ISLAM: Basis - Past - Present - Future


Part 6:

Prophet Mohammed's Word of Allah and the Voice of the Ruling Elite

by Manfred Davidmann

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Contents

Overview
Introduction

(Ha Mim) The Word of Allah as Taught by Mohammed
Umm al-Kitab - The Mother of the Book (Its Source)
Guide and Warning: Be Guided (do well and prosper) or Ignore (fail, want and suffer)

(Ha Mim: Ain Sin Qaf) The Voice of the Ruling Elite
The Consequences of Behaviour (Rewards of this Life and of Life after Death)
Social Justice
Associates, Masters, Protectors and Messengers of Revelations

Relevant Current and Associated Works

Notes <..>, References {..} and Links

Relevant Subject Index Pages and Site Overview



Overview

The aim of this report is to assemble an objective picture of what took place and of its background, looking in some detail at how the Koran was compiled so as to show what Mohammed taught in the name of God (Allah), and how this was recorded.

What we have is the Koran and traditions collected many years after the death of the Prophet. However, some uncertainty remains and so we are here embarking on a journey of exploration which will take us through the accumulated dust of many centuries to what Mohammed actually taught, to the revealed word of Allah, of God.

The report consists of seven consecutive free-standing parts. The seven parts follow each other in an intended sequence in which each is aiding and contributing to understanding the following part. The parts are:

1     Prophet Mohammed's Struggle for a Better Life for All
             
       

The information brought together in Part 1 relates primarily to Mohammed's struggle for recognition of his mission and message and is limited to this. Knowing about, and understanding, Mohammed's struggle is of vital importance if one wishes to understand what Mohammed taught, the Koran and Muslim belief and practice.

Throughout his whole life as Prophet he struggled against the powerful Meccan ruling elite, against the Meccan family which dominated Mecca, the Quraysh. They first opposed and then persecuted him and his followers for ten years, following which he fought them for ten years till he won and then he died.

So we need to know just what Mohammed taught which upset the elite so thoroughly and persistently, which caused him and his followers to be so harshly opposed and so actively persecuted.

         
2     Text, Language, Dialect and Interpretation of the Koran
         
       

The first step towards understanding the intent and substance of God's (Allah's) revelations as expressed by Mohammed's teachings, is to gain knowledge about the then developing Arabic written language, that is to understand how recorded letters and symbols were used to state the meaning of words, and about the dialects of the time.

Such knowledge and understanding is particularly important when considering how the Koran was assembled and what scholars and clerics have done and are doing when they are 'interpreting' the text of the Koran.

         
3     The Divine Right to Rule
         
       

Following Parts 1 and 2 we are here looking at the struggle for power and control over the Muslim community which took place after Mohammed died and seeing how Muslim belief and practice evolved in the two hundred years under the caliphs.

These events and struggles formed Sunnism and Shiism, shaped the Koran and Muslim belief and practice, underlie today's conflicts and confrontations within Islam.

         
4     Compiling the Koran: Hadiths (Traditions) State the Underlying Reality
         
       

Hadiths (traditions) tell that Zaid bin Thabit compiled the Koran and that Caliph Uthman later had an official version prepared.

The arabic text of these hadiths recorded the underlying reality. They state that on the one hand we have the word of benevolent Allah as taught by Mohammed that people (believers) should have a good life of high quality in this life, but that on the other hand is the ruling elite's opposing viewpoint that people should be obedient and serve willingly without questioning their condition.

         
5     Uthman's Rearrangement of the Chronological (as revealed) Koran's Chapters
         
        The important chapters (suras) singled out by 'abbreviated letters' show how the chronological (as revealed) sequence was changed. The effect of the changes on the record of Mohammed's preaching and teaching is described and followed by a discussion of the doctrines of 'Abrogation' and of 'Consensus' in relation to Mohammed's teachings.
         
6     Prophet Mohammed's Word of Allah and the Voice of the Ruling Elite
         
       

Mohammed's social teachings are stated from Koran chapters (suras) singled out by 'Abbreviated Letters', statements of revelation from compassionate and caring Allah. It seems that some self-seeking doctrines were added later by the ruling elite of that time.

The content of the corresponding compassionate and benevolent teachings are described as are the Koran's stated rewards for following them and the consequences of ignoring or opposing them.

         
7     Muslims and Jews
         
       

Includes a comprehensive summary table of the struggles of the Muslims while Mohammed was alive, primarily against the Meccan ruling elite but also including their conflicts with the Jewish Medinan clans.

The unexpected but convincing conclusions are directly relevant to understanding present tensions and conflicts within Islam.

     
See    
     
1   Prophet Mohammed's Struggle for a Better Life for All
     
2   Text, Language, Dialect and Interpretation of the Koran
     
3   The Divine Right to Rule
     
4   Compiling the Koran: Hadiths (Traditions) State the Underlying Reality
     
5   Uthman's Rearrangement of the Chronological (as revealed) Koran's Chapters
     
6   Prophet Mohammed's Word of Allah and the Voice of the Ruling Elite
     
7   Muslims and Jews



Introduction

It is worth noting that written arabic words and phrases may have different meanings dependent on context, may appear incomprehensible to the reader when the context is uncertain, unknown or misunderstood. The reader (or translator) may then be tempted to 'fill the gap' by 'interpreting' the text, that is by assigning a probable meaning based on his own knowledge and understanding. And this procedure can be misleading to the extent to which the context within which the phrase appears is uncertain or misunderstood. {8}

Koran teachers, interpreters and translators choose explanations and words with at times very diferent meanings dependent on how they see the Koran's message, with social and political implications shaped and limited by then current knowledge and understanding of the context and meaning of the original text.

Examples, chosen almost at random but referred to later in this report, are:

Sura:
Verse
    Translation     Source
         
41:053   We will show them Our signs in all the regions of the earth   {7}
    Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth),   {5a}
    We shall show them Our portents on the horizons   {5b}
    We will soon show them Our signs in the Universe   {5c}
         
42:006   As for those that serve other masters besides Him,   {7}
    And those who take as protectors others besides Him,-   {5a}
    And as for those who choose protecting friends beside Him,   {5b}
    And (as for) those who take guardians besides Him,   {5c}
         
    God Himself is watching them. You are not accountable for what they do.   {7}
    Allah doth watch over them; and thou art not the disposer of their affairs.   {5a}
    Allah is Warden over them, and thou art in no wise a guardian over them.   {5b}
    Allah watches over them, and you have not charge over them.   {5c}
         
43:063   And when Jesus came with evident signs, he said:   {7}
    When Jesus came with Clear Signs, he said:   {5a}
    When Jesus came with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), he said:   {5b}
    And when Isa came with clear arguments he said:   {5c}

As time passed, it seems that certain versions were liked and spread and were apparently incorporated into revised dictionaries, making even more difficult the task of stating just what Mohammed actually taught.

To overcome these problems I have stated certain arabic key words and phrases (in brackets) after the translation, to illustrate the consistency of the translation and confirm the sense of the meaning. <3>

The quotations from the Koran are within their context. Those recording the word of Allah as taught by Mohammed are drawn from all the suras (chapters) beginning with the abbreviated letters 'ha mim' (suras 40-41, 43-46). Those which may be recording the ruling elite's opinions {8, 9} are drawn from the one sura (sura 42) which begins with the abbreviated letters 'ha mim: ain sin qaf'.


Where appropriate, Koran text is presented as follows:

Koran text. Attention is drawn to particular words and their meaning by stating them in brackets.
Notes and explanations. Set in as shown.

Chapter (sura): Verse (aya), are listed thus {43:003}.



(Ha Mim) The Word of Allah as Taught by Mohammed


Umm al-Kitab - The Mother of the Book (Its Source)

Mohammed teaches that God's benevolent social laws and system have to be applied by people in their daily life, that those who in the past erred from God's way are in grave error.

The quotations from the Koran which follow speak for themselves.


The book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) came down (tanzil) from God, the mighty, the wise-one.
The arabic phrase for the Holy Koran is 'al-Koran'. The Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses) is 'al-kitab', a religious book is 'mushaf'. <2>
{40:002, 45:002, 46:002}

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
by the book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) that explains clearly,
We sent it down (anzalnahu) in a blessed night (leyla mubaraka) to give warning;
in a night when every wise commandment (amr hakim) was made plain (made clear)
as a commandment (amr) from Ourself.
A commandment is a divine rule.
We sent it out of compassion from your Lord.
He it is who hears all and knows all.
{44:002-6}

We gave Moses guidance (al-huda)
huda: guidance or guide.
and gave the book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) to the Children of Israel to inherit.
A guide (huda) and a reminder (warning) to people who understand.
To those who understand its commandments (message), it is a guide (about what is 'good', about what to do) and a warning (about what is evil, about what not to do).
{40:053-54}

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,
by the book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) that explains clearly,
We made it an arabic teaching (qur'an, koran) so that you become wiser.
The word 'koran' (Arabic: qur'an) came from the Syro-Aramaic 'qeryan' (current at the time of Mohammed) meaning teachings or lectures {10}.
It (the teaching) is from the mother text which we have,
'umm al-kitab': the Pentateuch referred to as mother text, as source text. {10}
sublime and full of wisdom.
{43:001-4}

A book (kitab) whose verses explain clearly.
A teaching (koran) in Arabic so that people can understand,
Or 'for people to understand'.
giving good news and a warning.
{41:003-4}

Before (the teaching) the Book of Moses (kitab Musa)
was a standard for judging (imam) and a (source of) compassion
and this book (kitab) is confirmed in the Arabic language
to warn those who are unjust (wrongdoers) and to give good news to the righteous.
{46:012}

We made this easy (to understand) in your own language
so that they may take heed.
Take heed: to pay (or take) careful attention; In modern Arabic: 'to remember'.
{44:058}

We gave the book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) to the Children of Israel
and gave them the knowledge and prophethood.
We provided them with good things and preferred them above (all) people;
{45:016}

We gave the Book (al-kitab, Pentateuch) to Moses, but disputes arose about it.
Had it not been for a word (kalima) which had been (given) from your Lord,
their differences would have been settled between them.
They are in serious doubt (about the belief).
{41:045}

We proved the commandments (bayyinat amr) to them beyond doubt:
Literal: We gave them clear proofs (indisputable evidence) of commandments.
but after the knowledge had come to them,
greed caused them to disagree among themselves.
Greed: intense and selfish desire for wealth or power.
Your Lord will on the day of freedom (yaum al-qiyama) judge their differences.
{45:017}

The social laws and the social system of the Pentateuch have to be followed and applied by Jews as a matter of law in their daily lives.

However, it was these laws of behaviour and the social system laws {11} which the Jewish ruling elite simply did not want to apply and they, the rich and powerful, had the application of the laws changed to suit themselves {2, 3}.

The Arabic text as well as the context show that 'Yaum al-qiyama' refers to the day of freedom, the day on which {1, 11}
  • freedom is restored to those who lost it, to those who are serving others, and on which
  • the community's wealth is once again shared out among (restored to) its members.

And when Jesus came with the clear proofs (the indisputable evidence) (al-bayyinat), he said:
I have come to you with wisdom
to clarify some of what you are differing about.
Fear God and obey (God).
God is my Lord and your Lord: therefore serve (follow) Him. That is the right way (sirat mustakim).
But the factions among them differed.
{43:063-65}

The social laws and the social system laws of the Pentateuch had been bypassed or abrogated by the Jewish ruling elite, by the rich and powerful.

Jesus tried to reverse this situation and to have these laws again applied by people in their everyday lives. {4}

But the ruling elite, backed by the Christian establishment, later modified Jesus' teachings (Christian beliefs) from within. {4}

Say (to them): "I am only a mortal like you;
It has come to me (yuhi) that there is only one God.
So take the right way to Him, and ask His forgiveness."
Literal: So 'you go in the right way' and ... (istakimu)
And woe to those who serve associates (mushrekin) beside Him;
Mushrekin (associates): Guides, masters, overlords or supreme beings with whom a person associates (to which a person attributes) a god-like knowledge or authority. That which or those whom you consider to be like God, that or those whose orders you obey as if they came from God.
{41:006}

(To) those who reject the warning when it is preached to them:
It is an unassailable scripture (kitab aziz).
Falsehood cannot come from it or from that which follows it,
sent down (tanzil) from one full of wisdom, worthy of praise.
{41:041-42}

Nothing is said to you that has not been said to the other messengers before you.
Your Lord is forgiving, but also punishes severely.
Say: To those who believe, it is guidance and healing;
But those who do not believe are deaf and blind.
They are like men called to from a far-off place.
{41:043-44}

And now We have set you on the right way of our commandment (sharia amr),
so follow it, and do not follow the desires of ignorant people (those who do not have that knowledge)
for they cannot shield you from God.
{45:018}

The wrongdoers (zalamin) are supporters (awliya) of each others (help and support, protect, each other);
Zalamin (wrongdoers): Those who transgress, wrong other people, treat others badly, are unjust, are unfair, oppress, exploit.
but the protector (wali) of those who guard against evil (resist temptation) is God.
{45:019}


Guide and Warning: Be Guided (do well and prosper) or Ignore (fail, want and suffer)

Here Mohammed reveals the word of almighty God, stating the Pentateuch's Cause-and-Effect Relationship in religious terms so that his listeners can understand and be guided, can follow and prosper, are warned about the dire consequences of not following what he is teaching.

What happens to an individual and a community depends on present and past behaviour and not just on good intentions. The wrongdoer (unbeliever) does not understand he is drawing serious consequences (punishment) upon himself as the inevitable inescapable consequence of his own behaviour. If people reject or oppose God, if God's laws are not followed, God withdraws his protection from them. Misfortune (evil) strikes until they change their ways and return to God, that is, until they apply God's social laws and social system in their daily lives.

The Pentateuch records a fundamental scientific law, the Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship, in the language of religion {11}. This states that the consequences of keeping or not keeping the Pentateuch's laws are inescapable, that what happens to one is in the end the inevitable result of one's own behaviour. Also clearly stated is that this is a scientific law which was defined and stated using the language of religion so that people would benefit from knowing the effects (consequences) of their behaviour. The relationship is clearly stated in precise terms. History and social science confirm it. <1>

The relationship applies to all. Ignorance is no excuse, not knowing the law does not prevent consequences of one's behaviour, and the relationship is stated in a way which enables people to benefit from knowing the effects of their behaviour, even if they do not understand the underlying relationship.

Those who behave according to the law have good and satisfying lives, gain social and military strength. Behaviour which is contrary to the law lowers the quality of life, increases internal stress and conflict to the point of social disruption and military weakness. The consequences of our behaviour cannot be avoided but we can change the course of events by changing our behaviour.


One has to talk to people in language they can understand and here we see how, at God's request, Mohammed revealed the Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship, referring to it in religious terms both as guide and warning.


A book (kitab) whose verses explain clearly.
A teaching (koran) in Arabic so that people can understand,
Or 'for people to understand'.
giving good news and a warning.
{41:003-4}

The book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) came down (tanzil) from God, the mighty, the wise-one,
who forgives sin and accepts repentance. His punishment is stern and He has a long reach.
'He has a long reach' meaning 'one cannot escape'.
There is no god but Him. Towards Him is the journey (masir).
Towards Him (by following His commandments) is the journey.
That is, you make the journey towards Him by following His commandments.
{40:002-3}

We gave Moses guidance (al-huda)
and gave the book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) to the Children of Israel to inherit.
A guide (huda) and a reminder (warning) to people who understand.
To those who understand its commandments (message), it is a guide (about what is 'good', about what to do) and a warning (about what is evil, about what not to do). A guide and a warning about the unavoidable consequences of one's behaviour.
So be patient for God's promise is true.
The consequences of one's behaviour are as stated, cannot be avoided.
Ask for forgiveness for your sin, and sing the praise of your Lord evening and morning.
Ask for forgiveness for past behaviour and follow God's way (commandments) day and night.
{40:053-55}

Only unbelievers argue about God's directives (ayaat).
ayaat: communications, statements, directives.
Do not be deceived by the land's fluctuations (taqallub).
Apparently meaning: By the land's prosperous dealers.
Translated by others as:
... by their prosperous dealings in the land ... {7 Dawood}
... by their strutting about through the land ... {5a Yusuf Ali}
... by their turn of fortune in the land ... {5b Pickthal}
... by their going to and fro in the cities ... {5c Shakir}
{40:004}

Say (to them): "I am only a mortal like you;
It has come to me (yuhi) that there is only one God.
So take the right way to Him, and ask His forgiveness."
Literal: So 'you go in the right way' and ... (istakimu)
And woe to those who serve associates (mushrekin) beside Him;
Mushrekin (associates): Guides, masters, overlords or supreme beings with whom a person associates (to which a person attributes) a god-like knowledge or authority. That which or those whom you consider to be like God, that or those whose orders you obey as if they came from God.
{41:006}

(To) those who reject the warning when it is preached to them:
It is an unassailable scripture (kitab aziz).
Falsehood cannot come from it or from that which follows it,
sent down (tanzil) from one full of wisdom, worthy of praise.
{41:041-42}

Nothing is said to you that has not been said to the other messengers before you.
Your Lord is forgiving, but also punishes severely.
Say: To those who believe, it is guidance and healing;
But those who do not believe are deaf and blind.
They are like men called to from a far-off place.
{41:043-44}

He that does what is right does it for his own good;
and he that commits evil does so at his own peril.
Your Lord is never unjust to human beings (abid).
{41:046}

When We bestow favours on a human being,
and he then turns aside and withdraws himself,
evil befalls him (till) his prayer is broad.
'Till his prayer is broad': Till he returns to the right way by following God's commandments. Till he prays (follows God's way) on a wide front.
{41:051}
A clear statement of the Pentateuch's 'Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship'. See description at beginning of this section.

God judges with justice (and fairness)
but those whom they call upon besides Him cannot judge at all,
for God alone hears all and observes all.
{40:020}

Have they not travelled through the land and seen
the consequences (aqiba) for those who were before them (who behaved like them)?
They were superior to them in strength,
and in the traces (they have left) in the land:
but God held them to account for their sins, and from God they had no protector.
'God held them to account': Literal: 'God took them' meaning 'God destroyed them' or 'they died'.
{40:021}

That was because their messengers had come to them with clear proof (bayyinat)
'with clear proof': with indisputable evidence (of the commandments);
but they rejected them (the commandments):
So God held them to account. Mighty is God, and stern His punishment.
'God held them to account': Literal: 'God took them' meaning 'God destroyed them' or 'they died'.
{40:022}

He shows to you His directives (ayaat). Which of God's directives (ayaat) do you deny?
{40:081}

Have they not travelled through the land and seen
the consequences (aqiba) for those before them?
They were more numerous and were superior to them in strength,
and in the traces (they have left) in the land:
yet all their labours proved of no avail to them.
Literal: What they had earned did not make them richer (was unprofitable, did not profit them).
{40:082}

And above we were told (verse 40:004):
Only unbelievers argue about God's directives (ayaat).
Do not be deceived by the land's price fluctuations (taqallub).
(By the land's prosperous dealers.)

So we are told that unbelievers argue about and deny the God-given social laws and social system which protect the people from exploitation and oppression.

And following this we are now told about the inevitability of the consequences to the unbelievers of this behaviour.

When their messengers came to them with clear proofs (indisputable evidence) (bayyinat)
they were content with the knowledge they had;
Did not heed (listen to) the warning (ignored the warning).
but the consequences (of their behaviour) which they had mocked beset them
Literal: What they had earned did not make them richer (was unprofitable, did not profit them).
{40:083}

But when they saw our might they said:
We believe in God alone and we deny those whom we considered as associates (mushrekin).
Mushrekin (associates): Guides, masters, overlords or supreme beings with whom a person associates (to which a person attributes) a god-like knowledge or authority. That which or those whom you consider to be like God, that or those whose orders you obey as if they came from God.
{40:084}

But their newfound belief could not profit them at the time of their plight,
Literal: 'What they had mocked (rejected) was inflicted on them, beset them.'
(Change of 'belief' cannot change the consequences of past behaviour. To overcome their plight, to overcome the consequences of past behaviour, they have to be behaving according to their newfound belief.)
such being the way of God with human beings;
and in this way the unbelievers are disadvantaged.
{40:085}

And continuing the statement of the 'Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship', showing how it operates, as described at the beginning of this section.

Consider (the consequences of) you rejecting this (teaching) as being from God.
Who can err more than the one who continually takes the wrong way?'
{41:052}

We will show them (the validity of) Our directives (ayaat) in all the horizons (everywhere)
and to themselves, until they clearly see that this is justice (truth).
Is it not enough that your Lord witnesses everything?
{41:053}

Are they still in doubt about their Lord's presence?
Surely He encompasses all things.
He is everywhere.
{41:054}

Those who say, God is our Master, and then continue on the right way,
shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.
The right way is to live by following God's commandments (ayaat, directives, divine rules) in everyday life.
{46:013}

But those who dispute God's directives (ayaat) do not have (God's) authority to do so.
They are driven by
the ambition to become great
To achieve power over, to dominate, to control, others; to become powerful
which they will never achieve.
Therefore seek refuge in God; God hears all and observes all.
Literal: seek protection (from or in) God.
{40:056}

Those that reject Our directives (ayaat) when they know little of them
shall have humiliating sorrow.
{45:009}

Behind them is hell,
Hell follows them, they cannot escape.
They will not profit from their labours (earnings),
Literal: What they earned will not make them richer.
nor will those whom they have chosen to protect them (awliya) beside Allah.
awliya: rulers, masters, protectors in authority
Grievous sorrow awaits them.
{45:010}



(Ha Mim: Ain Sin Qaf) The Voice of the Ruling Elite

So far we have looked at the suras pointed to by the abbreviated letters 'Ha Mim'. The quoted verses illustrated with great clarity the teachings of Mohammed, the depth of knowledge and understanding underlying Mohammed's teachings of the intent and purpose of benevolent God (Allah), of God's directives which underly a good life of high quality.

Now we are going to look at sura 42, the only sura pointed to by the abbreviated letters 'Ha Mim: Ain Sin Qaf'. It seems that this sura has been edited to some extent according to Caliph Uthman's instruction {8, 9} to reflect the voice of the ruling elite. The contrast with the 'Ha Mim' suras is marked. By comparison the information in sura 42 appears involved, at times appears unclear, appears confused.


For example (verses 42:051-53):

God does not speak to any mortal
except by inspiration, or from behind a veil,
or by sending a messenger (rasul) to be inspired with his permission with God's will.
He is Most High, Most Wise.
{42:051}

Mohammed revealed God's words as and when instructed by God.

But this verse appears to be saying that there are other routes of revelation in addition to Mohammed.

It may be because of this that M M Shakir {5c} translates this verse as
And it is not for any mortal that Allah should speak to them,
they could not bear to hear and they did not see
or that He should send a messenger and he reveal whatever He will, by His leave;

And the next verse records a God-given (revealed by inspiration) statement, apparently saying at the end of the sura that people should be guided in the direction of the hidden intent (aims) stated in this sura:

Thus We inspired you with the intention (hidden unstated, spirit) of Our commands
You did not know the scripture (al-kitab, the Pentateuch), nor belief
but We made it a light whereby We guide whom We please of human beings (ibad).
You will surely guide them to the right way:
{42:052}

The right way
to whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on earth.
Behold (how) all affairs tend towards God!
Literal: 'Come to God all matters': All matters reach God, all matters are decided by God, God decides everything.
{42:053}



The Consequences of Behaviour (Rewards of this Life and of Life after Death)

Consider different translations of verse 42:017:

Line 1
It is God who has revealed the Book with truth and justice. (7 Dawood)
It is Allah Who has sent down the Book in Truth, and the Balance (by which to weigh conduct). (5a Yusuf Ali)
Allah it is Who hath revealed the Scripture with truth, and the Balance. (5b Pickthal)
Allah it is Who revealed the Book with truth, and the balance, (5c Shakir)

Line 2
And how can you tell? The Hour of Doom may be fast approaching. (7 Dawood)
And what will make thee realise that perhaps the Hour is close at hand? (5a Yusuf Ali)
How canst thou know? It may be that the Hour is nigh. (5b Pickthal)
and what shall make you know that haply the hour be nigh? (5c Shakir)


The four translations reflect the meaning of the arabic Koranic text and show how a reader of the Koran may understand the meaning of this verse. The reader is left with the impression that God revealed the Koran with truth and a balance for judging behaviour, and that 'the hour' may be close. Indeed, the reader is likely to assume that 'the hour' refers to a Day of Resurrection in a life to come after death, when people will be rewarded or punished according to the balance of their behaviour while alive, that is according to the balance of their behaviour in this life.

The arabic text, and most translators, state 'Hour' to which Dawood adds 'of Doom' implying 'of resurrection'. His reason seems to be that (qarib) (approaching) is masculine while sa'a' (hour) is feminine, which appears to imply that a word is missing from the arabic Koranic text.

What appears to be missing is the key word which could have clearly defined the meaning of this verse.


However, from what we have seen already in this report, the text is:

It is God who sent down the book (al-kitab, the Pentateuch) with truth and with the balance.
'the balance': rules of behaviour by which to weigh conduct
You cannot know whether the hour is close at hand (approaching).
You cannot know when the consequences of your behaviour become apparent.
{42:017}

Which clearly refers to the social laws and social system of the Pentateuch and to the corresponding unavoidable specified consequences of one's behaviour (to the Social cause-and-Effect Relationship). <1> {11}


But verse 42:019 states that

God is kind towards followers (believers).
He provides for (sustains) whom He pleases.
He is the Strong, the Mighty.
{42:019}

Here apparently saying that God provides sustenance for whom he pleases, that is according to unstated likes and dislikes.

Instead of according to the unavoidable and clearly specified consequences (rewards and punishments) of the extent to which God's benevolent social laws and social system are applied in one's daily life, as recorded in the Pentateuch.


This theme is developed in the immediately following verse 42:020, as follows:

Whoever wants to sow seeds in this life for a harvest in the life to come, he will reap a good harvest;
Literal: He who wants to sow for the coming world, we will increase his seeds (he will harvest more than he has sown)
and whoever desires the harvest of this world, We give him of it:
Literal: He who wants to sow for this world, we will give him of it
but in the world to come he has no share at all.
{42:020}

Those who follow the deity's wishes are here promised reward in a life which comes after death.
Those who work to gain the pleasures of this world while alive will gain of them, but will not share in the promised pleasures of a life to come after death.


Mohammed revealed that a good life and social justice arise from, are the reward of, following the God-given benevolent social laws and social system of the Pentateuch in one's daily life. He also revealed that unavoidable hardship and suffering result from rejecting the God-given social laws and social system.

But here we are told that the deity does as he pleases, that believers who work to gain and enjoy life's pleasures, to live in heaven on earth, that is the elite, the rich and powerful, can have it. Other believers are promised a good life but only after their death.


And similarly elsewhere in this sura, as follows:

He gives abundantly to whom He wishes and sparingly to whom He pleases.
He has knowledge of all things.
{42:012}

If God were to enlarge the provision (sustenance) for His followers (ibad),
They would indeed transgress beyond limit in the land
'transgress beyond limit': become selfish and corrupt, discontinue allegiance.
But He gives them as He pleases in due measure;
He knows and observes His followers (ibad).
{42:027}

Whatever you are given is only the pleasure (enjoyment) of this life.
What God has is better and more lasting for those who believe and trust their Lord,
{42:036}

In whatever you differ, the final word belongs to God.
Such is God, my Lord.
Him I trust (tawokalla) and to Him I turn time after time.
tawokalla: 'I am sure he will look after me'.
{42:010}


Hadiths record that when Caliph Uthman had the official version of the Koran compiled, he ordered the compilers always to prefer the voice of, that is the ideology of, the ruling elite. {8}

And it seems that what we see recorded in these verses of sura 42 appears to be the voice, the ideology, of the ruling elite.



Social Justice

Now let us consider what the same sura tells us about social justice and compare its statements with Allah's benevolent directives. We can do this by looking at what kind of behaviour is to be rewarded after death and by looking at who gains in this life, as stated in 42: 36-43, as follows:

Whatever you are given is only the pleasure (enjoyment) of this life.

What God has is better and more lasting
  • for those who believe and trust their Lord, {42:036}
  • And (for) those who avoid wicked and shameful deeds and when they are angry they forgive {42:037}
  • And (for) who respond to their Lord, pray, settle their issues (conduct their affairs) by counsel between them,
  • and (for) who spend (give out) of what We have given them. {42:038}

Those who if suffered wrongdoing, would be victorious (when retaliating), {42:039}
Literal: Those who if suffered wrongdoing, they will be victorious
the retaliation for an ill-deed being an equivalent ill-deed,
Literal: The 'jaza' (punishment or reward) of bad (or evil) is bad (or evil) like it (is an equivalent bad or evil)
who forgives and reconciles (azlacha),
azlacha: to make amends, to reconcile (to restore friendship between people after an estrangement or quarrel).
his reward is due from God; He does not love the wrongdoers. {42:040}

Those who are victorious after having been wronged,
these it is against whom there is no way (to blame). {42:041}
Arabic 'sabeel': way. Literal: 'have no way'. If they acted against those (oppressors) who wronged them, they had no other way, cannot be blamed. There is no way of blame against them, there is no cause for blame.

The way (of blame) is against those who oppress people,
and conduct themselves with wickedness and injustice (baga) in the land: {42:042}
baga: Going beyond something (in a negative sense), doing everything wrong, transgress beyond limit.

To endure with fortitude and to forgive,
this is for He who determines the 'matter of things' (everything). {42:043}
Whoever endures and forgives, leaves the matter for God to settle.

We can now take a closer look at what is said in this sura (verses 36-43) about what is rewarded or punished after a person dies.

Some people are given the pleasures of this life which they seek. {42:036}

But the rewards after death are for those {42:036}

who when they are angry they forgive, {42:037}
who avoid wicked and shameful deeds, {42:037}

who believe and trust their Lord, {42:036}
who respond to their Lord, {42:038}

who settle their issues (conduct their affairs) by counsel between them, {42:038}
who spend (give out) of what We have given them, {42:038}
who pray. {42:038}


We are also told that the oppressed, and the victims of those who are wicked and unjust, are to endure and forgive while alive, leaving it to the deity to settle the matter. The deity will blame (punish) oppressors and those who are wicked and unjust, after their death. {42:042-43}

Retaliation for an ill-deed is said to be an equivalent ill-deed {42:040} and, for the sake of simplicity, consider oppressors on the one hand and the oppressed on the other.

We are also told that if the oppressed could defeat their oppressors, but instead forgive and reconcile, God will reward the oppressed after their death {42:039-40}. And that whoever endures, and forgives, leaves the matter for God to settle {42:043}.

But if the oppressed defeat their oppressors, the victors will not be blamed. {42:041}

So we are told that some will be given the pleasures of this life (apparently referring to the ruling elite, to the rich and powerful and their establishment). And if the oppressed defeat their oppressors, the victors (presumably the new ruling elite) will not be blamed.

The others (the community) can be given pleasures after their death. Retaliation for an ill-deed is said to be an equivalent ill-deed but to qualify for pleasures after our death we are asked to forgive when angry in this life (before our death). And one qualifies only if one endures and forgives wickedness, injustice and oppression even when strong enough to overcome them.

And to qualify one has to believe, trust and obey one's Lord (this deity, one's master) in all these.


Consider:

The response to an ill-deed is an equivalent ill-deed.

Those who respond (retaliate) successfully to an ill-deed incur no guilt.

One may forgive (submit, yield) if one does not have the strength to respond to an ill-deed, to please God (without blame).

Those who could respond (retaliate) successfully to an ill-deed, but do not do so (forgive and reconcile), are rewarded by God in a life to come.


Seemingly far-removed from Mohammed's teaching of God's benevolent social laws and social system on behalf of God and people, far-removed from protecting people against evil-doers such as exploiters and oppressors.



Associates, Masters, Protectors and Messengers of Revelations

As for those who serve other protectors (awliya) besides Him, God is watching them.
awliya: rulers, masters, protectors in authority
You are not accountable for what they do.
Literal: not their alternative protector
{42:006}

If they turn away, We have not sent you (Mohammed) to be their keeper.
If they pay no heed, We do not hold you accountable for what they do or omit to do.
Your duty is only to inform.
When We give man a taste of Our mercy, they rejoice in it;
but when some ills happen to them as a consequence of their deeds, then humans are ungrateful.
{42:048}

He has ordained for you the same religion (faith) which He enjoined on Noah
and which We sent to you by inspiration
and which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, saying:
Observe the faith (commandments, directives) and be not divided therein.'
But hard for the associates (al-mushrekin) is that to which you call them.
Mushrekin (associates): Guides, masters, overlords or supreme beings with whom a person associates (to which a person attributes) a god-like knowledge or authority. That which or those whom you consider to be like God, that or those whose orders you obey as if they came from God.
God chooses for it whom He will, and guides to it those who repent.
{42:013}

It was after the knowledge was given to them that they (the Jews) disagreed among themselves out of greed.
Had not a word already gone forth from your Lord for an appointed term,
the matter would have been settled between them:
Those who inherited the scripture after them (the Christians) also have these serious disagreements.
{42:014}

Therefore call them (to the faith) and follow the right way as you were commanded (omerta).
Do not follow their vain desires, but say: 'I believe in the scripture (kitab, Pentateuch) that God has revealed'
Literal: 'I believe in what God has revealed in the book (kitab, Pentateuch).
and I am commanded to judge (decide) between you.
I (Mohammed); Commanded (omerto); Judge (adela: verb meaning 'to judge' or 'to decide').
In verses 42:006 and 42:048, Mohammed is asked to leave unbelievers to God for judgement, but here it is stated that he is to 'judge' between Jewish and Christian God-given God-serving beliefs versus their establishment-serving beliefs.
God is our Lord and your Lord.
We have our deeds and you have your deeds; there is no argument (huja) between us.
God will bring us together, and towards Him is the journeying.
Mohammed is here recorded as saying the fundamental truth that there is only one God. Then goes on to say that as regards 'deeds' there is no argument between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.
{42:015}

As for those who dispute about God after having acknowledged Him,
their arguments will have no weight with their Lord.
Upon them is wrath, and for them is severe punishment.
{42:016}

Have they associates (shuraku)
shuraku: same root as 'mushrekin'.
which in the practice of their religion have made lawful to them what God has not allowed?
But for the decisive word stated already,
the matter would have been settled between them.
Woeful punishment awaits the wrongdoers (zalamin).
zalamin (wrongdoers): Those who transgress, wrong other people, treat others badly, are unjust, are unfair, oppress, exploit.
{42:021}

The way (of blame) is against those who oppress people,
and conduct themselves with wickedness and injustice in the land:
{42:042}



Relevant Current and Associated Works

Other relevant current and associated reports by Manfred Davidmann:
     
     
Title   Description
     
Prophet Mohammed's Struggle for a Better Life for All     Mohammed's struggle for recognition of his mission and message against the powerful Meccan ruling elite. They opposed and then persecuted him and his followers for ten years, following which he fought them for ten years till he won and then he died.
     
Text, Language, Dialect and Interpretation of the Koran   How the written Arabic language developed from the time of Mohammed and how the Koran was assembled. How recorded letters and symbols were used to state the meaning of words. Compares 'readings' and interpretations.
     
The Divine Right to Rule   The struggle for power and control over the Muslim community after Mohammed died and how Muslim belief and practice evolved under the caliphs. These events and struggles formed Sunnism and Shiism, shaped the Koran and Muslim belief and practice.
     
Compiling the Koran: Hadiths (Traditions) State the Underlying Reality   Zaid bin Thabit compiled the Koran, Caliph Uthman had an official version prepared. Mohammed taught that people (believers) should have a good life, the ruling elite considered that people should serve willingly.
     
Uthman's Rearrangement of the Chronological (as revealed) Koran's Chapters   Chapters (suras) marked by 'abbreviated letters' show how the sequence of the Koran's chapters was changed. The effects of the changes on the record of Mohammed's preaching and teaching are described as are the doctrines of 'Abrogation' and 'Consensus'.
     
Prophet Mohammed's Word of Allah and the Voice of the Ruling Elite   Mohammed's social teachings are stated from chapters (suras) singled out by 'Abbreviated Letters', statements of revelation from compassionate and caring Allah. It seems that some self-seeking doctrines were added later by the ruling elite of that time.
     
Muslims and Jews   Includes a comprehensive summary table of the struggles of the Muslims while Mohammed was alive, including their conflicts with the Jewish Medinan clans. The conclusions are directly relevant to understanding present tensions and conflicts within Islam.
     
The God-given Human Rights, Social Laws and Social System   A comprehensive statement of the God-given human rights which underlie all freedom, liberty and independence. They are the foundation of the main religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and they underlie and determine a good life of high quality.
     
Struggle for Freedom: The Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship   Major review and analysis of the social laws and social system of the Torah and of the Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship. Also reviews the role of religion and of Judaism under modern conditions.
     
At the Time of Jesus, The Truth about Hillel and his Times   Factual conclusive document describing what happened at the time of Jesus to Jewish belief and practice, based on research into texts published close to the events. A fully documented record of previously undiscovered material in the Talmud about Hillel.
     
One Law for All: Freedom Now, Freedom for Ever   Document describing the struggles within Judaism which accompanied the birth of Rabbinical Judaism, how people felt about what was happening, how the Talmud recorded events and what would have to be done to reverse the trend of events.
     
ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY and JUDAISM   Proves by methods of biblical archaeology what Jesus really taught, how Paul changed what Jesus had taught, how this became Christianity's official doctrine. Outstanding are sections on Paul and the Gospels, on concurrent corresponding changes in Judaism.


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Notes, References and Links


Notes

<1>     In {11} see 'Unavoidable Consequences of One's Behaviour'. See this also for full information with references to sources.
     
<2>   In {8} see particularly 'Hadith 2: How Caliph Uthman Ordered the Compilation of an Official Koran Text' which clearly shows the meaning of these terms. And see the other relevant Koranic verses below in this report.
     
<3>   My special thanks are due to Esther Shouby whose professional knowledge of Arabic enabled me to compare and assess the meaning and significance of the ancient Arabic texts.


References and Links

{1}     Struggle for Freedom: The Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship
Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     
{2}   At the Time of Jesus, This is What Actually Happened in Israel:
The Truth About Hillel and His Times

Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     
{3}   One Law for All: Freedom Now, Freedom for Ever
Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     
{4}   ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY and JUDAISM
Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     
{5}   The Noble Koran (Three Translations):
{5a}  Yusuf Ali
{5b}  M M W Pickthal
{5c}  M M Shakir
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/
     
{6}   Prophet Mohammed's Struggle for a Better Life for All
Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     
{7}   The Koran (With a Parallel Arabic Text)
N J Dawood
Penguin Books, 2000
     
{8}   Compiling the Koran: Hadiths (Traditions) State the Underlying Reality
Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     
{9}   Uthman's Rearrangement of the Chronological (as revealed) Koran's Chapters
Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     
{10}   Die Syro-aramaeische Lesart des Koran
Christoph Luxenberg
Published by 'Das Arabische Buch', 2000
3-86093-274-8.
     
{11}   The God-given Human Rights, Social Laws and Social System
Manfred Davidmann
http://www.solhaam.org/
     


Relevant Subject Index Pages and Site Overview


The Site Overview page has links to all individual Subject Index Pages which between them list the works by Manfred Davidmann which are available on the Internet, with short descriptions and links for downloading.

To see the Site Overview page, click Overview

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Copyright    ©    2003    Manfred Davidmann
All rights reserved worldwide.

History
20/01/04 To Website.
02/02/04 Some textual improvements.