Quran Read-A-Long: Al’-Imran 130-143 Affected My Life Today

Monotheistic Usury Banning

Usury is forbidden in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Now, many would say that usury is allowed in Judaism, but what the Torah says is that an Israelite can’t lend with usury to another Israelite. At the time of the writing of the Bible, this law certainly makes sense as well as why considering other peoples in the matter was totally irrelevant.

Christianity, in fact, used that very biblical verse to insist that usury was entirely illegal, and Jews, considering usury acceptable with someone else (i.e. Christians), were perfect for the job of money-lenders in Christendom because Christians couldn’t do it for themselves but needed the service and Jews were forbade from most else (e.g. owning land and farming, joining guilds, etc.). That Islam continues this ‘tradition’ and also bans usury is most significant, I think.

Asad offers an interesting reason for this: that the pagan Meccans had ammassed their wealth and armies through usury and this practice was not to be emulated.

Managing My Anger

The middle of verse 134 jumped out at me. Not only does it fall amidst an idea that I don’t think we’ve had too thoroughly yet (paradise), but it mentions that those who attain to the afterlife and who are God conscious and who presumably God appreciates the behavior of are those who “hold in check their anger.”

I’ve been very frustrated lately with a lot of things, largely mundane. In short, things that are supposed to work and that shouldn’t be a hassle are proving hassle-filled time sinks. I know that such things are part of life, but these things just seem to be compounding lately and my frustration and anger are getting the better of me.

It’s nice to have this soft warning here to say, God appreciates it when you curb your anger. This was definitely one of my most personal moments with the Quran so far.

Sinning

135: Is there some particular shameful deed that one sins against himself that’s being referenced here or are there a host of these sins? I ask because I’m wondering if this is likened to all shameful deeds that we commit against all people and the verse is just saying that a sin against anyone is a sin against yourself. But I may be misreading.

Teaching Islam to a 7th Grade History Class

139: So I finally got my opportunity to discussed Islam with a 7th grade history class at a private Jewish day school. Though I didn’t get the introductory lesson, I did get “Islamic Expansion” (i.e. Ummayad dynasty). It was definitely fun, and I was amazed at how engaged the students were. I tried to convey how amazing it was that the Arabs managed to knock down the Persian Empire, push back the Byzantines considerably, and sweep in every direction.

Because we’d just read about the Battle of Uhud here, I was thinking about the importance of faith in God when going into battle – knowing that God will secure your victory but that one must believe in victory through God. This verse just recalled that for me because it references the Battle of Uhud and says that you will rise high if you believe.

The Turning Tides of Fortune

Verse 140 seems to carry on with my theme noted above from verse 134: we all experience fortune and misfortune, and we’re not the first to get either. Interestingly, this verse also pertains to martyrdom in the name of God, and though that is not how it has affected me personally, I imagine that many others have drawn faith and strength from this verse. For me, however, the beginning has proven a reminder that life has it’s ups and downs and that seeing ourselves through all of those times is important. I actually feel a lot better about things than when I first began this post.

What can you share with us about these verses?

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Al’-Imran 130-143

130. O YOU who have attained to faith! Do not gorge yourselves on usury, doubling and re-doubling it* – but remain conscious of God, so that you might attain to a happy state; 131. and beware of the fire which awaits those who deny the truth! 132. And pay heed unto God and the Apostle, so that you might be graced with mercy. 133. And vie with one another to attain to your Sustainer’s forgiveness and to a paradise as vast as the heavens and the earth, which has been readied for the God-conscious 134. who spend [in His way] in time of plenty and in time of hardship, and hold in check their anger, and pardon their fellow-men because God loves the doers of good; 135 and who, when they have committed a shameful deed or have [otherwise] sinned against themselves, remember God and pray that their sins be forgiven – for who but God could forgive sins? – and do not knowingly persist in doing whatever

they may have done. 136. These it is who shall have as their reward forgiveness from their Sustainer, and gardens through which running waters flow, therein to abide: and how excellent a reward for those who labour! 137. [MANY] WAYS of life have passed away before your time. Go, then, about the earth and behold what happened in the end to those who gave the lie to the truth: 138. this [should be] a clear lesson unto all men, and a guidance and an admonition unto the God-conscious.139. Be not, then, faint of heart, and grieve not: for you are bound to rise high if you are [truly] believers. 140 If misfortune touches you, [know that] similar misfortune has touched [other] people as well; for it is by turns that We apportion unto men such days [of fortune and misfortune]: and [this] to the end that God might mark out those who have attained to faith, and choose from among you such as [with their lives] bear witness to the truth – since God does not love evildoers – 141 and that God might render pure of all dross those who have attained to faith, and bring to nought those who deny the truth. 142. Do you think that you could enter paradise unless God takes cognizance of your having striven hard [in His cause], and takes cognizance of your having been patient in adversity? 143. For, indeed, you did long for death [in God’s cause] before you came face to face with it; and now you have seen it with your own eyes!

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6 Responses

  1. Sin—intentional or unintentional harmful actions. These can be divided into 2 general areas–those harmful actions that are against “self” and those that are against both “self” and against any of God’s creation. Whatever we do effects us, either strengthening our soul/”self” and increasing us in Taqwa (God-consioussness) or “debasing our soul/self” as the Quran calls it. However, God is compassionate and merciful and gives us many chances in our lifetime to learn from our mistakes and improve ourselves. We have been given the intelligence to realize our mistakes, repent, and find ways to improve and the free-will to make these choices. There is one sin that the Quran considers the most serious one—which is “ascribing partners to God” —it is called shirk.
    more later……………….

  2. Kafir—sinner by disbelief—intentional and ungrateful rejection of guidance/goodness
    Fajir—sinner by action—actions that cause harm to self and/or others
    Fasiq—sinner by law—actions that cause harm in the public sphere/are against the law.

  3. Thanks for fleshing out the different kinds of sin, Kay. The understanding of the concept is definitely more clear to me now and that makes the verse more understandable.

    And of course it makes tons of sense that likening anyone/thing to God is the most heinous sin, both considering pre-Mohammed Arabian history, the challenges Mohammed faced, the truth revealed by Mohammed and Muslim doctrine.

    Do Muslims view most Christians (save denominations like Unitarianism) as committing shirk?

  4. Tawheed-(Unity)—God is the Supreme, Unique, the Uncreated…….from Tawheed, all other concepts develop—Judgement, Justice, Equality, Fraternity,Governance/Democracy, ……etc. Without an understanding of this basic concept (Tawheed) the Quran cannot be properly understood. To break Tawheed(Unity)–is to create disunity/disharmony and a misuse of the guidance of the Quran.
    Christianity—I was helping a Christian read the Quran, and he asked me if he was a muslim(one who submits to God)—I was unable to answer. Christians say they are monotheists—another Christian tried to explain to me that they believe in the Unity—but it is “Tri-Unity”. I’m afraid I still don’t understand it.—I suppose it comes down to the individual Christian and how they understand God? Generally, for muslims, I would say Trinity is confusing and because of that, it does sound somewhat like shirk.
    ….anyway…such judgements are best left upto to God.

    I have been a bit distracted lately–but time permitting, I do want to get back to paying more attention here. It has been a learning experience for me.

  5. Just wanted to add—when I said unintentional harm—I meant actions that were a mistake, an accident, or one done with the best of intentions but caused harm—the person would need to be aware that it did cause harm in order to be able to take responsibilty for it and repent
    I think this idea of “intent” would apply to shirk as well.

  6. Thanks for addressing that question about the Trinity, Kay. It’s a complicated issue no doubt, but based on all that I’ve read in the Quran so far, your answer of those things being best left to God is being precisely the kind of Muslim (and person) that the Quran is asking us to be. I struggle with the Trinity as well (though I think I understand it a bit), but your answer was great.

    I’m glad that this is a good experience for you. I also love it and think that it’s very important. I’ve learned tons thanks to the input from you and JDsg.

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