Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Story of the Quran


The Story of the Quran (part 1 of 4): God’s Final Revelation

By Aisha Stacey

Muslims believe the Quran to be God’s final revelation. They believe it is the literal word of God, revealed over many years, to His final prophet, Muhammad, may God praise him. The Quran is full of wisdom. It is full of the wonder and glory of God, and a testament to His mercy and justice. It is not a history book, a storybook, or a scientific textbook, although it contains all of those genres. The Quran is God's greatest gift to humanity – it is a book like no other. In the second verse of the second chapter of the Quran, God describes the Quran by calling it a book whereof there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are pious, righteous, and fear God. (Quran 2:2)

The Quran is core to Islam. Believing in it is a requirement. One who does not believe in the Quran, in its entirety, cannot claim to be a Muslim.
"The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) ‘We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers’ — and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all)’." (Quran 2:285)

Islam has two primary sources, the Quran, and the authentic Traditions of Prophet Muhammad, that explain and sometimes expand on that of the Quran.
“And We have not sent down the Book (the Quran) to you (O Muhammad, except that you may explain clearly unto them those things in which they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a folk who believe.” (Quran 16:64)

The Quran was delivered to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel and revealed in stages over a period of 23 years.
“And (it is) a Quran which We have divided into parts, in order that you might recite it to men at intervals. And We have revealed it by stages.” (Quran 17:106)

Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, was commanded by God to convey the Quran to all of humankind and the responsibility weighed heavily upon him. Even in his farewell address he called on the people present to bear witness that he had delivered the message.

The Quran explains the concept of God, it explains in detail what is permissible and what is forbidden, it explains the basics of good manners and morals, and gives rulings about worship. It tells stories about the Prophets and our righteous predecessors, and describes Paradise and Hell. The Quran was revealed for all of humankind.

The book in which the Quran (the words of God) are contained in is called a mushaf . The Quran is considered so unique in content and style that it cannot be translated; therefore, any translation is considered an interpretation of the meanings of the Quran.

When God sent Prophets to the various nations He often allowed them to perform miracles that were relevant to their particular time and place. In the time of Moses magic and sorcery were prevalent therefore Moses’ miracles appealed to the people he was sent to guide. In the time of Muhammad, the Arabs, although predominantly illiterate, were masters of the spoken word. Their poetry and prose were considered outstanding and a model of literary excellence.

When Prophet Muhammad recited the Quran – the words of God – the Arabs were moved tremendously by its sublime tone and extraordinary beauty. The Quran was Prophet Muhammad’s miracle from God. Muhammad was unable to read or write therefore the Arabs knew that he was unlikely to have produced such eloquent words, but even so some refused to believe that the Quran was the word of God. God therefore challenged them, in the Quran, to produce a rival text.
“And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Quran) to Our slave (Muhammad), then produce a chapter of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides God, if you are truthful.” (Quran 2:23)

Of course they were unable to do so. In contrast to those who questioned the origin of the Quran, many Arabs converted to Islam after hearing the recitation. They knew immediately that such sublime beauty could originate only from God. Even today it is possible to see Muslims moved to tears while listening to or reciting the Quran. In fact some people, unable to understand even one word of the Arabic language are moved by the intrinsic beauty of the Quran.

After establishing that Quran is the word of God and that it is a recitation, it is also important to understand that Quran has remained unchanged for more than 1400 years. Today when a Muslim in Egypt holds his mushaf in his hands and begins to recite you can be sure that in far away Fiji another Muslim is looking at and reciting the exact same words. There are no differences. The child in France holding his first mushaf is tentatively reciting the same words that flowed from the lips of Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him.

God assures us in Quran that He will surely protect His words. He says, “Verily, it is We Who have sent down the Quran and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).” (Quran 15:9) This means that God will guard against anything false being added or any part of it being taken away.[1] It is protected from tampering and if anyone attempts to distort the meanings of Quran, God will guide someone to expose the deception.[2]

Muslims believe that the previous revelations from God, including the Torah and the Gospels of Jesus were either lost in antiquity, or changed and distorted, so it is a source of comfort to them knowing that God’s words – the Quran – are now well guarded.

God sent down the Quran, from above the heavens, to the Angel Gabriel in the glorious month of Ramadan. The story of how this recitation was revealed and how Quran came to be available worldwide, with an interpretation of the meanings translated into over 100 languages[3] will be covered in part 2.
[1] From the Tafseer of Ibn Jareer al-Tabari
[2] From the Tafseer of Al-Sa’di
[3] The Centre for African studies at the University of Pennsylvania claims that the Quran has been translated into 114 languages.

The Story of the Quran (part 2 of 4): From the Preserved Tablet to Humankind

By Aisha Stacey

“And thus, We have sent to you O Muhammad a revelation, and a mercy of Our Command. You knew not what the Book is, nor what is Faith? But We have made it (this Quran) a light wherewith We guide whosoever of Our slaves We will. And verily, you O Muhammad are indeed guiding (humankind) to the Straight Path.” (Quran 42:52)

Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, the final Messenger from God, received the Quran, in two stages. These perfect words of God were sent down to guide humankind out of the darkness and into the light; they are guidance and a mercy. The Quran – the words of God are perfect words, from a perfect God, to His Creation. On the night known as the ‘Night of Decree’, in the Islamic month of Ramadan, the Quran descended, from the Preserved Tablet[1] to the Lowest Heaven. It then descended from the heavens to the earth in small stages.

The revelation was delivered to Prophet Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel.[2] When Prophet Muhammad was around forty years of age he started to spend time in deep reflection. According to his beloved wife Aisha[3] the love of seclusion was bestowed upon him via vivid good dreams. He would go to the cave known as Hira to worship the One God and contemplate life, the universe, and his place in the world.

One night during Ramadan an angel came to him and asked him to read. The Prophet, who was unable to read or write, replied 'I do not know how to read'. The angel then held him forcibly and pressed his chest so hard that he could not bear the pressure. The angel then released Muhammad and asked him once more to read. Again he replied “but I do not know how to read”. The angel held him forcibly three times and Muhammad responded each time that he did not know how to read (or asked what shall I read). The angel then related to him the first words of Quran.[4]
“Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists). He has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous, Who has taught by the pen, He has taught man that which he knew not.” (Quran 96:1-5)

After this first revelation, which Muhammad, may God praise him, found frightening; he was not visited by the angel Gabriel again for an undetermined amount of time. The next time he encountered him (the angel) he was walking alone. Prophet Muhammad heard a voice from the heavens. When he looked up he saw the angel sitting on a chair between the sky and the earth. Muhammad was afraid and ran home seeking comfort and asking to be wrapped in blankets. The second revelation occurred at this time.[5]
“O you covered in garments arise and warn the people of a severe punishment...” (Quran 74:1-5)

Over the next 23 years until shortly before Prophet Muhammad’s death, the Quran was revealed in stages. Several reasons have been suggested for this. Some say that it was revealed slowly to offer Prophet Muhammad support and address issues as they arose.

Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, narrates that when asked about how the divine inspiration was revealed Prophet Muhammad replied, “Sometimes it is like the ringing of a bell, this form of inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes after I have grasped what is inspired. Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me and I grasp whatever he says”.[6] Ibn Abbas described Prophet Muhammad as bearing the revelation “with great trouble and moving his lips quickly”.[7]As the words of Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad he began to commit them to memory.

Memorization was considered important and was widely practised even in the early years of Islam. Prophet Muhammad requested that his companions memorise Quran and used various measures to assure that the revelation was preserved in their memories. According to Ibn Ishaq, compiler of one of the first biographies of Prophet Muhammad, Abdullah Ibn Masood was the first man, after Muhammad, to recite the Quran publicly and on this occasion was severely beaten. Prophet Muhammad’s closest companion Abu Bakr was also known to recite Quran outside his home in Mecca.[8]

Quran was memorised by the companions during Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime and this tradition has continued through the following generations. Even today Muslims unable to read Arabic memorise the exact same words that were memorised by the Arabs of the 7th century CE. The majority of the Arabs were unlettered, including Prophet Muhammad; however the importance of the written word was well understood.

Preserving the divine revelation was paramount; therefore trustworthy and knowledgeable people memorised and wrote down the words of Quran. These included the four men destined to follow Muhammad as leaders of the Muslim nation and a man named Zaid Ibn Thabit, who would be instrumental in the preservation of Quran for the many generations to follow.
Writing materials were difficult to obtain and in these very early days portions of Quran were written onto animal skins, thin light coloured stones, bones, and even bark. The companions would write down the words of revelation and Prophet Muhammad would listen to the men recite from the written word to make sure there were no mistakes. It could be said that the Quran was written down under the direct supervision of Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him. The Quran was not revealed in order, however the Angel Gabriel instructed Prophet Muhammad on how to compile the Quran in the divinely inspired correct sequence.
[1] Lauh Al-Mahfuz (the preserved tablet) is the book in which God wrote the divine decrees and the destiny of all of creation. It was with God before the creation.
[2] Suyuti’ in Al Itqan Fi Ulum Al Quran, Beirut, 1973, Vol. I pp. 39-40 based on three reports from 'Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas, in Hakim, Baihaqi and Nasa'i.
[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[4] These are the first words that were revealed, not to be confused with the first chapter of Quran, for Quran chapters were not revealed in order.
[5] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[6] Ibid
[7] Ibid
[8] Ibn Hisham

The Story of the Quran (part 3 of 4): A Revelation Well Preserved and Guarded

By Aisha Stacey

“It is We Who have sent down the remembrance (i.e. the Quran) and surely, We will guard it from corruption.” (Quran 15:9)
When God revealed His words of guidance for the whole of humankind – the Quran, He guaranteed to preserve it. One of the ways in which it was preserved was that the men, women and children around the Prophet Muhammad memorized Quran, paying careful attention to each word. In the very early days of Islam the emphasis was on memorization, however soon, those who had mastered the art of reading and writing began to write down the words of Quran on whatever writing material available. They wrote on flat stones, bark, bones, and even animal skins.

As the words of God were revealed, to Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, by the Angel Gabriel, it is said that he would call for a scribe to write down the words as they began to flow from his lips. The principle scribe was a man named Zaid Ibn Thabit. Many companions reported that Prophet Muhammad would call for Zaid saying “let him bring the board, the ink pot and the scapula bone”.[1] In the lifetime of the Prophet, the Quran existed on bits and pieces of writing material, rather than in book form.

One of the reasons that Quran was not at that stage, in the form of a book was that it was not revealed in order. Rather the chapters and verses were revealed over a period of 23 years often in response to happenings in the life and times of the early Muslim community. However, the order of the chapters and verses of Quran was known to Prophet Muhammad. When the Angel Gabriel would reveal the divine words of God, he would also issue instructions as to what verses and chapters belonged where.

The Quran was written down under the direct supervision of Prophet Muhammad. Uthman, one of the Prophet’s closest companions recalled that, “when something was revealed to him, Prophet Muhammad would call someone from amongst those who used to write for him and say, ‘place these verses in the chapter in which such and such is mentioned’ and if only one verse was revealed he would say, ‘place this verse in this chapter’”[2].

Thus at the time of the Prophet’s death pieces of Quran were held in trust by many members of the Muslim community. Some had only a few pages from which they were learning to recite, others such as the scribes, had several chapters and still others had pieces of bark or animal skin containing only one verse.

During the time of Abu Bakr, the man chosen to lead the Muslim nation after the death of Prophet Muhammad, the wider Muslim community found itself in a time of civil strife. False Prophets arose and many bewildered people, unable to sustain their faith without Prophet Muhammad, left the fold of Islam. Battles and skirmishes took place and many of the men who had memorized the Quran lost their lives.

Abu Bakr was afraid that the Quran would be lost, so he consulted some of the senior companions about compiling the Quran into a single book. He asked Zaid ibn Thabit, to oversee this task. At first, Zaid felt uneasy about doing something that Prophet Muhammad did not specifically authorize. However, he did agree to collect pieces of Quran, both written and memorized and compile a book – the Mushaf. In the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, we find Zaid Ibn Thabit's own recollection of how the compilation of Quran came about.[3]

“Abu Bakr sent for me when the people of al-Yamaamah had been killed [i.e., a number of the Prophet's Companions who fought against the false prophet Musaylimah]. I went to him and found Umar ibn al-Khattab sitting with him. Abu Bakr then said to me, ‘Umar has come saying the casualties were heavy among those who knew the Quran by heart, and I am afraid that more heavy casualties may take place on other battlefields, whereby a large part of the Quran may be lost. Therefore I suggest that you (Abu Bakr) order that the Quran be collected.”
I said to Umar, “How can you do something that the Messenger of God did not do?” Umar said, “By God, this is something good”. Umar kept on urging me to accept his proposal until God opened my heart to it and I began to realize the good in the idea. Then Abu Bakr said (to me). “You are a wise young man and we do not have any suspicion about you, and you used to write the Divine Inspiration for the Messenger of God, so search for the fragmentary scripts of Quran and compile them into one book.”
“By Allah (God) if they had ordered me to move one of the mountains, it would not have been heavier for me than this (ordering me to compile the Quran). Then I said to Abu Bakr, “How can you do something that the Messenger of God did not do?” Abu Bakr replied, “By God, it is a good thing.” Abu Bakr kept on urging me to accept his idea until God opened my heart to that to which He had opened the hearts of Abu Bakr and Umar. Therefore, I started looking for the Quran and collecting it from what it was written on, palm stalks, thin white stones and also from the men who knew it by heart, until I had collected it all.

Zaid had memorized all of the Quran and had been Prophet Muhammad’s most trusted scribe; therefore, it would have been possible for him to have written the whole Quran from his own memory. However, he did not use this method alone. He was very careful and methodical in his compilation of the Quran and would not write down any verses unless they had been confirmed by at least two of Prophet Muhammad’s Companions.

Thus, the Quran came to be written and compiled in book form. It remained with Abu Bakr until his death, at which time it came into the possession of Umar Ibn al Khattab. After Umar’s death, it was entrusted to his daughter Hafsah. This however is not the end of the story of Quran. In the time of Uthman, the third leader of the Muslim nation, the book in which the Quran (the words of God) is contained, the Mushaf, became standardized. The Quran was no longer written in the various dialects of Arabic. In part 4 we will discover how the Mushaf known as the Uthmani Quran, came into being.
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[2] Abu Dawood
[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

The Story of the Quran (part 4 of 4): Then, Today, and for all Time

By Aisha Stacey

When Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel, it was revealed in seven Arabic dialects[1], therefore when different Companions recited there were sometimes slight differences in pronunciation. While Prophet Muhammad was alive, he was able to clarify and resolve any pronunciation disputes.

From the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, Umar Ibn Al Khattab narrates an anecdote that clearly shows how the people around the Prophet were anxious to preserve the authenticity of Quran and that the Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was able to mediate any disputes. He says,

I heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting in a way different to that of mine. Therefore, I was about to quarrel with him (during the prayer) but I waited until he finished, then I brought him to God’s Messenger and said, “I have heard him reciting in a way different to the way you taught it to me.” The Prophet ordered me to release him and asked Hisham to recite. When he recited it, God’s messenger said, “It was revealed in this way.” He then asked me to recite the same verses. When I recited it, he said, “It was revealed in this way. The Quran has been revealed in seven different ways, so recite it in the way that is easier for you.”[2]

After the death of Prophet Muhammad, hundreds of thousands of non-Arabs converted to Islam. By the time Uthman Ibn Affan was leader of the Islamic nation the Quran was recited in a variety of different accents and dialects. Many people especially those new to Islam were becoming confused and some of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad began to fear that the authenticity of Quran would be compromised.

Whilst on a journey, one of Prophet Muhammad’s companions noticed that there were many different recitations of Quran throughout the Muslim Caliphate. He suggested to Uthman that there be an official version recited in the dialect of the tribe of Quraish and written in the style used in the city of Medina. All dialects of the Arabic language were renowned for their eloquence but the dialect of Quraish was considered the most expressive and articulate, and thus over generations, it came to be known as the dialect of the Quran.

Uthman Ibn Affan knew the Quran by heart and had intimate knowledge of the context and circumstances relating to each verse, thus he was a fitting person to oversee the standardization of the Quran. As we know, the Quran had been gathered together during the time of Abu Bakr and was in the safekeeping of Umar Ibn Al Khattab’s daughter, and Prophet Muhammad’s wife, Hafsah. Uthman sent word to Hafsah, and took possession of the original Mushaf. The authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad relate the event as follows.

Hudhaifah came to Uthman at the time when the people of Syria and the people of Iraq were at war with Armenia and Azerbaijan. He was alarmed by their (the people of Syria and Iraq) differences in the recitation, so he said to ‘Uthman, “O leader of the believers! Save this nation before they dispute about the Quran as the Jews and the Christians did dispute about their books.” Therefore, ‘Uthman sent a message to Hafsah saying, “Send us the manuscript so that we may make copies and we will return the manuscript to you.” [3]

Once again, the leaders of the Muslim Caliphate and the men and women Companions of the Prophet made great efforts to preserve the words of God and to remain faithful to the Message. Uthman ordered some of the most trusted companions, including for a second time Zaid Ibn Thabit, to make careful copies of the Mushaf, saying “in case you disagree, copy it into the dialect of Quraish”.[4]

The original manuscript was sent back to Hafsah and Uthman then ordered all other unofficial copies to be burned or otherwise destroyed. Thus, an end was put to the dispute and the Muslims were united. The Uthmani Quran is the Mushaf used by more then 1.2 billion Muslims throughout the world today. The Quran has remained preserved from generation to generation. Each Mushaf is an exact copy of the original.

“Verily, it is We Who have sent down the remembrance (Quran), and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).” (Quran15:9)

It is not known exactly how many copies were made by Uthman, but many believe it to be five, not including his own copy. The cities of Mecca, Medina, Damascus, Kufa, and Basra each received a copy. Throughout early Islamic literature, references are made to these copies and it is believed that original copies exist to this day in Turkey and Uzbekistan.
Ibn Batuta, in the 14th century C.E. said he had seen copies or sheets from the copies of the Quran prepared under Uthman, in Granada, Marrakesh, Basra, and other cities. Ibn Kathir related that he had seen a copy of the Uthmani Quran, which was brought to Damascus from Palestine. He said it was ‘very large, in beautiful clear strong writing with strong ink, in parchment, I think, made of camel skin’.[5] Ibn Jubair said he saw the Uthmani manuscript in the mosque of Medina in the year 1184 C.E. Some say it remained in Medina until the Turks removed it in WW1. The Treaty of Versailles contains the following clause:
Article 246: Within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty, Germany will restore to His Majesty, King of Hedjaz, the original Koran of Caliph Othman, which was removed from Medina by the Turkish authorities and is stated to have been presented to the ex-Emperor William II.”[6]
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim
[2] Ibid.
[3] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ulum Al-Quran: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Quran, Ahmad Von Denffer, Islamic foundation, UK.
[6] Major Peace Treaties of Modern History, New York, Chelsea House Publishers.

Dignity of Mankind

by Zahid Aziz

I wish to discuss the teachings of Islam regarding the place and status of human beings, and also of the individual, in this world. There are many ideologies which regard the human being as merely a cog in a machine, and his purpose is just to serve a particular system of society or type of state. The individual as well as groups of people are simply subservient to that ideology and its institutions. Even in what is claimed to be a free society, people feel as if they don't count as individuals, what they do or do not do is of little consequence. Given the impression of Islam which prevails generally, most people would believe that this religion too is one of these ideologies which has little regard for the human being and reduces its followers to the position of just serving the interests of the system.

Mankind's position
On the contrary, Islam teaches that mankind, as well as the individual, holds a very high position indeed. According to the Holy Quran, when God created man, He said:
"I am going to make in the earth a khalifa." (2:30.)
that is to say, a ruler or empowered authority from God. As khalifa, mankind can acquire power over physical nature, and in the spiritual domain human beings can acquire a semblance of those great, good and noble qualities which are the attributes of God. So the potential given to mankind, and the goal set for it, is the highest imaginable. It is said in the Quran that God has breathed into every human being, at the time of his creation, His own Divine spirit. (32:9.) This gives each person the capability of attaining nearness to God.
Again, the Quran repeatedly says that everything in this world has been made subservient to man, for his advantage and benefit: things on the earth, in the sea, in the sky, etc. For instance:
"Do you not see that Allah has made subservient to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth, and granted to you His favours complete, outwardly and inwardly?" (31:20.)

So God has dignified mankind by giving it the power to rule the physical world, i.e. outwardly, and his own self, i.e. inwardly. Human beings have, especially in the last century or so, developed very greatly their power over the physical world by means of acquiring physical knowledge, but they have neglected to be able to rule over their own desires, emotions and passions. How dignified man looks when you see his magnificent achievements and feats of the conquest of nature, and how disgraced and humiliated he looks when you see his failure to control his own desires! But the Quran says that God has granted man His favour inwardly as well, that is, the spiritual guidance with which to conquer himself.

Human beings given power of reason
Another way in which mankind has been dignified is the giving to human beings of their senses and understanding. The Quran refers to this repeatedly:
"He gave you ears and eyes and hearts; little it is that you give thanks!" (32:9.)
"Thanking" here means to use your senses to acquire knowledge and to use your mind to draw conclusions from it. The Quran emphasises that human beings must use their senses and reason to understand things, including matters of religious belief. Blind belief and following are condemned in the Quran. Those who don't use these faculties are referred to as cattle, and indeed as going astray even more.
Belief is something which should enter into your heart on the basis of your observation and knowledge. The Quran describes believers as those who:
"remember Allah while standing or sitting or lying, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord, You have not created this in vain." (3:191.)
It is by reflecting on the creation of the universe that one is meant to discover that there is a purpose in creation. The Quran repeatedly refers to signs in nature from which man can deduce the existence of God, the need for revelation from Him, and the truth of His revelation in the Quran. It says that these signs can be read only by people who reflect, who have knowledge, who hear, and who use their reason.(30:21-24.)
The Quran asks man again and again: Don't you use your sense and reason? This expression occurs about a dozen times throughout the Quran at places where the Quran presents an argument. At one place, it quotes those who suffer punishment for their sins as saying that if they had listened or if they had used their sense, they would not have found themselves in that predicament. Similarly, the Quran again and again asks the reader to ponder and reflect, on different things, and in various ways. So Islam does not expect a person to just obey a set of orders and rules that he is given, without understanding or thinking. I am sure many people mistakenly believe that this is what Islam does require of its followers. On the contrary, a person is not only encouraged but required to use his God-given faculty of reason and reflection.

Freedom of belief
Man's dignity, according to Islam, is far above that he should be forced to accept some belief. The Quran says:
"The truth is from your Lord; so let him who pleases believe and let him who pleases disbelieve." (18:29.)
Belief is something which must convince a human being's heart and enter it. When some Arab tribes newly joined Islam, and used the expression "We believe," the Quran told them not to say "We believe," but rather that "We have become Muslims" or "We have submitted" because, says the Quran, "faith has not yet entered into your hearts". Therefore Islam does not consider it sufficient to merely follow the precepts of the religion in the outward, mechanical sense, but your hearts must become convinced of the truth of the faith.

Individual responsibility
Another way in which Islam has dignified the individual is by making him or her responsible for his or her own beliefs and actions. The Quran says:
"No bearer of a burden can bear the burden of another." (6:164; 17:15.)
Each individual bears his or her own responsibility and is treated by God as a person in his or her own right. The individual is not treated as just one member of a group, with no identity of his own. Even if you belong to a group or nation whose members are committing wrong, you are not held responsible for their misdeeds if as an individual you do not commit those wrongful acts. Likewise, if you are a wrong-doer you cannot escape responsibility for your actions by claiming to belong to a group of good and righteous people, and no one, however good and holy, can volunteer to bear your responsibility upon his shoulders. This principle means that each one of us matters as an individual.

Blind following
Blind following of leaders is also condemned in the Quran. It says that if a wrong-doer puts forward in his defence the plea that he was only following and obeying orders, that is not an acceptable defence. Although the leaders do bear responsibility for misleading their followers, nonetheless each individual is expected to use his own sense and reason, to the extent of his capacity. Similarly, blind following of one's ancestors and of inherited beliefs and values is condemned by the Quran. It teaches that you should apply sense and reason to test whether your inherited beliefs are right or not. Again, these teachings of the Quran dignify the position of the individual because he is told not to blindly follow his leaders or forefathers.

Group following
Another principle the Quran teaches is that an individual must not join in acts of wrong-doing with his community or his fellow-countrymen or brethren-in-faith. It says:
"Help one another in righteousness and goodness, and help not one another in sin and aggression." (5:2.)
It is not befitting a human being that he should just follow the crowd, even the crowd of his own people, without thinking about the right or the wrong of the matter. Rather, the individual should stand up for the right, even against his own people.

Principle of consultation
In making decisions in the nation or the community, the Holy Quran has taught the principle of consultation. It says that the affairs of the Muslims must be decided by consul among themselves. (42:38.) Even the Holy Prophet Muhammad was instructed to consult his followers, (3:159.) and he was given this revelation when a decision about a battle which had been made on the basis of majority opinion had proved to be wrong. The Holy Prophet and some of his followers had been in favour of one course of action but the majority had been in favour of another course of action. The majority view was followed but it nearly led to disaster. Nonetheless Allah revealed to the Holy Prophet to pardon his followers, and still consult them in decision-making as before.
The process of consultation dignifies the individual because each person has his or her view taken into account, while autocratic rule degrades the individual because one man's opinion is supreme. Muslims, unfortunately, abandoned this principle both in their governments and in their spiritual and religious movements.

Value of the least individual
I will mention now two incidents recorded in the Holy Quran which show the value attached to the most ordinary individual. In the early days of his mission, the Holy Prophet Muhammad was once explaining Islam to some chiefs of his tribe when a blind man came to him and interrupted him with a question. The Holy Prophet frowned and turned away from him, as he was addressing important men. God then sent revelation to the Holy Prophet, which is contained in chapter 80 of the Quran, expressing disapproval and telling him that may be it would be the blind man who would have benefitted from his teaching. The revelation told him that those chiefs whom the Prophet was addressing did not even consider that they had any need to follow Islam, but the blind man had made the effort to come to him and was God-fearing. The blind man, according to the revelation, was more deserving of the Holy Prophet's attention than the assembly of the chiefs of the tribe of Quraish. This shows how much an individual, even the most insignificant individual, is valued.
The other incident is of a woman who complained to the Holy Prophet that her husband, following an Arab custom known as zihar, had broken off all relations with her but still she was not free to leave him. According to that custom, a man would place his wife in a state where she lost her position as wife but was not divorced from him either. The woman pleaded with the Holy Prophet to do something, but he was reluctant to interfere without a revelation. God then revealed to the Holy Prophet, saying that He had heard the plea of the woman, and that He condemned husbands who indulged in that custom and prescribed a punishment of community service for any man maltreating his wife in that way (58:1-4). The complaint of an ordinary woman was heard by God Himself and He sent revelation in her favour to His Prophet.

Courage, Bravery and Shyness


Muhammad had great courage. He faced a multitude of dangers and calamities all at once but never showed any weakness or timidity. When the opposition and rebukes of the Quraish of Makkah became unbearable, his uncle Abu Talib spoke to Muhammad and said, "Could you not be silent about all this; believe it all for yourself, but not trouble others, anger the chief men, and endanger yourself and all of us, talking of it?" Muhammad answered: "If the sun stood on my right hand and the moon on my left, ordering me to hold my peace, I could not obey!" This indicates what divine courage Muhammad possessed and that he never showed any weakness in his determination to fight for a just cause.

Abu Hurairah reported God`s Messenger saying, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, were it not that men among the believers are not satisfied with remaining behind me when I cannot accommodate them, I would stay behind when an expedition goes out in God`s Way. By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, I wish I could be killed and brought to life, then be killed again." (Bukhari and Muslim). And Sahl ibn Said reported God`s Messenger as saying, "Being stationed on the frontiers in God`s Way for a day is better than the world and what is in it." (Bukhari and Muslim). Ka`b ibn Malik said that when God`s Messenger intended to go on an expedition he always pretended to be going somewhere else until the time came for that expedition, meaning the one to Tabuk. God`s Messenger undertook it in extreme heat, facing a long journey and a vast enemy. He made clear to the Muslims what they were about to do in order that they might get ready the equipment for their expedition, telling them where he was going. (Bukhari).

He fought scores of battles with great courage and determination without ever suffering total defeat. In the battle of Badr, he faced 1,000 fighting men, fully equipped with the armour of the time, with only 313 ill-equipped men, including some children, but he never showed any signs of fear or cowardice. He fought against heavy odds with extreme courage and won the battle. In the heat of the battle, the Muslims looked to him for support and protection. In the battle of Uhud, victory was converted into partial defeat by the mistake of a few archers. The Muslims were running around in complete chaos after hearing the false news of the death of the Holy Prophet but he was as calm as ever. He continued fighting in the company of some of his faithful companions, even after the loss of his teeth, until other Muslims came to know of his whereabouts and gathered round him. Then they fought a very fierce battle under his courageous guidance and the enemy withdrew with the final result of the battle still undecided.

In the battle of Hunain, when the new converts fled from the field in utter confusion in the face of a storm of arrows, and the rest of the army followed them in chaos, he and some faithful companions were the only ones who stood firm. He called to the fleeing Muslim army and encouraged them to fight back. At his call, all the Muslims came back, reorganised their attack and won the day. Bra ibn Azib, who participated in this battle, was asked by someone whether they ran away in the battle of Hunain and he replied, "Yes, that is true, but I bear witness that the Messenger of God stood firm and did not move from his place. By God, when the fighting rose to its height, we took refuge by his side and the bravest among us was considered that man who stood by him." And Anas said that God`s Messenger was the bravest of all. Once news spread in Medinah that the enemies had attacked, the people got ready to fight but the man who advanced ahead of all was Muhammad himself. He did not even wait for the saddle but rode bareback into all the probable places of danger, returning with the news that there was no danger.

Muhammad never killed anyone with his own hands. Abi ibn Khalf was his deadliest enemy; when he was released on ransom after the battle of Badr he said that he would kill Muhammad on his horse, which was being nourished and fed for this purpose. In the battle of Uhud, he was riding on that horse and, after crossing rows of soldiers, he came close to Muhammad. The Muslims wanted to stop him there but Muhammad forbade them and took a spear from the hand of one of his companions and advanced

Zionists Against Zion?


By: M. Shahid Alam Iviews* -

Zionists have worked hard and cleverly for their successes, but their cause has been greatly advanced at each stage by the logic of their colonial project aimed at the creation of a Jewish settler state at the very center of the Islamicate.

Most importantly, Zionism created a geopolitical realignment of great importance. It brought together two strands of the Western world, previously at odds - Christians and Jews - to join their forces against the Islamicate.

At every stage in its history, Israel has ratcheted its power by unleashing forces, even negative forces, that it has then turned to its advantage. Power, intelligence and luck have played into this.

Israel's birth radicalized important segments of the Arab world, creating anxiety among Arab Jews about their future. Israel fanned this anxiety, with help from agent provocateurs - but also aided in some cases by myopic Arab policy - to force a Jewish flight from the Arab world. As a result, Israel doubled its Jewish population - and fighting force - within a few years after its creation.

Arab nationalism - if properly harnessed and directed - could end the Jewish state and Western hegemony in the Middle East. Unafraid, Israel took steps to fan this nationalism and used it to push the US to embrace Israel, firmly and openly, as the West's bulwark against the Arab world. The plan worked, and by the late 1950s, if not earlier, the US was on Israel's side.

Defeating the Arab nationalists too carried a risk. By eliminating the threat of Arab nationalism, Israel risked losing its strategic value to the US. Considering the payoff, Israel was eager to defeat the Arab nationalists. As for the risk, the Jewish lobby in the US, energized by Israel's victory, ensured that US could only draw Israel tighter to its bosom.

A weak civil society in the Arab states also helped Israel. Although the mantle of resistance passed to the Islamists after 1967, they could not displace any of the discredited Arab regimes. US and Israel too gave a boost to these regimes. With US prodding, Israel returned a demilitarized Sinai to bring Egypt on its side. In return, Egypt switched sides.

In time, most of the Arab regimes would serve as Israel's first line of defense against the Islamists. This was a self-reinforcing arrangement. As US-friendly Arab regimes lost legitimacy and became more repressive, they could only survive by drawing closer to the US and Israel.

At this point, luck too favored Israel, as it often has in the past. In 1979, Iran, the second pillar of US hegemony in the region, fell to Islamists who openly opposed US presence in the region. Instantly, Israel began to promote itself as the rampart against the rising Islamist tide.

In the wake of the Iranian Revolution, the Zionists also made renewed efforts to resurrect the old Western animus against Islam. Next to communism, Islam was now the principal threat to 'civilization.' After the Soviet collapse, the Neocons began drumming a new civilizational thesis. War between the West and Islam was inevitable.

Israel's creation and military successes energized Christian Zionists in the US. In their millennial theology, the ingathering of Jews in Palestine was a precursor to the Second Coming. This theology demanded unconditional support for Israel. Over time, the Christian Zionists became the second organized force - next only to the Jews - that firmly backed Israel.

The end of the Cold War did not dent US commitment to Israel. It should have, since Israel was seen as America's leading ally against Soviet influence in the region. On the contrary, in the absence of the balancing Soviet presence, pro-Israeli forces tethered the US more firmly then ever to Israeli demands.

Israel now had a free hand in dealing with its foes. It used the Oslo Accords to neuter the PLO and assigned it to police the Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and Gaza. With the PLO neutered, Israel accelerated its colonization of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

This was also a signal for Israel to pursue more ambitious goals. In a 1996 document, the Neocons announced their plans to "engage" Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, "as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon." Iraq, however, was their first target.

The 9-11 attacks offered the occasion to put these plans into action. Working in concert, Israel and its backers convinced Bush to invade Iraq. There would be more wars to redraw the map of much of Middle East. Israel would emerge from these wars as the undisputed regional hegemon, and, possibly, a world power.

Just when Israel was grasping for the moon, history took a number of 'wrong' turns. Iraq became a quagmire for US troops. Iran's Shi'ite allies Iran gained control over much of Iraq, barring the Kurdish region. Soon, Iran had extended its influence into eastern Afghanistan. Israeli policy had boomeranged.

In a strange reversal, Iran now cast its shadow over much of the Middle East. It mocked Israel, stood up for the Palestinians, showed up the pro-American Arab regimes for what they are, forcing them to openly identify with Israel. In bitterness, some Arab commentators blamed the US for resurrecting the ancient Persian empire.

Now, suddenly - so it appears - the US love fest with Israel has run into a spot of trouble. In a reversal of its previous policy, the US is insisting that Israel suspend new settlement construction in East Jerusalem to pave the way for 'peace' talks with the Palestinian Authority. For a change, the US is countering Israel's 'No' with tough talk not heard in a while.

On March 9, when the US Vice President was greeted in Tel Aviv with news of new settlements in East Jerusalem, he was furious. Privately, he told Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel's settlement activity "undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us, and it endangers regional peace."

This was not a message right-wing talk artists could shout down. Joe Biden was echoing the message delivered by General Petraeus, commander of US troops in the Middle East, to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the US Armed Services Committee. Hillary Clinton too reiterated this message in her speech to AIPAC.

What has occasioned this open rift between two spouses in a heavenly marriage? There have been tiffs before between them, but never before has a US administration told Israel that its policy endangers American troops or American interests in the Middle East? This talk is serious. It belies decades of rhetoric that has boosted Israel as America's unsinkable aircraft carrier in the Middle East.

It appears that the past is beginning to catch up with Israel. Adversaries it had long suppressed, forces it had harnessed for its expansionist policy, blowbacks from decisions made in hubris have now converged to limit Israel's options. Is the Zionist logic that had brought endless successes in the past now working in the opposite direction? Is Israel running out of its fabled resourcefulness?

Israel's stunning victory in June 1967 had produced two destabilizing results. Having solved its native problem in 1948, Israel had created it anew in 1967 by its decision to retain the West Bank and Gaza. The June War also swelled the ranks of extremist Jews who began to colonize East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. Unable to drive out the Palestinians, this new round of colonization would turn Israel into an apartheid state.

In the 2000s, international civil society started taking notice. Movements were launched to divest from, boycott and sanction Israel. Activists began to use Western legal systems to prosecute Israelis for war crimes. Israeli leaders visiting Western campuses are now heckled routinely. Slowly, Western publics are turning away from Israel.

In 1982, in a bid to extend Israel's northern border, Israel invaded and occupied southern Lebanon. The Lebanese Shi'ites responded by creating Hizbullah, a multi-layered grass-roots resistance, the most formidable adversary Israel had ever faced. In 2000, they forced Israel to withdraw unilaterally, and in July 2006 repulsed a fresh Israeli invasion, giving Israel a bloody nose.

No more was Tehran a distant threat for Tel Aviv: it was now positioned right next to Israel's northern border. Although Hizbullah spoke to the grit and discipline of Lebanese Shi'ites, it could not have grown without Iranian support.

At about the same time, as part of its strategy to defeat the Second Intifada, Israel built the apartheid Wall cutting through the West Bank, and it pulled the Jewish settlements out of Gaza while sealing it from outside contacts. By stopping the suicide-bombers, the Wall gave Israel time to complete the creation of Gaza-like enclaves in the West Bank. In consequence, 'peace' talks with Palestinians lost their urgency and were shelved. This made the pro-US Arab regimes a bit nervous: they needed the charade of 'peace' talks to shore up what little legitimacy they had with their home audience.

The Egyptian-Israeli siege of Gaza brought Iranian influence to Israel's southern border. The siege has stopped Hamas from become another Hizbullah, but their home made rockets reminded Israel that its native problem had not gone away - that it would continue to haunt them.

In the 1990s, the Zionist logic had spawned al-Qaida, a group that would use terror to lure the US to wage war against the Middle East. After the Cold War, the Zionists too - led by the Neocons - pursued the same goal. Using the absurd thesis of the 'clash of civilizations,' they began to promote a Western war against the Islamicate. They urged the US to take out Iran, Syria and Iraq.

This was a departure from Israel's long-standing war strategy. Israel took US money and weapons, but fought its own wars. This had several advantages. It built Israel's military strength and prestige; it kept the US military out of Israel's path to hegemony over the Middle East. Also, American support for Israel might wear thin if they saw their troops dying in Israel's wars. If Israel was ready to abandon this strategy in the 1990s, that is because it could not take on Iran, Iraq and Syria on its own.

And so the die was cast. When al-Qaida struck on 9-11, Israel saw opportunity. The Zionists began to press full steam for the US to invade Iraq - and succeeded. Few Israelis worried that the chickens would come home to roost. In April 2008, Netanyahu said, "We are benefiting from...the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon, and the American struggle in Iraq."

Now, some ten years later, the chickens are coming home to roost. The Iraq War has achieved little for Israel. It removed a defanged Saddam Hussein, but extended Iran's influence into Iraq and it has brought Iranian proxies to its northern and southern borders. Iran now uses Palestine to undermine pro-US Arab regimes.

More ominously, the US military has now spoken. It has warned that Israeli policy raises tensions in the Middle East and endangers US troops on the ground. It will not be easy for Israel and its backers to shout down US generals with charges of anti-Semitism. That is why so many Zionist commentators look alarmed. One Israeli commentator warns that "Obama and Netanyahu are at point of no return." Others are saying worse.

It appear unlikely that this 'flap' between the US and Israel will blow over soon. If it does not, attacks by Jewish groups - inside and outside Israel - against Obama will become more frequent and nastier. The loyalty of some Americans, both inside and outside the Congress, will be tested. It is hard to predict where this will go.

However, this much should be clear. Even if US-Israeli differences over the Middle East are finessed for now, that will not be the end of it. The pressures that have persuaded the US to insist on a 'solution' to the Palestinian problem will persist. The realities that have produced the present 'flap' are not going away.
M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University, Boston. He is author of Israeli Exceptionalism (Palgrave, 2009) and Challenging the New Orientalism (IPI, 2006). Contact him at

When the Banks Own the Congress

From: Counterpunsh


A society not alert to signs of its own decay, because its ideology is a continuing myth of progress, separates itself from reality and envelops illusion.

One yardstick by which to measure the decay in our country’s political, economic, and cultural life, is the answer to this question: Do the forces of power, which have demonstrably failed, become stronger after their widely perceived damage is common knowledge?

Economic decay is all around. Poverty, unemployment, foreclosures, job export, consumer debt, pension attrition, and crumbling infrastructure are well documented. The self-destruction of the Wall Street financial giants, with their looting and draining of trillions of other people’s money, have been headlines for two years. During and after their gigantic taxpayer bailouts from Washington, DC, the banks, et al, are still the most powerful force in determining the nature of proposed corrective legislation.

“The banks own this place,” says Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), evoking the opinion of many members of a supine Congress ready to pass weak consumer and investor protection legislation while leaving dominant fewer and larger banks.

Who hasn’t felt the ripoffs and one-sided fine print of the credit card industry? A reform bill finally has passed after years of delay, again weak and incomplete. Shameless over their gouges, the companies have their attorneys already at work to design around the law’s modest strictures.

The drug and health insurance industry, swarming with thousands of lobbyists, got pretty much what they wanted in the new health law. Insurers got millions of new customers subsidized by hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with very little regulation. The drug companies got their dream—no reimportation of cheaper identical drugs, no authority for Uncle Sam to bargain for discount prices, and a very profitable extension of monopoly patent protection for biologic drugs against cheaper, generic drug competition.

For all their gouges, for all their exclusions, their denial of claims and restrictions of benefits, for all their horrendous price increases, the two industries have come out stronger than ever politically and economically. Small wonder their stocks are rising even in a recession.

The junk food processing industry—on the defensive lately due to some excellent documentaries and exposes—are still the most influential of powers on Capitol Hill when it becomes to delaying for years a decent food safety bill, using tax dollars to pump fat, sugar and salt into the stomachs of our children, and fighting adequate inspections. Over seven thousand lives are lost due to contaminated food yearly in the US and many millions of illnesses.

The oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies are fleecing consumers and taxpayers, depleting and imperiling the environment, yet they continue to block rational energy legislation in Congress to replace carbon and uranium with energy efficiency technology and renewables.
Still, even now after years of cost over-runs and lack of permanent storage for radioactive wastes, the nuclear industry has President Obama, and George W. Bush before him, pushing for many tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nukes. Wall Street won’t finance such a risky technology without you, the taxpayers, guaranteeing against any accident or default.

Both Democrats and Republicans are passing on these outrageous financial and safety risks to taxpayers.
Congress, which receives the brunt of this corporate lobbying—the carrot of money and the stick of financing incumbent challengers—is more of an obstacle to change than ever. In the past after major failures of industry and commerce, there was a higher likelihood of Congressional action. Recall, the Wall Street and banking collapse in the early 1930s. Congress and Franklin Delano Roosevelt produced legislation that saved the banks, peoples’ savings and regulated the stock markets.

From the time of my book, Unsafe at Any Speed’s publication in late November 1965, it took just nine months to federally regulate the powerful auto industry for safety and fuel efficiency.
Contrast the two-year delay after the Bear Stearns collapse and still no reform legislation, and what is pending is weak.

Yet the entrenched members of Congress, responsible for this astonishing gridlock, are almost impossible to dislodge even though polls have Congress at its lowest repute ever. It is a place where the majority is terrified of the corporations and the minority can block even the most anemic legislative efforts with archaic rules, especially in the Senate.

Culturally, the canaries in the coal mine are the children. Childhood has been commercialized by the giant marketers reaching them hour by hour with junk food, violent programming, video games and bad medicine. The result—record obesity, child diabetes and other ailments.

While the companies undermine parental authority, they laugh all the way to the bank, using our public airwaves, among other media, for their lucre. They can be called electronic child molesters.

We published a book in 1996 called Children First!: A Parent’s Guide to Fighting Corporate Predators in the Media. This book is an understatement of the problem compared to the worsening of child manipulation today.

In a 24/7 entertained society frenetic with sound bites, Blackberries, iPods, text messages and emails, there is a deep need for reflection and introspection. We have to discuss face to face in living rooms, school auditoriums, village squares and town meetings what is happening to us and our diminishing democratic processes by the pressures and controls of the insatiable corporate state.

And what needs to be done from the home to the public arenas and marketplaces with old and new superior models, new accountabilities and new thinking.
For our history has shown that whenever the people get more engaged and more serious, they live better on all fronts.
Ralph Nader is the author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!, a novel.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Proofs for Allaah's Existance


[ We will show them Our Signs in the universe, and in their ownselves, until itbecomes manifest to them that this {the Quraan} is the truth. Is it not sufficientin regard to your Lord that He is a Witness over all things?] Soorat Fussilat{41:53}
[ And say {to these polytheists and pagans etc.}: "All the praises and thanks be toAllaah. He will show you His aayaat {signs, in yourselves, and in the universe orpunishments, etc.}, and you shall recognise them. And your Lord is not unawareof what you do."] Soorat An Naml {27:93}[ And He shows you His Signs and Proofs {of His Oneness in all the abovementioned things}. Which, then of the Signs and Proofs of Allaah do you deny?]Soorat Ghaafir {40:81}
[ Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation ofnight and day, and the ships which sail through the sea with that which is of useto mankind, and the water which Allaah sends down from the sky and makes theearth alive therewith after its death, and the moving {living} creatures of allkinds that He has scattered therein, and in the veering of winds and clouds whichare held between the sky and the earth, are indeed aayaat {proofs, evidences,lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} for people of understanding.] Soorat Al Baqarah{2:164}[ Verily! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation ofnight and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding.] Soorat Aal'Imraan {3:190}
[ It is He Who sends down water from the sky, and with it We bring forthvegetation of all kinds, and out of it We bring forth green stalks, from which Webring forth thick clustered grain. And out of the date-palm and its spathe comeforth clusters of dates hanging low and near, and gardens of grapes, olives andpomegranates, each similar {in kind} yet different {in variety and taste}. Look attheir fruits when they begin to bear, and the ripeness thereof. Verily! In thesethings there are signs for people who believe.] Soorat Al An'aam {6:99}
[ He it is Who has appointed for you the night that you may rest therein, and theday to make things visible {to you}. Verily, in this are aayaat {proofs, evidences,lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} for a people who listen {i.e. those who thinkdeeply}.] Soorat Younus {10:67}
[ And it is He Who spread out the earth, and placed therein firm mountains andrivers and of every kind of fruits He made Zawjain Ithnain {two in pairs - maymean two kinds or it may mean: of two sorts, e.g. black and white, sweet andsour, small and big, etc.} He brings the night as a cover over the day. Verily, inthese things, there are aayaat {proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.}for people who reflect.] Soorat Ar Ra'd {13:3}
[ And in the earth are neighbouring tracts, and gardens of vines, and green crops{fields etc.}, and date-palms, growing out two or three from a single stem root, orotherwise {one stem root for every palm}, watered with the same water, yet someof them We make more excellent than others to eat. Verily, in these things, thereare aayaat {proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} for the people whounderstand.] Soorat Ar Ra'd {13:4}
[ Allaah is He Who has created the heavens and the earth and sends down waterfrom the sky, and thereby brought forth fruits as provision for you; and He hasmade the ships to be of service to you, that they may sail through the sea by HisCommand; and He has made rivers {also} to be of service to you.] SooratIbraheem {14:32}
[ And He has made the sun and the moon, both constantly pursuing theircourses, to be of service to you; and He has made the night and the day, to be ofservice to you.] Soorat Ibraheem {14:33}[ He has created the heavens and the earth with truth. High be He Exalted aboveall they associate as partners with Him. He has created man from Nutfah {mixeddrops of male and female sexual discharges} then behold, this same {man}becomes an open opponent.] Soorat An Nahl {16:3-4}
[ And the cattle, He has created them for you; in them there is warmth {warmclothing}, and numerous benefits, and of them you eat. And wherein is beauty foryou, when you bring them home in the evening, and as you lead them forth topasture in the morning.] Soorat An Nahl {16:5-6}
[ And they carry your loads to a land that you could not reach except with greattrouble to yourselves. Truly, your Lord is full of Kindness, Most Merciful. And{He has created} horses, mules and donkeys, for you to ride and as anadornment. And He creates {other} things of which you have no knowledge.]Soorat An Nahl {16:7-8}
[ And upon Allaah is the responsibility to explain the Straight Path {i.e. IslamicMonotheism for mankind i.e. to show them legal and illegal, good and evil things,etc. so, whosoever accepts the guidance, it will be for his own benefit andwhosoever goes astray, it will be for his own destruction}, but there are ways thatturn aside {such as Paganism, Judaism, Christianity, etc.}. And had He willed,He would have guided you all {mankind}.] Soorat An Nahl {16:9}
[ He it is Who sends down water from the sky; from it you drink and from it{grows} the vegetation on which you send your cattle to pasture; With it Hecauses to grow for you the crops, the olives, the date-palms, the grapes, and every kind of fruit. Verily! In this is indeed an evident proof and a manifest sign for people who give thought.] Soorat An Nahl {16:10-11}
[ And He has subjected to you the night and the day, the sun and the moon; andthe stars are subjected by His Command. Surely, in this are proofs for peoplewho understand.] Soorat An Nahl {16:12}
[ And whatsoever He has created for you on this earth of varying colours {andqualities from botanical life and from zoological life}. Verily! In this is a sign forpeople who remember.] Soorat An Nahl {16:13}
[ And He it is Who has subjected the sea {to you}, that you eat thereof freshtender meat {i.e. fish}, and that you bring forth out of it ornaments to wear. Andyou see the ships ploughing through it, that you may seek {thus} of His Bounty{by transporting the goods from place to place} and that you may be grateful.]Soorat An Nahl {16:14}
[ And He has affixed into the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shakewith you, and rivers and roads, that you may guide yourselves. And landmarks{signposts, etc. during the day} and by the stars {during the night}, they{mankind} guide themselves.] Soorat An Nahl {16:15-16}
[ Is then He, Who creates as one who creates not? Will you not then remember?And if you would count the graces of Allaah, never could you be able to countthem. Truly! Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.] Soorat An Nahl {16:17-18}[ And Allaah has brought you out from the wombs of your mothers while youknow nothing. And He gave you hearing, sight, and hearts that you might givethanks {to Allaah}.] Soorat An Nahl {16:78}
[ Do they not see the birds held {flying} in the midst of the sky? None holds thembut Allaah {none gave them the ability to fly but Allaah}. Verily, in this are clearproofs and signs for people who believe.] Soorat An Nahl {16:79}
[ Who has made earth for you like a bed {spread out}; and has opened roads{ways and paths etc.} for you therein; and has sent down water from the sky.And We have brought forth with it various kinds of vegetation. Eat and pastureyour cattle, {therein}; verily, in this are proofs and signs for men of understanding.] Soorat Ta Ha {20:53-54}
[ Thereof {the earth} We created you, and into it We shall return you, and fromit We shall bring you out once again.] Soorat Ta Ha {20:55}
[ He brings out the living from the dead, and brings out the dead from the living.And He revives the earth after its death. And thus shall ou be brought out{resurrected}.] Soorat Ar Ruum {30:19}
[ And among His Signs is this, that He created you {Adam} from dust, and then[Hawwa {Eve} from Adam's rib, and then his offspring from the semen, and], -behold you are human beings scattered!] Soorat Ar Ruum {30:20}
[ And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from amongyourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between youaffection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.]Soorat Ar Ruum {30:21}[ And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and thedifference of your languages and colours. Verily, in that are indeed signs for menof sound knowledge.] Soorat Ar Ruum {30:22}
[ And among His Signs is the sleep that you take by night and by day, and yourseeking of His Bounty. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who listen.]Soorat Ar Ruum {30:23}
[ And among His Signs is that He shows you the lightning, by way of fear andhope, and He sends down water from the sky, and therewith revives the earthafter its death. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who understand.]Soorat Ar Ruum {30:24}
[ And among His Signs is that the heaven and the earth stand by His Command,then afterwards when He will call you by single call, behold, you will come outfrom the earth {i.e from your graves for reckoning and recompense}.] Soorat ArRuum {30:25}
[ To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and the earth. All are obedient toHim.] Soorat Ar Ruum {30:26}
[ And He it is Who originates the creation, then will repeat it {after it has beenperished}, and this is easier for Him. His is the highest description {i.e. none hasthe right to be worshipped but He, and there is nothing comparable unto Him} inthe heavens and in the earth. And He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.] Soorat ArRuum {30:27
[ See you not that the ships sail through the sea by Allaah's Grace? that He mayshow you of His Signs? Verily, in this are signs for every patient, grateful{person}.] Soorat Luqman {31:31}
[ Is it not a guidance for them, how many generations We have destroyed beforethem in whose dwellings they do walk about? Verily, therein indeed are signs.Would they not then listen? ] Soorat As Sajdah {32:26}
[ Have they not seen how We drive water {rain clouds} to the dry land withoutany vegetation, and therewith bring forth crops providing food for their cattleand themselves? Will they not then see?] Soorat As Sajdah {32:27}
[ It is Allaah Who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and those thatdie not during their sleep. He keeps those {souls} for which He has ordaineddeath and sends the rest for a term appointed. Verily, in this are signs for apeople who think deeply.] SooratAz Zumar {39:42}
[ And among His Signs are the ships, in the sea, like mountains. If He wills, Hecauses the wind to cease, then they would become motionless on the back {of the sea}. Verily, in this are signs for everyone patient and grateful.] Soorat AshShura {42:32-33}
[ Or He may destroy them {by drowning} because of that which their {people}have earned. And He pardons much.] Soorat Ash Shura {42:34}
[ And those who dispute {polytheists, etc. with Our Messenger} as regards Ouraayaat {proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} may know that there isno place of refuge for them {from Allaah's punishment}.] Soorat Ash Shura{42:35}
[ Verily, in the heavens and the earth are signs for the believers. And in yourcreation, and what He scattered {through the earth} of moving {living} creaturesare signs for people who have Faith with certainty.] Soorat Al Jaathiya {45:3-4}
[ And in the alternation of night and day, and the provision {rain} that Allaahsends down from the sky, and revives therewith the earth after its death, and inthe turning about of the winds {i.e. sometimes towards the East or North, andsometimes towards the south or west etc., sometimes bringing glad tidings of rain etc., and sometimes bringing the torment}, are signs for a people whounderstand.] Soorat Al Jaathiya {45:5}
[ These are the aayaat {proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} ofAllaah, which We recite to you with truth. Then in which speech after Allaahand His aayaat will they believe? ] Soorat Al Jaathiya {45:6}
[ Woe to every sinful liar, Who hears the Verses of Allaah {being} recited to him,yet persists with pride as if he heard them not. So announce to him a painfultorment! ] Soorat Al Jaathiya {45:7-8}
[ And when he learns something of Our Verses {this Quraan}, he makes them ajest. For such there will be a humiliating torment. ] Soorat Al Jaathiya {45:9}
[ In front of them there is Hell, and that which they have earned will be of noprofit to them, nor {will be of any profit to them} those whom they have taken asAwliya' besides Allaah. And theirs will be a great torment. ] Soorat Al Jaathiya{45:10}
[ This {Quraan} is a guidance. And those who disbelieve in the aayaat {proofs,evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} of their Lord, for them there is apainful torment of Rijz {a severe kind of punishment}.] Soorat Al Jaathiya{45:11}
[ Allaah it is He Who has subjected to you the sea, that ships may sail through itby His Command, and that you may seek of His Bounty, and that you may bethankful,] Soorat Al Jaathiya {45:12}
[ And has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth; itis all as a favour and kindness from Him. Verily, in it are signs for a people whothink deeply.] Soorat Al Jaathiya {45:13}
[ And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and themoon. Prostrate not to the sun nor to the moon, but prostrate to Allaah Whocreated them, if you {really} worship Him.] Soorat Fussilat {41:37}
[ And among His Signs {in this}, that you see the earth barren, but when Wesend down water to it, it is stirred to life and growth {of vegetations}. Verily, HeWho gives it life, surely, {He} is Able to give life to the dead. Indeed! He is Ableto do all things.] Soorat Fussilat {41:39}
[ And among His aayaat {proofs, evidences, signs, etc.} is the creation of theheavens and the earth, and whatever moving {living} creatures He has dispersedin them both. And He is All-Potent over their assembling {i.e. resurrecting themon the Day of Resurrection after their death, and dispersion of their bodies}whenever He will.] Soorat Ash Shura {42:29}
[ The leaders of those who were arrogant among his people said to those whowere counted weak - to such of them as believed: "Know you that Saaleh is onesent from his Lord." They said: "We indeed believe in that with which he hasbeen sent."] Soorat Al A'raaf {7:75}
[ Say {to the disbelievers}: "Tell me, if Allaah took away your hearing and yoursight, and sealed up your hearts, who is there - an ilah {God} other than Allaahwho could restore them to you?" See how variously We explain the aayaat{proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.}, yet they turn aside.] Soorat AlAn'aam {6:46}
[ It is He Who has set the stars for you, so that you may guide your course withtheir help through the darkness of the land and the sea. We have {indeed}explained in detail Our aayaat {proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.}for people who know.] Soorat Al An'aam {6:97}[ It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light andmeasured out its {their} stages, that you might know the number of years and thereckoning. Allaah did not create this but in truth. He explains the aayaat {proofs,evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} in detail for people who haveknowledge.] Soorat Younus {10:5}
[ Verily the likeness of {this} worldly life is as the water which We send downfrom the sky, so by it arises the intermingled produce of the earth of which menand cattle eat until when the earth is clad with its adornments and is beautified,and its people think that they have all the powers of disposal over it, OurCommand reaches it by night or by day and We make it like a clean-mownharvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday! Thus do We explain the aayaat{proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} in detail for the people whoreflect.] Soorat Younus {10:24}
[ Say: "Behold all that is in the heavens and the earth," but neitheraayaat{proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} nor warners benefitthose who believe not.] Soorat Younus {10:101}
[ And Allaah makes the aayaat {proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation, etc.} plain to you, and Allaah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.] Soorat An Nuur {24:18}
[ And to Allaah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. AndAllaah is Ever Encompassing all things.] Soorat An Nisaa {4:126}
[ Thus do We explain the aayaat {proofs, evidences, lessons, signs, revelation,etc.} in detail, so that they may turn {unto the truth}.] Soorat Al A'raaf {7:174}

82. Al-Infitâr


In the Name of Allâh, the MostBeneficent, the Most Merciful.
1. When the heaven is cleft asunder.
2. And when the stars have fallen and scattered;
3. And when the seas are burst forth (got dried up);
4. And when the graves are turned upside down (and they bring out their contents)
5. (Then) a person will know what he has sent forward and (what he has) left behind (of good or bad deeds).
6. O man! What has made you careless concerning your Lord, the Most Generous?
7. Who created you, fashioned you perfectly, and gave you due proportion;
8. In whatever form He willed, He put you together.
9. Nay! But you deny the Recompense (reward for good deeds and punishment for evil deeds).
10. But verily, over you (are appointed angels in charge of mankind) to watch you[] ,
11. Kirâman (honourable) Kâtibîn writing down (your deeds)[] ,
12. They know all that you do.
13. Verily, the Abrâr (pious and righteous) will be in delight (Paradise);
14. And verily, the Fujjâr (the wicked, disbelievers, sinners and evil-doers) will be in the blazing Fire (Hell),
15. In which they will enter, and taste its burning flame on the Day of Recompense,
16. And they (Al-Fujjâr) will not be absent therefrom (i.e. will not go out from the Hell).
17. And what will make you know what the Day of Recompense is?
18. Again, what will make you know what the Day of Recompense is?
19. (It will be) the Day when no person shall have power (to do) anything for another, and the Decision, that Day, will be (wholly) with Allâh.

The Journey into the Hereafter (part 1 of 8): An Introduction


Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam who passed away in 632, related:
“Gabriel came to me and said, ‘O Muhammad, live as you wish, for you shall eventually die. Love whom you desire, for you shall eventually depart. Do what you please, for you shall pay. Know that the night-prayer[1] is the honor of a believer, and his pride is being independant on others.’” (Silsilah al-Saheehah)

If there is only one thing certain about life, it is that it ends. This truism instinctively raises a question which preoccupies most people at least once in their life: What lies beyond death?
At the physiological level, the journey that the deceased takes is plain for all to witness. If left alone to natural causes,[2] the heart will stop beating, the lungs will stop breathing, and the body’s cells will be starved of blood and oxygen. The termination of blood flow to the outer extremities will soon turn them pale. With the oxygen cut off, cells will respire anaerobically for a time, producing the lactic acid which causes rigor mortis – the stiffening of the corpse’s muscles. Then, as the cells begin to decompose, the stiffness wanes, the tongue protrudes, the temperature drops, the skin discolors, the flesh rots, and the parasites have their feast - until all that is left is dried-out tooth and bone.

As for the journey of the soul after death, then this is not something that can be witnessed, nor can it be gauged through scientific enquiry. Even in a living body, the conscious, or soul, of a person cannot be subjected to empirical experimentation. It is simply beyond human control. In this regard, the concept of a Hereafter - a life beyond death, resurrection, and a Day of Reckoning; not to mention the existence of a Divine, Omnipotent Creator, His angels, destiny, and so on - comes under the subject of belief in the unseen. The only way in which man can come to know anything of the unseen world is through divine revelation.
“And with God are the keys of the unseen, none knows them but He. And He knows whatever there is in (or on) the earth and in the sea; not a leaf falls, but He knows it. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry, but is written in a Clear Record.” (Quran 6:59)

While what has come down to us of the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospel - the scriptures revealed to early prophets - all speak of a Hereafter, it is only through God’s Final Revelation to humanity, the Holy Quran, as revealed to His Final Prophet, Muhammad, that we learn most about the afterlife. And as the Quran is, and will forever remain, preserved and uncorrupted by human hands, the insight it gives us into the world of the unseen is, for the believer, as factual, real and true as anything that can be learnt through any scientific endeavor (and with a zero margin of error!).
“…We have neglected nothing in the Book; then unto their Lord they shall all be gathered.” (Quran 6:38)

Coupled with the question of what happens after we die, is the question: Why are we here? For if there is indeed no greater purpose to life (that is, greater than simply living life itself), the question of what happens after death becomes academic, if not pointless. It is only if one first accepts that our intelligent design, our creation, necessitates an intelligence and designer behind it, a Creator who will judge us for what we do, that life on earth carries any significant meaning.
“Then did you think that We created you in vain and that to Us you would not be returned? Therefore exalted be God, the Sovereign, the Truth; no deity is there save Him, Lord of the Supreme Throne.” (Quran 23:115-116)

If aught else, a discerning person would be forced to conclude that life on earth is full of injustice, cruelty and oppression; that the law of the jungle, survival of the fittest, is what is paramount; that if one cannot find happiness in this life, whether due to an absence of material comforts, physical love, or other joyous experiences, then life is simply not worth living. In fact, it is precisely because a person despairs of this worldly life while having little, no, or imperfect faith in an afterlife, that they may commit suicide. After all, what else do the unhappy, unloved and unwanted; the dejected, (desperately) depressed and despairing have to lose?![3]
“And who despairs of the Mercy of his Lord except those who are astray?” (Quran 15:56)
So can we accept that our death is limited to mere physiological termination, or that life is merely a product of blind, selfish evolution? Surely, there is more to death, and so to life, than this.
[1] Formal prayers (salat) prayed voluntarily at night after the last (isha) and before the first (fajr) of the five daily prayers. The best time to pray them is in the final third of the night.
[2] Although a heart can be kept artificially beating, and blood artificially pumping, if the brain is dead, so too is the being as a whole.
[3] According to a United Nations report marking ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’, “More people kill themselves each year than die from wars and murders combined ... Some 20 million to 60 million try to kill themselves each year, but only about a million of them succeed.” (Reuters, September 8, 2006)

The Journey into the Hereafter (part 2 of 8): The Believer in the Grave
The Journey into the Hereafter (part 3 of 8): The Believer on Judgment Day
The Journey into the Hereafter (part 4 of 8): The Believer and Paradise
The Journey into the Hereafter (part 5 of 8): The Unbeliever in the Grave
The Journey into the Hereafter (part 6 of 8): The Unbeliever on Judgment Day
The Journey into the Hereafter (part 7 of 8): The Unbeliever and Hell
The Journey into the Hereafter (part 8 of 8): Conclusion
View all parts together

Quran: The Book of Proofs.

al-Anbiya' (The Prophets) 21:24
‏21:24 ام اتخذوا من دونه الهة قل هاتوا برهانكم هذا ذكر من معي وذكر من قبلي بل اكثرهم لايعلمون الحق فهم معرضون

Transliteration Ami ittakhathoo min doonihi alihatan qul hatoo burhanakum hatha thikru man maAAiya wathikru man qablee bal aktharuhum la yaAAlamoona alhaqqa fahum muAAridoona

Literal Or they took/received from other than Him gods, say: "Bring/give your proof/evidence that (is a) reminder/mention what (is) with me, and (a) reminder/mention what (is) before me, but most of them do not know the truth , so they are objecting/opposing .

Yusuf Ali Or have they taken for worship (other) gods besides him? Say, "Bring your convincing proof: this is the Message of those with me and the Message of those before me." But most of them know not the Truth, and so turn away.

Pickthal Or have they chosen other gods beside Him? say: Bring your proof (of their godhead). This is the Reminder of those with me and those before me, but most of them know not the Truth and so they are averse.

Arberry Or have they taken gods apart from Him? Say: 'Bring your proof! This is the Remembrance of him who is with me, and the Remembrance of those before me. Nay, but the most part of them know not the truth, so therefore they are turning away.

Shakir Or, have they taken gods besides Him? Say: Bring your proof; this is the reminder of those with me and the reminder of those before me. Nay! most of them do not know the truth, so they turn aside.

Sarwar Have they chosen other gods besides God? (Muhammad), ask them, "Show the proof (in support of such belief). This is (the Quran) which tells us about the (beliefs of the people) in my time and those who lived before me." Most of them do not know. Moreover, the truth is that they neglect (the question of belief altogether).

Khalifa Have they found other gods beside Him? Say, "Show me your proof. This is the message to my generation, consummating all previous messages." Indeed, most of them do not recognize the truth; this is why they are so hostile.

Hilali/Khan Or have they taken for worship (other) aliha (gods) besides Him? Say: "Bring your proof:" This (the Quran) is the Reminder for those with me and the Reminder for those before me. But most of them know not the Truth, so they are averse.

H/K/Saheeh Or have they taken gods besides Him? Say, [O Muúammad], Produce your proof. This [Qurâ an] is the message for those with me and the message of those before me. But most of them do not know the truth, so they are turning away.

Malik Even then, have they taken other deities for worship besides Him? Ask them: "Show us your proof: here is this reminder (Al-Qur’an) for the people of my time and it also contains the reminder of those before me." But most of them have no knowledge of Reality, and that is why they have turned away.[24]

QXP And yet they choose deities instead of Him! Say, "Bring your evidence. This is the demand of those with me and this has been the demand of those who were with previous Prophets." (23:117). Indeed, most of them do not recognize the Truth hence, they stubbornly turn away from it.

Maulana Ali Or, have they taken gods besides Him? Say: Bring your proof. This is the reminder of those with me and the reminder of those before me. Nay, most of them know not the Truth, so they turn away.

Free Minds Or have they taken gods besides Him? Say: "Bring your proof. This is a reminder of those with me and a reminder of those before me." But, most of them do not know the truth, so they turn away.

Qaribullah Have they taken gods, other than Him? Say: 'Bring us your proof! Here is the Remembrance of he who is with me and the Remembrance of those before me. ' But no, most of them do not know the truth, therefore they turn away.

George Sale Have they taken other gods besides Him? Say, produce your proof thereof. This is the admonition of those who are contemporary with me, and the admonition of those who have been before me: But the greater part of them know not the truth, and turn aside from the same.

JM Rodwell Have they taken other gods beside Him? SAY; Bring forth your proofs that they are gods. This is the warning of those who are with me, and the warning of those who were before me: but most of them know not the truth, and turn aside.

Asad and yet, [See note on verse 21 above.] they choose to worship [imaginary] deities instead of Him! Say [O Prophet]: "Produce an evidence for what you are claiming: [Lit., "produce your evidence", i.e., for the existence of deities other than God, as well as for the intellectual and moral justification of worshipping anything but Him.] this is a reminder [unceasingly voiced] by those who are with me, just as it was a reminder [voiced] by those who came before me." [I.e., the earlier prophets, the purport of whose messages was always the stress on the oneness of God.] But nay, most of them do not know the truth, and so they stubbornly turn away [from it] [In other words, most people's obstinate refusal to consider a reasonable proposition on its merits is often due to no more than the simple fact that it is not familiar to them.]

Blogger Comment:
One of the strong proofs of the Quran is the number of people who read it, recite it, memorize it or translat it. See many translations above to one single verse in the Quran. The verse have few words with strong meaning: To those who believe in other Gods than that of the Quran simply bring proofs. The proof of God in the quran is what in the Quran and what it is revealed from the true communications before between God and humans that mentioned in the Quran. Those people most of them do not know the truth (they did not try to know or know and blunt their own knowledge or anything to block themselves from the truth) so they are stubborn.
If your read the verse in Arabic it is fewer in words than all of our translations and clear in conveying the message with glorious and authortative speech.