five hundred years (Mishkat, book 24 ch 1 part 3)

66 Sura At-Tahrim (The Prohibition)

The Title: The title of this chapter is taken from the first verse which reads “O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts…….. Allah has already ordained for you, the dissolution of your oaths …………. ” (v 1, 2) ——— The Bible regards the taking of vows very seriously but here in this opening verse the Quran appears to relax this principle in order that the prophet can change his mind.

Muhammad and his harem: Muslims consider Muhammad the ideal husband and the perfect example of how one should treat one’s wives with justice and equity. This chapter, however, shows that the harem at one time became so dysfunctional that Muhammad thought about divorcing all his wives!

Matters spoken in confidence and threat to divorce his wives: “When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it (to another), and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said, “Who told thee this?” He said, “He told me who knows and is well-acquainted.” If ye two turn in repentance to Him, your hearts are indeed so inclined; But if ye back up each other against him, truly Allah is his Protector, and Gabriel, and (every) righteous one among those who believe, and furthermore, the angels will back (him) up. It may be, if he divorced you (all), that Allah will give him in exchange consorts better than you, who submit (their wills), who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allah in repentance, who worship, who travel (for faith) and fast, previously married or virgins” (v 2-5). ———– The household of Muhammad was not always a happy one. According to tradition on one occasion his two wives ‘Ayesha and Hafsa were involved in domestic arguments and tensions c/f Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 435 and 436. A situation occurred when Muhammad married Zainab bint Jahsh. This matter had been a cause of great jealousy so much so that ’Ayesha and Hafsa colluded together in order to try to get Muhammad to spend less attention on her. Here verse 5 shows that the tension between his wives became so great on one occasion that Muhammad contemplated divorcing all his wives; this is confirmed by Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 438.

The unbelieving wives of Noah and Lot: Examples of the wives of Noah and Lot are given to demonstrate the punishment awarded on unbelieving wives “Allah sets forth, for an example to the unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot: they were under two of our righteous servants, but they were false to their (husbands) …………….”  (v 10) ——–  In the Bible Noah’s wife entered the ark along with her husband and there is no hint of unbelief in Genesis 7:13.

The believing wives Pharaoh’s wife and the Virgin Mary: Pharaoh’s wife and Mary, daughter of Imran are commended as examples of believing wives “And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: “O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong”; And Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His revelations, and was one of the devout” (v 11-12). ——————– Muslim commentators state the wife of Pharaoh believed Moses and was punished intensely by her husband. With the aid of angels and with the view of the prepared mansion for her in paradise she overcame and was received into heaven.

67 Sura Al-Mulk (Dominion)  Mecca

The Title: The title of the chapter  comes from the verse “Blessed be He in whose hand is dominion; and He over all things hath power.” The idolaters are warned of the consequences of rejecting Muhammad even though Allah’s power is actively displayed in different aspects of His created dominion.

Allah the Lord of heavens: “He who created the seven heavens one above another: No want of proportion wilt thou see in the creation of (Allah) Most Gracious. So turn thy vision again: seest thou any flaw ? ………… And we have adorned the lowest heaven with lamps, and We have made such (lamps) (as) missiles to drive away the evil ones, and have prepared for them the penalty of the blazing fire” (v 3-5) …….. “Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except (Allah) Most Gracious: Truly it is He that watches over all things. Say:”It is He who has created you and made for you the faculties of hearing, seeing, feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give, Say: “It is He who has multiplied you through the earth and to Him shall ye be gathered together.” (v 13-24)

The state of the unbelievers in hell after rejecting the warner: “Every time a group is cast therein, its keeper will ask, “Did no warner come to you?” They will say: “Yes indeed a warner did come to us, but we rejected him and said, ‘Allah never sent down any (message): ye are nothing but an egregious delusion!’ They will further say: ‘Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we should not (now) be among the companions of the blazing fire.’ They will confess their sins: but far will be (forgiveness) from the companions of the blazing fire!” (v 8-11)

Sura 68 Al-Qalam (The Pen) Mecca

The Title: This chapter is either called Sura Nun (the mysterious letter at the beginning) or Al Qalam “By the pen and the (record) which (men) write” (v 1) Opinions are divided as to whether the latter title is of a general nature or it refers to the instrument through which Allah pre-recorded the actions of men. Muhammad said that the first thing Allah created was the pen and that it wrote down the quantity of every individual thing to be created, all that was and all that will be, right up to eternity.

Muhammad not an impostor: This sura defends the opposition Muhammad had to cope with as his opponents claimed he was an impostor “Thou art not, by the grace of thy Lord, mad or possessed”(v 2) and “they say: “Surely he is possessed!” (v 51)

Punishment on one who refused Muhammad’s revelations: Muhammad was being denounced by an opponent (10-16) who insisted that Muhammad’s revelations were not original but “Tales of the ancients” (15). Allah responds “Soon shall We brand (the beast) on the snout!” (v 10-16) It is said that this prophetical judgement was inflicted on Al-Walid (although all commentators are not agreed as the identity of the opponent) when his nose was slit at the battle of Badr and that he went to the grave carrying that wound.

Punishment on those who were not concerned for the poor: The fate of the owner of the gardens (v 17-33). The garden of palm trees was said to be owned by a charitable man, who at harvest time informed the poor so that they could come and gather the generous gleanings. After his death, his sons gave no such notice to the poor, but when they came to gather their harvest they found their plantation had been destroyed in the night. The verdict on such behaviour is “Such is the punishment (in this life); but greater is the punishment in the hereafter, if only they knew!” (v.33) For the Muslim there will be Gardens of delight in the presence of their Lord” (v 34).

Punishment for unbelievers on the Resurrection Day: “When Allah lays bare His shin” (v 42) when rejecters of Muhammad’s message will be damned “by degrees shall We punish them from directions they perceive not” (v. 44). The Hadith Al-Bukhari Volume 6 No 441 qualifies this: “The ahadith state that on the day of resurrection Allah will lay bare His shin and all believers will prostrate themselves before Allah. The hypocrites however, who only performed the action to show off before others will be unable to prostrate as their back bones will seize up. Unbelievers also will be unable to prostrate. Then the slippery, thorny bridge will be brought and laid across hell, some believers will pass over quickly, like lightning or a wink of the eye, some will pass over safe without any harm, some will pass over but be badly scratched and some will fall into hell-fire. The last person will cross over as if he was being dragged.”

Personal assurances for Muhammad: He is exhorted to be patient and not to be like Jonah “So wait with patience for the command of thy Lord, and be not like the companion of the fish, when he cried out in agony. Had not grace from his Lord reached him, he would indeed have been cast off on the naked shore, in disgrace. Thus did his Lord choose him and make him of the company of the righteous.” (v 48-50)

69 Sura Al-Haqqah (The Inevitable)

The Title: The title expresses the principle subject of this sura namely, the inevitability of the doctrine of a future judgement (v 2, 3). It is expressed in the first verse in different ways by different translators as ‘the sure reality!’; ‘The reality!’ ‘The sure calamity!’

Muslim belief about the last day: 1. It will be preceded by three blasts of a trumpet. At the first blast all creatures in heaven and earth will be struck with terror. At the second blast all creatures in heaven and earth all creatures in heaven and earth will die. At the last blast, forty years later, all will be raised again for the judgement. 2. It will be a general resurrection of men, angels, jinn and animals. 3. There are differing views given by the commentators about the length of time for the judgement day. Many say the judgement will take half a day however, in As-Sajdah 32:5 the length of the day of judgement is said to be 1,000 years. Others say the period will be 50,000 years based on Al-Ma’arij 70:4.  4. When all are assembled for judgement the angels will keep them waiting for 40 years (this period varies up to 50,000 according to differing commentators). After this, God will appear to judge them, and Muhammad will intercede for them after Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus have declined, feeling themselves so unworthy of so great a task. 5. Each person will be examined from his own book of deeds which will have all his words and actions recorded. The righteous will receive their book in the right hand but the unrighteous will be forced to take their book in the left hands which will be bound behind their backs. 6. All deeds and words (or, according to some, the books containing the records of those deeds and words) will be weighed in a balance scale – one balance being over paradise and the other over hell. Sura Al-Anbiya 21:47 records the setting up of the scales. There is no salvation in Islam other than by works.

The calamity of the people of ‘Ad and Thamud who denied the Judgement Day: “The Thamud and the ‘Ad people (branded) as false the stunning calamity! But the Thamud, they were destroyed by a terrible storm of thunder and lightning! And the ‘Ad, they were destroyed by a furious wind, exceedingly violent …………..Then seest thou any of them left surviving?” (v 4-8)

The calamity of Pharaoh: “And Pharaoh, and those before him, and the cities overthrown, committed habitual sin. And disobeyed (each) the messenger of their Lord; so He punished them with an abundant penalty” (v 9, 10).

The arrival of the last judgement with one blast of the trumpet: “Then, when one blast is sounded on the trumpet, And the earth is moved, and its mountains, and they are crushed to powder at one stroke” (v 13, 14)

On the Judgement Day God’s throne will be carried by eight angels: “On that day shall the (great) event come to pass. And the sky will be rent asunder, for it will that day be flimsy, And the angels will be on its sides, and eight will, that day, bear the throne of thy Lord above them” (v 15-18). —– The number of angels bearing the throne is said to be usually four; but the number is doubled on the last day.

Those who receive their book in the right hand: “That day shall ye be brought to judgement: not an act of yours that ye hide will be hidden. Then he that will be given his record in his right hand will say: “Ah here! Read ye my record! “I did really understand that my account would reach me!” And he will be in a life of bliss, In a garden on high, The fruits whereof (will hang in bunches) low and near. “Eat ye and drink ye, with full satisfaction; because of the (good) that ye sent before you, in the days that are gone!” (v 18-24) Those who receive their book in the left hand: “And he that will be given his record in his left hand, will say: “Ah! Would that my record had not been given to me! And that I had never realised how my account (stood)! “Seize ye him, and bind ye him”……. (The stern command will say): “Seize ye him, and bind ye him, “And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire. “Further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits!” …………………..” (v 25-34)

70 Sura Al-Ma’arij (The Ways of Ascent) Mecca

The Title: The title is taken from verse 3 “A penalty from Allah, Lord of the ways of ascent.” The majority of commentators are of the opinion that ‘the ways of ascent’ refers to the judgement day and this once again is the major theme of the chapter.

Questions about unbelievers of Judgement Day: “A questioner asked about a penalty to befall the unbelievers, the which there is none to ward off, (A penalty) from Allah, Lord of the ways of ascent. The angels and the spirit (Gabriel) ascend unto him in a day the measure whereof is (as) fifty thousand years ……….” (v 1-5).

No redemption from the terrors of the Judgement Day: “The day that the sky will be like molten brass, And the mountains will be like wool, And no friend will ask after a friend …….. Would that he could redeem himself from the penalty of that day by (sacrificing) his children, his wife and his brother, his kindred who sheltered him, And all, all that is on earth, so it could deliver him” (v 8-14 c/f v 18) ——– “So leave them to plunge in vain talk and play about, until they encounter that day of theirs which they have been promised! The day whereon they will issue from their sepulchres in sudden haste as if they were rushing to a goal-post (fixed for them), Their eyes lowered in dejection, ignominy covering them! such is the day the which they are promised!” (v 42-44)

Concubines (slavery) in Islam: “And those who hold to the truth of the day of judgement:  And those who fear the displeasure of their Lord …….. And those who guard their chastity, Except with their wives and the (captives) whom their right hands possess, for (them) they are not to be blamed” (v 26-30). ——- Hughes says: ‘The slavery of Islam is interwoven with the law of marriage, the law of sale, and the law of inheritance, and its abolition would strike at the very foundation of the code of Islam ……. There is no limit to the number of slave girls with whom a Muslim may cohabit, and it is the consecration of this illimitable indulgence which so popularizes slavery amongst the Muslim nations.’   ——- Muhammad, it is true, encouraged kindliness in the treatment of slaves, but they are under no obligation to release them. The female slaves are completely under the control of their masters. Slavery can only be abolished when concubinage is abolished; and when concubinage is abolished the whole character of Islam, and especially its attitude to its prophet and its sacred book must be altered. ——— At a time when the Christian nations were trying to suppress slavery, Muslims were its great supporters and the Arabs converted a large portion of Central Africa into a slave-hunting ground. It must be sadly admitted that Christian nations have been guilty of holding slaves, but it is directly opposed to the spirit of their religion.

Sura 71 Nuh (Noah) Mecca

The Title: In the Bible Noah is not a prophet but a ‘preacher of righteousness,’ while in the Quran inspiration is said to have been bestowed upon him: “Build the ship under Our eyes and by Our inspiration ……” (v 37). In the Quran Noah is the first prophet of punishment and then is followed by others like Hud, Salih, Lut, Shu’aib and Moses. Muhammad is fond of seeing himself reflected in the earlier prophets and sees himself functioning in the same work as the ‘Muslim Noah.’ Muhammad puts into the mouth of Noah the things that he would like to say himself and into the mouth of Noah’s opponents what he himself has heard from his opponents.

Noah is a warner: “We sent Noah to his people “Do thou warn thy people before there comes to them a grievous penalty.” He said: “O my People! I am to you a warner, clear and open” (v 1, 2)

The message of Noah is rejected: “He said: “O my Lord! I have called to my people night and day …….. And every time I have called to them, that Thou mightest forgive them, they have (only) thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, grown obstinate, and given themselves up to arrogance …….. Further I have spoken to them in public and secretly in private, “Saying, ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord; for He is Oft-Forgiving; “‘What is the matter with you, that ye place not your hope for kindness and long-suffering in Allah” (v 5-13).

Noah’s appeal to nature: “‘See ye not how Allah has created the seven heavens one above another, “‘And made the moon a light in their midst, and made the sun as a lamp? “‘And Allah has produced you from the earth growing, “‘And in the end He will return you into the (earth), and raise you forth” (v 15-20).

The people of Noah refused to give up idols: “And they have said (to each other), ‘Abandon not your gods: Abandon neither Wadd nor Suwa’, neither Yaguth nor Ya’uq, nor Nasr …….. ” (v 23-25) —— These were the five gods worshipped before the flood, and afterwards by the Arabs.

The Muslim Noah prays for the destruction of the unbelievers: “And Noah, said: “O my Lord! Leave not of the unbelievers, a single one on earth!…….. and they will breed none but wicked ungrateful ones” (v 26, 27). ——– The Bible says that Noah was a preacher of righteousness, it does not say that he implored God to destroy the people of his time.

Noah prays for forgiveness of sin: “O my Lord! Forgive me, my parents, all who enter my house in faith, and (all) believing men and believing women….. ” (v 28) ——- According to the Bible Noah was a man who had close communion with God and ‘perfect in his generations’ (Genesis 6:9). He preached against the low moral level of his generation but finding no repentance God judged the world at that time with the Flood; all but Noah, his wife their three sons and their four wives were destroyed (Genesis 7:7). ———- The Quran does not record the post-flood incident when Noah, who had probably become a farmer planted a vineyard, became drunk (perhaps not realising the potency of wine) and committed a breach of modesty which invoked a curse on Canaan, one of Noah’s grandsons. (Genesis 9:20-27) ——– The Muslim exegetes say that Noah sought forgiveness for invoking evil upon the ungodly indicating that he had not made the wisest choice. The infallibility of Noah is thus preserved in Islam and is accounted for as a lapse in judgement.

The wife of Noah: “Allah sets forth, for an example to the unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants, but they were false to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: “Enter ye the Fire along with (others) that enter!” (At-Tahrim 66:10) ——– Islam suggests that the wife of Noah, Waila, was a hypocrite and tried to turn those who heard the message away by saying her husband was distracted. The Bible however, records that she entered the ark and gives no indication of unbelief.

72 Sura Al-Jinn (The Jinn)

The company of Jinn listen to the Quran: “They said, ‘We have really heard a wonderful recital! ‘It gives guidance to the right, and we have believed therein: we shall not join (in worship) any (gods) with our Lord. ‘And exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son” (v 1-3). ——– According to the Quran these spirits have the ability to listen to what has been said in public or secret and are able to differentiate in peoples’ matters. They can declare whether a recital is good or bad. Here they testify that the Quran is wonderful and that it guides men to rectitude, to the right way of life in doctrine and ethical standards. They quickly confess the main Islamic dogma ‘we shall not join (in worship) any (gods) with our Lord’.

Muslim tradition asserts that the Jinn were created of fire some thousands of years before Adam. The Jinn are considered to be like men, capable of future salvation and damnation; they can accept or reject God’s message; they are believers or non-believers. Here in verses 1-7 we have the Quran’s narration of how  Muhammad was sent to convert the Jinn to Islam as well as the Arabs. When the first wife of Muhammad, Khadija, and his uncle, Abu Talib, died in the same year, Muhammad lost his protection and tried to find refuge in Taif, a village high above the hills of Mecca, but he was rejected harshly by the inhabitants of this village. Muhammad was helpless and in deep despair, so he escaped into the desert where jinn met with him while he was reciting the Quran. Muslims believe in the reality of spirits as this sermon to the jinn demonstrates.

The jinn give an account of themselves: “And we pried into the secrets of heaven; but we found it filled with stern guards and flaming fires. ‘And we understand not whether ill is intended to those on earth, or whether their Lord intends to guide them to right conduct. ‘There are among us some that are righteous, and some the contrary: we follow divergent paths. ‘But we think that we can by no means frustrate Allah throughout the earth, nor can we frustrate Him by flight” (v 8-12). —— Ibn Hisham (d. A.D. 834) states: When the coming of the apostle of Allah was near, the evil jinn were prevented from listening. They were prevented from occupying the seats in which they used to sit and steal heavenly tidings, for stars were pelted at them. The jinn knew that this was due to an order from Allah.

Unbelieving and believing jinn: ‘Amongst us are some that submit their wills (to Allah and become Muslim), and some that swerve from justice. Now those who submit their wills they have sought out (the path) of right conduct: ‘But those who swerve, they are (but) fuel for Hell-fire’ (v 14, 15). ——– Seven jinn were said to have been converted but Muhammad was apparently unaware and returned back to Medina depressed.

73 Sura Al-Muzzammil (The one wrapped in garments)

Title: Muhammad’s revelation renewed: At the time he wrapped in his garments being afraid at the appearance of Gabriel: “O thou wrapped up” (v 1). Muhammad had been sweating profusely so his wife, Khadijah, gave him a blanket to relieve his fever. At this early stage the instructions uncomplicated before the weightier matters (possibly laws and commandments) “and recite the Quran in slow, measured rhythmic tones. Soon shall We send down to thee a weighty message” (v 5).

The Tradition in respect of this passage is as follows: “Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: That he heard Allah’s Apostle describing the period of pause of the divine inspiration, and in his description he said, “While I was walking I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up towards the sky, and behold! I saw the same angel who came to me in the Cave of Hira’, sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. I was so terrified by him that I fell down on the ground. Then I went to my wife and said, ‘Wrap me in garments! Wrap me in garments!’ They wrapped me, and then Allah revealed “O you, (Muhammad) wrapped-up! Arise and warn…and desert the idols.” (74.1-5) After that, the divine inspiration started coming more frequently and regularly. (Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 448 c/f Number 444.”

Punishment threatened against unbelievers: “And leave Me (alone to deal with) those in possession of the good things of life, who (yet) deny the truth; and bear with them for a little while. With Us are fetters (to bind them), and a fire (to burn them), And a food that chokes, and a penalty grievous” (v 11-13). Once again the principle opponent is thought to be Al-Walid

Punishment on the unbeliever will be in line with Moses’ dealings with Pharaoh: “We have sent to you, a messenger, to be a witness concerning you, even as We sent a messenger to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh disobeyed the messenger; so We seized him with a heavy punishment. Then how shall ye, if ye deny (Allah), guard yourselves against a day that will make children hoary-headed?” (v 15-17) Muhammad is likened to Moses who had to contend with disbelievers who were in the end punished. The same thing could be expected to happen to Muhammad’s opponents.

Directions are given about prayer: The dedication of standing “two-thirds of the night, or half the night, or a third of the night” (v 20) is abrogated by the five hours of prayer (Al-Baidawi)

74 Sura Al-Muddaththir (The One Enveloped)

The Title: Some consider that this was the first surah ‘revealed’ at the time when he was at Mount Hira and heard someone calling him Looking upwards he saw the nagel Gabriel on a throne between heaven and earth. He quickly returned to his wife Khadijah who covered him up and then the angel descended and addressed him in words of the text: “O thou wrapped up! Arise and deliver thy warning” (v 1, 2). The major opinion is that Muhammad having been reviled by certain individuals of the Quarraish tribe was in a state of melancholy wrapped up in his mantle but was told by Gabriel to arise and preach.

Hell: An unbeliever is denounced with threats of hell this leads on to a description of the Muslim hell ( ‘An-Nar’ – the fire) – “Leave Me alone, (to deal) with the (creature) whom I created alone ……. Soon will I visit him with a mount of calamities! ……. Soon will I cast him into hell-fire! And what will explain to thee what Hell-Fire is? Naught doth it permit to endure, and naught doth it leave alone!”  (v 11-29 The commentators say that the man concerned is Al Walid. ——- The Muslim hell has seven divisions. ’Jahannam’ refers to the section of hell prepared for Muslims, a type of purgatory meant for purification which will not be everlasting. The orthodox teaching is that all Muslims will go to hell: “Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a decree which must be accomplished” (Maryam 19:71).

The degree and duration of punishment in hell is dependent upon the enormity of the sins committed by the person. For Muslims who have not committed great sins, hell will be cool and pleasant. However, unbelievers who say that God is a plural being will have to remain in hell forever, subjected to burning flames and icy cold.

Nineteen angels guard hell: “Over it are nineteen. And We have set none but angels as guardians of the fire; and We have fixed their number only as a trial for unbelievers“ (v 30, 31). These verses were probably placed in this sura at a later time as they deal with a response to Jews, possibly in Medina, who had raised the question of how many angels there were who guarded hell.

Things that led sinners into hell fire: “And (ask) of the sinners: “What led you into hell fire?” They will say: “We were not of those who prayed; “Nor were we of those who fed the indigent; “But we used to talk vanities with vain talkers; “And we used to deny the day of judgement” (v 41-46).

75 Sura Al-Qiyamah (The Resurrection)

The Title: The Resurrection Day: “I do call to witness the Resurrection Day” (v 1) “Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones? Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order the very tips of his fingers” (v 3, 4 and on to v 15). —- The doctrine of the resurrection and the judgement is second only to that of Allah’s creation. Allah is the Creator and also the Judge. Muhammad saw in nature many analogies of the repetition and restoration of life. For the Arabs of Muhammad’s day the notion of the resurrection was a harder doctrine to grasp than creation and so he used creation to illustrate his doctrine of the resurrection.

The theme of the resurrection of the body, including the bodily resurrection of Christ, is given more space in the New Testament than any other basic Christian truth, with the possible exception of the death of the Lord Jesus but the Quran completely rejects the biblical basis for its belief with its hope of the resurrection resting solely on the acts found in Nature.

Muhammad’s method of the recitation: Muhammad is told by Gabriel not to hurry when repeating the Quran so as to commit it to memory: “Move not thy tongue concerning the (Quran) to make haste therewith. It is for Us to collect it and to promulgate it: But when We have promulgated it, follow thou its recital: Nay more, it is for Us to explain it” (v 16-19)  ——- These verses are parenthetical, and are either addressed to Muhammad desiring him to  a) not to be overcome by any fear of being unable to follow and retain the revelation of this particular sura or b) not to interrupt Gabriel, but to await the completion of the entire revelation before he should proceed to its public recitation. In either case we are led to the conclusion that Muhammad, right from the beginning had formed a plan of promulgating a written book. The tradition of Bukhari Volume 6, Book 60, Number 451 addresses this issue. ————— Islam has developed the science of tajwid (striving for excellence) in the governing of the recitation of the Quran and a full and balanced articulation is sought. Full attention to the movement of the tongue is given to each consonant while pauses and punctuation, emphasis and intonation, softness and speed are carefully addressed.

Agony of an unbeliever at the time of parting: “And some faces, that day, will be sad and dismal, In the thought that some back-breaking calamity was about to be inflicted on them” (v 24 and on to verse 32).

76 Sura Al-Insan (Man)  Mecca
The Title: concerns mankind – Man’s conception and birth (v 1-3); What is prepared for ungrateful mankind “For the rejecters we have prepared chains, yokes, and a blazing fire” (v 4). What is prepared for grateful mankind “As to the righteous, they shall drink of a cup (of wine) mixed with Kafur,  A fountain where the devotees of Allah do drink, making it flow in unstinted abundance” (v 5, 6). —— Kafur is the name of a fountain in paradise, it is said to resemble camphor in smell and whiteness. Some think that the wine of paradise will be mixed with camphor. The grateful give charity (v 7-10).

The rewards for the grateful Muslims in Paradise: “…………… He will reward them with a garden and (garments of) silk. Reclining in the (garden) on raised thrones, they will see there neither the sun’s (excessive heat) nor (the moon’s) excessive cold. And the shades of the (garden) will come low over them, and the bunches (of fruit), there, will hang low in humility. And amongst them will be passed round vessels of silver and goblets of crystal, crystal-clear, made of silver ” (v 11-22) ———————— The Muslim descriptions of heaven are notable in that God does not appear at all. There are, gardens, flowing springs, fruit, shade, couches, carpets, garments of silk, wine, beautiful virgins and wives, but God is absent. It has no relationship to the Christian teaching of a saved believer being purified and changed into the likeness of Christ or a worshipper of a holy God.

The gradual revelation of the Quran: “It is We who have sent down the Quran to thee by stages. Therefore be patient with constancy to the command of thy Lord …………………” (v 23-24). —————– The Quran is slightly longer than the New Testament but comes from one source, Muhammad, and it was said to be revealed in stages over a period of twenty-three years. According to tradition new revelation was coming with increasing frequency to Muhammad just before he died c/f Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 505.

77 Sura Al-Mursalat (Those sent forth) Mecca

The Title: The Oath: “By the (winds) sent forth one after another (to man’s profit); which then blow violently in tempestuous gusts, And scatter (things) far and wide” (v 1-3) The rising opposition from the idolaters was met by denunciations of the strongest kind. In this sura of fifty short verses the following refrain of judgement on the Meccan Quarraish runs hauntingly through this chapter : “Ah woe, that Day, to the rejecters of truth!” (verses 15, 19, 34, 40, 45, 47 & 49)

The Inevitable Judgement: “Assuredly, what ye are promised must come to pass” (v 7). It will be a day of sorting out: “For the day of sorting out. And what will explain to thee what is the day of sorting out? Ah woe, that day, to the rejecters of truth!” (v 13-17)

Creation: Mankind: “Have We not created you from a fluid (held) despicable? The which We placed in a place of rest, firmly fixed, For a period (of gestation), determined (according to need)?” (20-22). The created earth: “Have We not made the earth (as a place) to draw together….. And made therein mountains standing firm, lofty; and provided for you water sweet?” (v.25-28)

On the Day of Judgement unbelievers will depart to hell with no excuses: “Depart ye to a shadow (of smoke ascending) in three columns, “(which yields) no shade of coolness, and is of no use against the fierce blaze. “Indeed it throws about sparks (huge) as forts, “As if there were (a string of) yellow camels (marching swiftly).” (v 29-34 c/f v 35-40) & 45-50)

On the Day of Judgement the righteous shall be rewarded: “As to the righteous, they shall be amidst (cool) shades and springs (of water). And (they shall have) fruits, all they desire. “Eat ye and drink ye to your heart’s content: for that ye worked (righteousness)” (v 41-44)

Individual Eschatology concerns the condition of the individual between his death and the general resurrection at the close of the age.

December 2020

The Mahdi literally means “the guided one”, and has come to mean in an individual way, the divinely guided one. While Allah himself is called al-Hadi in the Quran (Al-Hajj 22:54; Al-Furqan 25:31) the figure of al-mahdi or mahdi, and his mission is not mentioned at all. Islam uses the term of certain individuals in the past and of an eschatological individual in the future. The Mahdi is interpreted differently by Sunnis and Shi’a although both look for one who will arise to restore the purity of Islam and usher in a Golden Age in which Islamic revelation will reign in the ideal community, the umma.

There is a general belief amongst Muslims that the living Muhammad intercedes for them at the throne of God. The Wahhabi’s state that the intercession of their Prophet is only by the permission of Allah on the Last Day and that there will be no intercession for sins until the Day of Judgement. In principle the Quran denies that there is an intercessor with Allah. However, there are a few passages which suggest that under certain circumstances Allah does allow someone to intercede. It seems that Muhammad’s intercession is available for the Muslim as he/she invokes the blessings of Allah upon the Prophet.

The appearance of the Anti-Christ (ad-Dajjal)

Resurrection and the Last Judgement Al-Qiyama

December 2020

Questions and Answers about the Second Coming of Christ which are held by orthodox Muslims

Both the Quran and Tradition present their picture of ‘Isa. They give him a high place among the prophets; they affirm his sinless-ness; they affirm he had power to work miracles but all this does not distinguish Him in any way as to its nature from the other prophets who came before him.

The Quran recognises that David glorified and praised God. The mountains and the birds alternated with him in these praises (Al-Anbiya 21:79, Saba’ 34:10, Sa’d 38:18). Muhammad, it seems, took literally the passages where creatures and elements joined David in their praises so it seems that when David was fatigued Allah caused other parts of nature, both animate and inanimate to relieve him. David is presented as a model Muslim, praising Allah, fasting, prostrating, acting justly and fighting for the honour of Allah

The title Tawrat is given in the Quran and all Muslim works for the Book of Moses (in Hebrew Torah stands for ‘the Law’). The term tawrat is found in the Medina period. Muslim scholars accept that the Tawrat teaches the unity of God yet believe it falls short of the full revelation as it does not give an account of the stated method of prayers (Al-Fath 48:29), the fast, a detailed description of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and alms-giving, nor is there anything regarding heaven and hell. For these reasons the Tawrat is said to have been altered by the Jews.