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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. These are all basic objections which anyone familiar with the missionary and anti-Islamic circles knows very well. I have repeatedly dealt with such issues in the past and here are the answers: 18:29,2:256"There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing" “There is no compulsion in religion” negates and disapproves compulsion and coercion in spiritual matters. When 2:256 says there is no compulsion in religion, it also gives the reason for the prohibition of compulsion "truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error". Its saying the truth has been explained so clearly, there is no need to use force and if one accepts or rejects it then he is fully deserving of the consequences. The clause on which the prohibition is based on ie "truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error" was never changed whether before or after the "verses of the sword" meaning the effect or order cannot be changed or cancelled. Islam requires that belief follows reason and understanding. There is no need for compulsion in a matter whose advantages and disadvantages are clearly defined and the reward and punishment for accepting or rejecting it well-explained "the right way has become clearly distinct from error". This is why the Prophet is told that he is not a warder, keeper and guardian over those who turn away. Like all Prophets that passed before him his task consists in warning and giving glad tiding to the people, he has no power to influence their freewill or force their belief 17:54,42:48,88:21-2. He should therefore let him disbelieve whoever wishes to 18:29 after making sure that the message has reached them 13:40 in the most kindly manner 6:108,16:125. Also, anyone can leave Islam and come back time and time again without punishement or being killed 4:137 which bellies the idea of killing a person as a punishement for leaving Islam or wavering in his faith. However God will only accept his repentence if it is sincere 3:86-89 and not followed by constant periods of disbelief then belief 4:137. Nowhere does the Qur'an say a person must be punished or killed solely for the act of apostasy and all it mentions is that apostates shall face a terrible punishment in the Hereafter. This of course excludes those who apostize unwillingly, who are 3:86-91,16:106"compelled while his heart is at rest on account of faith". Such a person is compelled to renounce faith with his lips due to imminent danger on his life while he remains a firm believer in his heart. It is to be noted here that although martyrdom in the cause of faith is highly meritorious, still the Qur'an absolves those who sincerely, not out of lack of faith, cannot go to such an extent because 2:233"no soul shall have imposed upon it a duty but to the extent of its capacity". Punishment in the hereafter for the sin of apostasy is therefore solely the lot of the one who willingly, without any compulsion renounces Faith and: "opens (his) breast to disbelief-- on these is the wrath of Allah, and they shall have a grievous chastisement". Severing of social ties must be made with apostates who were former hypocrites, especially in the context of war as in the verses that will be quoted, since these former Muslims used to hide their hatred and enmity from other Muslims, and now openly declare it, even striving to make them leave their religion 4:88-89"What is the matter with you, then, that you have become two parties about the hypocrites, while Allah has made them return (to unbelief) for what they have earned?..They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike". They are therefore to be cut off from the community to avoid the spread of their mischief 4:89"take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes)/hajiru in Allah's way". Ties with them can only be restaured when they decisively return to Islam (as indicated by the clause "fi sabilillah/for Allah's sake") and prove their faith to the rest of the community through difficult sacrifices such as leaving their homes and doing hijra in Allah's way, forsaking the domain of evil for an environement where they can practice their faith without restrictions, as the true believers were doing. If they do not do so then their expression of Islam is only for the purpose of spying and destruction, serving the purpose of those with whom Muslims are at war. In this case 4:89"if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper". They must be executed because of their open and secret hostile activities. However if those apostates refuse to flee their homes in Allah's way but nevertheless end the threat from within the community, by migrating for 4:90"a people between whom and you there is an alliance" or who decide to remain within the Muslim community but have decisively abandonned all hostilities 4:90"who come to you, their hearts shrinking from fighting you or fighting their own people..withdraw from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not given you a way against them". This clearly shows, without any ambiguity, killing apostates in times of war is conditional on them being unwilling to stop engaging in sabotage and hostile activities. To further corroborate, under Uthman's caliphate, a man named Abdullah Ibn Saba and his followers deeply resented Uthman, favoring Ali instead whom they saw as a semi divine figure more eligible to be caliph. Their over exaltation of Ali took them outside the fold of Islam, making them apostates. Their true aim by feinting conversion was to spread political and social discord to destabilize the caliphate. They planned on capturing and killing Uthman should he refuse stepping down, and Uthman was eventually murdered. Ali eventually arrested them, exiled some of them and executed others. The fact some were exiled shows that although they were all considered apostates, they did not all qualify for the death penalty. The executions were not motivated by choice of creed, which isnt an endorsed practice by the Qur'an, but rather for the capital offense of fasad fil ard, which per the Qur'an warrants the death penalty. Although the brief and most authentic reports do not clearly say how this was done, some say that they were first burned then thrown into a ditch while others say they were first beheaded then had their lifeless bodies burnt. In both possible cases, Ali had done something which the Prophet forbade; - the first potential misdeed was execution by fire. It is reported "When we intended to depart, Allah's Apostle said, "I have ordered you to burn so-and-so and so-and-so, and it is none but Allah Who punishes with fire, so, if you find them, kill them". In another report "We were with the Prophet and we passed by a colony of ants which had been burned, and the Prophet became angry and said, ‘It is not fitting for any man to punish with the punishment of Allah.” - the second potential misdeed was mutilation of lifeless bodies. It is reported "The Prophet forbade robbery (taking away what belongs to others without their permission), and also forbade mutilation (or maiming) of bodies.” The traditions explain that this instruction is rooted in a Quranic verse 16:126"And if you take your turn, then retaliate with the like of that with which you were afflicted; but if you are patient, it will certainly be best for those who are patient". This verse is said to have been revealed after the Prophet had seen the violent manner in which his uncle Hamza's dead body had been ripped open and then threatened "Never yet have I felt more anger than now I feel; and when next time God gives me victory over Quraysh, I will mutilate thirty of their dead". This emotional, on the spot declaration was never fulfilled, and the Prophet in addition forbade mutilation as shown above, in obedience to the Quranic directive. When ibn Abbas learned of what Ali had done (either burning or mutilating), he publicly rebuked him by appealing to the prophetic sunna mentioned above, which embarrassed Ali, hence his first reaction "Wayh Ibn Abbas!". Ali either knew about the Prophet's commands but let his emotions overcome him in the execution of the right course, or had forgotten them. So he admitted his error and praised ibn Abbas for speaking the truth "When ‘Ali was informed about it he said: How truly ibn Abbas said!" Similarily the misquoted reports about Abu Bakr's ridda wars do not come in the context of apostasy. The people fought against were regarded as Muslims according to many other reports, although a minority had apostised. They were fought for their refusal to pay due government taxes and poor rate, and after they initially and unexpectedly attacked those that sided with Abu Bakr on the issue, and after causing bloodshed among government ranks and attempted to overthrow the first caliph. The events occured shortly after the Prophet's death when many disheartened recent converts apostised and others attempted to reduce their community contributions. Umar is reported to have pleaded with Abubakr to be more lenient with those that refused paying their dues, which he categorically refused. Clearly the issue was not about spiritual apostasy or else Abubakr would have acceded to Umar's request, accepting that they pay less in exchange of their adherence to the Muslim community. Abubakr sent them an official letter calling them back to Islam, those very people who were nominal Muslims, but that refused adhering to the laws of the Islamic state. He instructed his emissaries to fight the rebels after they have been informed of their obligations towards the state and have rejected "(the duties) that are incumbent upon them and [the advantages] that accrue to them, and (the emissary) should take what is [imposed] on them and give them what they are due". In his letter Abubakr additionaly appealed to the Prophet's practice in a similar situation. When he was confronted to Muslims who rebelled against the state and refused paying their dues, unjustly taking advantage of the system which others were sacrificing their own wealth and lives to maintain "he struck whoever turned his back to Him (God) until he came to Islam, willingly or grudgingly". Such a behavior is equal to turning one's back to God, as is represented by the state religion. This isnt speaking of simply renouncing the religion while remaining a full fledged citizen with his rights and obligations. The rebels of the ridda war lauched their assault by night while the majority of the Muslim soldiers were sent on an expedition outside Medina. Abu Bakr fought back with his people and killed those who were involved. It is with such historical and Quranic perspective that the killing of apostates as reported in the history and hadith books should be understood, spiritual apostasy was never the sole charge warranting the death penalty, but rather political apostasy ie socio-political destabilisation and conspiracies to commit bloodshed, especially in times of war or other sort of trials that caused the early Muslims to be on high alert against those who wished to overthrown the system. In addition, some among the early Muslims' enemies pretended converting in attempts to infiltrate the community and harm it through inciting sedition and providing vital information in times of war 3:72,33:60. All governements would punish and sometimes execute foreign spies, double agents, or traitors to an enemy with whom one is at war. These are the people covered in the saying "The one who leaves his religion AND SEPERATES from the community, kill him". This clearly puts 2 condition for the execution of an individual in war times, leaving the religion combined with seperation from the community to join the enemy. Leaving the religion while remaining a full fledged citizen with his rights and obligations does not warrant the death penalty. This openly declared threat would make the conspirators think twice before engaging in their insidious behavior. All scholars have understood that leaving Islam must be coupled with a will to harm it and its people, to warrant the death penalty. Ibn Taymiyah said "Muhaarabah (waging war against Islam) is of two types: physical and verbal. Waging war verbally against Islam may be worse than waging war physically – as stated above – hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to kill those who waged war against Islam verbally, whilst letting off some of those who waged war against Islam physically. This ruling is to be applied more strictly after the death of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Mischief may be caused by physical action or by words, but the damage caused by words is many times greater than that caused by physical action; and the goodness achieved by words in reforming may be many times greater than that achieved by physical action. It is proven that waging war against Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) verbally is worse and the efforts on Earth to undermine religion by verbal means is more effective". Another typical example is that of Abdullah Ibn Sad Ibn Abi Sarh who had converted then apostised, joined the enemy side and began undermining the authenticity of the Qur'an by spreading rumors that he had been forging verses. He in addition incited the opposite party to war. When the Muslim side finally overcame against all odds and his own inciting efforts, his inevitable, legitimate fate was now execution for high treason. Any governement would do the same in war if it apprehends a traitor, especially once all matters have been settled and that the person had every chance to repent and reform prior. Pharao's last minute repentance for example did not benefit him. At that point, ibn Abi Sarh sought Uthman's intercession and came to the Prophet to pledge his allegiance. The Prophet ignored Uthman's plea twice before finally accepting. The Prophet knew that he deserved to be put to death but at the same time, because of the general amnesty he had declared upon Mecca's conquest, he hesitated in the case of Sarh' special case, leaning more towards the capital penalty. By his silence, he left it to the attendance of close followers to do as they liked and as he saw that they leaned the opposite way, he reluctantly validated their judgement and accepted Sarh's pledge. However and as already shown from the Qur'an, should one leave Islam peacefully without intending any harm to the community, not combining apostasy with treason, or refusal to aqcuit oneself from fiscal obligations, or refusal to aqcuit oneself from fiscal obligations, then the consequences of his sin are only between himself and his Creator. Besides the Qur'an clearly corroborating that fact as shown earlier, the ahadith similarily confirm that notion. For example there is the case of a bedouin that apostised though he had accepted Islam, pledging alliegance in front of the Prophet the day before. The Prophet did not punish him, the most that he did was to ignore him 3 times before stating "Medina is like a furnace. It expels its impurities and collects what is pure". The early caliphs followed the same line. Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz did not bother a group of apostates so long as they did not rebel against governement laws. These were the cases covered by the Prophet's saying "Whosoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him". In fact there are explicit reports where the Prophet let people leave the community in security following their spiritual apostasy. Once more, there is no compulsion in religion 2:256,18:29 so no punitive measure can be directed at an apostate neither can he be compelled to go back to Islam or forced to repent solely on the basis of his choice of creed. Per the Qur'an and as made clear in 4:88-90 quoted earlier, action is to be undertaken against an apostate when he engages in hostile behavior towards Muslims and the Muslim state. Fighting, punishing or killing an apostate has therefore nothing to do with a person's choice of creed but with his behavior towards the Muslims. Finally, as to the prophetic hadith "I have been commanded to fight the idolators"etc This hadith comes back many times in anti Muslim circles, passed around like a hot potato. A little background check will clarify the issue. The background is actually 9:5, another favorite of anti Muslim critics. As the surrounding verses make it clear 9:5 is speaking of those who repeatedly broke the contracts, despite the Muslims keeping their engagements, attacked the Muslims first. These people, the Muslims should remain extremely cautious with. The Believers are required to put their trust in God and negotiate with them regardless of their treacherous history if they show an inclination towards peace 8:61-62, but at the same time should not hesitate to cancel the agreements in case they fear treachery on their part. But this must only be done openly and publicly so as to avoid any misunderstanding on the state of war between the parties 8:58, just as was done with the very first verse of sura tawba and its unequivocal dissociation with the traitors. Then the Muslims should prepare themselves for every eventual threat from within and outside the community 8:60. The Muslims should only stop fighting these treaty violators under 2 conditions: - The first condition is if they clearly become Muslims by praying regularly and pay the poor rate. This is the only guarantee Muslims have against being attacked by a people provably inclined to backstabbing and breaking of oaths 4:91"You will find others who desire that they should be safe from you and secure from their own people; as often as they are sent back to the mischief they get thrown into it headlong; therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and (do not) offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these We have given you a clear authority". It is in such background that one should read the often misused report in which the Prophet says "I have been commanded to fight the idolators (Other versions "the people") until they bear witness to La ilaha illallah (there is none worthy of worship except Allah) and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. If they bear witness to La ilaha illallah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, and they pray as we pray and face our Qiblah, and eat our slaughtered animals, then their blood and wealth becomes forbidden to us except for a right that is due, and they will have the same rights and obligations as the Muslims". What is translated as to fight/uqaatil implies fighting opposite an initial attack, as is clear from the context of 9:5. Also, the more complete hadith further portrays the Prophet quoting 88:22"Therefore do remind, for you are only a reminder. You are not a watcher over them". This, in addition to the known proper context of the report, decisively shows there can be no compulsion in religion, as explicitly stated in the Qur'an in many places. As commented by ibn Taymiya "what is meant here: Fighting the fighters of those that Allah made permissible to fight, and not those under the treaty and were loyal to Allah". No forced conversions occured at the conquest of Mecca and sura 88, which is quoted by the Prophet in relation to his statement in the hadith, is unanimously believed to have been revealed in Mecca. - The second condition is if they do not become Muslims but they stop their persecution then 2:193"there should be no hostility except against the oppressors". That is because 8:38"if they desist, that which is past shall be forgiven to them; and if they return, then what happened to the ancients has already passed". These 2 important point show that 9:5 does not say to fight these hostile idolaters until they become Muslims since an idolater who stops fighting is left to go freely to his homeland 9:6, but until they refrain from their hostile attitude of which a conversion to Islam and the strict and public adherance to each of its ordinances would be a guarantee. One last time, not all idolaters were fought until they became Muslims, only those that were untrustworthy to be left based on a verbal agreement. In conclusion, The capital punishment solely for renouncing one's religion isnt Quranic, it is a Biblical ruling outlined in Deut13 or Deut17:1-7 and stipulates that all those who are caught enticing others into, or comiting idolatry, are to be put to death, in such a forcefull manner that all the inhabitants of the city are to be indiscriminately executed, their livestock and posessions burned and their dwellings razed to the ground. A demonstration of the law's application, on a large-scale and in a systematic way, directly commanded by God is when thousands of Israelites were executed by their own brethren for having reverted to idol worship during the exodus. This incident is reported in both the Torah and Qur'an. Further the Biblical law of apostasy is general to all situations. When the Israelite Prophets executed apostates and idolaters from among their own, it wasnt in war times where the apostate risked joining enemy ranks or spying on their or refusing to contribute economically as a full fledged member of a community with his rights and obligations. Later on in the course of their tumultuous history and as they were adapting the revealed law (of apostasy and other inconvenient and/or difficult laws) to their needs and whims, or their life circumstances, the passing of the death penalty required a much more stringent procedure. It was the case before, during and after the time of Jesus which is why it was rarely if ever applied then, whether by Jews or early followers of Jesus. This by the way is one of the many points that undermine the crucifixion tale. The Jews didn't have any authority to try jesus for a death penalty, among other reasons, because of the procedures they had put into place so as to avoid the harsh mosaic punishments befalling their community for their frequent capital offenses: -the NT says that the high priest headed up the trial. The high priest never headed the Sanhedrin, that role fell to Nasi and the Av Bet Din, neither of whom are mentioned in the NT. -To pass a death penalty a Jewish Sanhedrin had to meet in the Chamber of Hewn Stones in the Temple, but in 28CE which is prior to Jesus' supposed execution, the Chamber was destroyed so the Sanhedrin moved to another room on the Temple Mount, and then into the city itself (Talmud, Shabbat 15a, Rosh haShanah 31a). Deut17:8-13"go up to the place that G-d your L-rd shall choose" means the chamber of carved/hewn stone. Just as the Tabernacle was the only place in which to bring animal offerings until the final place was identified as the Temple, so to was the place for the court identified as the chamber in the Temple. Also, the Romans had removed the right to pass the death penalty according to Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 17:13). Around the year 6 CE, Herod Archelaus, was dethroned and banished to Vienna. He was replaced, not by a Jewish king, but by a Roman Procurator named Caponius. The legal power of the Sanhedrin was then immediately restricted. When Archelaus was banished the Sanhedrin lost the ability to try death penalty cases in favor of the Roman procurator (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20:19). So right there we have two impediments to the Jews passing a death sentence. -The Sanhedrin never met at night Matt26:57,Mk14:53 or in secret, on Shabbat or any holy day -- or even on the day BEFORE. Misnah (Sanhedrin IV:1) and Maimonides (Hilkot Sanhedrin XI:2). - A death penalty case required two eye witnesses to the crime even when the Jews had the authority. When a death sentence was passed a minimum of 24 hours was given before it was carried out, giving time for witnesses to come forth on behalf of the condemned -Jewish trials were never held in anyone's house, only in the Temple Slavery wasnt invented by Islam or Christianity, it existed long before. In ancient times almost all nations from the Romans to the Greeks regarded slavery as something natural. Aristotle thought that "..some men are by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right." The elites throughout India, Persia, Rome, the Arabian Peninsula, Romania and Greece regarded them as some commodity not worthier than cattle and had the power of life or death over them. The Judeo-Christian scriptures hardly improved the status of slaves, as human traficking was allowed even if it involved one's own children. Severly scourging the slave was permissible so long as the beating did not immidiately bring about the slave's death Ex21:20-1. The mosaic law, which Jesus abided by to the letter and instructed his followers to do the same, still allows purchasing them like any other commodity, detaining them and passing them down against their will Lev25:44-46,Deut15:16-17. Slaves can be forcefully seperated from their wives married under slavery, and from their children who are to stay with the master should the slave request and gain his freedom Ex21:2-4. By keeping his family as hostages, the master is almost sure to keep his slave permanently. For hard labor purposes, the only restriction to slave acquisition is that it was forbidden for Jews to enslave one another for hard labor. However, throughout history they could, and did, sell one another to slavery for a different purpose than their non-Jewish slaves, they were employed for works that did not involve physical toil Lev25:40-46. Solomon, during the building of the Temple and his own palace made ample use of non-Jewish slaves during 20 years of hard labor. Slaves had to lookup to their masters as equals of God Col3:22-24, respect and fear them in servitude as they would serve Jesus Ephes6:5, submit to even harsh masters 1Pet2:18. So inconceivable is it that a slave may one day rise above his cursed status and gain responsibilities that the Earth is pictured as quacking at the thought of it Prov30:21. The subjugation of a slave is an essential part of religion 1Tim6:1-4"so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered..These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing". As stated earlier, being nothing more than an ISraelite Prophet in a long line of Prophets, Jesus himself never banned slavery and in fact even endorsed unquestioned submission of slaves to their masters Lk17:7-10. Slave trafficking became an organized business through the Christian nations of Europe and America who captured slaves by thousands from their colonies. They packed them like sardines in ships according to a precise mathematical calculation to maximize profit and many died on the way. Before leaving, the ships were blessed by priests. Christian priests themselves participated in the trade, especially in Angola, and justified it by saying they were baptizing them. Towards the end of the 18th century, some Arab nations participated in the slave trade too. The end of slavery in the Christian world did not come by the hand of the church. It was a handful of moralists who rose slowly against it. Their cries werent heard in britain until 1807 when it was no longer profitable to the economy and the governement wanted to cut expenses especially in the sugar plantations after they lost their global monopoly. The prophetic traditions are clear as regards the treatment of slaves. In his famous sermon in 'Arafat, on 9th Dhul-hijjah 9 AH, during his last pilgrimage, the Prophet said, "...and your slaves, see that you feed them such food as you eat yourselves and dress him with what you yourself dress. And if they commit a mistake which you are not inclined to forgive then sell them, for they are the servants of Allah and are not to be tormented..." From Risalat al-Huqooq by Imam Zayn al Abideen: "And the right of your subject through being your slave is that you should know that he is a creature of your Lord and is made of the same flesh and blood. And you only own him, but you are much too inferior to God and you have not created him. And you have not created his hearing and sight, nor do you provide his daily sustenance; rather it is God who gives you sufficiency for that. Then He subjugated him to you, entrusted him to you, and provisionally consigned him with you. So protect him there, and treat him well, just as He (God) has treated you well, and feed him with what you eat yourself, and clothe him with what you clothe yourself. And do not burden him with what he cannot withstand. And if you dislike him, you ought to let him go and replace him, but do not torment God's creature. And there is no power but in God". Slaves are even covered by the law of equal retribution "Samurah ibn Jundub narrated that the Prophet had said: “He who kills his slave shall be killed, he who amputates his slave shall be amputated and he who castrates his slave shall be castrated.” In pre-Islamic Arab society, slavery was also an established institution. Slave men and women were found in almost every house, their number was a symbol of status. They were mainly prisonners of wars, or even debtors who were enslaved, then distributed among the armies or sold in the market places like animals. They were a source of cheap labor and livelihood for thousands. To remedy this deeply rooted social habit, Islam first and foremost never places the aqcuisition of slaves as a demand of religion. This means that when the institution of slavery is absent altogether from Muslim society, the divine law remains complete. Secondly it limits the aqcuisition of slaves by confining it to the war prisonners in the defensive war campaigns, specifically those that could not be ransomed, thus forbidding the enslavement of a free person. This is how God gives mastery to those who fight in His ways, over those that seek to extinguish the light of truth. As ordained by Islam and as will be seen in details later on, it is but the most logical and humane manner of dealing with the enemy in war; they could obviously not free them at once and re-ignite the war, nor execute them all, nor set up a camp for them in which they would overburden state treasury and demand inefficient logistical organization with poor spiritual and psychosocial impact, but instead were sent among the Muslims themselves who were to treat them as quasi-members of the household. These former enemies could see and experience first hand the values and morals of Islam, after which they could eventually be freed. From all the ways that provided an avenue for slave acquisition, the Qur'an kept only one, as already said because of it being a logistical necessity, and more importantly, helped protect the captives’ lives as well as offer them a possibility of reform. Possession of slaves in Islam is therefore unrelated to financial wealth. When slaves were bought, it was for the purpose of emancipating them immidiately as a righteous benevolent action or to atone for a sin. They only could be acquired as collateral war prisonners, together with their belongings brought at the battlefield such as horses, camels, useful weapons. If they weren't ransomed in exchange of Muslim war prisonners at the hands of the enemy, they were then distributed in Muslim households in which the Islamic label of a "slave" would make the best western modern system of social care pale in comparison. That is why the Prophet in a reported case advised against the freeing of a particular slave, although he and the Qur'an repeatedly encouraged and freed slaves indiscriminately. Some people are better off living and benefitting from that Islamic system than to be left in society to fend for themselves "Narrated Maimuna, the wife of the Prophet that she manumitted her slave-girl and the Prophet said to her, "You would have got more reward if you had given the slave-girl to one of your maternal uncles." Muslims are warned however that even in a context of legitimate war, they can never be motivated by the perspective of capturing prisonners or aqcuiring any type of material gains over the main objective, the complete and entire defeat of their enemies and oppressors 8:67-71. So the type of slavery allowed in the Qur'an, up to this day if the conditions are met, isnt the one where free innocent human beings are captured and sold like a merchandise. In fact the Qur'an emphatically condemns this type of human traficking through the story of Prophet Yusuf, as will be shown below. The Qur'an gives 2 clear options towards war prisonners, either of the 2 can be applied until the threat of war has subsided 47:4. Either they can be given an unspecified favor, which translates into unconditional freedom, or taken care of personally inside a household. The second option is that they should be ransomed in exchange of benefits of any kind such as money as any justice system requires a prisonner to be bailed out, special services or in mutual prisonners. Should the threat of the war cease while there still are prisonners who havent benefited from the above 2 methods, then they can be employed in a Muslim household where they must be treated on an almost equal level as other members of the household 4:36. At that point, if a slave who can offer any good contribution to society decides to be set free can enter into a written agreement with his guardian stipulating the terms and conditions of his manumition 24:33 which would more often than not be a term of service, I.e. you work for me for this many more months in my fields so I can recover my investment. This basically burdens the owner with only those right hand posessions that are of no value to society, after those that were capable of fending for themselves requested and eventually received their freedom. What this essentially means is that the burden of slavery in the end ultimately fell on the owners. Any capable slave that wanted to go into society, earn a living and get married would, and in addition the owner actually must offer financial assistance for the achievement of that objective. The remaining slaves of a household could also be freed as an act of high virtue 2:177. The divine grant of mastery over their enemies doesnt give Muslims sanction to treat them as they wish. As shown above whether in the Qur'an or through the practice of the Prophet, Muslims must treat them with care, almost as full members of a household. The reason being that through an exemplary conduct those former enemies might open their eyes to the real, unfiltered truth of Islam, free from the distortions of those that only seek to disparage it, and possibly reform themselves. However, because the Qur'an repeatedly speaks of freeing slave as an act of great virtue, it warns against creating situations that could lead to the captivity then ransoming of slaves, through the example of the Jews of Medina. They entered into alliances with warring pagan tribes and fought, killed, enslaved then freed their own brethren while considering it a "pious act" 2:83-85. Such a behavior would not only be against the letter of the law but also its spirit. Also, the very fact of calling the manumission of slaves one of the greatest acts of charity, piety and benevolence towards men 2:177,9:60,90:11-18 shows that having them in one's possession is not the preferred way ultimately even though a short term captivity in the specific context of wars is sometimes necessary. The captives of the very first Islamic battle of Badr, were freed on ransom (in form of money depending on each prisonner's financial capacities or work like teaching ten Muslim children how to read and write), while those of the tribe of Tay were freed without any ransom. Some would reform themselves and cease their hostilities towards the Muslims, but others would go back headlong into battle whenever the chance to fight and kill Muslims presented itself. For example Abu Izza was among the anti-Muslim coaltion at Uhud. He had been taken as a prisoner of war at Badr and then released by the Prophet without a ransom because he was poor and had a large family. The condition for his release was that he would not take part in further anti-Islamic activities, especially verbal provocations, as he was known for his eloquence. If relatives were captured they could not be seperated. It is then that the Qur'an progressively introduced the notion of freeing slave benevolently as a great virtue. As already noted, slaves were a source of livelihood and labor, even to Muslims who had to treat them with care. That is why it is considered a great act of generosity if done unconditionally. Even if the person wasnt prepared to go to such charitable extent, the Qur'an still encouraged freeing them through other avenues such as atoning for certain sins like missing a fast, breeching a vow made hastily concerning a lawful thing, accidental homicide, and many other small acts common in this society 4:92,5:89,58:3. As an act of virtue, Ali emancipated 1000 slaves, purchasing them from his own money. The Prophet emphatically stated on many occasions that, in the sight of God, the unconditional freeing of a human being from bondage is among the most praiseworthy acts which a Muslim could perform. No religion other than Islam promoted the liberation of fellow humans in bondage as an act of humanity and virtue, beautifully reflected in Sura 90. That is a fact the Judeo-Christian critics of Islam, who try misrepresenting Islamic slavery with their twisted biblical paradigm in mind, will have to deal with. The overarching approach of Islam towards slavery, as already seen and as will be further developped, is thus to reduce the access to servitude and expand the way towards freedom. in light of the above, clearly, the Qur'an dismisses the western and judeo-Christian notion of slavery by giving a new meaning to the term. A slave in the Qur'an is nothing more than a former war prisonner captured during defensive warfare, and taken under care in a Muslim household because he couldnt be ransomed in benefits of any kind or freed unconditionally. Both Male and female war prisonners who became mulk yamin/right hand possession now fell under masters who treated them kindly to such an extent they had to be guaranteed a share of the inheritance if present along with other weak members of society taken under care 4:8. The prophetic traditions on the Prophet's closest entourage and how they interacted with their slaves, all corroborate these facts. Their integration to the household reaches such an extent that, as with other members of the family, women were allowed to unveil in their presence 24:31. This cannot be treated as a mere ruling of conveniency if one considers all the elements that point to the extension of humanitarian, considerate values to them. They had to be fed and maintained without any psychological injury and for the sake of Allah, not seeking benefits of any kind from them in return 76:8-10"And they give food however great be their own want of it to the poor and the orphan and the captive: We only feed you for Allah's sake; we desire from you neither reward nor thanks: Surely we fear from our Lord a stern, distressful day". The people at that time accorded no dignity to slave-girls and anyone marrying such a woman immediately became an object of scorn. Through 2:221 the believers are encouraged to marry their female-slaves instead of choosing a pleasing unbelieving woman, and the believing women are also told to choose their male-slaves above an idolater if they wish to marry. By qualifying the word "bondswoman" with the adjective "believing" and leaving the word "idolatress" without any condition, emphasizes the principle that a believing woman, even if she is a slave, is better than an idolatress even if she comes from a noble family, in adition posessing all desired outward physical qualities. It is to be kept in mind that to the Qur'an's primary addressees, as is even the case nowadays, establishing ties of various interests through marriages with a honorable family was a priority. The Qur'an turns that notion on its head, not with any example, but with that of slaves whom the ancients saw as the lowest human beings in society. 24:32 further encourages the believers to marry from their pious male/female slaves so that if some of them are poor, then they will be freed and enjoy more sustenance "And marry those among you who are single and those who are fit among your male slaves and your female slaves; if they are needy, Allah will make them free from want out of His grace; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing". This reinforces the fact that the ultimate criteria for judging an individual is his piety, the verse clearly tells the believers to choose from any member of society while at the same time emphasizing the good gesture in Allah's eyes to marry a male/female slave and freeing him/her. The verse also point to the fact that not all slaves are poor "if they are needy". Islam controlled slavery in such a way that it made the maintaining of a slave a great responsibility for the master, who had to show them so much care that in many cases when the slaves were set free they did not like to leave their masters. That is why within the Islamic community, it was seen as shockingly ungrateful for a slave to suddenly desert his guardians. It is in such context that the Prophet reportedly condemned as kafir/denier a slave that unexpectedly deserts his guardian who did not harm him, but instead gave him shelter when he needed it and sustenance. Another repercussion of the Islamic system of "slavery", is that when captured during a battle against Muslims, those prejudiced individuals whose aim really was to annihilate Islam by all means, suddenly find themselves under the guardianship of those they believe represent evil. Instead of being mistreated or even killed as they would have done had they captured Muslims instead, they benefit from strict regulations that guarantee their well-being. These people who, like in our days, were brainswashed with a distorted image of Islam, were shocked at seeing and experiencing the truth behind the scenes, benefiting from it, and how just and fair a social system it was as compared to their own society and how they themselves treated their slaves and war prisonners. They experienced the reality of divine justice and many converted. So by restricting the acquisition of slaves to war prisonners, Islam was (and is still in case war is waged on Muslims because of their religion) actually giving them a chance of reform by introducing them to a better system on all levels 8:70"say to those of the captives who are in your hands: If Allah knows anything good in your hearts, He will give to you better than that which has been taken away from you and will forgive you, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful". The voluntary assimilation and conversion of war prisonners because of having witnessed Islam from within, parallels with what happened during the treaty of Hudaybiyyah. It provided a relative peace era on the Meccan front which allowed Islam to spread faster than it ever did, because it allowed Muslims and non-Muslims to visit eachother and interract on account of their family relationships and trade connections. Many Meccans started visiting Medina, and stayed there for months. They got acquainted with the teachings of Islam and were deeply impressed by the righteous conduct and moral integrity of the Muslims, and how they treated the prisonners of war, integrating them into the fabric of society. Islam gained many converts in its ranks during that period. This sense of brotherhood which Islam gave the oppressed, helped gradually bring down social barriers. As a result, in the early periods of Islam after the Prophet, we see countless slaves with high political responsibilities, including the command of armies, governorship and judgeship. Not only in administration, we find theologians, commentators of the Qur'an, traditionists, jurists and authors who either were slaves or the children of the slaves or ex-slaves. From a higher perspective, the Qur'an explains the reason for there being differences socio-economical, or even psycho-physical differences among humans. All human beings were created with the aim of being Allah's vicegerents on Earth. We have been endowed with freewill -which asserts itself through tests and trials- and are compelled to use it to fulfill our role of vicegerency according to our degrees in this world 6:165"And He it is Who has made you successors in the land and raised some of you above others by (various) grades that He might try you by what He has given you". This is according to the divine principles of the Greatest of Judges 11:45,95:8 that what is expected of a person is directly in correlation to that person's condition 65:7. Just like some trees are made to excell others in fruits 13:4, we are raised in degrees and some of us made to excell others in certain aspects, whether physical or mental, social or economical etc, but it is all done according to an all encompassing wisdom and knowledge that takes into consideration every aspect of our being 6:83. However, if one disregards the materialistic mindframe that blurs the higher realities of existence, the level of difficulty in all cases can be said to be the same; the one with less wordly benefits (financially, in his health etc) has less avenues by which to be religiously and morally accountable but he is required to have a high level of inner discipline, patience and trust in God while the reverse is the case for the more advantaged in terms of wordly benefits; the burden on his inner discipline and steadfastness is less while the means given to him by which to be morally tested are manifold. He can be tested in his wealth, his health and other privileges. A great part of Allah's scheme of testing the people through their choices in order to gradually purge the hearts, is to test us through our dealings with eachother 25:20"and We have made some of you a trial for others; will you bear patiently? And your Lord is ever Seeing". One of the obvious proof for this is how most often individuals are endowed with benefits, material, physical or abstract, surpassing the basic and reasonable needs. All else will either vanish or be left behind after their passing away for others to benefit from. Through this scheme every human being becomes by virtue of his social existence, a means whereby the moral qualities of his fellow men are put to a test "I saw Abu Dharr al-Ghifâri wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a cloak. We asked him about that (how both were wearing similar cloaks). He replied: Once I abused a man, and he complained of me to the Prophet. The Prophet asked me, Did you abuse him by slighting his mother? You are a man who has jahiliyah. He added: Your slaves are your brethren upon whom Allah has given you authority. So if one has one’s brethren under one’s control, he should feed them with the like of what he eats and clothe them with the like of what he wears. You should not overburden them with what they cannot bear, and if you do so, help them (in their hard job)". As the HB puts it in Prov22:2"The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all". God is not only the maker of every human, but also of their conditions, through the laws of the material and physical world He has created, in which almost every outcome is the result of a previous action. The people should therefore, regardless of their circumstances keep in view that ultimate reality in their dealings with oneanother instead. These wise words however are clearly bellied by other passages in the HB discriminating among the people solely on the basis of appearance and physical condition Lev21:16-24. Just as there is diversity in nature, as in the aforementioned metaphor of the fruit trees, mankind is bound by that system too 6:165,11:118,30:22. As said many times in the Book, mankind could have been made a single nation, equal in all aspects, and spiritually upright 42:8. But Allah has decreed there will be diversity in creation whether physical, cultural, material or spiritual through the process of freechoice which was divinely established, sustained every step of the way and encompassed by Allah's power. God is thus ultimately the cause of these differences. Here is how that causality plays out. For example; - Some people have been made by Allah to resist better to diseases, others are stronger, taller or more intelligent. This is due to the natural biological processes He established, that can either be triggered by internal reactions and mutations or/and influenced by external, environemental factors that are themselves subject to the divinely decreed law of causation which God dominates with His all encompassing wisdom and power at each instant. - Some people have been made by Allah to believe, and others to err and this is due to the system of freewill He established and fully controls, according to which one's moral choices shape his spiritual condition and destiny, either darkening his inner spiritual receptivity or enlightening it and making it further receptive to external guidance. - Some people have been made by Allah to enjoy more wordly, material benefits than others. This again, is the consequence of a chain of causality in God's grasp. This diversity however isnt viewed in the Qur'an as a stain purposefully put on the human race, or allowed to occur by the established system of freewill in order to confuse and seperate it, as well as oppose it among itself, but rather as a driving force that might create interraction, interdependency, exchanges and positive understanding 49:13"We have created you of a male and a female and made you nations and tribes that you may know each other. Indeed, the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah is the most fearful (of Allah) among you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing, Aware". This is one of the most compelling Quranic proof man is repeatedly told to ponder upon; the divine unity in the face of an interdependant diversity 43:32"it is We who distribute their means of livelihood among them in the life of this world, and raise some of them by degrees above others, to the end that they might avail themselves of one another's help". This is based on the wisdom that no human being should become independent of others, but everyone should remain dependent on the other in various ways. The Creator is in this way in total contrast with His creation; He is the Self-Sufficient, Sustainer of the universe at each instant. He creates difference among His creation, through the natural processes He established, and the system of freewill on which He has full control. This system established by Allah ultimately creates a web of interdependant diversity necessary for one of the aspects of divine trials; our dealings with eachother. Many fail to perceive this ultimate reality and they are referred to in 36:47"And when it is said to them: Spend out of what Allah has given you, those who disbelieve say to those who believe: Shall we feed him whom, if Allah please, He could feed? You are in naught but clear error". God does indeed will for the deprived and weak to be helped, but according to the laws He has established and that benefit both the one who freely offers his help (emotional, material, physical, spiritual, intellectual), as well as the receiver of that help. Others raise an outcry and question divine justice in light of the fact that people are born with varying degrees of socio-economical as well as psycho-physical conditions. That questioning is answered through the divine scheme explained above, as well as the Quranic concept that 2:156"Indeed, we belong to Allah and indeed we towards Him will return". Our whole self belongs to Him and He in reality doesnt owe us a single thing, whatever we receive from Him, since birth and throughout life, little or big, is a favor from Him and serves a higher purpose which can only be beneficial if one accepts God's supreme ownership 11:9"If We make man taste mercy from Ourselves, (and) then take it off from him, verily he is despairing ungrateful". Neither self-conceit nor despair are appropriate if one admits that all things belong to God and return to Him when He decides. The unbelievers of the time of the Prophet disregarded lower social classes, disrespected and discriminated them. They mocked the assemblies of poor people and ex-slaves listening to the Prophet, just like Prophets were reproached before, the likes of Nuh 11:27-30, assuming that if Allah had truly sent revelation then why didnt He address the elite and rulers of whom Muhammad was not 43:31? In their limited, materialistic mindframe they considered themselves more deserving of divine favors 6:53"And thus do We try some of them by others so that they say: Are these they upon whom Allah has conferred benefit from among us? Does not Allah best know the grateful?". If we start rejecting Prophets for having had sex with a concubine, then not much of the biblical Prophets would be left. This person is here attempting to misrepresent, with his biblical paradigm in mind, what a concubine is in Islam. Besides those that already existed in the society and households before Islam, ma malakat aymanukum are not free persons randomly captured and enslaved or acquired through trade since the Qur'an only allows the enslavement of captives taken in defensive war campaigns, and only after the threat of war has been subdued meaning their seizure could not be an objective of going to war 8:67,47:4. In fact the Prophet dismissed from fighting those that were more preoccupied with the prospect of capturing potential concubines as with Jadd/Judd b. Qays, or would tell them that they would have far better reward in terms of physical companionship in the hereafter if they restrained themselves in this life "There are six rewards with Allah for the martyr. He is forgiven with the first flow of blood, he is shown his place in Paradise, he is protected from punishment in the grave, he secured from the greatest terror, the crown of dignity is placed upon his head and its gems are better than the world and what is in it, he is married to seventy two (72) wives among the pure maidens of Paradise, and he may intercede for seventy of his close relatives". It is to be noted that this is addressed to soldiers fighting for the survival of their people, giving up all wordly pleasures, refusing transgression and misbehavior, including physical and thus the reward can only be proportional to the wordly sacrifice as a basic demand of justice. This behavior the Qur'an instructs upon those accepting to shoulder the most selfless sacrifice, is in complete opposite to how the pre-Islamic Arabs behaved in battle, and the ancient people in general, let alone the Israelites as amply described in their own books under divine sanction, since the times of Moses, and who basically had no ethical limits at the battlefield. These Muslim martyrs, per the hadith, will be forgiven because they were merciful even at the battlefield, only fighting in retaliation, proportionally to the harm received, meaning they did not let the spirit of revenge take them over, and stopping all hostilities once the enemy surrenders 2:190-5,9:6. They will be shown their places in paradise because, through their righteousness and impeccable behavior they would have shown the path to paradise to their friends and enemies alike. They will be protected from the punishments and fear of the Hereafter, which are in Quranic terminology cleansing processes for wordly sins, because they have already accepted suffering, pain, hardships and fear as means by which to cleanse themselves in this life. They will be given the highest symbols of material honors and wealth because they gave up these wordly considerations when they engaged in battle, although they could have looted and abused of their position 4:74-75"Therefore let those fight in the way of Allah, who sell this world's life for the hereafter..And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper". They will be married, not given countless concubines as the Prophets of the HB, to many women, pure like themselves, because they have never considered going to battle with the perspective of capturing women, in addition refused abusing of their power to assault them once in their hands. Finally, because of their honoroble behavior on all counts, although having all opportunities to abuse and transgress, they will be given the possibility of interceding for their loved ones. This in Qur'an terminology is a mark of honor granted by God, to be among the select few allowed to speak on behalf of others. Intercession in the Qur'an is not a pleading action, but a reward since it will only be allowed on behalf of those that deserve it, as a means by which they are honored by association to a pure, exalted person. For the martyr, to be among those exalted individuals to the extent that they will be themselves a means by which their loved ones will be rewarded, is in itself a great honor and reward. Again, the martyrs spoken of are not merely soldiers that die at the battlfield, but dead warriors who lived up until their final moments according to the spirit and ethics of Islam “I heard the Messenger of God say: The first man [whose case] will be decided on the Day of Judgment will be one who died a martyr. He shall be brought [before the Judgment Seat]. God will make him recount His blessings [that is, the blessings which He had bestowed upon him] and he will recount them [and admit having enjoyed them in his life]. [Then] God will say: ‘What did you do [to requite these blessings]? He will say: ‘I fought for You until I died as a martyr.’ God will say: ‘You have told a lie. You fought so that you might be called “a brave warrior.” And you were called so.’ [Then] orders will be passed against him and he will be dragged with his face down and cast into Hell. Then will be brought forward a man who acquired knowledge, imparted it [to others], and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought and God will make him recount His blessings and he will recount them [and admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime]. Then will God ask: ‘What did you do [to requite these blessings]?’ He will say: ‘I acquired knowledge, disseminated it, and recited the Qur’an, seeking Your pleasure.’ God will say: ‘You have told a lie. You acquired knowledge so that you might be called “a scholar;” you recited the Qur’an so that it might be said: “He is a Qari” and such has been said.’ Then orders will be passed against him and he shall be dragged with his face down and cast into the Fire. Then will be brought a man whom God had made abundantly rich and had granted every kind of wealth. He will be brought and God will make him recount His blessings. He will recount them and [admit having enjoyed them in his lifetime]. God will [then] ask: ‘What have you done [to requite these blessings]?’ He will say: ‘I spent money in every cause in which You wished that it should be spent.’ God will say: ‘You are lying. You did [so] that it might be said about [you]: “He is a generous fellow” and so it was said.’ Then will God pass orders and he will be dragged with his face down and thrown into Hell”. Ma malakat aymanukum, simplicticly rendered "concubines" by the opponents of Islam, are people from both genders, men or women, who were neither freed as a favor nor ransomed, but singled out from the rest of the captives and taken under a guardian's wing in his household because obviously not all captives were taken in. They also become sexually lawful outside wedlock to the guardian that has taken charge of them. It is to be noted here, although they can be treated as concubines, this however does not mean that they systematically were. The Prophet had in his household several such women living side by side with his wives, to aid and assist for the daily and nightly tasks of receiving at anytime people seeking all kinds of advises and help. The right hand posessions are people from both genders as already pointed 24:33"And (as for) those (Walladheen) who ask (Yabtaghoona) for a writing from among those whom your right hands possess give them the writing (Fa Kaatibuuhum)" Ma Malakat aymanikum must cover both males and females because if they were only females it should be "wallaati" or "wallaa'I" instead of Walladheen, "yabtaghuna" (without the waw) instead of Yabtaghoona, "Fa Kaatibuuhuna" instead of Fa Kaatibuuhum. This further proves that the expression, right hand posession does not automatically denote concubine relationship, and anyone claiming the opposite should be able to prove that it was accepted for male or female guardians to have sexual relations with their male right hand posession. Verses such as 24:33,58 speak of those MMA and how they should mingle with the rest of the household. 16:71 is a warning to those guardians who fail to live up to their moral and material responsibilities towards those categories under their care, stating that such failure ammounts to a denial of God's blessings and of His unceasing care for all His creatures. 4:23-24 expands on the categories of women that are illegal for intimate relations however it makes an exception for already married Ma Malakat aymanikum. In case a married woman embraces Islam and then decides to desert her non-Muslim husband (only for the sake of her new faith) seeking shelter in a Muslim area. If after examination she is believed to be sincere in her faith then she cannot be turned back to her previous home, not only for safety reasons but also because -in the case her husband is an idolator- her new faith has made unlawful intermarriages with idolaters 2:221. A Muslim man may take her under his wing in his household, thus making her his mulk yamin. They become legal for eachother and if they wish to marry, they may only do so after payment of the dower to her initial husband thus definately annuling the previous marriage ties 60:10. Notice here the justice in the Qur'an where it first encourages Muslims to pay what is due to the opposite party with whom one is at war, regardless of potentially these enemies not reciprocating with the Muslims in the same situation. 60:11 then discusses that eventuality and says that should it occur, then for the next cases, a disbelieving husband will only be compensated proportionally to what his predecessor unfairly compensated the Muslim camp. By first encouraging indiscriminate justice, and then justice by deterrence, the Qur'an skillfuly equalizes the balance of justice even in times of war. The other case of a married woman becoming lawful to a Muslim is that of a former married war prisonner. Once the threat of war was over, the defeated enemy and their belongings brought at the battlefield were confiscated, including their women which per their customs they used to unjustly drag with them as a means by which they were emboldened to fight. They now fell under Muslim custody, as a punishment and lesson to those who do not value their own, including a lesson to these very women. When they were integrated into the fabric of society, taken in a Muslim household and made to benefit from the strict regulations as regards right hand possessions, which includes being kind and caring with them as one would be with the remaining members of the family, these women learned that Islam gave them, even in such conditions, a value they could never have hoped for in their own communities. Their surviving husbands that in fact do not deserve to be married to them in the first place, are only hurt in their male "pride". They didnt love these women, who would treat a wife in such way? Even then, they learn that wives, and women in general, do have a value seeing how Muslims treat the wives of their enemies. When a Muslim guardian takes into his home such women, formerly married war prisonners now upgraded to right hand possessions, they become sexually lawful to him but this in no way means that if she refuses he is allowed to force her and rape her. There are no such recorded cases in history and if anything, whenever a case of mistreated and abused person was brought to the Prophet, he condemned such a behavior. The guardian may in that case either keep her in his household and stop insisting or send her away from his household by ransoming her against benefits of any kinds to her former camp, if anyone among her own people desires taking her back. The social contract between a guardian and his right hand possession is exclusive to them both, legalizing and regulating sexual activity as would be in a marriage contract and its accompanying responsibilities of maintenance and good treatment. That these mulk yamin cannot be forced into intimacy by the guardian is exemplified through the story of Prophet Yusuf/Joseph, bought as a slave and whom his mistress wanted to abuse sexually under the threat of emprisonnement. The Qur'an condemns such action, calls it an indecency/fahisha for the owner of a slave to have intercourse with him/her under compulsion 12:24 a grave fault and a manifest error 12:29-30. Yusuf desired to keep his chastity so he repeatedly refused, being God's sincere servant he was protected and guided away from transgression, even willingly preferring emprisonnement than succombing to the sin 12:24-35 (see Ps105:19). Just as the Qur'an condemned Yusuf's mistress from acting against her servant's desire to remain chaste, the Qur'an prohibits the guardian from acting contrary to his mulk yamin's desire for chastity, such as by forcing her into prostitution as was the custom in pre-Islamic times. If he nevertheless does so, despite the prohibition, then the abused woman is certainly not to blame due to her weak background 24:33. In 4:36 the Qur'an speaks of how they must be treated with kindness, without pride as one would treat the parents, neighbors or the weak in society. This means their guardians cannot abuse them in anyway just as one would not abuse the other groups mentionned in the verse "He who slaps his slave or beats him, there is no expiation for this but to free him". As the Prophet here clearly instructs, physical abuse is a transgression that must be expiated. The Qur'an thus opens many different options to those categories, besides encouraging their kind treatment. In 4:3 Allah is commanding the believers who has orphans under his care towards whom he fears not to fulfill all his responsibility to marry up to 4 women but if he thinks he cannot deal in fairness with multiple wives, to marry "only one or/aw Ma Malakat Aymanukum", meaning a legal wife for a man who fears not to deal justly between mutliple wives can be either a regular woman who is protected and supported/muhsana OR Ma Malakat Ayman already in his possession. Therefore marrying malakat ayman according to 4:3, and other passages like 4:25, is as acceptable as marrying a normal woman and further 24:32 strongly encourages men and women to marry from their male/female slaves as an act of virtue. The Hebrew Bible sanctionned letter for letter by Jesus, allows the extermination of entire population save their virgins, regardless of age. After all the Talmudic "sages" whose legalistic deductions are considered God-given, explicitly state that sex with a Jewish girl below 3 years old, be it one's own daughter, although not encouraged, is not real intercourse but could be compared to a simple eye poke, and has therefore no consequences for the perpetrator. Intercourse only is considered as such when it takes place with a girl above 3 and boy above 9. But again these fine "divine" details do not apply to the gentiles. These captured virgins, regardless of their age the Torah of Moses and JEsus tells us may be disposed of according to one's whims Numbers31:17-18etc. They can be kept alongside one's wife, but one also has the possibility to marry them, in addition to one's wife to whom she must be subdued, and regardless of the captive' previous marital status Deut21:10-17. This is in the context of optional wars. We're not even speaking of the genocidal wars binding on Jews of all times where specific nations must be annihilated, like the Amalekites and six other Canaanite nations and any of their descendants whenever they are identified Deut20:16,25:19. The optional warfare on the other hand where the Israelites are permitted to prey on the weak nation of their choice, subdue and abuse its people as they wish, fall into the category labelled up to this day by the rabbis as wars of "national glory". This isnt a war necessary for the survival of the Jewish people, or in response to provocation, not even under divine injunction. In such a case a random nation is given the choice between a "peaceful" surrender, that would result in the enslavement and taxation of its population, or in case of their rejection of the "peace offer", a military subjugation resulting in the execution of all adult males, the capture as spoils of war of their women, children, and livestock Deut20:10-14. Should it be necessary to completely subdue that nation 2Kings3:19"you shall fell every good tree, and you shall stop up all springs of water, and you shall clutter every good field with stones". In the land of Canaan, those natives that werent driven out or exterminated as per the Torah's injunctions during the invasion, were subdued into slavery Josh17:13. Their descendants suffered the same fate under Solomon's rule 1Kings9:20-1. After all and as stated in both the HB and the Talmudic writings (Eleazar ben Shammua) , the purpose of creation and the reason why the heavens and Earth are maintained is for the chosen race to observe Torah. That is what the Qur'an would have looked like, and how it would have instructed its people to behave towards the foreign nations and the weak that come under their possession, had it been penned by the ancients of its time to whom such attitude was regarded as expected and acceptable. The Qur'an changed the way such categories of people that already existed in the society it came to reform, had to be treated. It did so by igniting the believers' taqwa/God-consciousness, elevating the status of such weak categories whom there was now no shame of marrying 4:3,25,24:32,33:50 and honoring them as one would honnor the closest family members 4:36. Per the Qur'an, the punishment for adultery and fornication is 100 lashes for both men and women who are considered equally guilty 24:2-3. This is a clear cut statement impossible to reinterpret. This shows that contrary to popular belief, stoning to death is a Biblical command, not a Quranic one, just as honor killing is found again in the Bible Gen34:1,31 not the Qur'an. The punishment for adultery in the Qur'an is preceded by an admonishement to the reader "a sura We have revealed and made obligatory and in which we have revealed clear communications that you may be mindful". It is a solemn warning against any attempt at widening or re-defining its injuctions. This refutes the traditional interpretation that the adulters must be stoned to death solely for this specific transgression. According to certain accounts, Aisha was accused of adultery. Those involved in passing the rumours were not just hypocrities, but Muslims like Hassan bin Thabit, meaning it 'qualified' as acceptable in hadith methodology as far as isnad is concerned. The Qur'an stated, that instead of this news was passed from tongue to tongue, the Muslims should have declared it a fabrication from the very outset. The principle is just because something is mentioned in 'numbers', doesn't mean 'valid'. The content of the report is a huge factor in determining whether something is acceptable or not and the notion that because something is narrated by a group of people does not make it any stronger. In fact, sometimes scholars would say the numercitiy of the report indicates its falsehood. Per the Qur'an, physical punishement is followed by social alienation of those that are proven guilty of adultery, and that do not decisively repent and mend their ways. Their future marriages may only be between similar sexual offenders, like themselves. In the process of delivering the prescribed punishment, no leniency is permitted. As a general rule in all offences, when the crime or offence is proved prior to the guilty repenting and mending his/her way, decisiveness and firmness of rule must be observed, and false sentiments, which harm the system of society, must be put away. As stated in 4:25, the physical punishement for adultery is to be halved when it involves certain women, raised in particular difficult social conditions that may have affected their deed. If the punishment for adultery was death by stoning, then the very idea of halving the punishment of a woman would be absurd. Stoning to death cannot be halved. This verse also establishes that the social context of one caught should be taken into account, at least as far as the Qur'an is concerned. The only time the Qur'an allows death to a crime (without specifiying the execution method) as an extreme measure, among other severe measures, is murder 2:178 and spreading corruption in the land 5:33. And even in such cases, as well as others like theft where violent punishment is prescribed 5:38-40, physical punishement or death are only used against criminals who insist on transgression before the government is able to seize them. This speaks of criminals who actually have to be subdued by force so as to safeguard society. This is corroborated in the Arabic language where sariq (masc) and sariqa (fem) are adjectives and denote thoroughness and completeness in the characteristics of the word they qualify. So the only way to reconcile the various traditions speaking of adulters being stoned to death with the Qur'an is that those cases of zina (adultery/fornication) fell under fasad fil ard, and werent reported accurately. Such cases could be prostitution and rape. The whole point of punishments in Islam is to avoid spreading sins and protecting the society as a whole. For example after mentionning the law of retaliation in case of murder, the Qur'an says that such law is meant to "give life", ie to securize society because it is a powerful deterrant and another means of remaining God-conscious (taqwa) 2:178-9. Zina is viewed in Islam, especially when made public as in the case spoken of in sura 24 where it prescribes the 100 lashes on the guilty, this sin is seen as one of the worst sins to its vicious ramifications. The punishement for it is at the level of its seriousness and given the severity of the punishement, a false accusation or an accusation not supported by 4 truthfull eyewitnesses results in 80 lashes for the accuser. In addition the testimony of such a person will never be taken into account in the future 24:4,33:58. Exception is made for the one who sincerely repents, ie publicly withdraws his false accusation, and mends his ways 24:5. Repentence by the false witness however will not exempt him from physical punishement, which is the victim's legal right and which in addition discourages false testimonies as well as mere circumstantial evidence. The aim is to put a stop to false accusations, slander and gossip. As can be seen the Qur'an in matters of chastity goes to great extents to protect the integrity of the righteous members of the community and the spread of sexual misbehavior; first, in the case of real, proven cases, by providing a strong deterrent, ie the 100 lashes (or half in special cases). Second, in the case of calumnies, by providing a mechanism through which the potential accuser can hardly succeed in his/her scheme, risking bigger repercussions on the accuser than the accused. As a linguistic observation, it is worthwhile noting the Qur'an's eloquent choice of words as it speaks of slander with yarmuna, picturing one being pelted and injured, it omits the accusation altogether. The burden of proof demanded by the Qur'an in cases of adultery is set at a nearly impossible threshold and as is clarified in the sharia, based on the prophetic guidance, the burden upon Muslim judges in cases of zina is not to seek conviction, but getting the individual to withdraw their confession, since practically speaking, due to the high standard of the testimony required, only confession leads one to be convicted. The Judge then encourages the accused to repent and live righteously, meaning What Jesus did in the NT. Because four people would have to be eyewitnesses to the adultrous/fornication act, then how could four people possibly see the act unless they were either commiting their lewdness with the intention of being seen by others (pornography, orgies, etc.) or so headless that they were not concerned with whether or not someone sees them. Neither of these two things occur except in societies that have become extremely corrupt in regards to sexual morality. It is to be noted however, that the act of fornication, like all sins, remains unlawful even if hidden from the public 6:120"And abandon outward sin and the inward one; verily those who commit sin soon shall be recompensed with what they used to commit". There is a deep reason, often overlooked, for which public punishement is prescribed in cases of zina. Adultery, when it is comitted in such a way that 4 witnesses are able to testify to it, is an evil with far reaching damaging effects within the society. The guilty is made to face the most pious elements of the community during his punishement. The Qur'an describes these public witnesses as "a part of those who have believed". This symbolically shows the guilty that he or her act is one that threatens all uprightness, goodness in a comunity. It is interesting to not here the Qur'an's stress on the righteousness of the witnesses, those who are the least prone to such transgressions, which bellies the idea that the public nature of the punishement is meant as a deterrent to other potential sinners witnessing the culprit being punished. Rather, the idea of undergoing a severe physical punishment coupled with the humiliation of being exposed to the known pious members of the community is the deterrent. The eyewitnesses to the punishment also serve as a lever to control both the judge and the executer. No abusive punishement can this way be inflicted. The Qur'an reforms society in matters of preservation of sexual morality in the most intricate of ways, not only through issuing threats of sanctions and punishments. Sura nur, the sura of chastity, begins with stipulating the punishment of adulterers, then paves the ground for a sound marriage, speaks of modest clothing for both men and women, prohibiting lecherous staring, warns against slander, ending with children's taking permission at the time of entering parents’ room, so as to preserve them too from being exposed to inappropriate situations. Even immature children are taught not to enter the parents’ room without permission at least at three special times (before morning ritual prayer, after night prayer, and at noon time when parents are taking rest). In the context of sexual interraction, the Qur'an urges man to be considerate towards the wife, he cannot forsake his spirituality and obedience to God in the process 2:222"go in to them as Allah has commanded you". Anything going against the prescribed way in which sex is to be performed, is forbidden. This includes sodomy, whether it be practiced by heterosexual or homosexual couples. Every verse speaking of mating involves members of the opposite sex and in fact states that the very reason for creating the human species in opposite genders is that 7:189"he might incline to her". Inclining to "him" would therefore cancel the reason for God's model of creation. Homosexuality in the sense of a platonic romantic attraction to the same gender, isnt a sin in itself and nowhere is it condemned, until it involves sexuality 7:80-1. It is a temptation like any other unlawful desire that only becomes transgression when acted upon. Overcoming temptation, whether it be sexual misconduct or anything else, in order to live within the boundaries of the religion, is a great virtue and the struggle of every spiritualy awakened individual 84:25"surely you must strive (to attain) to your Lord, a hard striving until you meet Him" 7:201"Surely those who guard (against evil), when a visitation from the Shaitan afflicts them they become mindful, then lo! they gain insight and foresight". In a wider context from a Quranic perspective, whatever we have been granted innately (psychological traits), or otherwise, remain conduits for us to be trialled through. As stated in the Qur'an, how one responds to those trials is a matter for God to decide, depending on the level of difficulty and how pronounced each characteristic is manifested in each one. The greater one's occasions and inclinations to do wrong, the greater the chance for spiritual growth. On the issue of criticism of the religion, Islam is realistic and pragmatic. One can only engage in a discussion when the opposite side wants to conduct a constructive dialogue. There are several ways it gives to identify the sincere critic. When the critic's aim is to objectively assess the Islamic arguments, carefully listen and evaluate the Islamic position, instead of shutting his ears or pretending to listen while preparing his counter arguments, telling others to do the same, raising irrelevant objections just for the sake of discrediting, without any solid basis for argument, isolating a word or a sentence from its context, hairsplitting it so as to make it a basis of doubts and accusations, misconstruing words so as to prevent them being properly understood 4:46,40:4-5,56,41:40 then a meaningful discussion can be engaged 16:125"with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and have disputations with them in the best manner". The Prophet's own life and ability to take on criticism is testimony to this. As well, Muslims can freely mingle with kindness and justice with any non-Muslims who do not seek to fight Islam, do not opress Muslims unjustly 60:8-9. Bukhari for example reports an incident where the Prophet was disrespected in front of a large gathering. A companion felt so offended that he requested to kill the culprit. The Prophet refused, just as he rejected the Muslims' desire to mutilate a captured Quraysh leader following the battle of Badr, Suhayl b. Amr, by uprooting his front teeth “so that he could never preach against the Messenger”. Compare this as a side note, to David's unwarranted mutilation of the Phillistines, among a long list of crimes and sins for which he never was reprimanded since in God's eyes only his adulterous behavior was considered sinful 1Kings15:5. The Prophet similarily did not allow his followers to assassinate a man that had spoken in favor of uprooting the Muslim leadership shortly after the defeat of Uhud. On another occasion in Medina, Ibn Salool a known hypocrite constantly working to undermine the Prophet's authority, rudely cut the Prophet as he was preaching to an audience “Stay in your home. If someone would like to hear your message, they will come to you.” In another narration, “Now leave, the smell of your donkey bothers us.” The Muslims became irate upon hearing these insults, but the Prophet forbade them from retaliating. When he received Urwa b. Mas‘ud as he was still a pagan an representing the enemy side, during the negotiations for a peace treaty, he was physically and verbally abusive but despite the companions threatening him with their weapons, and the fact that some time ago Urwa's tribe, of whom he was the chief, assaulted the Prophet, he honored this ambassador’s stay and hosted him for as long as he stayed. There are many other such incidents, like his eloquent answer to a group of Jews' playing on words and saluting him, inside his home, with "As-Sâmu ‘alayk (Death be upon you)”. The Prophet was at that point in a position of authority in Medina, meaning that just as in our days where verbally assaulting authority figures makes one liable to prosecution, he would surely have been justified in exercizing his judicial authority. He instead answered “And upon you”. When Aisha felt compelled to add, “Death be upon you, along with the curse of Allah and His wrath!” The Prophet admonished her against being vulgar and instead answer this kind of talk gently. It is this same gentleness that made a leading Jewish figure convert. Zayd b. Su‘na was astonished at the Prophet's response to his public disrespect, under the false pretext that he had failed paying his debt as agreed. Not only did the Prophet hold back his companions from doing any harm to Zayd but added "O ‘Umar, we do not need this…Go with him, pay off his loan, and give him twenty additional sâ‘ (32 kg) of dates because you frightened him.” It was that response that convinced Zayd b. Su‘na to embrace Islam. That incident is similar to when a Bedouin to whom the Prophet owed a camel was repaid with a better one although he demanded it in an uncivil manner that vexed the Companions. They were again, as in the previous examples about to hurt him before the Prophet prevented them. That attitude extended to occasions when even his family members were slandered, such as when a Muslim believed and spread the false rumours of adultery on Aisha's part. Not only did the Prophet ultimately forgive this man who had slandered his wife, but he even admonished Abu Bakr, Aisha's father from boycotting this man, especially since he was related to Abu Bakr and used to receive charity from him. More astounding is the pardoning of Habbar ibn Al-Aswad who had once caused his daughter Zaynab to fall from her ride as he was pursuing her, inflicted her with injuries that eventually led to her death several years later. All such instances are in conformity with God's injunction to 41:34"repel evil with what is best" so that eventually one who is viewed as an enemy might become "as though he was a devoted friend". Besides his reported prayers even for Abu Jahl's sake at a time when he was among his staunchest opponent, his supplications for Abu Huraira's pagan mother who used to insult the Prophet even when the Prophet had full power in Medina, on one occasion, the Prophet silently smiled when Abu Bakr refrained from responding to a rude and insulting person. But when Abu Bakr eventually spoke up, the Prophet became angry and left, later telling him that “An angel was with you, responding on your behalf. But when you said back to him some of what he said, a devil arrived, and it is not for me to sit with devils". Even when he permitted the killing of Thumama b. Uthal, the chief of Banu Haneefa who had assassinated a number of the Prophet’s Companions, and had even plotted to kill the Prophet himself, yet when he was captured, not only was he given to drink from the Prophet's own she-camel but after repeated invitation to Islam and repeated rejection, was eventually set free. He returned to the Prophet's mosque and eventually converted, impressed like many others by the Prophet and Islam's high morality. He knew he deserved the death penalty, as seen from his own answer "If you do me a favour, you will do a favour to a grateful person. If you kill me, you will kill a person who has spilt blood. If you want wealth ask and you will get what you will demand" yet the Prophet neither was vengeful, nor wanted favors and much less money from him, despite his influential tribal position. Upon his arrival to Mecca and after an enthusiastic declaration of faith, in his zeal he implicitly answered a questioner that he had always been a Muslim "When he reached Mecca, somebody said to him: Have you changed your religion? He said: No! I have rather embraced Islam with the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)". The Prophet had to temper Thumama's overzealousness later on; when he returned to his tribe and the most influential among the people of Yamama converted after hearing his story. Thumama convinced them to halt all grain supply to the Quraysh. Such a sanction would have been highly effective in draining the Quraysh, but the noble Prophet interceded on behalf of those very ones that had starved him and his early companions in a ravine, persuading the people of Yamama to resume trading with Quraysh, preferring to take the harder but nobler route to victory than the faster one at any cost "The Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Was-Sallam) did not have to choose between two matters, but that he chose the easier of them as long as it was not a wrong action. If it was a wrong action, he was the furthest of people from it". There are other similar instances of the Prophet catching a person red handed trying to murder him, even while easily having power and right to exact revenge, but instead chose forgiveness. It was the case with Fadala b. ‘Umayr after the conquest of Mecca where he had full dominion over the people. I was also the case before, with the Bedouin man (al-Ghawrath b. al-Harith) that sneaked to him while he was asleep following a military expedition. The Prophet woke up while he was about to unsheeth his sword and kill him, but calmly reasonned with him at that point and let him go free. After unmasking the Jewess Zaynab b. al-Harith that had given him a poisonned lamb to eat, he refused to kill her and even forgave her. On his return by night from the expedition of Tabuk and as he was riding his camel on a route passing above a ravine, a group of camel riders came fast in his direction in an attempt to scare his own camel that he might fall into the ravine. The Prophet however sensed their intentions and preemptively gestured so as to scare the coming camels and signify to the men that he uncovered their plan. They consequently quickly retreated. Even though the Prophet's companions identified the perpetrators, the Prophet isntructed them not to denounce them because "it was possible that they might repent". His tolerance, patience and forbearance were indiscriminate and touched people from all social spheres “Do not be mere imitators, treating well only those who treat you well and doing wrong to those who do you wrong. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong if they do evil” Aisha said "The Messenger of Allah did not take revenge for anything against himself, but if the sacred law of Allah was violated then he would take retribution for the sake of Allah". This attitude of the Prophet, his forbearance was a pattern which remained throughout his 23 years of prophethood, whether at the best or worst moments the community went through. For instance following the defeat at Uhud due to some of the troops breaking up against the Prophet's orders, allured by the spoils left behind by the retreating pagan army. The victory was on the Muslim side up to that point, after which the opponents took the upper hand. Even in such situations, where the lack of discipline of some, brought death and defeat on the nascent community, the Prophet did not behave as would have been expected from a field commander and nation leader. He did not judge, condemn or punish the guilty and deserters. 3:159-161"And it was by Allah’s grace that you dealt gently with your adherents, for if you had been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from you. Pardon them, then, and pray that they be forgiven. And take counsel with them in all matters of public concern; then, when you have decided upon a course of action, place your trust in Allah, for, of certainty, Allah loves those who place their trust in Him. If Allah supports you, none can ever overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who could support you thenceforth? In Allah, then, let the committed Muslims place their trust. And it is not conceivable that a Prophet should deceive [in military affairs or in anything else], since he who deceives shall be faced with his deceit on the Day of Resur- rection, when every human being shall be repaid in full for whatever he has done, and none shall be wronged [by any injustice]". Despite the unsettling situation, he remained a tranquil and friendly administrator, fully invloved into improving the society he belonged to. He acknowledged the deficiencies of human nature especially in times of war. At that moment it the Prophet had to have a clear mind to understand the individual circumstances that led these first-time offenders to do what they did. He had to think with his heart, not to react in proportion to the adversity that resulted from their lethal mistakes 9:128"Indeed, there has come unto you an Apostle from within yourselves: heavily weighs upon him [the thought] that you might suffer [in the life to come], full of concern for you [is he, and] full of compassion and mercy toward the committed Muslims". That is why one only finds the kind of reports as those concerning Asma bint Marwan who wrote poems that targeted the Prophet personally, among the weak and discarded narrations. As a Prophet of God and ruler, he was nevertheless not one to adopt the type of passivity that would result in the merciless becoming brazen and taking advantage of any apparent weakness. From that perspective, we can begin to understand why he sanctioned the execution of some people, and tactically fought others, though he may have wished that this could have been avoided. The critics of Islam wont find the kind of cold blooded, arbitrary and ruthless assassinations they try hard to attribute to the Prophet and even if they succeed, which they wont, then it still takes nothing away from Muhammad's claim to prophethood, judging by the standards of the true Prophets of the Bible, including David who assassinated an innocent man for the sole purpose of marrying his wife and yet it did not diminish an iota from his legitimacy as a Prophet. The fact is that so many factors in the Prophet's life went against displaying any sort of positivity and mercy that one can only conclude that he had been preserved and guided by the Almighty from turning into an evil despot; never knew his father, hardly enjoyed the compassion of his mother, lost his grandfather, and then his uncle and dearest wife simultaneously, witnessed every single one of his children die save for one, who was treated like a menace and fugitive after decades of building a flawless reputation among his people, on top of that physically abused until he would faint, starved for years by his own people, and faced countless campaigns of character assassination, directed towards him and his household, driven out of his home, unto a foreign town only to find hypocrites there awaiting every opportunity to betray him, then watching assassination attempts against his life unfold regularly, as well as the murder and mutilation of his relatives and companions. Who could in such circumstances persevere and rise beyond negativity, displaying mercy, justice and empathy besides one divinely guided? This is why we find in this Qur'an, and as embodied by the Prophet, that it calls Muslims to treating others, whether close or far "neighbors", from one's own people or not, as they themselves would like to be treated. Pushing the comparison higher, it says that kindness in treatment should be as one would like it to be towards one's abandonned relatives 4:9,36,42:23,83:1-6. If one is able to raise the bar even higher, by treating others even better than what is expected towards one's self, then it opens the possibility to create a positive change even in one's ennemy 41:34,59:9. The Prophet said "Whoever would love to be delivered from the Hellfire and entered into Paradise, then let him die with faith in Allah and the Last Day and let him treat the people the way he would love to be treated". In another narration of the Prophet, those who are able to show such selflessness are described as neither belonging to the Prophets or martyrs, but the Prophets and martyrs will envy them due to their status on the Day of Resurrection "The best faith is to love for the sake of Allah, to hate for the sake of Allah, and to work your tongue in the remembrance of Allah. Mu’adh said, “What is it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said: That you love for the people what you love for yourself, and you hate for the people what you hate for yourself, and that you speak goodness or remain silent". Many times the Qur'an starts or ends a passage about belief in the One God, with a statement about just dealings between men, always showing how faith and righteousness are inevitably linked to social interractions. This selflessness thus negates any expections and favor in return while lending a helpful ear to any type of "asker" 74:6,93:10. This is because everyone in this world may be subject to physical, spiritual or intellectual need. This comprehensive attitude enjoined in the Qur'an, along with other such directives, takes the principle of the "golden rule" to new heights and should be labelled the "diamond rule". So, even though the Qur'an does not pronounce an abstract concept like to “love your neighbour”, it does however articulate its reality and applications in a much more comprehensive manner, constantly interlinking worship of God with application of social justice. The Prophet never punished out of mere retaliation for a personal slight or injury. All his punishments, of believers and unbelievers alike, were for crimes committed against the public weal or infringements of the promulgated law; and even here his life contains acts of clemency in which he put mercy above justice. In 4:140 it says "And indeed He has revealed to you in the Book that when you hear Allah's communications disbelieved in and mocked at do not sit with them until they enter into some other discourse; surely then you would be like them; surely Allah will gather together the hypocrites and the unbelievers all in hell". This is a Medinan verse in which the Prophet isnt told to forcefully silence the critics, even those mockers of the religion. He is simply to gracefully turn away from them and leave them to their own shamefull talk. A similar verse was revealed in Mecca 6:68. The Muslims entered Mecca but the keys to the Kaaba were with Uthman Bin Talha, a non-believer who locked the door of the holy sanctuary upon learning of the Muslims' entrance in Mecca. He hid, refusing to hand over the keys, until Ali found him and snatched the keys from him, openned the Kaaba and the Prophet entered, prayed in it, after which revelation came down 4:58"indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are belong to..". The Prophet understood that the Shaybah family had to be returned their possession; he thus ordered Ali to return the key to Uthman Bin Talha and excuse themselves. Ali then went to Uthman and gave back the key and presented their apologies for the wrong he had done to him by forcibly taking the key. Uthman b. Talha was shocked, he could not believe Ali was giving back the key to him as instructed by the Prophet Muhammad, the conqueror of Mecca, who could have done as he wished with anyone and anything within the city. Ever since, the guardianship of the Kaaba remained with Bani Shaybah, which is bestowed upon the elders of the family until today. The soldiers and men of Quraysh who once levelled armies seeking to exterminate the Muslims by all means, persecuted and starved the Prophet and his powerless followers in the early days of his Call, brutalised and killed Muslim prisonners, war criminals in every sense of the word, came to the Prophet submissively. They thought they would most certainly be slain, just as they would have executed the Muslims had their tirelessly repeated plans worked. They knew very well that within their own customs retaliation and hatred were the rule of the game within the fabrics of the society and its order. Hatred and hostilities were passed down from one generation to the next and unwillingness to perpetrate revenge was considered a defect. While attributing the promised victory to Allah alone, the Messenger, in the manner of the great men of God who show magnanimity once they are at the climax of their power and glory, contented himself with uttering what a previous Prophet, noble as him had uttered in similar circumstances. The Prophet Joseph before him told his brothers who came to him in submission, seeking forgiveness for their faults against him 12:92"There shall be no reproof against you this day; Allah may forgive you, and He is the most Merciful of the merciful". The Prophet continued "Let every wealth (wrongfully seized), every blood (wrongfully shed), and every revenge to be exacted belonging to the days of jahiliyyah be trampled under my foot, except the guardianship of the Kaaba and the bearing of water at the time of the pilgrimage; they shall be returned to their people (the Quraysh)". The noble Prophet finally recited the Qur'an verse which constitutes the epitome of divine justice 49:13"We have created you of a male and a female, and made you tribes and families that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with Allah is the one among you most careful (of his duty); surely Allah is Knowing, Aware". With these words, Muhammad was giving a general amnesty to all Quraysh and all the Meccans. To realize the degree of generosity from the Prophet, one must recall the life threatening hardships which these people imposed on him and now that they were completely subdued by him, instead of thinking of vengeance, or at the very least demanding apologies and reparations, which was certainly his due, he forgave them. This way he was displaying his function of "rasul", the embodiement of God's mercy to mankind. There is no basis for the caliphate with an ideology for territorial expansion in either the Qur'an or in prophetic traditions. These wars did not happen under the Prophet's authority. Neither the Prophet nor the Qur'an approve of unprovoked aggression. The life and wars of the Prophet testify to this. There is no compulsion in religion, and until the end of days, ironically the same day which, those who deceptively level these false accusations against the Prophet, think that all races and nations will be forcefully bowing to their God Zech14. The early caliphate was actually a war of liberation of the oppressed people of the Roman, Persian and Egyptian nations from centuries of tyranny. There is a reason why the early Islamic state expanded with such speed, the local people did not resist and instead embraced the Muslim liberators that brought positive change in all aspects of their lives, whether they decided to convert or keep their own belief system. The massive, but progressive conversions, as will be shown later, could by no means be due to the fear of being enslaved by the Arab Muslims during the early Islamic conquests. Otherwise, we should expect many people to have renounced Islam following the military and political decline of Muslim power in the world. The fulgurant expansion of the Muslim empire and Islam itself as a religion, a mere century following the Prophet's death, from modern-day Spain in the west to India in the east, the vast numbers of conquered people that eventually converted to Islam in the process has confounded observers for centuries, more particularily European Christendom. It projected onto this phenomenon its own experience of ruthless conquests, looting, destructions and forced conversion and so Islam became a religion “spread by the sword”. This medieval myth, picked up in the late 19th- early 20th centuries by Orientalist like William Muir, many actually being colonial officials and/or active Christian missionaries that benefited from the vilification of Islam to non-Muslim audiences, is a myth that finds echo in today's Islamophobia industry. Muslim behavior is presented as the latest episode of Islam being spread “by the sword". There have been of course certain instances in history of Muslims disregarding Islamic teachings and behaving cruelly toward non-Muslims, including cases of forced conversion, even though the state and church sanctioned evil throughout Christian history, ie the background of those very people levelling these claim, make these cases pale in comparison. But to look at a cherry-picked selection of incidents and leap to the broad-sweeping, reductionist conclusion that Islam was “spread by the sword” is intellectually dishonest. The fact is that such a phenomenal endeavor would have been impossible to achieve for the Muslim authorities. During the early Muslim conquests, Muslims were a small minority in newly-conquered areas, around 10% in Egypt or 20% in Iraq. That is why for at least two centuries the majority of the inhabitants of the Islamic empire were non-Muslims. The regions conquered up to a century after the Prophet didnt become majoritarily Muslims until 850-1050. For example although Iran was entirely under Muslim dominion in 705, its Muslim population hadnt reached 50% prior to the mid 9th century, then 75% a century later. One of the reasons for that miserable failure of Islam's "spreading by the sword" was that Muslim rulers actually preferred collecting Jizya which they could use at their discretion, than zakat which, although higher, had to be redistributed locally in the provinces and could only be used in certain ways. To corroborate, the Umayyad general al Hakami was removed from his post because of having prevented the local population of Khurasan from converting to Islam so that he could keep on collecting jizya. There were other such cases such as the Abasside general ibn Kawus who forbade Muslim proselytizing in his jurisdiction. As stated above there were certainly cases of forced conversions, but these were far more nuanced than the willfully misleading “spread-by-the-sword” narrative makes it seem. The first case mostly picked up by the misleaders is that of south Asia. The notion of millions of Indians forcefully converted is bellied on several levels. Firstly, Islam counted much more adherents in the Indian areas where the Islamic state had less power, than in the heartland of India where Muslim control and dominion was strongest (70-90% in Punjab and Bengal vs 10-15% in the Gangetic Plain). Those who level that charge of forced Indian conversions mostly base their accusations on ambiguous reports from historical sources the likes of “They submitted to Islam” for example. This could refer to Islam the religion, the Muslim state, or the “army of Islam” and a contextual reading usually supports one of the latter two interpretations. The devshirme system in the Ottoman empire, which consisted in systematically taking young Christian boys, raising them as Muslims then training them to serve in the empire’s bureaucracy or in the sultan’s personal military force, cannot be considered a valid argument for the spread by the sword theory. The system, although obviously condemnable and without any basis in the Qur'an nor the practices of the Prophet, actually many times benefited the religious minorities of the empire from whence these boys were taken, giving them access to high government positions. An example is that of Sokullu Mehmet Pasha, a Slav from Bosnia who rose through the bureaucracy to become the empire’s grand vizier, a position from which he was able to support Bosnia’s Christian community, though he himself remained Muslim. Another case of forced conversion in Islamic history is that of Yemen's Orphans’ Decree issued by Imam Yahya al-Mutawakkil in the early 20th century. Again, a fringe phenomenon, without any basis in Islam but rather a Zaydi law requiring the forcible conversion of orphaned Jewish children to Islam. However what transpires from history is that, al-Mutawakkil, who was more interested in asserting his authority by adopting his subjects' customs, applied the rule selectively. In many cases he helped Jewish children escape Yemen to avoid conversions. Seeing this, the guardians of many Jewish children actually fled to Imam Yahya’s jurisdiction rather than from it. In short this islamophobic boogeyman of "spread by the sword" theory has no legs to stand on and the reality of the matter is that theologically, Islam either explained away by the strength of its arguments, or absorbed the other religions and competing theologies about God, consolidating all into one coherent monotheistic worldview. This was the power of Islam which gave it great intellectual appeal: its ability to satisfy all the existential questions about God and creation, a message of profound substance that remained flexible enough that it would remain forever relevant, and never become obsolete. This hadith actually demonstrates how Muslim morality in war was such, that the Prophet instructed the soldiers about to depart for an expedition against a declared enemy, to only fight their opponents as a last resort and after all avenues of peace have been exhausted "Fight in the name of Allah and in the cause of Allah. Fight the disbelievers; attack and do not transgress the limits; do not betray; do not mutilate [your enemies' corpses]; and do not kill children. When you meet your enemies FROM AMONG the polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any of them, accept it and cease fighting; 1-Then, invite them to Islam; if they agree, accept it from them and cease your fighting. Then invite them to leave their homeland and move to Madina where they will be entitled to the same rights and obligations of the Muhajirun (the Muslim immigrants from accross the Peninsula fleeing their tribes at war with the Muslims). 2-If they refuse to do so (ie move to Medina), inform them that they will be treated like Muslim Bedouins (desert nomads) and they will be subject to the same rulings applied to believers. However, they will not be entitled to any war booty unless they engage in jihad with Muslims. 3-If they refuse, ask them to pay jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. But if they refuse to pay, seek Allah's help and fight them". As is clear this is speaking of a sub-group from among the polytheists, those with whom the Muslims are at war and must be fought back in self defense. This means, there is another group of polytheists who arent meant to be fought and the Qur'an speaks of them, even at an advanced stage of the prophetic mission when Mecca was conquered, in sura tawba 9:4,6,7. They are those who are truthful to their agreements with the Muslims and refrain from attacking them, hence the instruction "do not betray". The hostile group on the other hand must be fought but even then, there are war ethics to observe when engaging them, first of all related to the non combatants. That is a significant point, the report says that CHILDREN are exempted from the law of retalitation, not the usual elderly and women. This means the Prophet is here permitting the Muslims to seek their right, but not against non-combatants, hence the instruction to "attack and do not transgress the limits". The hostile group had no will to refrain from their attitude, had they had any will to do so, they would have shown it as the other pagans did. That is why the Prophet doesnt recommend the Muslim fighters to ask them for peace prior to retaliating. But even then, this doesnt mean all doors to a peaceful resolution were shut. It would have been counter productive to simply offer them peace, it would have been tantamount to capitualtion while the Muslims were in full right to exercize their right to self-defence. That is why the Prophet instructs to offer 3 other avenues to avert battle. The first was to convert and join the Medina community as full fledged members with their rights and obligation. The second was convert while remaining in their own comunity, like the desert nomads did. This basically meant the Prophet was tacitly telling them to remain in their ways as they wished, just verbally declare Islam so as to avert war. It is to be noted that this type of verbal Islam never deceived the Prophet, the Qur'an speaks of this type of people among the Bedouins 49:14 who hardly practiced the religion, much less participated in their obligations towards the remaining Muslims. This was a pragmatic device the Prophet adopted so as to create a peaceful alliance with a hostile people without hurting the dignity of the remaining Muslims who were entitiled to retaliation. By becoming Muslims, even in the most superficial of ways, then the remaining Muslims must as a duty give them the benefit of the doubt and stop all hostilities. This also gave the enemies additional time to reflect and possibly reform, seeing the high values of Islam first hand. In case of refusal of those 2 options, convert and join Medina, convert and remain among their own, they still are given the option of remaining autonomous in exchange of the jizya. In case of refusal of all the above, then the Muslims have no more choice left but to engage in battle. They would have exhausted all possible avenues for peace with a people bent on attacking them. All this shows, contrary to what the misleading critics try hard to portray, is that the Prophet was interested in one thing only; to prevent hostilities against his community. Had he desired jizya, he wouldnt have proposed the previous 2 options, had he desired Islam, he wouldnt have proposed jizya in exchange for peace, much less the shallow declaration of Islam. Had he desired manpower for his army, he wouldnt have proposed jizya and much less the Muslim Bedouin status. That is actually the reason why Islam has been so successful in spreading far and wide the way it did. Let us take a look at the issue of the Shariah. Contrary to Islamophobic rant and media, there is no such thing as "Islamic law" insofar as there exists list of rules that are fixed and immutable. The Qur'an is not Deuteronomy or Leviticus and their fixed, eternal immutable laws that will be reinstaured at the end of times. As a side note this negates the Christian notion of 10 "commandements" open to interpretation. Jesus doesnt even quote from those "commandements" when asked which is the most important. The reason for that is that these 10 things arent even laws but classifications which the 613 immutable laws fall under. The Qur'an therefore explicitly addresses only a handful of principle issues, leaving the rest to the Prophetic Sunna. These are the transmitted Oral records of the teachings, deeds and sayings, silent permissions or disapprovals of the Prophet, as well as various reports of his companions and household. That prophetic sunna itself is largely concerned with matters of worship and the basic foundation of social, human justice. That is why the biggest part of the Sacred Law is the result of a jurist' own independant mental deductions, which is called in Islamic law, ijtihad. If one looks at the compilations of the Traditions, the chapters concerning ritual worship are far longer than those on social transactions. The reason is that acts of ritual worship are independant of changes throughout time. In contrast, social transactions require explanation according to the changes in circumstances and eras. Binding people with fixed and uniform rules would be harsh and inconvenient. There is thus very little room for analogical reasoning in matters of ritual worship, while in social transactions it operates on a very wide scale. In the Qur'an too, the commands regarding transactions are mostly framed in general and universal terms. Malik ibn Anas, the author of the Muwatta', rejected a suggestion by the Abbasid caliph Abu Jaafar al-Mansur to enforce his juristic doctrines as the law of the land. The caliph said “I have decided to copy your book, send one copy of it to each of the regions of the caliphate, and order [the people] to abide by it and not leave it to anything else”. Malik replied “O leader of the faithful, do not do so, for people have already learnt certain views and known certain traditions, and the inhabitants of each region have adhered to one or the other of the different opinions of the Companions of God’s Apostle and others according to which their religious practice has been shaped. Preventing them from that will be hard, so leave people to their practice and to what they have chosen for themselves". The result is that very few laws are set in stone, leading to much diversity in legal Muslim opinion. This is the wisdom of the final revelation, leaving many matters open to interpretation to allow flexibility in matters that may be contingent on circumstances and human experiences as Islam crosses various civilizations, generations, and eras. One of the seven renowned jurists of Madinah, Imam al-Qasim b. Muhammad. Abi Bakr (d.107H) stated, “The differences amongst the companions of the Prophet Muhammad are a mercy for the servants of God”. A person once informed the great jurist Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.241H) that a book had been written called “The Book of Differences”, and he responded that it should instead have been called “The Book of Flexibility”. The Prophet himself encouraged this kind of analogical reasoning in social matters. When he was about to send Muadh ibn Jabal to Yemen, he asked “How will you judge when the occasion of deciding a case arises?” He replied: “I shall judge in accordance with God’s Book.” He asked: “[What will you do] if you do not find any guidance in God’s Book?” He replied: “[I shall act] in accordance with the Sunnah of God’s Apostle”. He asked: “[What will you do] if you do not find any guidance in the Sunnah of the Apostle of God and in God’s Book?” He replied: “I shall do my best to form an opinion and I shall spare no effort.” The Apostle of God then patted him on the chest and said: “Praise be to God, Who has helped the messenger of the Apostle of God to find something which pleases the Apostle of God”. This principle allows jurists to define according to their own time, space and circulstances what constitues offenses like fasad fil ard. Whatever the conclusion be, it must be in accordance with the principles of morality and wisdom laid down in the Book. In 5:33-4 for instance, the type of crime spoken of isnt a one time offence with limited impact on the society but a steady and repeated evil, without any sign of abating, with far reaching consequences and that destabilize the society as a whole. The passage's historical background is that of a group of people who came to Medina, they ate, rested and later in the day robbed and butchered an innocent shepherd to pieces. These criminals then cut the limbs, decapitated the shepherd(s), gouged their eyes out. After they fled, they also went on to rape women. In the Qur'an, the central notion in matter of religious responsibilities is that a person's own taqwa, his God-consciousness, should be the primary driving force leading him to instinctively choose the right course of action. This idea is rooted in the pervasive Quranic notion that mankind is ingrained with a spiritual fabric. That fabric, combined with the spiritual senses of perception 23:78,46:26,67:23,76:2 create an understanding of what is good and bad for the soul and helps hearkening the calls of the self-reproaching soul in place of the evil-inciting conscience whenever a moral crisis arises. It is with that implicit notion that the Qur'an in many places refers to the commendable deeds with the general term maaruf or accepted, and to the evil deeds as munkar/rejected. Furthermore, besides the basic responsibilities of national defense, looking after the indigent and ensuring security, the sharia has very little to say about matters of administration. Its silence on the obligatory taxable amount of its Muslim citizen, which is the most basic means by which an administration can function, reflects this notion. It is left to those in governance to work out the details of Zakat depending on the needs of their society and state. This silence also allows for the passage of time where changing conditions and circumstances may require changes in the amount of Zakat levied. The Qur'an therefore and neither the Prophet elucidate a concept of an Islamic state, but of a just society, and the leader must be the embodiement and guardian of such equity and spiritual uprightness. The verse 2:177 reiterating the issue of direction in prayer comes between verses discussing the laws of religion, it is a warning given to the Muslims that they should not fall into the error into which the previous people fell, who sacrificed the spirit of religion for the outward ceremonial. Internal purity goes in parallel with the external which is why the Qur'an refers to the Sharia/Law as the Book and the Wisdom 2:151 refering to the body and soul of the sharia respectively, to its commandments and their philosophy. The previous nations, namely the Jews, had neglected this aspect as Jesus amply demonstrates in the NT. The essence of religion, we are here told 2:177, is faith in God and benevolence towards men which Allah compares to an uphill climb 90:11-20 or as Jesus eloquently describes in the NT Matt7:13-14"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it". This important Quranic notion reflects even within its style, abruptly turning from topics of theology and spirituality, to matters of law. For example in sura nisaa, after a long passage dealing with questions on theology, the sura ends with a question on the law of inheritance, thus showing how interwoven moral exhortations and practical legislations are. That is why there are no clear and unambiguous statements from the Prophet as regards his succession, he left to the people to choose based on merit. In case of failure, it is considered the duty of every member of that society to uproot the corrupt leader(s). The Shia on one side see the Prophet's household as most justified in being the leaders of the ummah because of their proximity to the Prophet and his teachings. They in fact argue that his household is divinely protected in terms of righteousness to allow them to embody the virtues of an Islamic society. The Sunnis on the other side believe that the Prophet's companions are more warranted in being the leaders, again based on their proximity to the Prophet and superior understanding of his teachings. Both groups therefore, even though they differ as to where the leader must come from, agree that this leader must posess outstanding moral virtues. The mutashabihat literally means "look alike". They have a range of understandings that are similar but not entirely the same. They are verses open to several understandings because of the subject treated. All of these similar understandings are correct so long as they agree with the rules of the language and most of all, the muhkamat verses. The muhkamat, contrary to the mutashaabihat only allow one interpretation. They are firm and decisive verses. It is nothing strange for a communication relating knowledge of higher realities outside the reach of current human perception, to address the people in such manner. Previous scriptures are repleat with such verses, and all previous Prophets were inspired with that mode of expression that gives way to several interpretations Hos12:10"And I spoke to the Prophets, and I increased their visions; and to the Prophets I assumed likenesses". It was part of Allah's plan to include such verses in order to reveal those "in whose hearts there is perversity..seeking to mislead and seeking to give it (their own) interpretation". It is a device out of many God has put in place in this world, so as to expose the perversity of the heart. A blatant example of people failing the test is that of trinitarian Christians, typically looking to proof text their doctrines within verses open to a wide variety of interpretations, in disregard of the muhkamat/decisive verses of their own books. To pass this test, humanity has been explained that "none knows its reality/ta'wil except Allah". Ta'wil doesnt refer to the meaning, but the reality, the ultimate conclusion of the verses. God is saying only He knows their true reality, obviously since they are referring to things beyond the realm of human perception and experience. For instance anyone can understand the meaning of the mutashabihat speaking of the angels, heaven or hell but none knows their true manifestation other than God, since these things are still beyond any experience or human imagination. It is interesting to note that 3:7 belongs to sura Aele-Imran which relates the story of Mary and Jesus, as well as of Zachariah, all of whom belonged to the House of Imran. As already noted the deification of Jesus by his later followers is one of the most outstanding instances of how people might interpret a prophetic message in a manner that disagrees with the true nature and purpose of the divine message. Beating is not promoted nor did the Qur'an invent domestic violence. The Qur'an canalizes such behavior by preventing an immediate jump to beating, by giving a very stringent procedure to prevent reaching to that point. Men, if they beat their wives, they do so out of anger, and afterwards try and justify it by saying religion allows it. What the Qur'an is doing is preventing this impulse, and it does so in a context where it reforms women status and appeals to men's taqwa, their God consciousness, with verses setting the natural order of Men-Women relationships. Verses such as 30:21 and others "And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect". Men and women naturally deal in terms of love and compassion, meaning domestic violence is against the natural order of things. In 4:34 the Qur'an uses the word qawwam, from Q-W-M and it means standing upright. It covers the meaning that the entity stands upright and that it helps others stand upright. Man is referred to as being qawwam over the woman by means of the bounties which he has been bestowed with, the bounties which he must use responsibly in the maintenance of his household. In other words, man cannot stand upright over the woman if he does not care and maintain his base, his wife. Qawwam in addition is in a grammatical form of siratul mubalagha, denoting a pattern of behavior. In this case, the verse's opening is stating the husband is one behaving with a pattern of care towards his wife. The word carries also the notion of qima/value, making the qawwam the one who gives value ie to his wife, which negates emotional abuse, a domestic issue often addressed in the Qur'an. As is obvious, domestic violence has nothing to do with the notion of qawwam, meaning the verse itself stipulates that proper treatment of a woman is exactly the opposite of hurting a women. This is why the Qur'an then goes on to provide an exhaustive means to prevent hitting in the first place, and even when one reaches the point where striking becomes a valid option, it must be done in a way that encourages a change of course and can never contradict the fundamental notion of man being qawwam over the woman. This will be shown a little later. This passage, like many others where the divine law is expounded, the Qur'an wraps the passage with a message that connects the divine law with spiritual awareness. This is done so that man never loses sight of the spirit of the law. In this case, the passage ends with a mention of certain attributes of God; He is the High and Mighty. There is a greater Being, with more authority than man and he should therefore not abuse of his position. The attribute of Might is also well suited to the context; men may be stronger than woman, but there is One stronger than man. And if men abuse their power, then let them know that they will have to face the Almighty. This style is used in other instances, such as when a man is told of his superiority over a wife in certain aspects of divorce procedures but reminded that this superiority is based on absolute wisdom and should that superiority be misused outside the bounds of wisdom, then there is One mightier than all 2:228"and the men are a degree above them, and Allah is Mighty, Wise". Prior to the "beating" portion, first, the verse urges admonishement. This reveals the Qur'an engages the situation rationally, appealing to the intellect of the woman which was considered lower than a man's. "those on whose part you fear nushuz" KHAWF means fear of credible danger, as is consistent with all its occurrences in the Qur'an. So, it is not fear as in suspicion/Dhann. Dhann is to hold an opinion upon uncertain evidence. KHAWF is a fear about probable significant danger but it still does not refer to something obvious/blatant, and there is an element of relativity/subjectivity to it which is why the Qur'an tells to ITHOOHUNNA/advise them. Even though the reasons for fear are credible, they can still be incorrect. This advising will not be in a harsh manner, as can be seen by its occurrences in the Qur'an, for example 31:13-19. When you give advice, you give the advice and listen to what they have to say. Therefore if the reason for the fear is diffused, then the problem is diffused. Another thing worth mentioning is that the word khawf denotes a significant threat in terms of marriage ties, it cannot be speaking of normal disagreements and disputes. This is corroborated by the life of the one that embodied the Qur'an, the Prophet had many reported disputes with his wives but always kept his composure and patience, remaining of gentle character, neither did he qualify their behavior as nushuz. Nushuz from the root N-SH-Z means elevated. It is used, among other things, for when a person elevates themselves above others, as in rebellion or arrogance or disdaining others. This isnt about typical disagreements that arise normally during a marriage. One isnt disdainfully arrogant and disrespectful during such disputes. That is why the verse then says that if the wife desists from her nushuz "do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great". Further, this kind of attitude is one that threatens the preservation of the private, ie the intimate conjugal matters which the verse states should never be compromised, hence the parallel made between the preservation of these issues with the manner in which Allah preserves the unseen, a realm and knowledge which is shared only partially and with a select few "the righteous women (are) dedicated, preservers of the private, by what Allah preserved". If that first step, of engaging the situation rationally doesnt work, the Qur'an tells the husband to resort to step 2, distance himself physicaly. This can be done by not sharing the bed for example which is an appeal to the emotion of the woman. Most men, the vast majority, will not even think of beating their wife even after these 2 steps, rational, then emotional, aiming at stoping her nushuz have failed. 99% of couples will simply divorce at that point. However, the verse has specifically mentionned the option of beating in order to address 3 extreme situations. First, as said in introduction, the issue of men who become violent due to impulsive anger. The verse offers them the option of beating, but after a gradual procedures precisely aimed at smoothly blocking their impulse and ultimately prevent beating. This is much more efficient than telling them from the get go that they cannot hit at all. One cannot expect a person behaving irrationaly and emotionally to want to listen to a forceful instruction. It is well known that the best manner to deal with impulsive behavior is through mindful and calming steps. In a situation where a husband fears nushuz from his wife in matters of transgression of the bounds of "guarding the unseen" which is a grave situation for any man of any culture, equal to backstabbing, an impulsive husband will immidiately want to beat his wife, but the verse prevents that impulse, telling him to engage the situation rationaly by first reasoning with his wife then refrain from physical contact "admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places". These 2 successive steps are crucial and effective at curbing a violent man's impulses and give him, as well as his wife, the time to cool-down and think. At that point, the wife who stubbornly wants to keep going with her highly injurous attitude towards her husband knows that she just waisted 2 chances at solving the situation peacefully and rationaly and that now, if she wants to stay in the same household she has no choice but to mend her ways or face corrective physical punishement. So even before resorting to beating, the wife with whom the appeal to her intellect and emotion through steps 1 and 2 did not work, who wants to stay in the same household and knows that her attitude was highly injurious will refrain by herself, thus settling the dispute. This is the second objective to allow beating, it serves as a deterrent to that type of woman. But if at that point, the woman genuinely did nothing wrong, decides not to change anything from her attitude while staying in the same household then she still knows that her husband, who believes to have been morally injured can resort to beating her. So what will she do at that point and what option does the Sharia give her? Will she let her husband beat her while she thinks she has done nothing wrong? The Qur'an says 4:35"And if you fear a breech between the two, then appoint a judge from his people and a judge from her people; if they BOTH desire agreement, Allah will effect harmony between them; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware". The words are clear and give her the right to appeal to a judge who will in turn designate an arbitrer from her side and her husband's, to settle the dispute and prove her right, or if she is proven wrong then she either mends her way and returns to the same household or simply divorce "if they BOTH desire agreement". The verse however clearly prefers reconciliation, as pointed in the words "Allah will effect harmony between them; surely Allah is Knowing, Aware". This is reiterated in 4:128 which states that in case a wife fears nushuz from her husband, the same word used previously for a rebellious, disdaining wife, then "there is no blame on them, if they effect a reconciliation between them, and reconciliation is better". 4:128 also stresses that attempts at reconciliation should be undertaken as soon as signs of nushuz appear, not when the wife is already abused "And if a woman FEARS nushuz". Another thing worth noting is that nushuz, the attitude of disrespectful disdain and arrogance, when used in the context of marriage, applies to both men and women. A woman isnt required to go through successive corrective steps to reform her husband, even if she only fears that her husband might become disrespectful, disdainful and arrogant. As soon as she sees the signs, she may appeal to a judge and only if she accepts reconciling, then the relationship may resume. Here is the verse again "if they BOTH desire agreement". We have seen until now how the Qur'an, contrary to any other religious scripture, deals with the issue of domestic violence in such a way that impulsive men cannot reach the point where they will use force. Secondly, it is a deterrant to an emotionally abusive woman willing to live in a household and be maintainted by a man while being inclined to backstab him. The 3rd purpose for allowing a husband to beat his wife is to address the issue of passionate, toxic relationships. In these types of unions, common to any time and culture, both may seperate at any time, but instead, the abusive wife chooses to remain despite knowing the husband is about to resort to physical punitive measures and the husband chooses to remain despite having tried reforming an emotionaly abusive wife. None can be forced to divorce and only one option remains to reform the abusive party, physical punishement. This, again is an extreme case of apssionate love where an abused husband wants to make his wife come back to her senses after having tried all peaceful avenues. Neither he wants to let go of her nor she wants to leave him despite both having the right to do so. The word used is IDRIBOOHUNNA, derived from the root Dhad-R-B and it means hitting of the limbs to serve a function. That function in this case is not only striking, but striking to encourage change of attitude and that cannot happen by a severe beating. This verse was revealed in ancient Arabia, in a time when the world as a whole viewed beating one’s wife as a right in the male dominated patriarchal society. If it reflected the mentality of its contemporaries then it wouldnt have addressed the issue from such an intricately psychological perspective. The Prophet himself never beat his wives, abusive or not. He approved of a woman's divorce request following physical and verbal domestic abuse from her husband. It was only expected by him given that he would not tolerate even the beating of women maid-servants "one of us slapped her and Allah's messenger ordered us to set her free". In fact it is said that this wife beating verse 4:34 was revealed in relation to the case of a woman that came complaining to the Prophet that her husband had hit her. The Prophet disliked that behavior, he was known for his good treatment of his wives. He was about to punish the perpetrator based on the law of retaliation then the verse came to educate husbands and wives on the matter. The Prophet said "I wanted one thing and God wanted another". This is because, as shown earlier, there is wisdom in allowing corrective physical punishement in the intricate way that the Qur'an does. 4:19"..Nor should ye treat them with harshness..on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity.." 30:21"And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect" As unambiguously stated by Aisha "The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not strike a servant or a woman, and he never struck anything with his hand". This statement made long after the Prophet's death, by itself is enough to negate any attempt at misrepresenting any related incident from the Prophet's life and cast it in a bad light. But this isnt enough to the hatemongerers. The intellectual dishonesty is such that they quote and misrepresent an incident involving the same Aisha who said the Prophet never hit a woman, in their bid to disparage him. The part of the hadith in question which is misunderstood is "He struck me on the chest which caused me pain". The Arabic lahaza does not denote striking, rather a nudge, and neither does the complete hadith justify the malicious misinterpretation of the critics. Being of gentle, forbearing character with his wives, as attested by too many ahadith to list, and even echoed in the Qur'an, the Prophet in that hadith is depicted as silently leaving Aisha's quarter at night so as to not wake her up and going to a cemetery to pray for the dead, then hastily returning to the conjugal bed where he encountered Aisha suspicious of him. That is when he engaged Aisha physically by pushing her chest, not with the intention of beating or causing pain but to grab her attention as he is reported to have done in other cases ("The Prophet struck my chest with his hand and he said.."sahih Muslim 1825 or Bukhari V4,B52,N310 "I informed the Prophet that I could not sit firm on horses, so he stroke me on the chest with his hand and I noticed his finger marks on my chest. He invoked, 'O Allah! Make him firm and a guiding and rightly-guided man.." Etc.). This physical manner in engaging a person to grab his/her attention was often done before teaching the important lesson that follows. In another narration the Prophet said "The most complete of the believers in faith are those with the best character, and the best of you are the best in behavior to their women". It is important to keep in mind the verse's aim which is not to give a command to strike, hence the Qur'an's explicit silence on the modus operandi, but to address the issue of violent men who would be inclined to strike their wives whether with their hand, a stick or chain. And this, although the verse was revealed in ancient Arabia, in a time when the world as a whole viewed beating one’s wife as a right in the male dominated patriarchal society. Islamic judges of the classical era, based on the Prophet's example and many reported sayings on husband-wife etiquette, used to frequently dissolve marriages based on domestic abuse, with the wife keeping her belongings and dowry and the husband responsible for spousal maintenance, requesting compensation and protection for the women, discouraging and admonishing husbands from comitting any type of violence against their wives. The 2nd caliph, Umar once meted out a punishment, a beating on a man as a result of him causing trouble and being harsh to his wife. 4:19"..Nor should ye treat them with harshness..on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity.." 30:21"And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect" Of course and this is a rule which those not desiring to know the truth, but are more interested in expressing their adverse opinions, will hardly consider. Such persons are many times confused when approaching the Quranic style. For instance the harmonious, consistent repetitions of various topics in the Qur'an are primarly meant to stress some important pillars of belief 25:50"And certainly We have repeated this to them that they may be mindful, but the greater number of men do not consent to aught except denying". The first objective of that literary feature is thus enhancing man's remembrance of Allah 39:23. It also is a way of explaining itself 17:41"We have explained (things) in various (ways) in this Qur'an". According to the Qur'an therefore, its master exegetist is none but the Book itself, explaining itself 75:19,16:89. The Prophet is its second exegetist and interpreter 3:164,16:44,62:2. The Qur'an being primarily self-explanatory establishes from the onset 2 conditions for its proper understanding; the importance of considering the context of a verse and the fact that the Book is one integral whole; every verse and sentence has an intimate bearing on other verses and sentences, all of them clarifying and amplifying one another. Consequently, its real meaning can be grasped only if we correlate every one of its statements with what has been stated elsewhere in a different context. A full picture of its ideas can be apreciated by means of cross-references. These criteria were considered by the earliest Qur'an scholars, down to the contemporary ones. This means the Qur'an and its meaning isnt locked to the common man's comprehension, provided it is effectively pondered upon. Al-Tabari for example states that the Qur'an has 3 kinds of material: that which is only known to God, but irrelevant to hermeneutics, that which only the Prophet could explain, but extremely marginal, and that which any knowledgeable person of Arabic language can explain, practically all of the Qur'an. Al-Tabari included a chapter even refuting the position of those who claimed that only the Prophet can interpret the Qur'an. As a side note, the tafsir section in Bukhari includes many interpretations without isnad, and that are not even those of Muhammad, his Companions, or his Followers. Some Quranic passages are repeated word for word, in the case of prayers or general pillars of faith but in story telling, the repetitions are rarely if ever the same. This is because in the Qur'an when it comes to reminding of past narratives and anectodes, the objective isnt dry storytelling and genealogies as in most of the Bible where one can easily and quickly lose track of names, places and other details. These little details, if omitted wouldn't make humanity miss out on anything in terms of guidance, and in fact confuse the reader and distract his attention to trivial matters. The Qur'an is not a historical record or dry, impartial document: it is argumentative and impactful to get people to believe and actively reform themselves and their environement. Its powerful statements are in an intellectual, spiritual and emotional language that every culture accross time and space can appreciate. The Qur'an's objective isnt story telling, but "message telling" and maximizing its audience's attention to the precept(s) of the story. Muslims will not be asked on the Day of Judgment the details of the people of the cave or how Noah's flood occured, how many generations passed between a person and another, the names in a genealogy or whether they memorized the names of people in the Qur'an. They will be questioned as to how they responded to the lessons from the different incidents and stories related in the Qur'an. Thus to focus on the message, the Qur'an injects the passage of a well-known story, whenever the larger context a sura requires it. And when it does so, it only puts the details of that story that are relevant to that specific context. That is why one sees variations in repetitions, but never contradictions. The only exception to that style of narrative is the story of the Prophet Joseph/Yusuf which takes the form of a beginning to end narrative in one place, and a highly eloquent, intricate one at that. Those unable to apreciate that Quranic style speak of contradictory, or incomplete repetitions. This is because they are unable to connect the different repetitions properly among one another and fail to grasp the manner in which each repetition fits in the context of a particular sura. This a side note isnt circular reasoning as it doesnt presume the notion of textual coherence. It is textual coherence that objectively establishes itself, through consistent repetitions, recurrence of similar themes and notions in different contexts. A topic which appears at a place reappears in another background and context where the initially hidden meaning becomes quite apparent because the meaning is suited to be developped in that particular context. Teachings, precepts, stories or anecdotes are mentioned in various styles and with different aspects in different contexts and in numerous backgrounds so that if at one place a reader is not fully able to understand something, he can grasp it fully at another place, and if at one place an argument is not fully appreciated, he can comprehend it in the background of a different context. If an element within a story is only meaningful in a specific context, and that in the course of revelation, that specific context does not reappear in a manner so as to necessitate the repetition of that element from within the story, then the element or detail is omitted. Sometimes an incident is repeated tersely or partly in order to remind the audience and reader of the overall message that is relevant to a particular context, without recalling it of every precise details. Sometimes an incident is repeated tersely or partly in order to remind the audience and/or reader of the overall message that is relevant to a particular context, without recalling it of every precise details. Sometimes a story is repeated by omitting some previously mentionned details in order to reveal some new elements, this way keeping the story brief and to the point, without communicating too much information at once. When it relates the same event at different places it sometimes quotes different dialogues between different protagonists hence the variation in wordings. As also said, this variation is also due to the importance of giving different angles to the same dialogue or incident that is relevant to the context within the sura. Sometimes the characters might also repeat themselves slightly differently from amazement or in the case of messengers quoted with variations it is because during their career they repeated themselves obviously differently at different times. The Qur'an, using these literary devices and many others, explains itself 7:58"As such we manage the signs to people who are grateful" 54:22"And certainly We have made the Qur'an easy for remembrance, but is there anyone who will mind?". Another purpose of this style being to strengthen the Prophet in the face of various forms of denial and obstinacy from his opponents at different times. The form of the story would echo a situation similar to that which the Prophet was facing. Some truths are repeated to emphasize their importance and fix them in the minds of the believers. Things such as the oneness of God, repeated more than 10 times in certain pages, or the unavoidable day of resurrection etc. These are things that even if repeated a million times, it still would not be a waste of time or words. The Qur'an constantly draws attention to those matters both explicitly or allusively because they are realities like the air we breath, which we always need and that require renewal, this way their reiterations becomes a Quranic grace. What is remarkable from a linguistic perspective is that the Qur'an was uttered publicly, live and as a speech, which prevents any type of editing and yet it forms one incredibly well knit whole, from verse to verse, paragraph to pararaph, sura to sura. If we take the example of sura baqara, the longest of all and revealed over the course of 10 years while other suras were being simultaneously revealed, it is structured in an interconnected manner allowing it to be thematically structured in many different ways. This is a vast field of Quranic studies, with many sub-branches, studied by both Muslims and non-Muslim scholars; the interconnection between suras, passages, verses, words and even letters and how the whole thing remarkably fits together. The idea of the Qur'an being a dull, boring or incomprehensible repetitive book is a discredited proposition, only still circulating among uneducated critics of Islam, and missionaries. Here is just one of the thematical structuring of sura Baqara, in a symetrical construction called ring structure; - 1st subject from v1-20 faith vs unbelief/Last subject v285-6 dua about belief-hypocrisy-disbelief. - 2nd subject from v21-39 God's creation and knowledge/2nd subject from down God's creation and knowledge v254-284 - 3rd topic v40-103 the Israelites receive the law/3rd subject from down from down about the laws given to Muslims v178-253 - 4th subject Ibrahim faces tests v104-141/4th one from down Ibrahim's nation, the Ishmaelites are tested v153-177 - middle section culminates with the new direction of prayer, the Kaaba symbolizing that new nation and its new law And all this symetrical ring structure leads to the statement of the Muslims having been made the ummatan wasata/balanced nation, a statement located in the center of a sura composed of 286 verses, at exactly verse 143. Every single Quranic sura on its own forms, like baqara, a cohesive argument. Also, because many of its passages can be read through the lens of another passage from within the sura, other analysts have approached its structuring in a periscope. For example, the story of Adam in sura Baqara periscopes throughout the sura. The Israelites were told to enter a town and enjoy its sustenance v58 similarily to the instructions previously given to Adam and his spouse upon entering the garden v35. But just as Adam and his spouse werent content with what they were given, the Israelites began grumbling for the sustenance they had in captivity v61. And just as Adam and his spouse found their Lord forgiving once they repented, some of the Israelites were eventually forgiven for their worshipping the calf and desisting prior to Moses' return v54. The ratio of 1 man equivalent to 2 women's testimonies mentionned in 2:282 is a general advice "so that IF one of them errs, the other can remind her". It is a conditional statement, which makes the second female a passive witness unless the primary witness is forgetful. Therefore if a women is sound and competent, then she would need no other woman to remind her of something she knew but forgot. Her single testimony becomes equal in value to that of the man. The testimony is not gender based as one expert is not sufficient for a transaction to be binding; it requires 2 men as is clear from the verse's beginning "get two witnesses out of your men". The verse actually favors a woman witness who wouldnt automatically be dismissed for incompetence but would be supported in case of error while the single male witness would be replaced in the same case. The verse addresses the issue of financial matters and the fact is that on average, women are much less qualified than men in financial expertise, even in western societies. As well, women are almost all affected, sometimes completely debilitated by PMS symptoms during and around the times of their menstrual cycles, in their emotional-intellectual and physical capacities, all of which might potentially compromise female testimony in such a situation. To dismiss that condition as potentially affecting every single woman simply for the sake of preserving a facade of progressive thinking, is a denial of an objective reality. The Qur'an doesnt deny human nature and instead approaches everyday matters realisticly and pragmaticly. It only accepts the testimony of a person affected by a psycho-emotional condition that could potentially influence the objectivity of a case, when it is a woman -hence the 2nd woman to remind her. It is clearly referring to a condition not to the presumed intellectual capacities of a woman, hence the 2nd woman's role to remind her of something she knows but was mislead into forgetting. If what the Qur'an meant was that a man's testimony is equal to 2 women's, the Qur'an in other instances ie when a woman is accused of adultery, would be saying that one woman's testimony is equal to 4 men's because if 4 men are not brought forth then their testimony will not be valid and they will be lashed for lying 24:4. Also, in the case a husband accuses his wife of adultery without bringing forth eyewitnesses, her testimony has the same value as her husband's, contrary to the Bible where the accused wife is immidiately considered guilty by default and is made to undergo humiliating and strange rituals to prove her innocence Numbers5:11-31. The famous hadith, gladly picked up by the critics if Islam, where the Prophet reportedly admonishes a group of women for their "deficiencies" isnt speaking of mental IQ, that notion is bellied by the description of the inquisitive woman as jazlah/wise,intelligent. The second part of the hadith, with the word ghalaba which means to overcome, plainly states that women might outsmart "dhi lubbin”—a very intelligent, or wise, or resolute man. How can an intellectually inferior individual outwit one of superior intellect? The word 'aql does not always equate with general mental capacities. That is why the Prophet corroborated his statement "'aql deficiency" with the verse 2:282 spoken of earlier which deals with the issue of 2 women witnesses replacing one male witness. And neither does naqs necessarily equate with deficiency but also "to reduce". This is like telling them that though they have been reduced in their wordly and religious duties, this does not mean in any way that they are of lesser mental/spiritual capacities since they can overcome the smartest of men. The statement within the hadith that most of hell dwellers will be women is not due to an inherent spiritual flaw but because of them cursing more and being more ungrateful. In another hadith and using the same wording it says that most of the dwellers of Paradise will be women too. Imam Muslim quotes ibn Sireen as sayong that there was discussion between men and women as to which gender will be the majority in Heaven. Abu Hurayra answered, based on the Prophet's statement that women will be more (Fath al Baari 6/325). By applying the same misunderstanding one would interpret this latter hadith as saying that women are spiritually superior to men. A woman is commanded by Allah not to pray or fast during her menses, which are the 2 examples the Prophet gives of how they are reduced in religion. And though they are exempted from these rituals, by obeying these commands they will still receive their rewards. Men do not receive rewards for not praying or fasting and although the divine law stipulates different rights and obligations to men and women their ultimate reward is the same. Anyone who knows the character and eloquence of the Prophet with which he was able to effectively change the hearts and minds of his addressees, knows that he would never utter such hurtful, insulting speech, much less on a festive day of Eid. He would never put anyone down, especially due to gender, race, class or any other matter, and this is something the Qur'an forbids anyone to do. Furthemore had the Prophet been a proponent of such notion of women being mentally and spiritually inferior then he would never have entrusted his wives with safeguarding, transmitting and teaching the most sacred knowledge to both men and women. He is also reported as giving precedence to his wife Umm Salama's opinion in a very crucial matter, during the treaty of Hudaybiya over that of his closest male companions. The caliphs would later emulate the Prophet in this behavior, on certain occasions. Aisha would even issue fatwas. 4:3"And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry from the women that seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice between them, then marry only one or what your right hands possess; this is closer that you be just". Contrary to popular opinion, the verse is not addressing the issue of polygamy in a general sense, a pre-existing practice, but that of polygamy in a narrowed down context, that of safeguaup andrding the orphans' rights. The reason the Qur'an only speaks of and limits polygamy in that context, is because these types of relationships hardly if ever run smoothly and therefore should be reserved for the achievement of higher objectives. It is clear from the opening statement, positing the situation of one with orphans under care, fearing for the just management of their rights 4:3"And IF you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, THEN marry..." The verse is therefore silent on polygamy in a general sense, neither allowing nor forbidding it, but by only mentionning one case to which it applies, clearly hints to the prefered way to apply the practice, moralizing it, laying down the basis for the intricate perspective that must be considered if a man wishes to marry more than one woman. However it is to be noted, this doesnt mean that polygamy outside the context of caring for orphans, which is the subject of the verse, is useless. Outside caring for orphans, polygamy can potentially be an answer to many problems one can think of, so to outright ban it would deprive the believers from a solution to potential social difficulties. Women around the world, not necessarily in Muslim societies are confronted to situations where they are left to fend for themselves and their children without the help of the family or the support of a father. But because polygamy is regulated and moralized in the Qur'an, by mentioning only one case to which it applies, along with its conditions, the Qur'an is explaining to the God-conscious that this familial configuration is not to be abused for selfish motives, the gratification of sexual desires. There will always be people that will take advantage of the system, just as there are Muslims that will disregard that limitation to make it subservient to their own whims. Polygamy is thus not the norm but the exception in Islamic societies. It is a license granted to men to alleviate problems that have existed and will keep on existing in human societies. Yateem, (plur. yatama) is derived from Y-T-M meaning alone. It is used for a child who lost one or both parents, or for a widow. The verse answers the guardian's fear with a solution; marrying up to four women, not any, but specific ones preceded by the definite article "..marry from THE women...". Which specific women are best suited to share that burden of responsibility? The mother of the orphan first and foremost. By taking them in his household, the husband is bound to provide for them as he would do with a regular wife and children, as well as giving them increased advantages, which includes, possible inheritence in case the adoptive father dies and leaves a will for them, in addition to what must be given to the orphan even if there is no will 4:8. The mother of the orphan could also use her dower for the orphan's wellbeing, if she wishes. Marrying the mother of an orphan taken under care, may also fill the emotional gap of a child with no father. Marrying these widows, or taking another woman or maiden (whose job included raising the chidlren of a household) in case the orphan's mother is dead with the purpose of caring for one's orphan, solves the conditional clause of fear not to "act equitably towards orphans". The difficult responsibility of sustaining the orphan physically and emotionnaly, protecting his/her rights, wealth and property is this way shared by both parents. Something to keep in mind is that Muslims are urged and obligated, per the divine law, to help the weak in society, including widows and orphans. Marriage isnt and never was a precondition to get the needed help. The verse is addressing a group among those that already have orphans under their wing, those who fear for the slightest inadvertent injustice towards them. These highly pious guardians are given a solution, in the form of a recommendation to help solve that fear. One can always involve himself further in a charitable endeavor and this can be argued to be amongst the most advanced manners of doing so. Another thing to keep in mind while trying to understand the verse, simply is the context. 4:3 is speaking of orphans in general, not gender specific, and is a continuation of 4:2"And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great crime". Therefore the next verse must be at least talking about the same orphans, whom one fears not to act fairly towards and the solution to that problem is given in the same verse "marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four". The whole passage until v6 is speaking of orphaned children and how the trustee is to manage their lives and property the best possible way. Should these instructions not be enough to satisfy a believer's fear of not being fair towards orphans under his care, then as proposed in 4:3 one may marry women who would share the burden of responsibility, these women being first and foremost the widowed mothers of these orphans. In the verse 4:3, orphans is in the plural, that is because a Muslim guardian could take multiple orphans under his care, especially during times of war as in the context of revelation, or any other situation where the number of men is largely reduced. The Qur'an has stated that the limitation of this permission is left to a maximum of four women because "this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course". A person may come under the impression that he can marry however many of these women he wants, in order to take care of orphans, but the Qur'an states that the very purpose of the injunction can be compromised the more woman that are married. Quantity isnt always the best, and people need to take into account their own abilities when trying to help other people. Another important statement in the verse, in connection to determining the number of wives, is the phrase "Ma Taba Lakum". TABA is related to goodness, rather than liking. So the guardian's decision cannot be dictated by mere desire/liking, but for what brings more goodness to the person and what brings more goodness is what brings the person closer to God, in this case, reinforcing the idea that the wife must be most suited in securing the orphan's rights, and this primarily means the orphan's mother. Because of these very reasons, that they were marriages with a moral reason, more so compatibility or personal liking, it often led to situations where the husband would leave this new wife in a state as if she wasnt necessarily wanted. The Qur'an warns the man not to do this a little later on in 4:127. He must do his best to give her rights, material, physical, emotional, as a married woman. All married women deserve such rights, not only mothers of orphans, as stated earlier in the sura. 4:127 reminds the men of these things, while refocusing them on equity towards the orphans of those very women, so as to restress the sensitivity of the issue "And they ask you a decision about women. Say: Allah makes known to you His decision concerning them AND that which is recited to you in the Book concerning yatama annisa'/the orphans of "the women whom you do not give what is appointed for them while you desire to marry them", and concerning the weak among children, and that you should deal towards orphans with equity; and whatever good you do, Allah surely knows it". It isnt because he has done her a favor by improving her socio-economical situation, that the guardian is to forgo the marital rights of the orphans' mother. It is a marriage contract like with any other woman and her subsequent treatment must be just and fair like with a regular wife. And if the situation results in injustice to another party, then it should not be resorted to "but if you fear that you will not do justice between them, then marry only one or what your right hands possess; this is closer that you be just". One might ask, why would it be allowed to marry more than one with the condition to deal equitably with all wives when the Qur'an itself states in 4:129 that such condition cannot be fulfilled even if one sincerely tries? The fact is the two verses together 4:3,129 are addressing that conditional clause of equity towards wives from two perspectives to create mutual understanding from all parties involved: - the perspective of the women, by saying in 4:3 that they have the right to equitable treatement and the man must be aware of that right regardless of his will to care for the orphans - the perspective of the man, by saying in 4:129 that he will not be able to be perfectly just with all wives no matter how hard he sincerely tries. The women should be aware of the husband's sincere will to be just between them even he fails. They should keep in mind that the true objective of such unions is caring for the orphans. Allah is this way absolving the husband's shortcomings who is sincerely trying to be just with his wives for the sake of orphans and at the same time creating an understanding from the part of the wives, again for the sake of orphans. However, although the verse absolves the husband from unintentional shortcomings, and the wives implicitly asked to be understanding of those shortcomings, the husband then is explicitly warned not to intentionaly negate a wife's most obvious rights. He may not injure her morally for the sake of another "but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense". This shows that the conditional clause of equity between wives in 4:3 covers the obvious and basic rights, not the shortcomings of a man sincerely trying to make a complex union work for the sake of orphans. Mosaic Law made no prohibition on male premarital or extramarital sexual activity so long as the women involved were not the property of another Jew. A Jewish male could acquire as many wives as he could afford, and also avail himself of the services of concubines, female war captives of any age regardless of them being married or not Deut21:10-17,Num31:17-18. This was the case with the most eminent of their religious figures, including Abrahama, Moses, David or the wise king Solomon who were all polygamists, down to the regular members of society, including the priestly clan of the Levites 1Sam1:1-2. Jacob counted 2 living sisters among his wives, which is against Torah law hence the various rabbinic explanations to the problem of having the father of the Jewish nation violating a future prohibition. Torah sets no limits to the number of wives Ex21:10,Deut21:15 although it vaguely warns Israelite rulers (not common people) against having "too many" wives Deut17:17. Some Jewish comentators have argued, based on rabbinical discussions in the Talmud, that the maximum number of wives in all cases shouldnt exceed 18. Polygamy is at the foundation of the Jewish nation. It even was and is still seen as a good deed, the best fulfillement of the eternally binding command to "be fruitful and multiply", so much so that it can hasten the messianic age. It was practiced throughout the Talmudic period, with the legislation saying that a man can have as many wives as are willing to marry him (as long as he can support them) without any hint to it being an immoral or abnormal practice. It was such a well established part of the social system that Mosaic law is not even critical of it. We find only certain regulations with respect to it but that were not practiced in reality as seen with David and Solomon's cases whose prophethood and kingship are never questionned despite their "transgressions". It was not until the 10th century and the rabbinic ban upon it specifically on the Ashkenazic fringe, that made the issue controversial. If it wasnt a widespread practice, there would be no need to issue such a forceful amendment. Jews needed to accomodate for the Christian host nations that forbade the practice, fearing further isolation and persecutions from a people that already resented them. Contrary to their other host nations, namely the Muslims, Christian tradition isnt a continuation of Jewish tradition but of Greek and Roman pagan traditions, society and morality. Ancient Greeks, including the likes of Plato and Socrates, the supposedly great philosophers saw homosexuality, which they practiced and lauded, as the highest symbol of manhood. Women were inconvenient breeders, not ideal partners. Although Christianity somewhat discouraged homosexuality, it adopted this Greek attitude towards women and normal relations between men and women, adding the whole negative, evil spin to it. Christians try interpreting the polygamy verses as if it is talking of marriage after divorce or death of a wife which is absurd since it says such marriage should not lead one to diminish any of the wife's conjugal rights, ie the first wife's of which the preceding verse clearly speaks of. Jesus does not oppose polygamy and even uses it in his parable to make his point about readiness for the kingdom Matt25. This was the perfect occasion for him to oppose it or criticize it, but doesnt at all. He features it, meaning giving it tacit approval. From this noninterference attitude Luther, as late as the 16th century, arrived at the conclusion that he could not forbid the taking of more than one wife. The Qur'an clearly alludes to the fact that as per the norms of human nature, the real benefits and advantages of the institution of family manifest themselves in a monogamous family. And despite fully endorsing, and not limiting polygamy neither quantitatively nor contextualy, the HB too speaks of the preference for a man to be united with a single wife Gen2:24. As a side issue, one might ask why the regulation doesnt apply to women as well (polyandry). Aside from the basic issues of uncertain descendancy, a woman becomes undisposed to satisfy the most basic physical or sexual needs of her multiple husbands. IT is the case during her menstrual period or while pregnant. Also, from a strict biological viewpoint, a woman can only carry and conceive one child at a time and from one man only, for nine months before she can conceive another. A man on the other hand can beget a child every time he cohabits with a woman. Polyandry opposes these very elementary socio-biological issues. That is why it is practiced by very few societies that seek to limit population growth, with a purely materialistic outlook. For example, polyandry in the Himalayan mountains is related to the scarcity of land. The marriage of all brothers in a family to the same wife allows family land to remain intact and undivided.
  2. Nafs is broadly used for a living entity, because of its root NFS meaning "to breath". This obviously cannot be endorsing the Biblical account of creation, with the male being the first human created and his female counterpart developing out of him (his rib) since it says that the complementary part of the nafs developed out of "her". The verse addresses the issue of the origin of humanity. In the beginning there was one NFS/breathing ie living entity, out of which a complementary part developped. Their interraction produced other entities that gradually evolved into, among other species, human males and females. The underlying idea is that both genders are identical in their essence; there is no difference among them in this reality, which is why it points to "the people", without making any distinction of gender, color, religion or social status. The verse joins all of humanity under One Lord who created us and who legislates over us with justice. This universal truth is often reiterated with the image of various ethnicities and tribes originating from one sexual pair and sharing all throughout the stages of life, the same dwelling places as denoted with the comprehensive words mustaqarr/mustawdaa; from the testicles, to the womb, then the Earth sheltered by one heavenly canopy, as members of one family sharing the same living space and who should therefore all come to know one another 2:22,6:98,49:13.
  3. The Jews did not expect, not in the past nor today, "the" messiah, but a ruler who, in addition to accomplishing -or being alive while- the following is accomplished; -global ingathering of the Jews -rebuilding of the temple -ushering of the age of unfaltering observance of the Law -universal peace -universal knowledge of God -blissful utopia -end of evil and sin, disease and death ...will be "a" messiah. Obviously none of those criteria occured anywhere near Jesus' era, and the least that can be said is that the 1st century, its overall state of upheaval, was the antithesis of what the messianic era is supposed to be. This cancels the kingship claim, making Jesus at most "a" messiah. So no, the Qur'an did not and could not be refering to the apocalyptic end times figure of the HB when refering to Jesus as the messiah. Jesus was rejected by his fellow Jews, not for claiming to be the promised ruler, who in addition to his functions will be "a" messiah, but because, just like his predecessors Israelite Prophets whom they calumnied, rejected, killed, for harshly condemning their straying from their own Books. There is a reason why plenty evidence exists for Jewish messianic claimants during or just a few years after Jesus, but not 1 concerning a person named Jesus who claimed to be the Davidic king. There is a reason why the NT authors could not but paint that whole part of Jesus' ministry as some sort of hidden reality, with Jesus telling his followers to keep it to themselves Mk8:29, secretly admitting it to a woman Jn4, and offering differing answers to the high priest's charge against him, either obscuring or confirming the charge of him claiming to be the king messiah Matt26:63-64,Lk22:70,Mk14:62. Yet Jesus himself says Jn18:20"I have spoken openly to the world..I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret." Like all Prophets Jesus taught nothing secretly, neither did he devise some plans in the dark. He spoke publicly and boldly everything he was told to convey, and when he gathered alone with his followers and spoke to them, he did not state anything new or different than what he openly declared.
  4. One problem which I quickly saw, there might be others as I didnt read the entire post, is that the OP assumes the method to pray is found in the ahadith which isnt the case. It is found in the orally transmitted sunna of the Prophet. The Qur'an refers to 3 prayers, sometimes 2 or sometimes more, maybe even five depending upon how one interprets the particular verse. The obligatory prayers and these timings are sometimes even mentioned before when the miraj was suppose to have happened, which provides a clear argument against the claim the Prophet received the command to pray five times on miraj 30:17-18,20:130,74:43,76:25... The Qur'an is not anywhere teaching a person how to pray salaat, but is concerned in establishing an already ongoing sunna. It refers in many places to the Prophets of old performing those very rituals such as the daily salaat and the zakaat which further bellies the idea that the ritual of salaat was only established after the miraj. 5 times prayer was also established in the Jewish faith, which was later reduced to 3 (much like the case of the Shia). When the Qur'an alludes to 'timings' they are clearly not in the context of establishing or correcting timings, but they are often in the context of reminding the Muslims of great realities. The Qur'an wasnt "re-instituting" prayers over and over again considering the similar framing of the verses on prayer. This is precisely why there are countless verses on 'establishing' prayer, or allusion to prayer by certain rites, but not description of prayer in and of itself. The most the Qur'an does is attest to an already existant practice. Another issue is that of names besides Allah during prayer. We are told that 33:56"Allah and His angels send blessing/yusallun upon the Prophet", divine blessings are showered on him as was done with past Prophets and messengers 37:113 such as Ibrahim, Ismail, Ishaq, Yaqoub, Musa or Ilyas whose praise, remembrence of their exalted status are commanded to be perpetuated among later generations 37:108,119,129,38:45-49 and they are remembered along with all the righteous in the daily prayers. To add to the sense of appreciation from Allah, yusallun is in the present form, which conveys the sense of perpetuity and continuity of a state in classical Arabic, ie the Prophet is permanently under Allah's blessings. As a side note, concerning this word yusalli often misused by Islam critics, when Allah and His angels yusallun on the Prophet just like Allah and His angels yusallun on the believers 2:157,33:42-43,40:7-9 it does not mean the ritual salaat because the word yuqimu does not preceed it 4:103. Salla alone means to communicate so when Allah yusalli on someone, He has communicated His blessings on the person and when the angels or any humans yusalloon on someone they are ASKING Allah to communicate His blessings on someone, for Allah alone is the Sender of blessings, mercy or forgiveness as seen in 33:43 where the result of when Allah and His angels yusallun on the believers is that Allah might guide them. On the other hand, when someone yusalli on another who isnt worthy, he will not receive Allah's mercy. Consequently the Prophet is told that he should not yusalli on the disbelievers when they die because they have been forbidden from Allah's forgiveness 9:80,84. And then, as a reminder of the favor sent by God through the Prophet, the verse turns to the believers 33:56"O you who believe! call for blessings/sallu on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation" it is a token of gratitude and a reminder that the true object of worship is Allah, to Whom all praise is due in the Heavens and Earth and in the Hereafter 34:1; the believers should not worship the Holy Prophet as a deity, they are commanded to INVOKE Allah to communicate HIS blessings ON him. And likewise the Prophet Muhammad is commanded to salli on the people 9:103 as it will give them a sense of relief. Therefore the command to salla/invoke Allah for His blessings on someone is not exclusive to the Prophet Muhammad who is a nabi like all the others between whom Muslims should never discriminate 3:84, and nor is the command to salla exclusive to the Prophets; it is a universal and recommended action between all believers equally. Another similar terminology is God's repeated command that the believers should "aminu" in the Prophet. Although often translated "believe", that rendition doesnt do full justice to the word which literally means to "make oneself safe in an entity" ie fully trust it. So the believers are to fully trust their Prophet and feel safe in him just as he does in them 9:61.
  5. This passage is describing the theme of the leaders and followers of sin. Being guilty of the grievious sin of misleading others, the leaders will be the first to be dragged inside the Fire, and those who were mislead and kept rejecting the truth after it was made manifest to them, will be on their knees witnessing the humiliation of their earthly prestigous leaders, referred to as shaitans. It starts with 19:68 where the blind followers and their leaders are gathered, the unbelievers will be the only ones gathered for a terrible task 25:26,54:6 as opposed to the righteous believers who in their lifetime stood in awe of such day 76:7-11"Therefore Allah will guard them from the evil of that day and cause them to meet with ease and happiness". Consequently they, whether male or female, will never be abased or disgraced and will be shining with a light emanating from them and guiding them on the path to paradise while the rest of the world is plunged in darkness 3:194-5,57:12,66:8, receiving Allah's love 19:96, His individual care 76:11, safe from harm 41:40, raised in a happy state 56:8,76:11,88:8 with bright faces 3:107,75:22 looking forward to Allah's promise 50:32,28:61, without grief or fear of the supreme awesomeness of that day, protected from its upheaval and afflictions, as they shall even be welcomed and greeted by the angels before the beginning of their judgement 2:277,16:32,21:103. They will be removed far away from hearing the faintest sound of hell 2:17,26:90,21:98-103 which will only be brought before the disbelievers 18:99-101, the only ones experiencing this mighty day as a great difficulty 74:8-10. It is to be noted that the affectionate expression "no fear on them", picturing a vulnerable group of people carefully looked upon is also used for those in heaven 7:49. Then from every group among the disbelievers, the most prominent misleaders are brought forth 19:69 and then it is stated that 19:70"We do certainly know best those who deserve most to be burned therein". This indirect form of address, actually starting from v66 with a people's denial of the resurrection, is called tabaaid in Arabic, or distancing, meant at expressing the speaker's discust towards the addressees who arent worthy of being directly spoken to. We know however from the context that they are the most prominent of the misleaders who deserve the worst punishement. The Qur'an then, in its typical manner of executing its threats, switches from the indirect, to the direct form, catching its audience off-guard "And there is not one of you but shall come to it". This parenthetical statement, of which the Qur'an abounds due to its very nature as an interractive speech seeking to keep the audience ever attentive to its message, points directly at the disbelievers who are hearing the message of the Prophet, telling them they cannot escape 18:53"And the guilty shall see the fire, then they shall know that they are going to fall into it, and they shall not find a place to which to turn away from it". The 'you' in 19:71 is a direct address to all the disbelievers as an actual threat, with the additional warning that "this is an unavoidable decree of your Lord". Then the Qur'an mentions the "delivery" of the believers, how they will be spared such disgraceful situation of humiliation on their knees and begging to be saved "And We will deliver those who guarded (against evil), and We will leave the unjust therein on their knees". The "delivery" of the believers is again mentionned in 39:61 and how no evil and grief will even touch them "And Allah shall deliver those who guard (against evil) with their achievement; evil shall not touch them, nor shall they grieve". When Judgement will be laid down on a Day where none can harm or benefit the other 34:42, they will hate their own selves 40:10, as well as one another after realizing they were mislead and that they will be held accountable for misleading 43:67, some will deny one another while others will be cursing eachothers 29:25, the followers will request a double punishement for their leaders for their sins as well as the sinful ways they left to their posterity 38:61, asking to see them in order to trample them under their feet and make them of the lowest 41:29. The blame game typically is the attitude of irresponsible and insensible people who attribute the consequences of their foolishness to others even though all are to be equally blamed for the mishap. The only difference is that some lead the way in creating such disorder and others blindly follow them. That pictured painted of the sinners during their judgement and following their entry to hell, incessantly disputing and quarrelling 36:59-64 is in stark contrast with the dwellers of heaven who shall greet and speak to one another with the best words or prayers, sit face to face, symbolizing their whole heartedness in being in eachother's company 10:10,44:53,52:20"Reclining on thrones set in lines" thus showing their mutual love and frank and free manner of sitting in front of one another. These same leaders will disavow their followers like Iblis will disavow his followers since none of them can be discharged from their moral responsibilities and none were forced in making their conscious choices 14:22,34:32,37:29-30"They shall say: Nay, you (yourselves) were not believers. And we had no authority over you, but you were an inordinate people".
  6. It isnt a matter of interpretation but of observation, the Qur'an uses the term as a proper name as is clear from the angelic anounciation mentionned in a prior post. Nobody said anything about the messiah having to be part of a person's name for him to be a legitimate messiah. The title became equivalent to Jesus's proper name from the apostolic age, used even in secular writings and detached from any theological implications. Messiah does not mean anything else than annointment and appointment for a specific purpose, either with the proper ceremonial or by God. It isnt a question of the Qur'an needing it to be restricted to that meaning, it simply is. Every true Prophet therefore fits the description, even non Jews as is the case with Cyrus. This was also explained in an earlier post and that is the reason why the promised apocalyptic figure is never refered to as "the" messiah, something Christians still cannot comprehend. Among his criteria is that he will be "a" messiah, annointed ans chosen by God, but it does not make him automatically fit the role of the end times Davidic king unless he fulfills the clearly laid out achievements anyone familiar with the HB is aware of.
  7. By the way. I am Eagle on that forum and you can send my regards to manfred.
  8. Nothing was skipped and everything was properly explained. As already said, The Qur'an simply uses "al massih" as one of Jesus' proper names, without attaching any theological implication to the word, just as anyone outside the fold of Christianity would refer to him using a title that became equivalent to his proper name, without giving any credence to the claim made by the Gospels' unknown Greek authors that he is the anointed Jewish King prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, a claim that turned the HB/NT into a convoluted mess, with the former listing genealogical and accomplishments requirements negating any messianic claimant that does not fulfill them, such as Jesus, and the latter arguing for his legitimacy based on the same texts but using a different, allegorical and modified, sometimes exceedingly erroneous approach 2:113"And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say". To state that the Qur'an is the only salvation to Jesus' honor isnt an apologetic assertion but a plain statement of fact. Although linguistically as shown above, the Arabic term "al massih" may describe any entity, animate or inanimate, marked for a spiritual purpose, like prophethood, the fact the Qur'an only designates Jesus, among all Prophets with that word, shows that the purpose isnt to apply the linguistic, or religious meaning to him, much less the fabricated apocalyptic one. The Qur'an never depicts Jesus as identifying himself with that mythical Jewish figure, whose descriptions he does not fulfill anyway as anyone familiar with the HB knows, rather always states, as shown earlier, that "al massih" was (and is still) the name by which others called him, be it his enemies when they used the title sarcastically, his followers who eagerly anticipated any potential, credible claimant, or anyone else. This is something that was decreed before his birth to the world.
  9. This answer misses several points, including; - Jesus did not claim to be the apocalyptic HB messianic figure - that figure will be "a" messiah not "the" because it will be one of his qualities, as already attributed in the HB to many different animate and inanimate entities. This means if someone is properly anointed as a messiah in the future, like the aforementioned passed entities, he/it can be "a" proper and legitimate messiah but of if he/it does not fulfill the clearly laid out criteria and accomplishments of the apocalyptic figure then he/it does not qualify for the title. - in all this judeo-Christian convoluted mess (the HB denying the application of the title to him and the NT giving him a title he never gave to himself), the Qur'an is the only salvation to Jesus' honor, restoring his true identity and stating an objective, historical reality concerning a title (the messiah) that very early on became equivalent to a proper name.
  10. Regardless of personal preferences and interpretations, it is his 2nd coming since he physically died and came back to life to walk this Earth. To deny this basic understanding of Christian theology is to deny Christianity itself. So the Christian count is still off. And if he didnt "really" die then how was there any kind of sin offering or atonement?
  11. At the annunciation of Jesus' future birth in 3:45-9,19:16-21 (both suras speak of the same incident while relating different, complementary information) the angels, in a soft and eloquent manner, instead of directly droping upon Mary the heavy information that she would conceive of a child, tell her that God gives her the good news of a statement from Himself, meaning that what will follow can only be great and positive, that statement being "his name is al massih, Isa, son of Mary, honoured in this world and the hereafter, and he is among those brought near". This delicate introduction, considerate to her emotions, not only made her understand through the designation "son of Mary", that she would be the one bearing the child, but also reassured her, uplifted her because of his lofty descriptions. The 3 appellations given do not necessarily imply that she would refer to him with all 3, and neither does it give a time frame for when each of those names will be used (at birth, during or after his life), rather that these will be names he will be designated by, in full or in part, whether by her or others, at some point in time. The Qur'an, as is clear from the above wording, refers to his names, among them al massih. Although originally a title, Christ/massih, when applied to Jesus gradually became equivalent to his proper name, even when preceded by the definite article, and this is undisputed, since the Apostolic age and shortly after his supposed Resurrection, whether in modern or ancient usage, even in secular termminology. It is even a common last name nowadays, as is the case with "messiah". Although names in most Western languages are rarely preceded by the definite article, it is very common in Semitic languages (as with the Arabic al qurtubi, al ghazali, al hariri, al fayed, al jarrah etc), of which Jesus' Aramaic tongue was part of, to use it before a proper name. This means that very early on, it became detached from any theological meaning except within the Christian fold. Al massih was connected to his name, because he had a following that believed, just like with many presumed messiahs, that he would fulfill the requirements laid down in the HB. Because of the anticipation for a salvific figure to come soon, many interpreted his sayings and actions as qualifying him for the potential position. The difference however between Jesus and other messianic claimants, is that his following managed to survive long enough, eventually taking on the pagan institutions and pagan population, perpetuating the association between Jesus and his honorific messianic title in such a forceful way that not only did it become a proper name, but it became the first time that it was used as such upon someone. The Qur'an treats it as a name because it is an objective, historical reality. Further, the verse doesnt only say that his "name" is al massih, it continues with a first name and matronym. It is only then natural to assume, in the absence of explicit indication to the opposite, that the Qur'an is only refering to a proper name with "al massih/christ" just as "Isa" and "son of Mary" are proper names. The Arabic massih stems from M-S-H meaning to swipe one surface opposite another either to clean or to mark. The meaning is basically the same for the Hebrew mashiach steming from M-S-CH which means to paint, smear or annoint, more generally to spread a liquid on a surface. That swiping process, when performed by a human in a religious context must be with the proper oil and ceremony as described in Ex30:22-33. The consequence to the recipient is that he becomes selected for a special, sacred purpose 1Sam10:1-2. The title however can sometimes be used symbolicaly even if not preceded by the ceremonial, when it is God Himself doing the "swiping" as is the case with the non-Jewish king Cyrus Isa45:1. Besides Prophets, and a non Jew, the title is used for Jewish priests and kings 1Kings1:39,19:15-6,Lev4:3,Ex28:41,Isa61:1 or also for objects like the Jewish Temple or unleavened bread Ex40:9,Num6:15. The common denominator is, as already stated, the dedication for a specific purpose through marking. In ignorence of the above, Christians speak of the end-time Jewish king, who in addition will be "a" qualified messiah like the aforementionned animate and inanimate entities, as "the" messiah, in an attempt to create an aura of exclusivity surrounding the title. In their zeal and because nowhere does the HB speak of that personality preceded by the definite article, they have gone as far as modifying Dan9:25 that does not have a definite article in front of "mashiach" except in Christian corrupted version. This example of textual corruption at the hands of Christians and Trinitarians more particularily to advance their faulty religious ideas, is far from being an isolated case. The Qur'an however, as stated above simply uses "al massih" as one of Jesus' proper names, without attaching any theological implication to the word, just as anyone outside the fold of Christianity would refer to him using a title that became equivalent to his proper name, without giving any credence to the claim made by the Gospels' unknown Greek authors that he is the anointed Jewish King prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, a claim that turned the HB/NT into a convoluted mess, with the former listing genealogical and accomplishments requirements negating any messianic claimant that does not fulfill them, such as Jesus, and the latter arguing for his legitimacy based on the same texts but using a different, allegorical and modified, sometimes exceedingly erroneous approach 2:113"And the Jews say: The Christians do not follow anything (good) and the Christians say: The Jews do not follow anything (good) while they recite the (same) Book. Even thus say those who have no knowledge, like to what they say". Although linguistically as shown above, the Arabic term "al massih" may describe any entity, animate or inanimate, marked for a spiritual purpose, like prophethood, the fact the Qur'an only designates Jesus, among all Prophets with that word, shows that the purpose isnt to apply the linguistic, or religious meaning to him, much less the fabricated apocalyptic one. The Qur'an never depicts Jesus as identifying himself with that mythical Jewish figure, whose descriptions he does not fulfill anyway as anyone familiar with the HB knows, rather always states, as shown earlier, that "al massih" was (and is still) the name by which others called him, be it his enemies when they used the title sarcastically, his followers who eagerly anticipated any potential, credible claimant, or anyone else. This is something that was decreed before his birth to the world. As a side note, if Jesus had a Hebrew name no one knows what it might have been since there are no early NT writings with his Hebrew name. The Christian scriptures were written in Greek, in which the name given is Iesous, which cannot iterate into the Hebrew Yeshua. The closest transliteration of Iesous is Yeshu, and for Yeshua would be Iesouas. The reason for the Christian need to associate Iesous with Yeshua is because of their attempt at connecting it with a noun that they think sounds similar and means "salvation"; y'shu'ah. Besides being a feminine word, it isnt even pronounced the same as Yeshua because of the muted first letter "yod". Jesus was rejected by his fellow Jews, not for claiming to be the promised ruler, who in addition to his functions will be "a" messiah, but because, just like his predecessors Israelite Prophets whom they calumnied, rejected, killed, for harshly condemning their straying from their own Books. There is a reason why plenty evidence exists for Jewish messianic claimants during or just a few years after Jesus, but not 1 concerning a person named Jesus who claimed to be the Davidic king. There is a reason why the NT authors could not but paint that whole part of Jesus' ministry as some sort of hidden reality, with Jesus telling his followers to keep it to themselves Mk8:29, secretly admitting it to a woman Jn4, and offering differing answers to the high priest's charge against him, either obscuring or confirming the charge of him claiming to be the king messiah Matt26:63-64,Lk22:70,Mk14:62. Yet Jesus himself says Jn18:20"I have spoken openly to the world..I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret." Like all Prophets Jesus taught nothing secretly, neither did he devise some plans in the dark. He spoke publicly and boldly everything he was told to convey, and when he gathered alone with his followers and spoke to them, he did not state anything new or different than what he openly declared.
  12. Credibility is less of an issue than basic reading skills. 1st coming = Jesus' life prior to crucifixion 2nd coming = Jesus' return to Earth between his resurrection and ascension 3rd coming = Jesus' return to Earth at the end of times. The writers of the Greek testament could not get even this issue right, what is to say of the rest, more complicated themes and conflations of greco-roman philosophies with Semitic monotheism?
  13. The second coming, also referred to as the Second Advent, the Parousia, and the Last Coming (the Rapture being the capture in the air of the Christians prior to Jesus' descent, some other denominations speculate the rapture will happen after Jesus' descent and destruction of all non-believers). It should firstly be noted that the Christian count is off. What they refer to as the 2nd coming in reference to Jesus' return at the end of times actually is a 3rd coming. The 1st coming covers the period prior to Jesus' death and the second coming spans the period from his alleged resurrection to his alleged ascension. In Mk13:3-30,Matt16:28,24:3-34,Luke21:32 Jesus addresses his disciples "privately" and lists the tribulations that will occur before their generation passes away, followed by the Son of Man's descent from the clouds along with the angels while cataclysms are destroying the Earth, so as to usher the end of times. Mk9,13 adds that although the disciples will be persecuted and killed before the ushering of the end of time, some of them would survive and be present to witness it, and live to see the establishement of the kingdom of God on Earth. However, the signs preceding Jesus' grandiose return followed by his descent from Heaven never occured as prophecied, neither in the days of the disciples nor before the last of their generation died out. The fig tree is a metaphore, the disciple is using the image of the tree blossoming as a sign of summer and parallels this with all related signs of the 2nd coming which is expected soon. This setting of a time limit for the prophecy to occur is embarrassing so the word "genea" which is always "generation" in the NT is reinterpreted. It appears 14 times in the Gospels and always applies to Jesus' contemporaries. In the midst of growing criticism, the unknown author of 2peter3's attempts to stretch the timing of the failed prophecy by using Ps90:4 referring to the relativity of human time to God's time. But Jesus' promise to return was recorded in accordance with human determination of time (this generation) not God's and must, therefore, come as specified by those human terms. Today's Christians also offer the excuse, using 2Peter3"The Lord...is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance", that the delay in Jesus' second coming is a sign of divine mercy. However, this feeble argument doesnt change Jesus' promise to his contemporaries where he never made his speedy return contingent on God's patience in awaiting the sinners repentance. Paul's frustrations also reflects how the prophecy was understood by the NT writers. He was awaiting the arrival imminently as seen in Heb10:37 and in 1Cor7:29-31 tells those who are married to live as if they were not because "time is short" or as said in 1Thess4:15-18"we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord" but seeing the delay growing longer and longer, Paul starts entertaining the idea of going himself to find his Christ, wherever he might be Phil1:20-23"torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far". And Jn21:23 makes an excuse as to why Jesus failed his promise to come before John's death. There is a reason why Jesus is depicted as never instauring commemorative feasts, he thought the end was definately near. To his followers however, whose expectations to see Jesus returning in their lifetime faded away, they had to institute such festivals like the Eucharist to fill the gap. The event is narrated in Luke22:19 who wasnt an eyewitness of Jesus' last supper but a disciple of Paul. Yet Paul himself in 1Cor11:23-6 claims that knowledge came to him not through Jesus' direct disciples who actually were at the event of the last supper but by direct revelation from Jesus. The almost canonical 1 Clement urges observance of a Eucharist but does so without mentioning its institution by Jesus. Although Paul claims it to be the symbolic continuation of the Israelites' spiritual sustenance during their desert wandering 1cor10:1-17, due to the manner in which Jesus is depicted in the event, one cannot escape the parallelism with pagan rituals of the time and going back much earlier, with the symbolic ingestion of the gods "And he (Jesus) took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me”. Paul warns the "weak" in faith who could be prone to be confounded by such parallels 1Cor8:10,10:21,11:29-30. The Qur'an sheds light on the issue, clearing it from the manner in which it was later disfigured, both from the point of view of its context and its meaning. The pious followers of Jesus desired a sign to comfort their hearts, and Jesus acceded to their request by asking God to descend upon them sustenance from heaven proving He is the ultimate provider 5:112-114".. O Allah, our Lord! send down to us food from heaven which should be to us an ever-recurring happiness, to the first of us and to the last of us, and a sign from Thee, and grant us means of subsistence, and Thou art the best of the Providers". Prophets knew the signs of the end of times, and have described to their nation and posterity how to recognize it when it comes, but none knows when will that happen. For example in Mk13,Matt24 Jesus explains to his disciples how to recognize, before their generation passes away, the end times by observing specific signs that will occur before his second coming. Its unequivocal. Jesus' prophecy failed and the NT writers have succesfully depicted him as a false Prophet according to the criteria laid down in Deut18:21-22. It is worthwhile to note the reason why these unknown writers came up with the "second coming" theory. They knew very well, as any reader of the HB knows, that the Jewish Messiah foretold in the HB is supposed to perform specific tasks in his lifetime by which he will be identifiable, without being overcome by death or defeat Isa42:4 but since Jesus performed none of them, they had to find an excuse so they claimed he will come back later to accomplish those tasks but of course, there isnt a single prophecy saying the Messiah would come, die, be resurrected, and then return thousands of years later to BEGIN his mission. As subsequent Christians were faced with yet another problem, that of the failure of Jesus' return, like every subsequent apocalyptic cult that has boldly proclaimed the End Time and embarrassingly survived into a new era, they tried and still do, to prolongue the timing of the prophecy put in Jesus' mouth. It is also worthwile noting that the exact same problem is found throughout the Hebrew scriptures themselves that are full of prophecies of glad tidings, re-establishement and superiority of the Jews as a nation and religion over every other people in the world, following each of their destructions and exiles, yet obviously never occured as predicted ie in the specific contexts of their liberations from the yoke of their enemies, and so the biblical scholars are again forced to postpone these predictions to the undetermined long term, to be ushered at the "Messianic age". See Micah5 or Zeph3 for example.
  14. When speaking of the formation and shaping of the sama' (all that is above the Earth; atmosphere and beyond) as we know it today, we read in 79:27-33 that it was done before the Earth was made hospitable for the humans with water, plants, and animals. This process of accomodating Earth to human life took 4 ayyam 41:10, while the prior shaping of the Earth itself took 2 ayyam 41:9. This shaping of the Earth initiated together with the universe 41:11. God in this verse tells both entities to come forth from their primordial state, not towards eachother but each on their own, to which they submitted. For the heaven, this resulted in its layering and filling with the celestial bodies in 2 ayyam 41:12 and for the Earth, as already stated a few verses earlier in 41:9, it resulted in its finalization just prior to initiating the process of making it accomodating for human life 41:10. Although a superficial reading results in a total of 8 ayyam of creation, yet a closer look reveals otherwise. 41:9-10 is sequential, totalizing 6 ayyam of creation (2 to shape the Earth followed by 4 to make it suitable for human life). As already stated, the universe as we known it was formed prior to Earth being made suitable for life 79:27-33 meaning 41:12 giving 2 ayyam for the universe's formation cannot have occured after the 6 ayyam cited earlier for shaping Earth and making it habitable. 41:9-10 and 41:11-12 are therefore not sequentially connected, hence the use of thumma/moreover to link both passages. Both these passages contain reference to an overlapping timeline, ie the 2 ayyam to shape the Earth in 41:9 simultaneously initiated with the 2 ayyam to form the sama' (all that is above the Earth; atmosphere and beyond) 41:12, after which came the 4 ayyam to make the Earth habitable, thus totalizing 6 ayyam of creation. The fact that 41:9-10 and 41:11-12 are not sequential is further reinforced by the fact that, although the Earth's formation and adaptation for life was already mentionned 41:9-10 the following passage goes back in time by quoting God's address to both heaven and Earth in their primordial state. The heaven is named while still unformed just like its Earth counterpart is named while still unformed 41:11"Moreover, He directed Himself to the heaven while it was smoke and said to it and to the Earth: Come both, willingly or compelled. They both said: We have come willingly". It then goes on to broadly speak of the universe's development but not the Earth's since its finalization just prior to initiating the process of making it accomodating for human life was already stated a few verses earlier in 41:9. As to the reason for using such a literary construction, just as is the case in 2:29 where, in a statement not intended to establish a sequential timeline of events (hence the use again of thumma/moreover), attention is first directed to the near and tangible provisions of life before switching man's focus to the great encompassing entity above, the Qur'an here isnt trying to convey scientific knowledge but to instill spiritual awareness in connection with the observable nature, by emphasizing different aspects, with each aspect having its own sequence. It first attracts attention to God's blessings close at hand and its gradual development 41:9-10 then directs the eye to the distant surrounding greatness and its gradual developement 41:11-12, without the 2 being connected sequentially. The Qur'an uses many times this litterary device, when it wants to switch emphasis from one aspect to another, although both may exist simultaneously. It states for example in 68:13"Oppressive, moreover/thumma of bad character" or in 90:17 after enumerating some of the benevolent and righteous acts a believer should perform it says "Moreover/thumma he is of those who believe" again this does not denote a sequence rather is focusing on each aspects independantly, then laying more stress on correct faith. Same in 81:21"One (to be) obeyed, moreover/thumma faithful in trust".
  15. When Adam and his wife forgot God's advise and approached the forbidden area where the devil lurked 20:115, he immidiately began whispering to them his evil suggestions and attempted to convince them that 20:120,7:20"Your Lord has not forbidden you this tree except that you may not both become two angels or that you may (not) become of the immortals". He was implying that Allah was deceiving them by wishing them to remain weak and mortal creatures, and that he was their well wisher who could make them rise above their ingrained weaknesses. The tree in itself had no particular powers but it was, as always, a medium, a smokescreen behind which a deeper and more significant objective was meant to be fulfilled. The object being 7:20"to reveal to them what was hidden from them of their shamefulness". This shows that from the begining, mankind is ingrained with a sense of shame for which he feels the need to cover, and that it is contrary to human nature for one's private parts to be openly exposed. It is interesting to note that the account does not give the intricate details of how, through the medium chosen by Iblis, Adam and Eve's shamefulness, ie nakedness were exposed and this is highly relevant for the applicability of the lesson for all times 7:22"So, he (Satan) lured them with falsehood. So, when they tasted the tree, their shamefulness/nakedness became revealed to them". The exposition of mankind's private parts has always been achieved, and still is, through countless ways 7:27"let not the Shaitan cause you to fall into affliction as he expelled your parents from the garden, pulling off from them both their clothing that he might show them their nakedness, he surely sees you, he as well as his host, from whence you cannot see them". And it is interesting to note, knowing how widespread and normal the sight of one another's shameful body parts has become, that the Quran places that objective as the most primary goal of Iblis. After the account of Adam and Eve and the manner by which they were deceived into exposing their nakedness, Allah turns to mankind, saying that 7:26"We sent down to you clothing to hide your nakedness". Allah attributes here to Himself the ability to cloth oneself in order to give it a blessed aspect, considering how it diametrically opposes the evil entities' most basic desire for mankind. It is "sent down" by God, a phrase used for rainwater, or even revelation. Through the term "reeshan" the verse then mentions the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong in using that clothing for embelishment, in fact the Quran in general doesnt deny the use of means of all sorts with the objective of beautifying one's appearance, and at all circumstances, including during worship. This sharply contrasts with the corrupt notion of associating piety with disregard for physical appearance and hygiene, as is often the case whether in Judaism, Christianity or the pagan religions. But it immediately strikes a balance by stating that the primary goal of clothing is to guard from moral and spiritual corruption so this factor of embelishment should not be wrongly channeled 35:12,7:31"O'children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer, and eat and drink but do not act extravagantly; verily He does not like the extravagant (ones)". Therefore no type of clothing is better from that perspective than the clothing of taqwa/God-consciousness. Man is thus told to keep his garments in a state of purity 74:4. The "provisions of God-consciousness" are used in the same sense in 2:197. The whole passage therefore ends with a warning to mankind 7:27"O children of Adam, let not the Shaitan cause you to fall into affliction as he expelled your parents from the garden, pulling off from them both their clothing that he might show them their private parts". After they ate from the tree and saw that their condition didnt change as promised to them by Iblis (they didnt become immortal angels), Adam and Eve realized their transgression as often happens when a sincere person comes back to his senses after a mistake or a sin, or when caught doing something wrong. They realized they had been deceived into inappropriately showing their nakedness 7:20-2"So, the shaytan whispered/waswasa to the two of them..And he swore to them both: Most surely I am a sincere adviser to you. So, he lured/fadallahuma them with falsehood.." 4:120"He gives them promises and excites vain desires in them; and the Shaitan does not promise them but to deceive". From a linguistic perspective, dallahuma stems from d-l-w used for the dangling of the bucket in a well to pull out water from it. It implies the anticipation of good results since succeeding in getting water is a good result and good expectation. It is also used in the context of animal hunting, slowly making it approach, attracted by a bucket at the end of a rope which is progressively drawn closer. Through the use of this word, as well as of waswasa, what transpires is that Iblis' deception succeeded only after many persistent and gradual exhortation. As their senses came back to them, they realized what his true purpose was, and now knowing that the exposition of one's private parts is an unnatural, evil inspired deed, began immidiately piling up tree leaves upon themselves and sewing them 7:22"he mislead them through deceit; so when they tasted of the tree, their private parts became manifest to them, and they began to cover themselves with pieced-together leaves from the garden". As stated in the Hebrew Bible Gen3:7"And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves and made themselves girdles". What interestingly appears is that, as stated above concerning the naturalness of the feeling of shame and need to cover up one's private parts, Adam and Eve knew exactly how to proceed in order to hide their private parts and nakedness yet they hadnt been shown how prior. They were then called out and confronted with their transgression 7:22"Did I not forbid you both from that tree and say to you that the Shaitan is your open enemy?". They were told that although they had now lost all advantages they had in the garden in regards to general physical comfort, they would still find provision on the Earth until an appointed time 2:36,7:24. Adam and Eve accepted the consequences of their disobedience and took on themselves the full responsibility of their act, contrary to the Bible account where they began immaturely fingerpointing eachother and refused to repent. God then banished them from the Garden, and they immidiately asked God to forgive them 7:23.
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