Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Surah al-Qasas

(Those to whom We gave the Book before it are the ones who believe in it) (28:52)

Here “it” is the Qur’àn, although some exegetes hold that this refers to the Prophetص .

(and when it is recited to them, they say, ‘We believe in it. It is indeed the truth from our Lord. Indeed, we were muslims before it.’) (28:53)

This is verse introduces the idea of non-denominational islam, in the sense of submission to God regardless of denominational affiliation. It is generally assumed that those who accept the Qur’àn as the truth from God become affiliated with the Muslim community and accept Islam as a religious denomination; but this assumption should be scrutinized more critically. The acceptance of Islam can take many forms and has various degrees. The verse in question is completely general about this. One may accept the Qur’an as being truth from God because one finds divine truth to be revealed in it, perhaps because one finds it to contain the basics of the message contained in the Torah or the Gospels, and not necessarily because one believes that the law of Islam should be adopted for one’s community instead of the laws of Moses (peace be with him) or Christian laws. In the previous verses there was condemnation of the pagan Arabs who opposed the message of Islam, and here this is contrasted with the reaction of those Jews and Christians who affirmed the Qur’àn as truth from God. The question is not one of orthodoxy or orthopraxy, but of the most general form of agreement with the cause of the divinely revealed religions against superstition and idolatry, the cause of justice and peace against oppression and cruelty.

(Those will be given their reward two times for their patience. They repel evil with good, and spend out of what We have provided them) (28:54)

Allàmah Tabàtabà’í interprets the double reward as one reward for having a patient faith in their own book, the Torah or Gospel, and another reward for patiently accepting the Qur’àn. Allàmah also reviews several interpretations of repelling evil with good, and concludes that the Jews and Christians who affirmed the Qur’àn resisted the evil of persecution and harassment from the pagans by practicing tolerance, fortitude and forbearance.


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