Quran Read-A-Long: Al’-Imran 144-148 Provides a Reflection on Quranic Themes

Asad does a great job explaining verse 144, both its more immediate relevance and its longstanding value. Though I understood the implication of the latter, the former is what occurred to me. That is to say that I understood this as being a reference to the near death experience of Mohammed at the Battle of Uhud. People thought Mohammed had died and this caused a great stir amongst the Muslims.

What I didn’t think about fully is that Abu Bakr had to deal with something quite similar – but real – when Mohammed actually did die. Abu Bakr’s comments that those who worshiped Mohammed know that he has died, but those who worship God know that He is ever-living is perfect to keep people believing Muslims even without their prophet. Very profound.

The emphasis on the troubles and hardships of the prophets and their followers also seems contextually grounded in the life of Mohammed and the umma at the time surrounding the Battle of Uhud. If these verses do indeed carry that theme, they resonate with an importance that speaks generally about the situation.

I’m always unsure of what to do when the same familiar ideas return as they do in lines 147 and 148, and I think part of the reason why is because of the chopped-up nature in which we’re reading the Quran here. By only taking a few lines at a time these themes and motifs appear as a piece of the present chunk of verses under investigation. On the contrary, I’d imagine that if we were reading the Quran straight through or at least in larger sections, then amidst the individual issues under discussion these themes would constantly recur, bracketing in specific parts and serving as a constant reinforcement of all else that is written in the Quran. I feel as though that would be a more powerful method of reading the Quran for the sake of these larger and very important messages.

That’s not to say that I’m going to change the way we’re doing things here, but just by way of noting the way I perceive the place of these kinds of lines in the Quran – the major thematic verses. Please share your thoughts about these verses in the comments below.

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Al’-Imran 144-148

144. AND MUHAMMAD is only an apostle; all the [other] apostles have passed away before him: if, then, he dies or is slain, will you turn about on your heels?* But he that turns about on his heels can in no wise harm God – whereas God will requite all who are grateful [to Him]. 145. And no human being can die save by God’s leave, at a term pre-ordained. And if one desires the rewards of this world, We shall grant him thereof; and if one desires the rewards of the life to come, We shall grant him thereof; and We shall requite those who are grateful [to Us]. 146. And how many a prophet has had to fight [in God’s cause], followed by many God-devoted men: and they did not become faint of heart for all that they had to suffer in God’s cause, and neither did they weaken, nor did they abase themselves [before the enemy], since God loves those who are patient in adversity; 147. and all that they said was this: “O our Sustainer! Forgive us our sins and the lack of moderation in our doings! And make firm our steps, and succour us against people who deny the truth!” – 148. whereupon God granted them the rewards of this world, as well as the goodliest rewards of the life to come: for God loves the doers of good.

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One Response

  1. Quran themes–That was an astute observation Jay. Usually when verses reoccur, they bring out a different nuance of the theme—but figuring this out takes more than one reading of the Quran.—that is why, however many times you read the Quran, you learn something new.
    Another interesting aspect of the Quran is that the more questions you ask, the more you will be able to pick up/learn. When someone is reading the Quran on their own, I recommend they keep a “Quran Journal” so they can keep track of all their questions and write answers as they find them.—this can be helpful because the Quran often shows many nuances to the answer it gives so that we are able to understand it from different angles.
    144-145–This ties in to the battle but also to several other themes—Those who were blindly following the Prophet (pbuh) were not benefiting from Guidance. Being a “muslim” is not about blindly following/imitating, but about understanding, believing, and trusting the Guidance. God has no needs—Guidance is not given because it benefits God—it is given because it benefits us. Good intentions that result in good actions helps our families, communities and nations, it also helps us grow in spirituality. We are here on earth for a period of time. Guidance helps us make the best use of this time. When we encounter “tests” we may be able to navigate them with confidence. Some of us may recieve blessings in this life (as tests) some who may not have many blessings in this life will recieve them later–there will be Justice tempered with compassion and mercy.
    146—To fight evil, injustice, oppression, suffering, greed…..We may face adversity in our efforts but instead of despairing, it is better to do what little we can instead of nothing at all.
    147—Sometimes intentions may be good, but passion for a cause can carry us away resulting in actions that we may regret—it is best to keep this in mind when we are involved in a good cause so that we continue to grow in Taqwa. All our actions on earth will be judged and we will be accountable.
    Note—people who deny the truth—“truth” advocates goodness—those who deny goodness and choose badness are those who reject “truth”/Guidance.
    148—Rewards of “this world” are a blessing, but they come with responsibility (test). Rewards of the “life to come” are a gift.
    The battles that occur (Uhud and Badr)also have a bigger theme. In Mecca, the Prophet(pbuh) and his followers suffered persecution and injustce. They fled to another place where they could live and practice their faith (goodness/truth) in peace. Yet, the Meccans refused to allow them to do so and brought the battle to them. But, we are capable, intelligent human beings and we have the ability to eliminate oppression, injustice, suffering…..etc— if we choose to do so—and war is not the only means. The Prophet(pbuh) negotiated treaties, created a system of justice , put in social programs that helped those in need….and many other things. There is a theme of empowerment throughout the Quran. That if human beings(men and women) choose to do good, we can make this world a better place.
    (These themes come up later—I am just bringing them up now so when we encounter them later—a connection can be made. )

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