Words Unlike Others, Hasad to Hatred, Functions of Revelations

Issue 875 » January 1, 2016 - Rabi Al-Awwal 21, 1437

Living The Quran

Words Unlike Others
Al-Alaq (The Blood Clots) - Chapter 96: Verses 1-5

"Read! In the name of your Lord and Cherisher, Who created. Created man, out of a leech-like clot. Proclaim! And your Lord is Most Bountiful. He Who taught [the use of] the Pen, Taught man that which he knew not."

Appearing before Muhammad (peace be upon him) suddenly one day while he was secluded in a cave, Jibril commanded him to read; he replied that he did not know how to read. The angel repeated his demand thrice, and received the same confused and frightened answer thrice, before revealing to this unsuspecting Prophet the very first verses he was to hear of the Quran.

Shaken from this unexpected encounter and carrying this greatest of burdens, Muhammad returned trembling to his wife Khadija and implored her to conceal him, till some measure of calmness had returned to him. As an Arab he was familiar with all sorts of Arabic expressions, with poetry and prose, but nothing bore resemblance to these verses; he had heard something the likes of which he had never heard before. These ineffable Words, this Quran, became the first and greatest miracle bestowed upon him. In another time and place Moses had been granted his own miracles - light emanating from his hands, the transformation of his stick into a slithering snake - as signs of his prophethood. Compare that to the subtlety of Muhammad's case: in the solitude of a mountain cave an angel beckons an unlettered man to read. His miracles included no snakes, no plagues, no curing of lepers or raising of the dead, but Words unlike anything that had ever fallen on human ears.

Compiled From:
"The History of the Quranic Text" - Muhammad Mustafa Al-Azami, pp. 47, 48

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Hasad to Hatred

"Do not be envious of one another." [Muslim]

The word translated here as "envy" is al-hasad. Ibn Rajab states that hasad is something that is firmly embedded in the nature of man. It is where a person hates to see anyone else being superior or better off than him. Ibn al-Qayyim and al-Qaasimi have defined hasad as disliking a bounty that another has received and wishing that the other person would lose that bounty. Al-Bugha and Mistu as well as Abdul Maalik al-Qaasim define it simply as the wishing that another person would lose a bounty that he possesses. Al-Haitami defines hasad as a person wishing that another's bounty would be lost and wishing that he would get it himself.

It seems that hasad is inclusive of a number of cases, some being worse in degree than others. It includes the case where a person dislikes that Allah should bestow a bounty upon somebody else, even if he himself has more of that same bounty. For example, Allah may have blessed a certain individual with a large amount of knowledge yet, at the same time, he hates it when Allah bestows any amount of knowledge upon others. This is hasad. It is not necessary that the person wishes that the bounty be removed from the other person or that he himself receives that bounty. It is sufficient to constitute hasad that he hates that the other person has even received the blessing in the first place.

This disease of the heart and the sin which is known as hasad was one of the first sins ever committed. It was one of the main things that drove Satan away from his Lord. In fact, two aspects drove Satan to the horrendous situation that he is in today: pride and envy. Both of these terrible diseases are touched upon in this hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

When hasad spreads among a people, it is very destructive. It strikes at the very core of the love and compassion that believers should have toward one another. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said concerning hasad,

"Creeping upon you is the disease of the peoples before you: envy and hatred. And the hatred is the thing that shaves. I do not say it shaves hair, but it shaves the religion. By the One in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe. And you do not believe until you love one another. Certainly, let me inform you of that which will establish such for you: spreading the greetings (of peace) among yourselves." [Ahmad, Tirmidhi]

According to ibn Taimiya, hasad is always accompanied by hatred. This is one of the evils of hasad. First the person is envious of the other person. After some time, this envy develops into hatred.

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo


Functions of Revelations

A fundamental aspect of the Islamic tradition is the recognition of the accomplished cycle of prophecy and all the prophets who preceded Muhammad. And one can only understand their meaning and function in human history if one has a clear idea of the Islamic conception of humankind. Revelations come, all through time, to reawaken the original breath, to make it possible for humankind to stay faithful to the original covenant, and to respect the divine commandments that ensure that they will live in His light and walk in His path in a way appropriate to the time in which they live. It is in this context, according to Islamic teaching, that the Quran, confirming the essential message of the Revelations that came earlier, goes back to the sources of fitra and confirms it, reviving the original impulse in humans and making them live by recalling it. To reveal, in fact, is to recall the closeness of the faith of Eve, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Mary, Jesus, and all the prophets; to reveal is to revive the light that is dormant in the heart of each of us and that forgetfulness often dims or stifles.

The first function of Revelation is to recall and confirm what went before, which, according to Islamic tradition, may be summed up in four fundamental principles: (1) There is one God who has no associates (tawhid al-rububiyya); (2) human beings are linked with the Creator by an original testimony and covenant; (3) the Transcendent has sent Revelations and Prophets throughout history to call humankind back to the testimony and the covenant and to tell them about the requirements of religious ritual and morality that are laid upon them; (4) to be with God is to be for Him and to free oneself of all idols—material, fantasy, and even emotional—in order to live in His presence and respect His commandments (tawhid al- uluhiyya).

From the revealed Pages of Noah (suhuf), to the Psalms of David, to the Torah of Moses, to the Gospel of Jesus, and up to the Quran of Muhammad, each Revelation has as its first purpose to confirm these four fundamental principles. The second purpose of each of the Books has been to put right what was forgotten, modified, and sometimes corrupted by human interventions in the previous Revelation. These two first functions are on the level of general principles. The last function has then been to reveal to humankind the religious practices they should follow from then on, the specifics of moral teaching that were relevant to them, and, finally, the patterns of interpersonal and social relations that they should establish and respect.

Compiled From:
"Western Muslims and The Future of Islam" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 18, 19