Monday, May 9, 2011

Sura 35 - Angels

The title takes its name from the reference to angels in the first verse.

Date, Context and Theme
An early Meccan sura dealing with the Meccan rejection of Muhammad and his message. The illustrations in this sura are not of the earlier prophets but of the power of Allah.

vv. 1-3, Praise Allah and remember his grace.

Vv. 4-8, Those who reject Muhammad and Allah are doomed.

Vv. 9-17, Examples of how Allah makes and controls all things, therefore pray and serve him alone.

Vv. 18-26 Muhammad is a warner like the warners before him. Those who rejected their warner were punished.

Vv. 27-35 Allah brings life to this world so serve him and the righteous have done in the past.

Vv. 36-39, The unbelievers will suffer for their rejection.

Vv. 40-45, Conclusion. Deals with a few final complaints from the Meccans. Ends with the idea that everyone needs Allah’s mercy.

What I found interesting.
1. Angels.
Praise be to Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who appointeth the angels messengers having wings two, three and four. He multiplieth in creation what He will. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things. 35:1

2. A wide range of illustrations of Allah’s power and application.
Whoso desireth power (should know that) all power belongeth to Allah. Unto Him good words ascend, and the pious deed doth He exalt; but those who plot iniquities, theirs will be an awful doom; and the plotting of such (folk) will come to naught. 35:10

Allah created you from dust, then from a little fluid, then He made you pairs (the male and female). No female beareth or bringeth forth save with His knowledge. And no-one groweth old who groweth old, nor is aught lessened of his life, but it is recorded in a Book, Lo! that is easy for Allah. 35:11

And the two seas are not alike: this, fresh, sweet, good to drink, this (other) bitter, salt. And from them both ye eat fresh meat and derive the ornament that ye wear. And thou seest the ship cleaving them with its prow that ye may seek of His bounty, and that haply ye may give thanks. 35:12

He maketh the night to pass into the day and He maketh the day to pass into the night. He hath subdued the sun and moon to service. Each runneth unto an appointed term. Such is Allah, your Lord; His is the Sovereignty; and those unto whom ye pray instead of Him own not so much as the white spot on a date-stone. 35:13

Say: Have ye seen your partner-gods to whom ye pray beside Allah? Show me what they created of the earth! Or have they any portion in the heavens? Or have We given them a scripture so they act on clear proof therefrom? Nay, the evil-doers promise one another only to deceive. 35:40

3. Pray only to Allah not to your intercessors.
If you (the Meccans) pray unto them they hear not your prayer, and if they heard they could not grant it you. On the Day of Resurrection they will disown association with you. None can inform you like Him Who is Aware. 35:14

My question is if this is the case why do Muslims pray to Muhammad in the Salaat?

4. The Earlier Scriptures and Believers

There were several verses about the earlier scriptures and believers.

And if they deny you (Muhammad), those before them also denied. Their messengers came unto them with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), and with the Psalms and the Scripture giving light. 35:25

As for that which We inspire in thee of the Scripture, it is the Truth confirming that which was (revealed) before it. Lo! Allah is indeed Observer, Seer of His slaves. 35:31

Here we see that there are three different types of earlier believers before the Muslims.
Then We gave the Scripture as inheritance unto those whom We elected of Our bondmen. But of them are some who wrong themselves and of them are some who are lukewarm, and of them are some who outstrip (others) through good deeds, by Allah's leave. That is the great favour! 35:32

The example of the earlier scriptures and believers is given as a way of contrast to the rejection of the Meccans to Muhammad and the Qur’an.
And they swore by Allah, their most binding oath, that if a warner came unto them they would be more tractable than any of the nations; yet, when a warner came unto them it aroused in them naught save repugnance, 35:42

5. Lost in the grave.
And they cry for help there, (saying): Our Lord! Release us; we will do right, not (the wrong) that we used to do. Did not We grant you a life long enough for him who reflected to reflect therein? And the warner came unto you. Now taste (the flavour of your deeds), for evil-doers have no helper. 35:37

This is sort of like Jonah crying out from the grave.

6. All fail and need Allah’s mercy.
If Allah took mankind to task by that which they deserve, He would not leave a living creature on the surface of the earth; but He reprieveth them unto an appointed term, and when their term cometh - then verily (they will know that) Allah is ever Seer of His slaves. 35:45

This is an interesting verse because it clearly says none are righteous.

7. Science in the Qur’an.

There is a whole area of promoting Islam that seeks to show that modern science is in the Qur’an. A common verse that is used is the following.
He hath loosed the two seas. They meet. There is a barrier between them. They encroach not (one upon the other). 55:19-20

This is meant to show that the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea do not mix even though they are connected. However 35:12 seems to identify the “two seas” as fresh and salt water.
And the two seas are not alike: this, fresh, sweet, good to drink, this (other) bitter, salt. And from them both ye eat fresh meat and derive the ornament that ye wear. And thou seest the ship cleaving them with its prow that ye may seek of His bounty, and that haply ye may give thanks. 35:12

8. "Say"

Often in the Qur'an we read at the start of a verse, "Say". This normally is indicating a set answer to an objection raised against Muhammad. It seems to me that the suras are like the letters of the New Testament in that they often are addressing particularly issues. Certainly the suras are a different type of genre but they still function like the letters in addressing a particular situation.

1 comment:

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