Verse 197 makes an important point (well, many, but I’ll touch on one). If you’re going to perform the pilgrimage, don’t be lustful or truculent and don’t sin. After all, what’s the point of pledging yourself to do something that God has commanded, a holy journey, both personal and sacred, if you’re going to be violating other elements of God’s law along the way. It’s almost a note against hypocrisy, a theme that comes up again later in these verses with the contentious man.
The next verses then run through some of the ceremonies performed on the hajj. Which steps are mentioned here and which are included? I know that there is a ceremony where stones are cast to represent the stones thrown at Satan by Abraham, and I don’t see that reference in here. Is that from another verse of the Quran or from other hadith? What else is missing?
The next verses (200-202) discuss a theme which, as we know, manifests often in the Quran, regarding people doing/believing as they should and getting just recompense. What made me smile was the end of verse 202, which notes God’s swift reckoning, I presume, when it comes time for one to be held accountable for his life and sins. What’s funny is that last week in the discussion that ensued, a quote was offered that mentioned how a man took 12 years to account for his life and sins. Considering His usual pace as stated here, perhaps God was like, “Come on, man, it’s okay that you left the sheep by the riverbank.” 🙂
God and Entropy
I find verse 205 fascinating when it says that God does not love disorder. As many of us learned in our high school physics classes, entropy (that is, randomness and disorder), is the way of things. As human beings we try to create order, whether through buildings with right angles, mowing lawns and planting gardens that if left untended will be overgrown by wilderness, stacking the glasses in our kitchen cabinets in a perfect line or anything else that we do. However, disorder is far easier to come by than order, which is quite logical if you think about it. The straighter you want that line of cups, the easier it is to mess it up, and the more options there are for it being messed up, whether a few cups being out of line, or the glasses getting shattered in an earthquake. This also reminds me of our discussion last week: human nature is also inherently disorderly, and that is why I find it so unlikely that people will cease oppressing within precisely the allowed time. As was argued, living life by the Quran -ideally – imposes that necessary order that ends oppression in an orderly fashion.
So, it’s fascinating that the Quran states that God does not love disorder because what is religion if an attempt to create order in a naturally disordered world? Religion is laws and rules and a way to live down to, in many cases (e.g. Judaism, Islam), the most minute details. That is an incredible amount of order imposed, as it were, from the ultimate force above: a force that loves order, yet interestingly, created a disorderly universe and then gave us a bunch of ways that it must be orderly. Both internally to religion this is interesting and in an anthropological sense as well. Religion is an attempt to create order in a world that generally lacks it.
What else can you tell us about these verses? Can you answer any of my questions, enlighten us generally on the verses or simply add anything? Thanks!
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The Cow 197-210
197. Known are the months of pilgrimage. If one resolves to perform the pilgrimage in these months, let him not indulge in concupiscence, sin or quarrel. And the good you do shall be known to God. Provide for the journey, and the best of provisions is piety. O men of understanding, obey Me. 198. It is no sin to seek the favors of your Lord (by trading). When you start from ‘Arafat in a concourse, remember God at the monument that is sacred (al-Mash ‘ar al-haram), and remember Him as He has shown you the way, and in the olden days you were a people astry. 199. Then move with the crowd impetuously, and pray God to forgive your sins. God is surely forgiving and kind. 200. When you have finished the rites and ceremonies, remember God as you do your fathers, in fact with a greater devotion. There are some who say: “Give us, O Lord, in the world;” but they will forego their share in the life to come. 201. But some there are who pray: “Give us of good in the world, O Lord, and give us of good in the life to come, and suffer us not to suffer the torment of Hell.” 202. They are those who will surely have their share of whatsoever they have earned; for God is swift at the reckoning. 203. Remember God during the stated days; but if a person comes away after two days, it will not be a sin; and if one tarries, he will not trangress, if he keep away from evil. Follow the law of God, and remember that you will have to gather before Him in the end. 204. There is a man who talks well of the world to your pleasing, and makes God witness to what is in his heart, yet he is most contentious; 205. For when his back is turned he goes about spreading disorder in the land, destroying fields and flocks; but God does not love disorder. 206. Whenever he is told: “Obey God,” his arrogance leads him to more sin; and sufficient for him shall be Hell: How evil a place of wide expanse! 207. And there is a man who is willing to sell even his soul to win the favor of God: and God is compassionate to His creatures. 208. O believers, come to full submission to God. Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan your acknowledged foe. 209. If you falter even after Our signs have reached you, then do not forget that God is all-powerful and all-wise. 210. Are they waiting for God to appear in the balconies of clouds with a host of angels, and the matter to be settled? But all things rest with God in the end.