Researcher’s Companion to Ghamidi’s Al-Bayan: Surah Baqarah (163-177)

Researcher’s Companion to Ghamidi’s Al-Bayan: Surah Baqarah (163-177)


Qur'anic Exegesis

I. Meaning & Morphology (الصرف و اللغة)

1. 'دَابَّة'

While commenting on the usage of the word 'دَابَّة', Ghamidi writes: 'Just as it is used to connote animals that walk on the earth, it is also used to connote living beings if an indication to this usage exists. The second usage covers birds and even human beings. Here in this verse it is used in this connotation.' (note 7)

Here are examples of the first usage:

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ طَائِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلاَّ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُم (38:6)

All the beasts that roam the earth and all the birds that soar on high are but communities like your own. (6:38(

وَكَأَيِّن مِن دَابَّةٍ لَا تَحْمِلُ رِزْقَهَا اللَّهُ يَرْزُقُهَا وَإِيَّاكُمْ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ (60:29)

Countless are the beasts that do not carry their provisions themselves. God provides for them, as He provides for you. He alone hears all and knows all. (29:60)

Examples of the second usage can be seen in the following verses:

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِي الأَرْضِ إِلاَّ عَلَى اللّهِ رِزْقُهَا وَيَعْلَمُ مُسْتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسْتَوْدَعَهَا (6:11)

There is not a creature on the earth but God provides its sustenance. He knows its dwelling and its resting-place. (11:6)

وَلَوْ يُؤَاخِذُ اللَّهُ النَّاسَ بِمَا كَسَبُوا مَا تَرَكَ عَلَى ظَهْرِهَا مِن دَابَّةٍ وَلَكِن يُؤَخِّرُهُمْ إِلَى أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى (45:35)

If it was God's will to punish men for their misdeeds, not one creature would be left alive on the earth's surface. He gives them respite till an appointed time. (35:45)

2. 'أمر'

As pointed out by Ghamidi (note 20), the word 'أمر' in 2:169 means 'to suggest and to tempt someone about something'. An example of this usage can be seen in the following couplet of Ibn Durayd:

أمرتهم أمرى بمنعرج اللوى

فلم يستبينوا الرشد إلا ضحى الغد

(I had informed them of my suggestion at Mun'araj Al-Liwa; however, it was only by morning of the next day that they came to understand)

A Jahili poet says:

أطعت لآمريك بصرم حبلي

مريهم في أحبتهم بذاك

(You ultimately acceded to those who suggested you to break your ties with me; tell them to act on this suggestion regarding the ones they love)

3. 'سُوْء'.

While commenting on the usage of this word, Ghamidi writes: 'There is no doubt in the fact that just as it means 'sin' and 'misdeeds' it also means financial, physical and intellectual losses and hardships. This usage can be seen in 3:174 and 27:12. Here, however, its copulation ('Atf) with 'الْفَحْشَاء' and the presence of the verb 'يَأْمُرُكُمْ' show that it is used in the first meaning.'

An example of its usage in the first meaning is:

إِنَّمَا التَّوْبَةُ عَلَى اللّهِ لِلَّذِينَ يَعْمَلُونَ السُّوَءَ بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ يَتُوبُونَ مِن قَرِيبٍ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ يَتُوبُ اللّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَانَ اللّهُ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً (17:4)

God forgives those who commit evil in ignorance and then quickly turn to Him in penitence. God will pardon them. God is all-knowing and wise. (4:17)

Of the latter usage, some examples are:

فَانقَلَبُواْ بِنِعْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ وَفَضْلٍ لَّمْ يَمْسَسْهُمْ سُوءٌ وَاتَّبَعُواْ رِضْوَانَ اللّهِ وَاللّهُ ذُو فَضْلٍ عَظِيمٍ (174:3)

Thus did they earn God's grace and bounty, and no harm befell them. For they had striven to please God, and God's bounty is infinite. (3:174)

وَأَدْخِلْ يَدَكَ فِي جَيْبِكَ تَخْرُجْ بَيْضَاء مِنْ غَيْرِ سُوءٍ (12:27)

'Put your hand into your pocket. It will come out white, without any ailment'. (27:12)

4. 'بَاغٍ'

In the expression 'غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ' the word 'بَاغٍ' means 'to desire'. However it also means 'to transgress' and 'to be rebellious'. According to Ghamidi (not: 28), the reason for preferring the first meaning is that this word is copulated to another word 'عَادٍ' which also means 'to transgress' and 'to be rebellious'. Preferring the second meaning would only have caused repetition.

5. 'الْبِرّ'

As pointed out by Ghamidi (note 36), according to the research of Imam Hamid Al-Din Farahi, the real meaning of the word 'الْبِرّ' is 'to fulfill the rights of someone'. Since these rights are extensive – ranging from those of the Almighty, parents and fellow human beings to those which arise because of commitments and promises, the word covers all virtues which are included in it that come under justice and kindness.

It is because of this extensive nature that the word also covers all good virtues.

Thus in the following verses it is used in this general connotation:

لَن تَنَالُواْ الْبِرَّ حَتَّى تُنفِقُواْ مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ (92:3)

You shall never be truly virtuous until you spend [in the way of God] what you dearly cherish. (3:92)

وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ إِنَّ اللّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ (2:5)

Help one another in what is virtuous and pious, not in what is wicked and sinful. Have fear of God; God is stern in retribution. (5:2)

A'shahas also used it in this connotation in the following couplet:

عنده البر والتقى و اسى

الشق و حمل للمعضلات الثقال

(He is virtuous and pious and shows perseverance in harsh conditions and forbearance in severe hardships)

II. Style & Eloquence (الاساليب و البلاغة)

1. Ellipses of the Governing Noun (Mudaf)

Ellipses of the Governing Noun is very common in Arabic. Ghamidi (note 38) writes:'As per the linguistic principles of Arabic, an elision of the governing noun (Mudaf) has occurred here. The implied construction is:'مَنْ آمَنَ [بِرُّ ] وَلَـكِنَّ الْبِرَّ '.

Thus in: '(2:102) عَلَى مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَ' the implied meaning is: 'مُلْكِ سُلَيْمَانَعَهْدِعَلَى'. Likewise in 'وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ (78:22)' the implied meaning while taking into account the ellipses is 'للَّهِسَبِيْلوَجَاهِدُوا فِي. Similarly, in 'وَظَنُّوا أَنَّهُم مَّانِعَتُهُمْ حُصُونُهُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ (2:59)', the implied meaning is 'مِنْ بَطْشِ اللَّهِ'.

2. The Accusative of Specification

According to Ghamidi and Islahi (note 51) one example of such an accusative occurs in 2:177 in the expression 'َالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاء'.

Another example can be seen in the expression 'وَالْمُقِيمِينَ الصَّلاَةَ' in the following verse:

لَّـكِنِ الرَّاسِخُونَ فِي الْعِلْمِ مِنْهُمْ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ وَالْمُقِيمِينَ الصَّلاَةَ وَالْمُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ أُوْلَـئِكَ سَنُؤْتِيهِمْ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا (162:4)

But those of them that have deep learning, and those that truly believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you [and specially those] who attend to their prayers and give Zakah and have faith in God and the Last Day – We shall richly reward them. (4:162)

Here of course the Almighty is emphasizing the quality of a believer who is vigilant in his prayer.

III. Exegesis and Explanation (الشرح و التفسير)

1. The Address of 'يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُواْ مِمَّا فِي الأَرْضِ حَلاَلاً طَيِّباً'

As is evident from the context of the following verse, it is addressed to the Idolaters of Arabia. Ghamidi, while taking this aspect into account has translated it thus:

People! [your concepts of what is lawful in eating and what is not – concepts which you have made under the influence of these leaders of yours – are absolutely baseless, so] eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth

The fact that the context bears witness that the Idolaters of Arabs of the times of the Prophet (sws) have been addressed is evident from the preceding verses which depict a dialogue that will take place on the Day of Judgement between the leaders and followers among them (verses 166-7). The succeeding verse (verse 170) is obviously directed towards them too since it was these Idolaters who were guilty of blindly following their forefathers.

It is thus essential to realize that the formula1which many of our exegetes2adopt in unfolding the address 'يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ' holds little ground.

It is by not understanding this aspect that commentators such as Wherry point out redundancy in the Qur'an by attributing this to be a faulty work of its compilers, since seemingly this directive of eating wholesome and pure things is repeated in verse 172. The net result in his words is a 'medley of Makkan and Madinan passages'.He writes3:

Verse 172 is addressed to the people of Madinah. (See Rodwell on ver. 21). The exhortation corresponds with that of ver. 169, addressed to the Makkans. The teaching here is, however, more explicit, detailing the articles forbidden.

The redundancy found here is probably due to the judgment of those who compiled the Qur'an under the direction of Othman. Had this portion of the chapter been recited by Muhammad himself, we should not have this medley of Makkan and Madinan passages. A tradition, on the authority of Hudhayfah, relates that Muhammad was in the habit of repeating the chapter of the Cow several times during a single night, besides other portions of the Qur'an (Matthews' Mishqat-ul-Masabih chap. xxxii.). Such an exercise, in addition to ordinary sleep, would be impossible. It is therefore probable that much additional matter was added to these chapters by the compilers of the volume now called the Qur'an, though the names of the chapters and some portions of them were undoubtedly in use in the days of Muhammad. To these were added other revelations gathered from the contents of the box in Hafsa's keeping and from the memories of men.

2. Unlawful Edibles made Lawful by the Idolaters

In verse 168, the Idolaters of Arabia are asked to eat lawful and wholesome things. In the following verses, we find a list of edibles which they had declared unlawful:

وَجَعَلُواْ لِلّهِ مِمِّا ذَرَأَ مِنَ الْحَرْثِ وَالأَنْعَامِ نَصِيبًا فَقَالُواْ هَـذَا لِلّهِ بِزَعْمِهِمْ وَهَـذَا لِشُرَكَآئِنَا فَمَا كَانَ لِشُرَكَآئِهِمْ فَلاَ يَصِلُ إِلَى اللّهِ وَمَا كَانَ لِلّهِ فَهُوَ يَصِلُ إِلَى شُرَكَآئِهِمْ سَاء مَا يَحْكُمُونَ وَكَذَلِكَ زَيَّنَ لِكَثِيرٍ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ قَتْلَ أَوْلاَدِهِمْ شُرَكَآؤُهُمْ لِيُرْدُوهُمْ وَلِيَلْبِسُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ دِينَهُمْ وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ مَا فَعَلُوهُ فَذَرْهُمْ وَمَا يَفْتَرُونَ وَقَالُواْ هَـذِهِ أَنْعَامٌ وَحَرْثٌ حِجْرٌ لاَّ يَطْعَمُهَا إِلاَّ مَن نّشَاء بِزَعْمِهِمْ وَأَنْعَامٌ حُرِّمَتْ ظُهُورُهَا وَأَنْعَامٌ لاَّ يَذْكُرُونَ اسْمَ اللّهِ عَلَيْهَا افْتِرَاء عَلَيْهِ سَيَجْزِيهِم بِمَا كَانُواْ يَفْتَرُونَ وَقَالُواْ مَا فِي بُطُونِ هَـذِهِ الأَنْعَامِ خَالِصَةٌ لِّذُكُورِنَا وَمُحَرَّمٌ عَلَى أَزْوَاجِنَا وَإِن يَكُن مَّيْتَةً فَهُمْ فِيهِ شُرَكَاء سَيَجْزِيهِمْ وَصْفَهُمْ إِنَّهُ حِكِيمٌ عَلِيمٌ قَدْ خَسِرَ الَّذِينَ قَتَلُواْ أَوْلاَدَهُمْ سَفَهًا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَحَرَّمُواْ مَا رَزَقَهُمُ اللّهُ افْتِرَاء عَلَى اللّهِ قَدْ ضَلُّواْ وَمَا كَانُواْ مُهْتَدِينَ (6: 136-140)

They set aside for God a share of their produce and of their cattle, saying: 'This is for God' – so they claim – 'and this for our idols.' Their idols' share cannot reach God, but the share of God is wholly given to their idols. How ill they judge! Their idols have induced many pagans to kill their children, seeking to ruin them and to confuse them in their faith. Had God pleased they would not have done so. Therefore leave them to their false inventions. They say: 'These animals and these crops are forbidden. None may eat of them save those whom we permit.' So they assert. And there are other beasts which they prohibit men from riding, and others over which they do not pronounce the name of God, thus inventing a lie against Him. He will punish them for their invented lies. They also say: 'The offspring of these animals is lawful for our males but forbidden to our females.' But if it is still-born, they all partake of it! God will punish them for that which they impute to Him. He is wise and all-knowing. Losers are those that in their ignorance have wantonly slain their own children and made unlawful what God has given them, inventing falsehoods about God. They have gone astray and are not guided. (6:136-140)

مَا جَعَلَ اللّهُ مِن بَحِيرَةٍ وَلاَ سَآئِبَةٍ وَلاَ وَصِيلَةٍ وَلاَ حَامٍ وَلَـكِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ يَفْتَرُونَ عَلَى اللّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَأَكْثَرُهُمْ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ (103:5)

God has not made a bahirah, nor a sa'ibah, nor a wasilah, nor a ham a part of religion. The unbelievers invent falsehoods about God. Most of them are lacking in judgement. (5:103)

In the following verses, the Idolaters of Arabia are condemned on this attitude of declaring the lawful ad unlawful and vice versa:

وَمِنَ الأَنْعَامِ حَمُولَةً وَفَرْشًا كُلُواْ مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللّهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ خُطُوَاتِ الشَّيْطَانِ إِنَّهُ لَكُمْ عَدُوٌّ مُّبِينٌ ثَمَانِيَةَ أَزْوَاجٍ مِّنَ الضَّأْنِ اثْنَيْنِ وَمِنَ الْمَعْزِ اثْنَيْنِ قُلْ آلذَّكَرَيْنِ حَرَّمَ أَمِ الأُنثَيَيْنِ أَمَّا اشْتَمَلَتْ عَلَيْهِ أَرْحَامُ الأُنثَيَيْنِ نَبِّؤُونِي بِعِلْمٍ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ وَمِنَ الإِبْلِ اثْنَيْنِ وَمِنَ الْبَقَرِ اثْنَيْنِ قُلْ آلذَّكَرَيْنِ حَرَّمَ أَمِ الأُنثَيَيْنِ أَمَّا اشْتَمَلَتْ عَلَيْهِ أَرْحَامُ الأُنثَيَيْنِ أَمْ كُنتُمْ شُهَدَاء إِذْ وَصَّاكُمُ اللّهُ بِهَـذَا فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَى عَلَى اللّهِ كَذِبًا لِيُضِلَّ النَّاسَ بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ قُل لاَّ أَجِدُ فِي مَا أُوْحِيَ إِلَيَّ مُحَرَّمًا عَلَى طَاعِمٍ يَطْعَمُهُ إِلاَّ أَن يَكُونَ مَيْتَةً أَوْ دَمًا مَّسْفُوحًا أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنزِيرٍ فَإِنَّهُ رِجْسٌ أَوْ فِسْقًا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللّهِ بِهِ فَمَنِ اضْطُرَّ غَيْرَ بَاغٍ وَلاَ عَادٍ فَإِنَّ رَبَّكَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ (6: 141-5)

Of the beasts you have, some are tall and some short in stature. Eat of that which God has given you and do not walk in Satan's footsteps; he is your inveterate foe. Take eight kinds of livestock: first a pair of sheep and a pair of

goats. Ask them: 'Of these, has He forbidden you the males, the females, or their offspring? Answer me, if you have some proof'. Then a pair of camels and a pair of cattle. Say: 'Of these, has He forbidden you the males, and females, or their offspring? Were you present when God gave you these commandments?' Who is more wicked than the man who in is his ignorance invents a lie about God to mislead mankind? God does not guide the wrongdoers. Say: 'I find nothing in what has been revealed to me that forbids men to eat of any food except carrion, blood poured forth, and the flesh of swine – for these are unclean – and any flesh that has been profanely consecrated to gods other than God. But whoever is driven by necessity, intending neither to desire nor to transgress, will find your Lord forgiving and merciful. (6:141-5)

3. Satan's Threat and Open Animosity

According to Ghamidi, (notes 18, 19), in verse 169, the Arabs are told that they must not walk in Satan's footsteps by becoming superstitious and declaring unlawful edibles as lawful. They must know that from the very beginning he has threatened to mislead man from the path of Tawhid through such superstitions:

وَلأُضِلَّنَّهُمْ وَلأُمَنِّيَنَّهُمْ وَلآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُبَتِّكُنَّ آذَانَ الأَنْعَامِ وَلآمُرَنَّهُمْ فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللّهِ وَمَن يَتَّخِذِ الشَّيْطَانَ وَلِيًّا مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ فَقَدْ خَسِرَ خُسْرَانًا مُّبِينًا(119:4)

I shall lead them astray and I shall arouse in them vain desires and suggest them to slit the ears of cattle. I shall entice them to tamper with God's creation. Indeed, he that chooses Satan rather than God for his protector ruins himself beyond redemption. (4:119)

He is an open enemy of man since the very beginning:

قَالَ فَبِمَا أَغْوَيْتَنِي لأَقْعُدَنَّ لَهُمْ صِرَاطَكَ الْمُسْتَقِيمَ ثُمَّ لآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَآئِلِهِمْ وَلاَ تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ(7: 16-17)

'Because You have led me into sin', he declared, 'I will waylay Your servants as they walk on Your straight path, then spring upon them from the front and from the rear, from their right and from their left. Then You will find the greater part of them ungrateful. )7:16-17(

4. Disowning Dialogues

At other places in the Qur'an as well, the dialogue between leaders and their followers as mentioned in verse 167 is portrayed. Here is an example:

وَقَالَ إِنَّمَا اتَّخَذْتُم مِّن دُونِ اللَّهِ أَوْثَانًا مَّوَدَّةَ بَيْنِكُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا ثُمَّ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَكْفُرُ بَعْضُكُم بِبَعْضٍ وَيَلْعَنُ بَعْضُكُم بَعْضًا وَمَأْوَاكُمُ النَّارُ وَمَا لَكُم مِّن نَّاصِرِينَ (25:29)

And he [-- Abraham --] said: 'You have chosen idols instead of God, but your love of them will last only in this nether life. On the Day of Resurrection you shall disown one another, and you shall curse one another. The Fire shall be your home and none shall help you. (29:25)

5. The Connotation of 'وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَى حُبِّهِّ'

Writes Ghamidi (note 44): 'Although these words can also mean 'he spent his wealth out of God's love', we have given preference to those given in the translation. The reason for this preference are other parallel verses of the Qur'an. In 3:92, and 59:9, it has been explicitly stated that the highest position a person can attain in being loyal to the Almighty is when he spends that wealth which is dear to him. Here also, it is being told what type of spending in the way of Allah earns a person this status. Hence, this becomes a basis for preferring the meaning that we have adopted'.

The verses are:

وَالَّذِينَ تَبَوَّؤُوا الدَّارَ وَالْإِيمَانَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ يُحِبُّونَ مَنْ هَاجَرَ إِلَيْهِمْ وَلَا يَجِدُونَ فِي صُدُورِهِمْ حَاجَةً مِّمَّا أُوتُوا وَيُؤْثِرُونَ عَلَى أَنفُسِهِمْ وَلَوْ كَانَ بِهِمْ خَصَاصَةٌ وَمَن يُوقَ شُحَّ نَفْسِهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ (9:59)

The men who have already have an abode and are firm in faith love those who have sought refuge with them; they do not covet what they are given, but rather prize them above themselves, though they are in want. Those that preserve themselves from their own greed shall surely prosper. (59:9)

لَن تَنَالُواْ الْبِرَّ حَتَّى تُنفِقُواْ مِمَّا تُحِبُّونَ وَمَا تُنفِقُواْ مِن شَيْءٍ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ بِهِ عَلِيمٌ (92:3)

You shall never be truly righteous until you spend what you dearly cherish. What you spend is known to God. (3:92)

V. Scriptures and Testaments (العهود والصحف)

1. Prohibition of Edibles in the Old Testament

i. Eating Wholesome Things. (Qur'an, 2:172)

Do not eat any detestable thing. (Deuteronomy, 14: 3)

ii. Prohibition of Carrion (Qur'an, 2:173)

Do not eat anything you find already dead. (Deuteronomy, 14:21)

He must not eat anything found dead or torn by wild animals, and so become unclean through it. I am the LORD. (Leviticus, 22:8)

iii. Prohibition of Blood (Qur'an, 2:173)

And wherever you live, you must not eat the blood of any bird or animal. If anyone eats blood, that person must be cut off from his people. (Leviticus, 7:26)

But you must not eat blood; pour it out on the ground like water. (Deuteronomy, 12:16)

But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. (Deuteronomy, 12:23)

iv. Prohibition of Swine (Qur'an, 2:173)

The pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud. You are not to eat their meet or touch their carcasses. (Deuteronomy, 14:8)

v. Slaughtering in the name of the Deities (Qur'an, 2:173)

Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the LORD must be destroyed. (Exodus, 22:20)




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