Quran Read-A-Long: The Cow 104-112 Provides Us With Some Familiar Things and Reminds Us that Everyone Can Have His Reward with God

Kick-off

Immediately in verse 105 I’m pleased by the distinction of “those without faith among the people of the Book.” I think that it complements something that we run in circles around week after week: that not all Jews (or Christians for that matter) are enemies of God. Only the ones who don’t believe in Him/have faith/etc.

Grace in Islam or a Bad Translation?

The concept of grace in this verse also interests me. Grace, at least in Christianity, implies that someone is saved by the grace of God, if you will, which is to say that as far as humans are concerned it’s a very fanciful (I dare say, almost whimsical) thing on God’s part: almost Job-ian (and not the Job portrayed in the Quran but the Job that we see in the biblical book of Job which has different lessons). Perhaps my translation is crummy, or as Kay suggested last week I need to be looking at multiple translations, but putting aside my preconceived notions regarding the concept of grace, I think it might be important to understand how this idea manifests and works itself out in Islam.

Allah’s Prophets and the Right to Upgrade Technology

Verse 106 acknowledges that Allah is entitled to do away with prophecies of the past or replace them with better ones. How could He not have that right!?

First of all, He’s Allah. That alone should give him sufficient right (something He says). Second of all, I look at this from a technology perspective. Just because dial-up internet was the latest and greatest thing when it happened two decades ago doesn’t mean that we should stick with it because it was the harbinger of the internet age and a time of rapid and mass transformation for everything technological. When cable modems came out, you better believe I upgraded and the rest of you probably did too. Why stick with what’s old and outdated when there’s something fresh and new that carries a better message (that’s an email reference, not necessarily a religious one 😉 ).

In any case, what I’m saying is not to accept cavalierly the replacement of Judaism and Christianity and those religions’ respective (and primarily overlapping) prophets with Islam and Mohammed. What I’m suggesting is that internal to the text and Islam, we better believe that Allah has the right to give us the latest and greatest rather than to leave us with last week’s technology…or prophet. I mean, if we let Cisco tell us when to let go of the past, then we better let God.

A Warm, Fuzzy Feeling: Be Good and It’s All Good

We seem to have covered the many themes found in the middle verses of this passage before so instead of me not adding anything constructive, I’ll move onto the end, knowing that some of the participants in this project will enlighten me as to anything I may have neglected in those verses.

All I can really say about verse 112 is that I like it. It’s another one of those like 2:62 type verses that says that everyone has the ability – regardless of religious affiliation – to have his reward with God. Do two things: surrender to God with all your heart and (this I see as supremely important) do good. That’s it – give your heart to God and do good. And in English I love looking at the etymological relationship between those two words (God and good).

Summary and Welcome Newcomers

That’s it for this week. Please feel free to share any thoughts, add anything, make any corrections, etc.

I’ve noticed more Quran Read-A-Long readers as of late, and so I just want to welcome you all and let you know that this is a place where we can read the Quran together, a few verses at a time, and try to learn a little something with each other, regardless of our religions, about this amazing book and about Islam. So, don’t be shy – feel free to leave your comments and thoughts and let us know what you know.

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The Cow 104-112

104. Say not (to the Prophet), O believers: “Have regard for us (ra’ina),” but “look at us (unzurna),” and obey him in what he says. Painful is the nemesis for disbelievers. 105. Those without faith among the people of the Book, and those who worship idols, do not wish that good should come to you from your Lord. But God chooses whom He likes for His grace; and the bounty of God is infinite. 106. When We cancel a message (sent to an earlier prophet) or throw it into oblivion, We replace it with one better or one similar. Do you not know that God has power over all things? 107. Do you not know that God’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and that there is none to save and protect you apart from God? 108. Do you too, O believers, wish to question your Apostle as Moses was in the past? But he who takes unbelief in exchange for belief only strays from the right path. 109. How many of the followers of the Books having once known the truth desire in their hearts, out of envy, to turn you into infidels again even after the truth has become clear to them! But you forbear and overlook till God fulfils His plan; and God has power over all things. 110. Fulfil your devotional obligations and pay the zakat. And what you send ahead of good you will find with God, for He sees all that you do. 111. And they say: “None will go to Paradise but the Jews and the Christians,” but this is only wishful thinking. Say: “Bring the proof if you are truthful.” 112. Only he who surrenders to God with all his heart and also does good, will find his reward with his Lord, and will have no fear or regret.

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5 Responses

  1. grace–The word is translated as “special mercy” in my translation. It is sometimes translated as compassionate —Surahs begin with the the words “In the name of God, the most compassionate and merciful.” In the Quran, concepts/themes do not exist on their own in a vacuum, they are connected. So “faith” or the belief in God is intertwined with our efforts to have good intentions so that we can create good action—and good action helps us become closer to the Divine and stronger in our “Faith”. Yet, the limitations of human nature means that we sometimes fail. During these times, it is important to remember that God is compassionate and merciful. In the Quran the concept of Justice is one that is tempered with compassion and mercy (but not unfairness or injustice).

    Which brings me to verse 106. —It is my understanding that we have certain (God-given)”rights” —such as the freedom to make choices (free-will) and the rights to Justice…etc. As we (mankind) have spiritually evolved, our ideas of justice have changed—what may have been “just” in one era is perceived otherwise in another time. “Guidance”/Law has to reflect this evolving human condition. My translation of verse 106 —“None of our revelations do we abrogate but we substitute something better or similar: Know you not that God has power over all things?” This fits in with other parts of the Quran that tells us to respect previous revelations. Thus “to cancel out” means that some parts have been substituted with something similar or better —and this applies to the Quran as well. (It does not mean the whole revelation has to be ignored)—the arabic word for revelation used here (in 106) is “ayat” which means verse/sign.

  2. Reflections…….
    I was reading the previous blogs and came upon the “Hiefer” theme (v67-71)and the discussion of “bida” (innovation).

    Someone once commented that there are no contradictions in the Quran and if we come across a verse that seems contradictory, then we are the ones who have misunderstood /misinterpreted it. In this spirit, I would like to look at 106 with the idea of bida(innovation) in mind. Progress or “innovation” for the good and benefit of mankind can be a direction we can use to move forward. If we assume, as the Quran says, that all knowledge is from God, then the verse 106 would indicate how knowledge/progress can be used for good. If we assume that the Quran is a message for the Arabs of that time as well as for mankind for all time, then it becomes necessary to engage with the Quran in an interactive manner to apply it to changes in time and circumstance. Therefore—If we, as spiritually progressive, evolved beings were to reinterpret some aspects of “law” in the intended context of the Quran of compassion and mercy —for example—such “innovation” might be acceptable in God’s eyes.

    verses 67-71(heifer) are an example of man’s egoic use of intellect and knowledge and 106 provides us with a better example for the use of our intellect and knowledge.

  3. Very good post.

    I recommend a lecture of Hamza Yusuf called ‘Allah is With Those Who Submit”. It is in the youtube,

  4. The lecture Marcelo refers to can be found here (part 1) and here (part 2). As the person who put up the lecture points out, the sound quality of the videos isn’t very good. I haven’t heard this lecture yet, so I’m not able to make any comments just yet.

    BTW, Marcelo, I like your comments!

    • Thanks for the reply!
      Your comments are very helpful to the comprehension of the ayats of the holy Quran. Good work!

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