Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sura 25 - The Criterion (of right and wrong)

The title of this sura comes from a word in verse 1

Date, Context and Theme

The Islamic scholars say it is a middle period Meccan sura and it certainly is dealing with issues from that period. The structure seems based around answering the objections that the Meccans have to Muhammad. It is an encouragement to Muslims and Muhammad to continue, and a warning of hell for those who reject Muhammad. It is very similar to many of the previous sura on this subject.


vv. 1-3 Blessed be Allah who gives the Qur’an and is the only lord, but the unbelievers ascribe him partners and do not listen to the Qur’an or Muhammad.

Vv. 4-9 The Meccan objections to Muhammad outlined.

* Vv. 10-19 They will burn in hell. Judgement described.

* Vv. 20- 21 The objections of the Meccans are answered.

* Vv. 22-29 The unbelievers will be punished and the believers rewarded.

Vv. 30-44 Another objection Meccan to Muhammad. This leads into the example of Moses, Aaron, Noah, and other destructions that Allah has brought and are now a warning.

Vv. 45-55 Look at the cycles of life that Allah has made in the world. Look at what Allah has created yet they do not serve him.

Vv. 56-77 Persevere in your task Muhammad, and faithful Muslim.

What I found interesting.

1. What are the Meccan objections?
Those who disbelieve say: This is naught but a lie that he hath invented, and other folk have helped him with it, so that they have produced a slander and a lie. And they say: Fables of the men of old which he hath had written down so that they are dictated to him morn and evening. 25:4-5

And they say: What aileth this messenger (of Allah) that he eateth food and walketh in the markets? Why is not an angel sent down unto him, to be a warner with him. Or (why is not) treasure thrown down unto him, or why hath he not a paradise from whence to eat? And the evil-doers say: Ye are but following a man bewitched. 25:7-8

And those who look not for a meeting with Us say: Why are angels not sent down unto us and (Why) do we not see our Lord! Assuredly they think too highly of themselves and are scornful with great pride. 25:21

And those who disbelieve say: Why is the Qur'an not revealed unto him all at once? (It is revealed) thus that We may strengthen thy heart therewith; and We have arranged it in right order. 25:32

While Muhammad has not been able to provide any evidence to answer their objections he does point them to creation as evidence of God’s power. Vv. 45-55.

2. The Meccans have been rejecting the Qur’an.
And the messenger saith: O my Lord! Lo! mine own folk make this Qur'an of no account. 25:30

Then We said: Go together unto the folk who have denied Our revelations. Then We destroyed them, a complete destruction. 25:36

And those who, when they are reminded of the revelations of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat. ... They will be awarded the high place forasmuch as they were steadfast, and they will meet therein with welcome and the ward of peace, 25:73-75

3. I thought that this verse,
Hast thou seen him who chooseth for his god his own lust? Wouldst thou then be guardian over him? 25:43

was interesting in view of the Satanic Verses.

4. The descriptions of Allah’s power as creator reveal a lot of the Qur’an’s cosmology.
Hast thou not seen how thy Lord hath spread the shade - And if He willed He could have made it still - then We have made the sun its pilot; Then We withdraw it unto Us, a gradual withdrawal? 25:45-46

And He it is Who hath given independence to the two seas (though they meet); one palatable, sweet, and the other saltish, bitter; and hath set a bar and a forbidding ban between them. And He it is Who hath created man from water, and hath appointed for him kindred by blood and kindred by marriage; for thy Lord is ever Powerful. 25:53-54

Who created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in six Days, then He mounted the Throne. The Beneficent! Ask anyone informed concerning Him! 25:59

5. Allah does not die

And trust thou in the Living One Who dieth not, and hymn His praise. He sufficeth as the Knower of His bondmen's sins, 25:58

6. As mentioned at the start this is a Meccan sura, dealing with Meccan issues, yet some Islamic sholars say that vv. 68-70 are from the Medinan period.
And those who cry not unto any other god along with Allah, nor take the life which Allah hath forbidden save in (course of) justice, nor commit adultery - and whoso doeth this shall pay the penalty; The doom will be doubled for him on the Day of Resurrection, and he will abide therein disdained for ever; Save him who repenteth and believeth and doth righteous work; as for such, Allah will change their evil deeds to good deeds. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. 25:68-70

When I read it though it fits perfectly with the rest of the sura. I have still not yet been able to find out why some verses are believed to be from other periods. My guess is that it is felt they contain theology and issues from other periods, but this is just a guess.

6. The final warning to the Meccan.
Say (O Muhammad, unto the disbelievers): My Lord would not concern Himself with you but for your prayer. But now ye have denied (the Truth), therefor there will be judgment. 25:77