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What The Qur'an Teaches: False Are Arguments

Sayyid Qutb

Arab News, 4/9/04

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent

Blessed is He who from on high bestowed upon His servant the standard to discern the true from the false, so that it might be a warning to all the worlds.

He to whom belongs the dominion over the heavens and the earth, and who begets no offspring, and has no partner in His dominion. It is He who has created all things and ordained them in due proportions.

(The Standard, Al-Furqan: 25: 1-2)

As we have said in our introduction to this surah of Makkan revelation, one aspect of it overflows with solace and reassurance given by God to His Messenger (peace be upon him), and the other portrays the intransigence of the unbelievers and the difficulties they put up against him. It threatens them with punishment and destruction that would be visited upon them by God Almighty. It continues in this manner until it approaches its end when it spreads an air of ease, comfort, peace and reassurance. It portrays a detailed image of “the servants of God the Most Gracious”. These are the people “who walk gently on earth, and who, whenever the ignorant address them, say: Peace.” They are seen here as if they are the final product of the long jihad, or hard striving against the people who stubbornly refuse to abandon their erroneous ways and follow divine guidance, or the sweet fruit of the human tree, despite its thorny branches. The surah is ended with a picture of how little value humanity has in God’s sight, except for those believers who turn to Him and address their prayers to Him only: “Say: No weight or value would my Lord attach to you were it not for you calling out (to Him). You have indeed denied (His message), and in time this (sin) will cleave unto you.”

Our article last week provided an outline of the surah and its subject matter. The surah is a single unit that is hard to divide into sections, but we can distinguish four parts in its treatment of its theme.

The first part begins with extolling God’s limitless glory and praising Him for the revelation of the Qur’an to serve as a warner to mankind. It emphasizes in clear, unequivocal terms God’s oneness and sovereignty over the heavens and the earth. It affirms that He alone controls the universe and conducts its affairs in His absolute wisdom, making clear that He has neither offspring nor partners. It then mentions that the unbelievers nevertheless ascribe divinity to alleged deities that create nothing, but are themselves created. All this is stated before referring to their hurtful statements about God’s Messenger, denying his message and alleging that it is fabrication of his own making, describing it as fables of ancient communities. It also comes before any reference to their objection to the fact that Muhammad, God’s Messenger, is a human being who eats food and walks in the streets and market places. Also later comes their other statements suggesting that he should be supported by an angel who could be sent alongside him, or that he should have a treasure or a garden providing him with all his food. Furthermore, the surah reports their insults claiming that he is bewitched. It appears that the surah begins with quoting their denials of their Lord so as to comfort the Prophet as he hears their abusive remarks about him and his message. The surah then declares that they have gone far astray as they deny the Last Hour. It warns them against the punishment God has prepared for them in hell, where they are to be thrown in a narrow space, chained one to the other. It contrasts this with an image of the believers in heaven where they abide forever, enjoying whatever they wish. It further shows their fate on the Day of Judgment when they are made to face their alleged deities which will confront them with the falsity of their beliefs. This first line in the surah ends with further consolation to the Prophet, making clear to him that all earlier messengers God sent were mortals like him who ate food and walked about in the streets and market places.

The second part begins with arrogant statements of those who deny the inevitable meeting with God, and their similarly impudent statements, such as: “Why have no angels been sent down to us? - or, Why do we not see our Lord?” It quickly puts them face to face with a scene of the day when they will see the angels: “It will be a day of dire distress for the unbelievers. On that day the wrongdoer will bite his hands and say: ‘Would that I had followed the path shown to me by the Messenger.’” This is meant to give reassurance to the Prophet as he complains to his Lord of the fact that his people disregard the Qur’an and discard it. It quotes their objections to the way the Qur’an is revealed as they ask: “Why has not the Qur’an been revealed to him all at once?” The answer to this objection is a scene showing them being gathered to hell on their faces on the Day of Judgment, the Day they now deny. Further comment is given in an outline of the fate of past communities that adopted a similar line of rejecting the faith, such as the peoples of Noah, Moses, and the Aad, Thamud, Al-Rass and many other generations in between. It wonders at their attitude as they pass by the destroyed towns of the people of Lot taking no heed. All this is meant to comfort the Prophet as he hears their ridicule when they refer to him saying: “Is this the one whom God has sent as His emissary?” The surah comments on their ridicule, putting them in their rightful place: “They are but like cattle. Nay, they are even far worse astray.”

The third part taken up in the surah is made of a number of scenes from the universe, starting with a description of the shadow and moving to the scene of the succession of day and night, before showing the wind as a herald of revitalizing rain and the creation of man from water. Despite all this, they continue to worship deities that have no power to bring them benefit or cause them harm. They go further than that, aiding one another against their Lord who has created them. When they are called upon to address their worship to the only true Lord of the universe, they revert to their arrogance: “Yet when they are told, ‘Prostrate yourselves before the Most Gracious,’ they ask: what is the Most Gracious?” The surah explains that God is “He who has set up in the skies great constellations, and has placed among them a lamp and a light-giving moon. And He it is who causes the night and the day to succeed one another; (a clear sign) for him who would take heed or would show gratitude.”

The fourth and final part paints a detailed picture of the “servants of the Most Gracious”, showing them as they prostrate themselves before Him in total devotion, recording their statements that earn them their noble positions as His servants. It opens the door of repentance for anyone who wishes to join this group, describing their reward for their perseverance and patience in the face of adversity, and their fulfillment of the requirement of faith: “These will be rewarded for all their patient endurance (in life) with a high station in heaven, and will be met there with a greeting of welcome and peace.”

The surah concludes that all mankind would have been discarded by God, had it not been for those servants of God who obey Him and do His bidding, recognizing His authority and His right to be obeyed. By putting erring humanity in its place, the Qur’an also shows that the harassment the Prophet is subjected to should be seen trivial, as it really is.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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