Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 10, “Jonah” Part 32


Blogging the Qur’an: Sura 10, “Jonah”

( Read find out what the Qur'an really teaches )


Chapters 1 through 9 of the Qur’an contain the book’s primary doctrinal content. The suras immediately following sura 9 begin to focus more on telling stories of prophets, with an eye toward shoring up Muhammad’s prophetic claim — and the same furious denunciations of unbelievers that fill so much of suras 1-9 continue.

Surah 10, “Jonah,” dates from late in the Meccan period, the first part of Muhammad’s prophetic career. Its name comes from v. 98, where the prophet Jonah is mentioned in passing. After another set of three mysterious letters, the chapter begins by declaring, “These are the verses of the wise Book” (v. 1). “This indicates,” says Ibn Kathir, “that these are verses of the Qur’an, in which the wisdom of judgment is clear.”

Allah sums up that “wisdom of judgment” via a series of assertions: he made all things (vv. 5-6); the idols that the unbelievers worship are worthless (v. 18); some people are ungrateful to Allah (v. 12); Allah destroyed earlier generations of unbelievers (v. 13); the unbelievers will burn in hell (vv. 8, 27); and the believers will enjoy the gardens of Paradise (vv. 9, 26).

The skins of the blessed will be white, and that of the damned black (vv. 26-27). Ibn Kathir quotes a hadith to this effect: “When the people of Paradise enter Paradise,” we’re told, “a caller will say: ‘O people of Paradise, Allah has promised you something that He wishes to fulfill.'” Then the blessed will answer: “What is it? Has He not made our Scale heavy?” — that is, has he not judged that our good deeds outweigh our bad ones? “Has He not made our faces white and delivered us from Fire?” For “no blackness or darkness will be on their faces during the different events of the Day of Judgment. But the faces of the rebellious disbelievers will be stained with dust and darkness.” Though some have tried to make this into a racial statement, there is nothing in the mainstream Muslim Qur’an commentaries to support this; it is clearly a moral judgment, not a racial one.

Allah then expatiates upon the excellence of the Qur’an, and how Muhammad should respond to those who challenge it (vv. 37-41). He tells Muhammad that the Qur’an could only have been produced by Allah, and that it is a “confirmation of what was before it and a detailed explanation of the Scripture” — that is, the Torah and the Gospel that came before it, “about which there is no doubt, from the Lord of the worlds” (v. 37). Allah issues the famous challenge to the unbelievers, to imitate the Qur’an if they think it is not a divine book: “Or do they say, ‘He invented it?’ Say, ‘Then bring forth a surah like it and call upon whomever you can besides Allah , if you should be truthful'” (v. 38). Ibn Kathir expatiates on this:

The Qur’an has a miraculous nature that cannot be imitated. No one can produce anything similar to the Qur’an, nor ten Surahs or even one Surah like it. The eloquence, clarity, precision and grace of the Qur’an cannot be but from Allah. The great and abundant principles and meanings within the Qur’an — which are of great benefit in this world and for the Hereafter — cannot be but from Allah. There is nothing like His High Self and Attributes or like His sayings and actions. Therefore His Words are not like the words of His creatures.

It confirms earlier books, he explains, “and is a witness to them. It shows the changes, perversions and corruption that have taken place within these Books” — reflecting the mainstream Islamic belief that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures of today are merely corrupted versions of the original messages of the Muslim prophets Moses and Jesus. The Qur’an corrects these corruptions.

Why issue a challenge like “bring forth a surah like it”? Because the eloquence of its Arabic is considered to be a sign of the Qur’an’s divine provenance. Ibn Kathir explains: “eloquence was a part of the nature and character of the Arabs. Arabic poetry including Al-Mu’allaqat — the oldest complete collection of the most eloquent ancient Arabic poems — was considered to be the best in the literary arts. However Allah sent down to them something whose style none were familiar with, and no one is equal in stature to imitate. So those who believed among them, believed because of what they knew and felt in the Book, including its beauty, elegance, benefit, and fluency. They became the most knowledgeable of the Qur’an and its best in adhering to it.” This is one of the principal reasons why traditional Islamic theology says that the Qur’an cannot be translated: losing the music of the Arabic language, it loses part of its essence.

Here, in any case, are a number of attempts to take up the Qur’anic challenge.

Allah then goes on to repeat many of the same themes, continuing to criticize people for failing to heed his messengers, which have been sent to every nation (v. 47). Allah’s eternal punishments should move the sinners to repent (vv. 50-54), for he gives life and takes it, and to him all shall return (v. 56). All creatures belong to Allah, and the idolaters invent lies against Allah (v. 66).

The unbelievers even dare to claim that Allah has a son, when actually he is self-sufficient (v. 68). The Tafsir al-Jalalayn explains: “They, that is, the Jews and the Christians, and those who claim that the angels are the daughters of God, say, ‘God has taken [to Him] a son.'” But in fact, “He is Independent, [without need] of anyone, for only he who has need of a child would desire [to have] one. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth, as possessions, creatures and servants.”

Then in verses 71-93, Allah tells the stories of Noah (vv. 71-74) and Moses (vv. 75-93), without significant variation from the versions in sura 7. Both Noah and Moses are cast in roles much like Muhammad’s: prophets whose messages go unheeded by their insolent and spiteful hearers, who are duly punished. Moses actually prays here that Allah not have mercy on Pharaoh: “Deface, our Lord, the features of their wealth, and send hardness to their hearts, so they will not believe until they see the grievous penalty” (v. 88). Allah accepts their prayer (v. 89), although when Pharaoh repents (v. 90), Allah saves him (v. 92). He “settled the Children of Israel in an agreeable settlement,” but began to “differ” among themselves (v. 93). According to a hadith, “the Jews separated into seventy-one sects, and the Christians separated into seventy-two sects, and this Ummah [the Muslim community] will separate into seventy-three sects, one of which is in Paradise, seventy-two in the Fire.”

The sura concludes with reassurance for Muhammad and affirmations of Allah’s sovereignty, in verses 94-109. Allah tells Muhammad to “ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you” if he doubts the revelations he has been receiving (v. 94). The Tafsir al-Jalalayn says that this means that Muhammad should “question those who read the Scripture, the Torah, before you, for it is confirmed [therein] with them and they can inform you of its truth.” This assumes, of course, that uncorrupted versions of the Jewish (and Christian) Scriptures were available in Muhammad’s day — a contention that creates immense difficulties for the Islamic claim that they were corrupted at all, since copies exist from that era, and they are not different from the Jewish and Christian Scriptures as they exist today.

But ultimately, it is up to Allah who believes and who doesn’t (vv. 99-100). Why he would create human beings only to torture them in eternal fire is left unexplained.

(Revised June 2015)

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LIGHTER SIDE

The cartoonist's homepage, indystar.com/opinion/varvel

ALERT ALERT

Clinton Donor And Tax Cheat Tied To Russia

“Do as we say, not as we do.”

That seems to be the slogan for Hillary Clinton and her political allies, and it’s especially apt in light of new information about one of Clinton’s largest campaign donors.

While the left is still trying to attack President Trump and his family over unproven business dealings and largely debunked connections to Russia, a new report indicates that it was Hillary Clinton’s team who were doing those exact things.

“Fox News has learned that one of the top donors to the ‘Hillary Victory Fund’ (HVF) in 2016 was a Los Angeles-based attorney who is alleged to have misused company funds to create his own $22 million real estate portfolio,” that outlet reported on Thursday.

“He has also been considered by California to be one of the state’s biggest tax cheats, and allegedly has ties to the (Russian) Kremlin,” Fox continued.

The man’s name is Edgar Sargsyan. His deep pockets greatly benefited Clinton’s campaign, with contributions of at least $250,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund in 2016.

He was also in charge of an elite fundraising dinner to benefit Clinton, where donors paid $100,000 per couple just to attend the ritzy event. But in true Clinton fashion, the money apparently went missing.

Sargsyan is now “being sued by his former company for allegedly diverting those funds to start his own real estate company,” according to Fox.

Now, people are asking hard questions about Clinton’s buddy Sargsyan, including whether his contributions were part of a pay-to-play scheme and if he had shady connections to foreign governments.

“Nobody gave to the Hillary Victory Fund out of the goodness of their heart or some generalized desire to help 33 random state parties,” pointed out attorney Dan Backer from the Committee to Defend the President.

“They did so to buy access and curry influence — something the Clintons have been selling for nearly three decades in and out of government,” he continued.

Trying to buy political influence is sadly common, especially when it comes to the Clintons. What is raising more red flags than normal, however, is the evidence that Sargsyan is no run-of-the-mill campaign donor.

“The really scary question is, what did this particular donor with this strange web of connections hope to buy for his quarter-million dollars?” Backer asked Fox News.

That web of connections is strange indeed.

The Committee to Defend the President is now alleging that SBK, a major Sargsyan-linked company “is an investment firm that is affiliated with United Arab Emirates president, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and its international affiliate has business interests in Russia,” according to Fox.

“Among its dealings was a bid to finance $850 million for a major bridge project to connect Crimea with Russia,” the group claims.

“He worked for SBK, and SBK appears to have bid on some Crimean/Russian bridge project,” Backer said. “That’s usually an indicator of political favor and connections.”

It raises several chilling questions: Was Sargsyan paying a quarter million dollars to Clinton for political favors, and — more disturbingly — was that money actually from sources in Russia in order to smooth the way for its construction plans?

Nobody knows for sure. What is clear, however, is that there is a pattern of dirty money surrounding the Clintons, with the “Uranium One” and “Clinton Foundation” scandals just two of the most well-known examples.

“It reinforces how fast and loose the Clinton machine was when it came to ‘Hoovering up’ these megadonor checks, not just from questionable Hollywood and Wall Street elites but potentially from foreign influence peddlers using who knows what money,” Backer told Fox News.

“It reinforces the need to take a long hard look at not just the unlawful money laundering process, but the way in which they were solicited as well,” he continued. “The Clintons have never shown a great deal of concern for whomever it was cutting the checks — whether it’s foreign influence peddlers or Hollywood smut peddlers like Harvey Weinstein.”

If those claims are even partially true, then America dodged a bullet in November of 2016 — and it’s worth keeping the pile of foreign-connected Clinton scandals in mind the next time the left tries desperately to tie Donald Trump to Russia. Perhaps they should look in the mirror.

SLAVEHOLDER??

Washington Post Compares
Jeff Sessions To Slaveholder’

The Washington Post compared Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “slaveholders” after he quoted the Bible on Thursday while discussing his department’s policy of prosecuting all illegal immigrants who cross the border.

Sessions made the statement during a speech to law enforcement officers in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

WaPo ran a story entitled “Sessions cites Bible passage used to defend slavery in defense of separating immigrant families” by general assignment editor Keith McMillan and religion reporter Julie Zauzmer on Friday.

Rather than detailing the statistics Sessions cited in the speech that explain the immigration policy, the story quoted John Fea, a history professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“This is the same argument that Southern slaveholders and the advocates of a Southern way of life made,” Fea said.

Sessions spent much of the speech discussing the numbers behind current immigration policy, including separating families at the Southwest border.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.

“Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves. Consistent and fair application of the law is in itself a good and moral thing, and that protects the weak and protects the lawful.”

“The previous administration wouldn’t prosecute aliens if they came with children,” Sessions said.

“It was de-facto open borders if you came with children. The results were unsurprising. More and more illegal aliens started showing up at the border with children.”

Sessions laid out the numbers in the speech.

“In 2013, fewer than 15,000 family units were apprehended crossing our border illegally between ports of entry in dangerous areas of the country,” he said.

“Five years later, it was more than 75,000, a five-fold increase in five years. It didn’t even have to be their child that was brought, it could be anyone. You can imagine that this created a lot of danger.”

The U.S. has the “opportunity” to fix its broken immigration system now, Sessions said.

“I believe that’s it’s moral, right, just and decent that we have a lawful system of immigration,” he said. “The American people have been asking for it.”

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