[Al-Quran 50:6-8] Have they not looked at the heaven above them - how We structured it and adorned it and how it has no rifts? And the earth - We spread it out and cast therein firmly set mountains and made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind, Giving insight and a reminder for every servant who turns [to Allah].

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kawakib: Planets, Comets and other rocky bodies?

The term ‘كَوْكَبٌ’  used in the Quran seems to refer to objects which do not produce light, but shine due to the light of another source. I think they are solid objects made from sand/soil/clay, and have rocky features. Planets, asteroids, meteoroids and comets, all fit in this description.   

Some translators translate the term ‘kawkab’ as star, but the Quran uses the term ‘najm’ to refer to a star. As the Quran has very precise and appropriate usage of words, its critical to explore this word in detail for an understanding and comprehension of the heavenly phenomenon being described. 

Mention in Quran: 
In the Quran, the term ‘kawkab’ and its plural ‘kawakib’ have been used as follows: 

(6:76:6) kawkaban فَلَمَّا جَنَّ عَلَيْهِ اللَّيْلُ رَأَىٰ كَوْكَبًا
(12:4:10) kawkaban إِذْ قَالَ يُوسُفُ لِأَبِيهِ يَا أَبَتِ إِنِّي رَأَيْتُ أَحَدَ عَشَرَ كَوْكَبًا
(24:35:15) kawkabun كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِنْ شَجَرَةٍ مُبَارَكَةٍ
(37:6:6) l-kawākibi إِنَّا زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِزِينَةٍ الْكَوَاكِبِ
(82:2:2) l-kawākibu وَإِذَا الْكَوَاكِبُ انْتَثَرَتْ

In verse 6:76, Prophet Abraham sees a ‘kawkaban’. The verse is preceded by the statement that Abraham was shown the realms of the heavens and the earth, so that he would have faith with certainty. This is followed by the mention of three heavenly bodies: kawkaban, moon and sun. 

In verse 12:4, Prophet Yusuf sees a dream in which 11 ‘kawkaban’, the sun and the moon are prostrating to him. The dream is realised many years later when, in verse 12:100, he is re-united with his parents and eleven brothers, all of whom prostrate to him. 

In verse 24:35, where God is being described as the ‘Nur’ of the heavens and the earth, the example to explain it is described as the ‘nur’ is within a glass, and the glass is radiating the ‘nur’ as a brilliant, shining ‘kawkabun’.   

In verse 37:6, the singular ‘as-samaa’  [heaven/sky] of the ‘dunya’ [world] has been decorated with ‘al-kawakib’ whose purpose is to guard against every froward devil [37:7]. Verse 37:11 goes on to state that they (I assume ‘kawakib’) have been created from ‘teenin laazib’. 



In verse 82:2, the future, cataclysmic event is being referred to as when the ‘al-kawakib’ are dispersed. This is preceded by verse 82:1 which reads: when the singular ‘as-samaa’  [heaven/sky] is cleft asunder.  

Meanings: 
Looking up the meaning of ‘kawkab’ in Lane’s Lexicon [page 2623 under k-k-b], the following meanings are of interest in this study: 
it (iron) glistened; was lustrous, or bright 
al-kawkab or al-kawkaba for Venus, while kawkub for rest of the stars [*
the source, or spring, of a well
water 
the lustre, or brightness, or glistening, of iron 
vehemence of heat 
of difficulties, distresses or calamities, when used as an adjective for a day 
a place of confinement 

Ancient Arabic and Hebrew: 
Ancient Arabic and Hebrew have many commonalities, and according to some, may have been different dialects of the same language. As per an author, ‘The Hebrew word for star is  (kokhav), while planet is referred to as a ‘walking star’ –  Curiously, Arabic uses the same root to refer to planet –  (kawkab), while the word for star is  (najm) or  (najma). The common root for the Hebrew star and the Arab planet probably originates from the Akkadian word ‘kakkabu’ for star.’ [4.1. Star, Planet  ]

[*] Venus is a planet, and since, it is the brightest star-like, point-of-light in our night sky, it is easy to understand why people without technical knowledge would assume it to be a star.  In ancient mythology, Venus is known as the Comet-Planet, whose coma glowed in a comet-like tail, and is depicted in the crown of ancient Egyptian queens, as well as other mythologies around the world. However, scientists have found planet Venus exhibiting some comet-like properties.  

Space Research: 
As research and discovery continue, new findings are radically altering the assumptions and theories about the constitution of the heavenly bodies. 

A few missions in the recent past were sent to explore comets: Deep Impact, Stardust, Stardust NExT and most recently Rosetta. The Thunderbolts Project’s video: The Electric Comet summarises the recent discoveries and evaluates the findings in the light of their Electric theory. 

The samples and images indicate that the composition of comets is remarkably similar to the composition of planets, and appear to have been formed from the same material. Furthermore, they seem to have been formed in very diverse conditions and then put together. The shapes of the comets are also very surprising. Close-up images of comets Tempel 1 and Hartley are fascinating!   

Stardust findings: “The findings from the Stardust mission to collect comet samples indicates: ‘Scientists found a wide variety in particle composition and size in the Wild 2 samples. Most of the Wild 2 samples appear to be weakly constructed mixtures of very small grains with a few larger grains. Also, a wide range of high- and low-temperature minerals, from olivine to low- and high-calcium pyroxene compositions, is present in the Wild 2 samples. Such a diversity of high- and low-temperature minerals requires a wide range of formation conditions, probably reflecting different formation locations. Many particles did not form in the cold environment and locations where cometary ices condensed. Instead, they needed high temperatures to form, as well as complex and as yet little understood dynamical processes to end up where comets actually formed. Also, particles from different environments must have undergone some process of accretion to end up as aggregates composed of different minerals.’ 

Another analysis: “The comet is very odd mix of materials that formed at the highest and lowest temperatures that existed in the early solar system. Comets have been cold for billions of years but their ingredients are remarkable products of both fire and ice.  Because the rocky materials in comet Wild 2 formed at such high temperatures, we believe that they formed in the hot inner regions of the young solar system and were then transported all the way to beyond the orbit of Neptune. There had been several theories that suggested that such large scale mixing might have occurred and the Stardust results appear to be proof that this large scale mixing did occur and that many of the large rocky particles formed close to the Sun.  This implies that while the comets contain ices that formed at the edge of the solar system, the rocky materials that actually make up the bulk of a comet’s mass actually formed in the hottest possible conditions. The inner solar system can be thought of as a factory producing rocky materials that were distributed outwards to all the bodies and regions of the solar system.”

Stardust NExT report on Tempel 1: “One of the striking features of this low-gravity object is that there are regions of different types of “geology” and that these occur at different relative heights. Areas that are relatively high are rough and have many pits, tens to hundreds of m across. Areas that are low have much smoother topography and even display deposits that have many characteristics of having been emplaced as flows along the surface filling in the low areas. These likely flow deposits are up to tens of meters thick, and some are over 3 km in length. The three main low regions and outlines of likely flows are shown in the lower part of the illustration.” 

Water on comets: “By analyzing data and images taken prior to impact, Deep Impact scientists have detected water ice in three small areas on the surface of comet Tempel 1. This is the first time ice has been detected on the nucleus, or solid body, of a comet. The findings are published today in the online version of the journal Science.”

"These results show that there is ice on the surface, but not very much and definitely not enough to account for the water we see in the out-gassed material that is in the coma [the cloud of gas and dust that surrounds the comet]," said lead author Jessica Sunshine of Science Applications International Corporation.”

"These new findings are significant because they show that our technique is effective in finding ice when it is on the surface and that we can therefore firmly conclude that most of the water vapor that escapes from comets is contained in ice particles found below the surface," said Deep Impact Principal Investigator Michael A'Hearn of the University of Maryland.”

Everything in creation must serve a purpose, as asserted in following verse in the Quran:

[Al-Qur’an 38:27 translator: Sahih International] And We did not create the heaven and the earth and that between them aimlessly. That is the assumption of those who disbelieve, so woe to those who disbelieve from the Fire.

In chapter 15 in the Quran, it mentions that ‘buroojan’ have been made in the sky, which are guarded from the devils:  

[Al-Qur’an 15:16-18, translator: Shakir] And certainly We have made strongholds in the heaven and We have made it fair seeming to the beholders. And We guard it against every accursed Shaitan, But he who steals a hearing, so there follows him a visible flame. 

Though a number of translators take it to mean constellations or mansions of stars, according to Lane’s Lexicon, ‘buroojan’ means strongholds. Shakir has also translated it as strongholds. It is interesting that this verse is mentioned in Surah Al-Hijr [The Rocky Tract / The Valley of Stone], which agrees with the shades of meaning of ‘kawkab’ listed above under Meanings. Furthermore, the fact that they are beautiful to behold is also mentioned here, as in 37:6 [We have adorned the Heaven of the world with adornment of the Kawkab].  

The verses speak of guarding from ‘shaitan’ who are pelted from every side, pursued by a piercing flame: 

[Al-Quran 37:7-10] and guard against every rebellious shaitaan; they cannot listen to the Exalted Assembly for they are pelted from every side; outcast, and theirs is a perpetual torment; except such as who snatches by stealth, is pursued by a piercing flame;  

Could these verses be referring to meteor showers which fall on Earth throughout the year? They are visible to the naked eye, and the origins of many are associated with comets which are beautiful to behold, as mentioned in 15:16, and 37:6. 


Why not stars: 
Translators of the Quran generally tend to translate ‘kawkab’ as star, as found in the lexicon and various translations, as also in the examples of 24:35 below. However, Quran uses the word ‘najm’ for stars. Where the Quran employs the word ‘kawkab’, it appears that a more plausible translation would be a body which shines due to another light source. In Quran 24:35, the word ‘kawkab’, as explained in the verse itself, is something that is illuminated and shining due to another light source. In contrast, the the stars glow by their own light.  

[Al-Qur’an 24:35, translator: Sahih International] Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things. 

[Al-Qur’an 24:35, translator: Pickthall] Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things. 

As per the explanation of ‘kawkab’ in the verse itself of the glass shining due to the light of the lamp, considering the above-listed Lexicon’ meanings: [ i) it (iron) glistened; was lustrous, or bright, and v) the lustre, or brightness, or glistening, of iron], it appears that the term ‘kawkab’ is employed for celestial objects which have metallic content and reflect light, which could include planets, asteroids, comets, meteoroids and meteors. Recent exploration and analysis of samples returned by NASA’s mission Stardust have revealed that ‘like in meteorites most of the components from the comet have isotopic compositions similar to Earth and are of solar system origin.’  

Considering the meanings [ iii) the source, or spring, of a well, and v) water ] of ‘kawkab’, recent explorations have returned little evidence for massive amounts of water on comet surface, but there is some evidence of underground water reserves. This is surprising for scientists, as it was theorised that comets brought water to earth. However, even though the Quran does mention that water has been sent from the sky/heaven [as-samaa], it does not mention ‘kawakib’ in relation with water. 

What is the meaning of ‘teenin lazibin’? 

فَاسْتَفْتِهِمْ أَهُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَم مَّنْ خَلَقْنَا ۚ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُم مِّن طِينٍ لَّازِبٍ

Then ask them: are they stronger in creation or whom we have created? We created them of ‘teenin lazibin’

Verse 37:11 goes on to question who is more difficult to create, and unequivocally states that We created them from ‘teenin lazibin’. According to Lane’s Lexicon, ’teenin’ is clay or mud, while ‘lazibin’ means fixed, settled, firm or constant, and severe. I think this question is about the creation of ‘al-kawakib’, and is informing us of the composition of these strongholds, which are well-guarded!

Some other observations: 
The article ‘al’ prefixing ‘kawakib’  has been used in 37:6 and 82:2, which indicates that the ‘kawakib’ referred here are either definitive [English equivalent ‘the’], or represents the entire category of ‘kawakib’ 

In 24:35, the kawkab is likened to glass, an amorphous substance which we are very familiar with on Earth, having the properties of transmitting, reflecting and refracting light. 

In 67:5, the verse speaks of the sky/heaven of the world being adorned (of old) with lamps. Verse 24:35 speaks of the lamp within the glass shining like a kawkab. The analogy seems quite similar to a filament bulb. 

The purpose of the lamps in the world's sky is to drive away the evil ones with 'missiles'. (67:5)    

I refrain to add Moon to the list of possible meanings of 'kawkab', as moon [al-qamr] is stated separately from kawkab, just as sun [as-shams] is stated separately from the stars[an-najm]. The separate specific mention could be either because the sun and moon stand out in our sky as different from the other objects, or it could be that future research holds some new discoveries which may alter our understanding of these heavenly bodies.  

Last updated on September 4, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Guarding the Sky

[Al-Quran, Chapter 37, Verses 4-12]

 إِنَّ إِلَـٰهَكُمْ لَوَاحِدٌ  رَّبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا وَرَبُّ الْمَشَارِقِ   إِنَّا زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِزِينَةٍ الْكَوَاكِبِ   وَحِفْظًا مِّن كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّارِدٍ  لَّا يَسَّمَّعُونَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ الْأَعْلَىٰ وَيُقْذَفُونَ مِن كُلِّ جَانِبٍ دُحُورًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ وَاصِبٌ    إِلَّا مَنْ خَطِفَ الْخَطْفَةَ فَأَتْبَعَهُ شِهَابٌ ثَاقِبٌ
فَاسْتَفْتِهِمْ أَهُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَم مَّنْ خَلَقْنَا ۚ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُم مِّن طِينٍ لَّازِبٍ    بَلْ عَجِبْتَ وَيَسْخَرُونَ

Translation: Indeed your Deity is One. The Lord of the Heavens and Earth and all that is between them, and Lord of All Mashaariq; We have adorned the Heaven of the world with adornment of the Al-Kawakib; and guard against every rebellious shaitaan; they cannot listen to the Exalted Assembly for they are pelted from every side; outcast, and theirs is a perpetual torment; except such as who snatches by stealth, is pursued by a piercing flame; Then ask them: are they stronger in creation or whom we have created? We created them of ‘teenin lazibin’. But, you wonder and they make fun. 


Lord of All Mashaariq: 
رَبُّ الْمَشَارِقِ 

The root of the word ‘mashaariq’ is sh-r-q, which is generally understood to refer to the East or place where the Sun rises from. However, studying the usage of the words sh-r-q and g-r-b in the various verses,I wonder if they might mean origins and endings…   

Looking up ‘sh-r-q’ in Lane’s Lexicon, page 1541, ‘mashriq’ implies ‘place, quarter or direction of sunrise’, ‘east’, ‘orient’. 

The dual ‘mashriqain’ is understood to mean: 
the two extreme points of the eastern horizon, that is the point from where the sun rises in summer and the point where the sun rises in winter 
رَبُّ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ وَرَبُّ الْمَغْرِبَيْنِ

[Al-Qur’an 43:38, translator: Pickthall] Lord of the two Easts, and Lord of the two Wests! 
[Al-Qur’an 43:38, translator: Shakir] Lord of the East and Lord of the West 

the distance between the east and west, or between the place of sunrise and the place of sunset    

… يَا لَيْتَ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكَ بُعْدَ الْمَشْرِقَيْنِ

[Al-Qur’an 43:38, translator: Pickthall] Ah, would that between me and thee there were the distance of the two horizons 
[Al-Qur’an 43:38, translator: Shakir] O would that between me and you there were the distance of the East and the West 

The plural form used in 37:5, has also been used in 70:40, has been translated follows: 

فَلَا أُقْسِمُ بِرَبِّ الْمَشَارِقِ وَالْمَغَارِبِ إِنَّا لَقَادِرُونَ

[Al-Qur’an 70:40, translator: Pickthall] But nay! I swear by the Lord of the rising-places and the setting-places of the planets that We verily are Able  
[Al-Qur’an 70:40, translator: Shakir] But nay! I swear by the Lord of the Easts and the Wests that We are certainly able  

Consider the usage of sh-r-q and g-r-b in the following verse: 

اللَّهُ نُورُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِ كَمِشْكَاةٍ فِيهَا مِصْبَاحٌ ۖ الْمِصْبَاحُ فِي زُجَاجَةٍ ۖ الزُّجَاجَةُ كَأَنَّهَا كَوْكَبٌ دُرِّيٌّ يُوقَدُ مِن شَجَرَةٍ مُّبَارَكَةٍ زَيْتُونَةٍ لَّا شَرْقِيَّةٍ وَلَا غَرْبِيَّةٍ يَكَادُ زَيْتُهَا يُضِيءُ وَلَوْ لَمْ تَمْسَسْهُ نَارٌ ۚ نُّورٌ عَلَىٰ نُورٍ ۗ يَهْدِي اللَّهُ لِنُورِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

[Al-Qur’an 24:35, translator: Sahih International] Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things. 

Describing the Day of Resurrection [Qiyamah], consider the usage of root sh-r-q in the Quran,[39:69] 

وَأَشْرَقَتِ الْأَرْضُ بِنُورِ رَبِّهَا  

[Al-Qur’an 39:69, translator: Pickthall] And the earth shineth with the light of her Lord, 

Also, consider the usage of East in Ancient Hebrew: ‘The ancient Hebrew words that are used to describe distance and direction are also used to describe time. The Hebrew word for east is qedem and literally means "the direction of the rising sun.” The implications of this statement are astounding. This is because time, as defined as the distance between two physical events, is not a physical measurement in and of itself. Yet in ancient Hebrew, time and distance refer to the same thing and literally to “the direction of the rising sun,” (which we as human beings call the east direction). One implication of this association would be that the origin of all things could have come, does come, and will come from the east.’ [http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/docs/39_brown-time.pdf

Could the dual forms (i) refer to the two deaths and two lives mentioned in Quran 2:28?  and (ii) could imply the distance of a lifetime, the distance between the first life and the resurrection? and the plural of 70:40 also refer to all origins and endings? Consider the following: in Quran 24:35, the example is that of a glass is being illuminated by a blessed olive tree that is ‘neither of the east nor of the west’. Could east and west here imply ‘without origin and without end’?  And perhaps the word ‘ashraqto’ in verse 39:69 means ‘re-originates’ or will be created anew, after its destruction?  

Al-Kawakib (singular Kawkab)
  إِنَّا زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِزِينَةٍ
الْكَوَاكِبِ   وَحِفْظًا مِّن كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّارِدٍ 

Looking up the meaning of ‘kawkab’ in Lane’s Lexicon [page 2623 under k-k-b], the following meanings are of interest in this study: 
it (iron) glistened; was lustrous, or bright 
al-kawkab or al-kawkaba for Venus, while kawkub for rest of the stars [*] 
the source, or spring, of a well
water 
the lustre, or brightness, or glistening, of iron 
vehemence of heat 
of difficulties, distresses or calamities, when used as an adjective for a day 
a place of confinement 

[*] Venus is a planet, and since it is the brightest object in the night sky, it is easy to understand why most people would assume it to be a star. Ancient Arabic and Hebrew have many commonalities, and according to some, may have been different dialects of the same language. As per an author, ‘The Hebrew word for star is  (kokhav), while planet is referred to as a ‘walking star’ –  Curiously, Arabic uses the same root to refer to planet –  (kawkab), while the word for star is  (najm) or  (najma). The common root for the Hebrew star and the Arab planet probably originates from the Akkadian word ‘kakkabu’ for star.’ [4.1. Star, Planet 

Translators of the Quran generally tend to translate ‘kawkab’ as star, as found in the lexicon and various translations, as also in the examples of 24:35 below. However, Quran uses the word ‘najm’ for stars. Where the Quran employs the word ‘kawkab’, it appears that a more scientifically understandable translation would be a body illuminated by light from another source. In Quran 24:35, the word ‘kawkab’, as explained in the verse itself, is something that is illuminated and shining due to another light source.   


[Al-Qur’an 24:35, translator: Sahih International] Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The example of His light is like a niche within which is a lamp, the lamp is within glass, the glass as if it were a pearly [white] star lit from [the oil of] a blessed olive tree, neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire. Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills. And Allah presents examples for the people, and Allah is Knowing of all things. 

[Al-Qur’an 24:35, translator: Pickthall] Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as it were a shining star. (This lamp is) kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the East nor of the West, whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself) though no fire touched it. Light upon light. Allah guideth unto His light whom He will. And Allah speaketh to mankind in allegories, for Allah is Knower of all things. 

As per the explanation of ‘kawkab’ in the verse itself of the glass shining due to the light of the lamp, considering the above-listed Lexicon’ meanings: [ i) it (iron) glistened; was lustrous, or bright, and v) the lustre, or brightness, or glistening, of iron] from the list above, it appears that the term ‘kawkab’ is employed for celestial objects which have metallic content and reflect light, which could include planets, moon, asteroids, meteors and meteorites. Recent exploration and analysis of samples returned by NASA’s mission Stardust have revealed that ‘like in meteorites most of the components from the comet have isotopic compositions similar to Earth and are of solar system origin.’.  

Interestingly, comets are also assumed to have massive amounts of water/ice, and it is theorised that they are the source of water on planet Earth. Considering the meanings [ iii) the source, or spring, of a well, and v) water ], comets fit in well with the shades of meaning of ‘kawkab’. However, according to the Quran, water did come from the sky, but the word 'burooj' is not associated with the arrival of water on Earth.  

In chapter 15 in the Quran, it mentions that ‘buroojan’ have been made in the sky, which are guarded from the devils.
وَلَقَدْ جَعَلْنَا فِي السَّمَاءِ بُرُوجًا وَزَيَّنَّاهَا لِلنَّاظِرِينَ

[Al-Qur’an 15:16, translator: Shakir] And certainly We have made strongholds in the heaven and We have made it fair seeming to the beholders.

Though a number of translators take it to mean constellations or mansions of stars, according to Lane’s Lexicon, ‘buroojan’ means strongholds. Shakir has also translated it as strongholds. It is interesting that this verse is mentioned in Surah Al-Hijr [The Rocky Tract / The Valley of Stone], which agrees with the shades of meaning of ‘kawkab’ discussed above. Furthermore, the fact that they are beautiful to behold is also mentioned here, as in 37:6 [We have adorned the Heaven of the world with adornment of the Kawkab].  

Pelted from every side, pursued by a piercing flame: 

وَحِفْظًا مِّن كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ مَّارِدٍ 
لَّا يَسَّمَّعُونَ إِلَى الْمَلَإِ الْأَعْلَىٰ وَيُقْذَفُونَ مِن كُلِّ جَانِبٍ 
دُحُورًا ۖ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ وَاصِبٌ
إِلَّا مَنْ خَطِفَ الْخَطْفَةَ فَأَتْبَعَهُ شِهَابٌ ثَاقِبٌ

[Al-Quran 37:7-10] and guard against every rebellious shaitaan; they cannot listen to the Exalted Assembly for they are pelted from every side; outcast, and theirs is a perpetual torment; except such as who snatches by stealth, is pursued by a piercing flame

And consider the following verses from chapters 15 and 66: 

 وَحَفِظْنَاهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْطَانٍ رَّجِيمٍ  
إِلَّا مَنِ اسْتَرَقَ السَّمْعَ فَأَتْبَعَهُ شِهَابٌ مُّبِينٌ 

[Al-Quran 15:17-19, translator:Shakir] And We guard it against every accursed Shaitan, But he who steals a hearing, so there follows him a visible flame. 



وَلَقَدْ زَيَّنَّا السَّمَاءَ الدُّنْيَا بِمَصَابِيحَ وَجَعَلْنَاهَا رُجُومًا لِّلشَّيَاطِينِ ۖ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لَهُمْ عَذَابَ السَّعِيرِ

[Al-Quran 67:5, translator:Shakir] And certainly We have adorned this lower heaven with lamps and We have made these missiles for the Shaitans, and We have prepared for them the chastisement of burning. 


[Al-Quran 67:5, translator:Yusuf Ali] And we have, (from of old), adorned the lowest heaven with Lamps, and We have made such (Lamps) (as) missiles to drive away the Evil Ones, and have prepared for them the Penalty of the Blazing Fire. 

Could these verses be referring to meteor showers which fall on Earth throughout the year? They are visible to the naked eye, and the origins of many are associated with comets which are beautiful to behold, as mentioned in 15:16, and 37:6. 

What are comets made of? 

فَاسْتَفْتِهِمْ أَهُمْ أَشَدُّ خَلْقًا أَم مَّنْ خَلَقْنَا ۚ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاهُم مِّن طِينٍ لَّازِبٍ

Then ask them: are they stronger in creation or whom we have created? We created them of ‘teenin lazibin’

Verse 37:11 goes on to question who is more difficult to create, and unequivocally states that We created them from ‘teenin lazibin’. According to Lane’s Lexicon, ’teenin’ is clay or mud, while ‘lazibin’ means fixed, settled, firm or constant, and severe. Could the above verse be describing what comets are made of? 

The findings from the Stardust mission to collect comet samples indicates: ‘Scientists found a wide variety in particle composition and size in the Wild 2 samples. Most of the Wild 2 samples appear to be weakly constructed mixtures of very small grains with a few larger grains. Also, a wide range of high- and low-temperature minerals, from olivine to low- and high-calcium pyroxene compositions, is present in the Wild 2 samples. Such a diversity of high- and low-temperature minerals requires a wide range of formation conditions, probably reflecting different formation locations. Many particles did not form in the cold environment and locations where cometary ices condensed. Instead, they needed high temperatures to form, as well as complex and as yet little understood dynamical processes to end up where comets actually formed. Also, particles from different environments must have undergone some process of accretion to end up as aggregates composed of different minerals.’ [http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news110.html

A new picture of Comets is emerging: The Electric Comet 

My interpretation of the verse: Indeed your Deity is One. The Lord of the Heavens and Earth and all that is between them, and Lord of all origins; We have adorned the Heaven of the world with adornment of the hard glistening rocky celestial bodies; and guarding against every rebellious devil; they cannot listen to the Exalted Assembly for they are pelted from every side; outcast, and theirs is a perpetual torment; except such as who snatches by stealth, is pursued by a piercing flame; Then ask them: are they stronger in creation or whom we have created? We created them of ‘teenin lazibin’. But, you wonder and they make fun. 

May Allah guide us to a better and clearer understanding of His Message. Amen. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Subterranean Waters in Pharaonic Egypt


وَنَادَىٰ فِرْعَوْنُ فِي قَوْمِهِ قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ أَلَيْسَ لِي مُلْكُ مِصْرَ وَهَـٰذِهِ الْأَنْهَارُ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِي ۖ أَفَلَا تُبْصِرُونَ

[Al-Qur’an 43:51, translator: Sahih International] And Pharaoh called out among his people; he said, "O my people, does not the kingdom of Egypt belong to me, and these rivers flowing beneath me; then do you not see?” 

The phrase: ‘rivers flowing beneath’ is mainly associated with the imagery of the Gardens of Paradise promised as the perpetual home to the righteous in the Hereafter. 

Subterranean Rivers in Africa
According to recent discoveries, massive underground reserves of water have been discovered in Africa. ‘Groundwater resources are unevenly distributed: the largest groundwater volumes are found in the large sedimentary aquifers in the North African countries Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Sudan’.  [http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/2/024009/pdf/1748-9326_7_2_024009.pdf]  
Related Links: 

Quran: Pharaonic Egypt and the Mission of Moses
In Surah az-Zukhruf (meaning The Gold Adornment or Ornaments of Gold), Pharoah, who claimed to be divine, is quoted as drawing attention to the ‘waters flowing beneath’ while describing his glorious, flourishing kingdom. During the prophetic mission of Prophet Moses, the Messenger of God, the nation was shown sign after sign, and each time they asked Moses to pray that the trial be removed, yet after its removal, they still continued to disbelief, as narrated in these verses:  
[Al-Qur’an 43:45-56, translator: Shakir]
45 And ask those of Our apostles whom We sent before you: Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Beneficent Allah?
46 And certainly We sent Musa with Our communications to Firon and his chiefs, so he said: Surely I am the apostle of the Lord of the worlds.
47 But when he came to them with Our signs, lo! they laughed at them.
48 And We did not show them a sign but it was greater than its like, and We overtook them with chastisement that they may turn.
49 And they said: O magician! call on your Lord for our sake, as He has made the covenant with you; we shall surely be the followers of the right way.
50 But when We removed from them the chastisement, lo! they broke the pledge.
51 And Firon proclaimed amongst his people: O my people! is not the kingdom of Egypt mine? And these rivers flow beneath me; do you not then see?
52 Nay! I am better than this fellow, who is contemptible, and who can hardly speak distinctly:
53 But why have not bracelets of gold been put upon him, or why have there not come with him angels as companions? 
54 So he incited his people to levity and they obeyed him: surely they were a transgressing people.
55 Then when they displeased Us, We inflicted a retribution on them, so We drowned them all together,
56 And We made them a precedent and example to the later generations

Quran: a manifestation of Divine Kindness 
Earlier in Surah Zukhruf, while those being invited to faith are resisting it, the kindness of the Merciful God is manifested in the question posed in verse 5 below:  
[Al-Qur’an 43:5-8, translator: Shakir]  
5 What! shall We then turn away the reminder from you altogether because you are an extravagant people?
6 And how many a prophet have We sent among the ancients.
7 And there came not to them a prophet but they mocked at him.
8 Then We destroyed those who were stronger than these in prowess, and the case of the ancients has gone before,

Further reading on Ancient Egypt:
http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/archaeology/tanis-egypt/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Egypt
http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/history.htm
http://www.gigalresearch.com/uk/publications-pharaohs.php


Monday, August 11, 2014

Divine Will and Human Free Will

In Surah Fussilat / chapter titled: Explained in Detail, it states: 
[Al-Qur’an 41:53, translator: Sahih International] We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. But is it not sufficient concerning your Lord that He is, over all things, a Witness?

Scientific Research & Findings
Previously the realm of theology and philosophy, neuroscience is now researching on Free Will, providing some elementary yet interesting insight on whether there is such a thing or not, and if and what we are free to choose or refuse. 

Some interesting tests have been performed and brain responses measured, according to which it appears that the brain’s processing of an action begins prior to the conscious choice of a person to do something. Hence, it seems, that a person can ‘freely choose to not to’ do something, and thereby stop the execution of the process already initiated by the brain, that is, there seems to exists a ‘free won’t’  rather than a free will! [Tracking the Unconscious Generation of Free Decisions Using UItra-High Field fMRI: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0021612 ] However, it is also possible that there is a lower consciousness at all levels, where decisions are taken, and no such thing as the unconscious.  
Some other links for an overview of free will:   

Research in the light of Scripture 
The scripture offers some insights into free-will and predetermination/predestination, and examining the scientific research in the light of the verses of the Quran, these apparently contradictory concepts seem to co-exist and fit together like pieces of a puzzle! Though the puzzle is far from complete, we can begin to understand some of it. 

Human free will is about freedom of faith. We are free to accept or reject faith, but we are not free from the consequence of our choice. 

According to the Quran, faith is a matter of free will: God grants faith to the willing heart and withholds from the unwilling heart [2:186]. There is no compulsion in religion [2:256]. God does not Will and therefore does not compel mankind into submission [10:99]. Non-believers try to fix the blame on God for their own unwillingness, while rejecting the messengers and the Message [16:35]. However, all this is being recorded, and humans will be called to account for their actions [16:93]. On that day, the truthful will benefit from their truth [5:119]. 

The above seems to tally with the research findings of Free Won’t: it appears that though faith and guidance are available, it is not imposed, even at an internal level, on any who is not willing to receive it [4:137]. 

Free Will / Free Won’t is therefore about the individual’s choice regarding belief and faith. This probably is at some very deep level of the lower consciousness, or sub-consciousness, as the Quran also states that we cannot convince the disbelievers as God has prevented them from it due to their unwillingness to believe [2:6, 16:22,33]. However, there is still a chance that they might choose to believe, so the directive to warn with the Quran [50:45]. 


Why:
Why have we been granted free-will or free-won’t to begin with, or did humans choose it? 

[Al-Qur’an 33:72,73, translator: Pickthall] Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool. So Allah punisheth hypocritical men and hypocritical women, and idolatrous men and idolatrous women. But Allah pardoneth believing men and believing women, and Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. 

Free Will: 
[Al-Qur’an 2:186, translator: Yusuf Ali] When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way

[Al-Qur’an 5:119, translator: Sahih International] Allah will say, "This is the Day when the truthful will benefit from their truthfulness." For them are gardens [in Paradise] beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever, Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him. That is the great attainment. 

[Al-Qur’an 2:256, translator: Yusuf Ali] Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

[Al-Qur’an 10:99, translator: Yusuf Ali] If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe

[Al-Qur’an 16:35, translator: Yusuf Ali] The worshippers of false gods say: "If Allah had so willed, we should not have worshipped aught but Him - neither we nor our fathers,- nor should we have prescribed prohibitions other than His." So did those who went before them. But what is the mission of messengers but to preach the Clear Message? 

[Al-Qur’an 50:45, translator: Sahih International] We are most knowing of what they say, and you are not over them a tyrant. But remind by the Qur'an whoever fears My threat.

Free Won’t: 
[Al-Qur’an 2:6, translator: Sahih International] Indeed, those who disbelieve - it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them - they will not believe.

[Al-Qur’an 4:137, translator: Sahih International] Indeed, those who have believed then disbelieved, then believed, then disbelieved, and then increased in disbelief - never will Allah forgive them, nor will He guide them to a way

[Al-Qur’an 7:146, translator: Yusuf Ali] Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right - them will I turn away from My signs: Even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; and if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way; but if they see the way of error, that is the way they will adopt. For they have rejected our signs, and failed to take warning from them

[Al-Qur’an 16:22, translator: Sahih International] Your god is one God. But those who do not believe in the Hereafter - their hearts are disapproving, and they are arrogant

[Al-Qur’an 16:33, translator: Sahih International] Do the disbelievers await [anything] except that the angels should come to them or there comes the command of your Lord? Thus did those do before them. And Allah wronged them not, but they had been wronging themselves

The Importance of Action: 
[Al-Qur’an 16:93, translator: Yusuf Ali] If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions. 

[Al-Qur’an 52:21, translator: Yusuf Ali] And those who believe and whose families follow them in Faith,- to them shall We join their families: Nor shall We deprive them (of the fruit) of aught of their works: (Yet) is each individual in pledge for his deeds.

[Al-Qur’an 53:39:41, translator: Shakir] And that man shall have nothing but what he strives for- And that his striving shall soon be seen- Then shall he be rewarded for it with the fullest reward- 

[Al-Qur’an 57:18, translator: Sahih International] Indeed, the men who practice charity and the women who practice charity and [they who] have loaned Allah a goodly loan - it will be multiplied for them, and they will have a noble reward. 


[Al-Qur’an 91:7-10, translator: Sahih International] And [by] the soul and He who proportioned it And inspired it [with discernment of] its wickedness and its righteousness, He has succeeded who purifies it, And he has failed who instills it [with corruption] 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Teleology: A purpose-built Universe?

Science tends to explain the how of various phenomenon, but falls short of the why. Many students of science are so focused on the how explanations that they simply refute any ideas on the why. To them, everything just evolved, and by removing purpose from creation, they eventually tend to remove the existence of a Creator, becoming atheist or agnostic in the process. 

‘A teleology is any philosophical account that holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that — analogous to purpose found in human actions — nature inherently tends toward definite ends.’ [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology ]

Teleology Research: 
An interesting study in teleology is shown in this video titled: ‘Is God an alien concept?’ The experiment on children and adults’ concepts and instincts of the world being purpose-driven or otherwise, (between minutes 2 to 7 of the following video) is quite interesting!  
Is God an alien concept? Science Channel    You Tube    Daily Motion

What the Quran states about Purpose: 
In Quran, surah Saad, verse 27 reads: 

وَمَا خَلَقْنَا السَّمَاءَ وَالْأَرْضَ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا بَاطِلًا ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ ظَنُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا ۚ فَوَيْلٌ لِّلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنَ النَّارِ

[Al-Qur’an 38:27, translator: Arberry] We have not created the heavens and earth, and what between them is, for vanity; such is the thought of the unbelievers, wherefore woe unto the unbelievers because of the Fire!

[Al-Qur’an 38:27, translator: Yusuf Ali] Not without purpose did We create heaven and earth and all between! that were the thought of Unbelievers! but woe to the Unbelievers because of the Fire (of Hell)! 

The word b-t-l has various shades of meaning, and is generally translated as falsehood. The same word in this verse [38:27:7] has been interpreted by other translators variously as in vain, aimlessly and so on [Comparative translations of 38:27: http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp?chapter=38&verse=27

And regarding Accountability on the Day of Reckoning, the Quran poses the question: 
[Al-Qur’an 75:36, translator: Yusuf Ali] Does man think that he will be left uncontrolled, (without purpose)? 

Purpose of Heavens and Earth:
The purpose of creation of the Heavens and Earth is something that we are expected to contemplate upon, as stated in this verse:
[Al-Qur’an 3:190-191, translator: Sahih International] Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], "Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire. 

وَخَلَقَ اللَّهُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ بِالْحَقِّ وَلِتُجْزَىٰ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ

[Al-Qur’an 45:22, translator: Arberry] God created the heavens and the earth in truth, and that every soul may be recompensed for what it has earned; they shall not be wronged.


[Al-Qur’an 45:22, translator: Yusuf Ali] Allah created the heavens and the earth for just ends, and in order that each soul may find the recompense of what it has earned, and none of them be wronged.

Purpose of Humans and dJinns: 
Our purpose is to willingly believe in and submit to the worship and service of Allah: 
[Al-Qur’an 51:56, translator: Shakir] And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.

The following verse tells us that even those who are closest to God are not too proud to serve Him:
[Al-Qur’an 7:206, translator: Shakir] Surely those who are with your Lord are not too proud to serve Him, and they declare His glory and prostrate in humility before Him.

Speaking about the entire creation, the Quran states: 
[Al-Qur’an 19:93, translator: Pickthall] There is none in the heavens and the earth but cometh unto the Beneficent as a slave.

The arabic word defining our purpose is لِيَعْبُدُونِ [root a-b-d] which implies both worship and service. Nouman Ali Khan explains the concept of ibadat in an interesting way in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzZhXlcgBfc 

Purpose of Accountability:
[Al-Qur’an 33:72-73, translator: Pickthall] Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man assumed it. Lo! he hath proved a tyrant and a fool. So Allah punisheth hypocritical men and hypocritical women, and idolatrous men and idolatrous women. But Allah pardoneth believing men and believing women, and Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. 

[Al-Qur’an 6:165, translator: Pickthall] He it is Who hath placed you as viceroys of the earth and hath exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He hath given you. Lo! Thy Lord is swift in prosecution, and Lo! He verily is Forgiving, Merciful.

Also, consider the following verse: 
[Al-Qur’an 30:8, translator: Sahih International] Do they not contemplate within themselves? Allah has not created the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and for a specified term. And indeed, many of the people, in [the matter of] the meeting with their Lord, are disbelievers. 

This temporal life has been granted so that the Believers as a mercy, an opportunity to escape punishment and earn Allah's forgiveness.  
[Al-Qur’an 11:119, translator: Shakir] And if your Lord (had) willed surely He (could) have made the mankind one community, but not they will cease to differ. Except those on whom your Lord has mercy; and for this did He create them; and the word of your Lord is fulfilled: Certainly I will fill hell with the jinn and the men, all together.  

Who are Believers:
The characteristics of the believers (al-Mominoon) are described in Surah al-Mominoon
http://searchtruth.com/chapter_display_all.php?chapter=23


Last updated on February 3, 2017

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lessons in Surah Al-Kahf (The Cave)

Related posts:

Surah Al-Kahf [Quran Chapter 18]  is a fascinating chapter containing fantastic lessons for patient perseverance in trials of faith, wealth, knowledge and power!   

By drawing attention to scientific phenomenon, [1] [2] [3] [4], discovered by scientists only recently, it seems to me that the underlying, unifying message is that possibility and impossibility are merely limitations of our human minds: for God, nothing is impossible. God calls, guides, promises and delivers!  The trials of faith, wealth, knowledge and power are meant to test the sincerity of belief, trust in God and assurance of the hereafter. Truth triumphs over falsehood, eventually and always! God completely controls and prevails over everything.   

This Surah contains four unique stories with wondrous scientific phenomenon, each with a subterranean reference. In the first story, God delivers the faithful from religious persecution through prolonged sleep in a cave, in the second story, wealth is but a means of trial, and can suffer decline whenever God wills, such as the disappearance of the water of flourishing orchards; in the third, no matter how knowledgable a person is, there is so much of knowledge and wisdom beyond human comprehension, the story begins with the strange phenomenon of a fish returning to the water by a rock; and in the last, containing lessons in how faith complementing power benefits mankind, the powerful Dhu-al-Qarnayn contains the corruption of the land by sealing the opening in between the mountain-sides where the mischief-makers were coming from.    

Surah Al-Kahf contains 110 verses. In the middle of the chapter, verses 54 and 55 read: 
[Al-Quran 18:54-55, translator: Yusuf Ali]: We have explained in detail in this Qur'an, for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, contentious. And what is there to keep back men from believing, now that Guidance has come to them, nor from praying for forgiveness from their Lord, but that (they ask that) the ways of the ancients be repeated with them, or the Wrath be brought to them face to face? 

The Trial of Faith
The people were guided to seek refuge in the cave as they were being persecuted for their faith. According to the following verses, the reason for their persecution is their open declaration of faith.

[Al-Quran 18:13-15, translator: Pickthall]: We narrate unto thee their story with truth. Lo! they were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. And We made firm their hearts when they stood forth and said: Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We cry unto no Allah beside Him, for then should we utter an enormity. These, our people, have chosen (other) gods beside Him though they bring no clear warrant (vouchsafed) to them. And who doth greater wrong than he who inventeth a lie concerning Allah? 

They feared being stoned or forced to change their faith, as the following verse informs us: 

[Al-Quran 18:20, translator: Pickthall]: For they, if they should come to know of you, will stone you or turn you back to their religion; then ye will never prosper. 

God blessed their willing hearts with faith, and then advanced them in guidance and firmness. God showed that God’s promise is true, both of deliverance and of resurrection: that nothing is impossible for God, and just as he caused these people to wake up after sleeping in the cave for 300 years, so will be the resurrection! 

Advice for Believers 
[Al-Quran 18:27-28, translator: Pickthall]: 
And recite that which hath been revealed unto thee of the Scripture of thy Lord. There is none who can change His words, and thou wilt find no refuge beside Him. Restrain thyself along with those who cry unto their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance; and let not thine eyes overlook them, desiring the pomp of the life of the world; and obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance, who followeth his own lust and whose case hath been abandoned.

The Trial of Wealth 
The intoxication of wealth and might leads one to arrogance and ingratitude. The prosperous owner of the two gardens erroneously assumed that he was infallible, as he states in the following quote: 

[Al-Quran 18:35-36, translator: Pickthall]: And he went into his garden, while he (thus) wronged himself. He said: I think not that all this will ever perish. I think not that the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back unto my Lord I surely shall find better than this as a resort. 

Then, when he suffered loss, he laments: 
[Al-Quran 18:42, translator: Pickthall]: And his fruit was beset (with destruction). Then began he to wring his hands for all that he had spent upon it, when (now) it was all ruined on its trellises, and to say: Would that I had ascribed no partner to my Lord! 

Advice for Believers 
[Al-Quran 18:45-46, translator: Pickthall]: And coin for them the similitude of the life of the world as water which We send down from the sky, and the vegetation of the earth mingleth with it and then becometh dry twigs that the winds scatter. Allah is able to do all things. Wealth and children are an ornament of the life of the world. But the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord's sight for reward, and better in respect of hope.

The Trial of Knowledge 
Most people contend faith and belief, questioning God’s mercy and wisdom, arguing that there is too much suffering and pain in this world, which cannot be the work a loving God. However, there is so much that we do not know that it is not possible for us to understand or even rationalise suffering. Yet, it does not become of us to question or judge God. 

[Al-Quran 18:66-70, translator: Shakir]: Musa said to him: Shall I follow you on condition that you should teach me right knowledge of what you have been taught? He said: Surely you cannot have patience with me And how can you have patience in that of which you have not got a comprehensive knowledge? He said: If Allah pleases, you will find me patient and I shall not disobey you in any matter. He said: If you would follow me, then do not question me about any thing until I myself speak to you about it  

In Prophet Moses’ quest to seek knowledge from one endowed with greater knowledge and wisdom, Moses is warned that he will not be able to bear patiently with actions which his knowledge does not compass. Yet, each of the three ‘apparently outrageous’ actions had a rationale behind it. There is simply so much more than what meets the eye! 

[1] The apparent loss caused by the hole in the boat saved it from being seized by the tyrant King. 
[2] The apparent loss of a child was to bless the parents with a better child 
[3] The apparent service of building a wall free-of-charge for people not inclined to charity was actually to protect the treasure of two orphans    

As we are ignorant of many higher truths and facts, we just have to trust God’s Will, hold on to the guidance and patiently persevere. Our responsibility is to faithfully and righteously do deeds which make the world a better place, and accumulate these good deeds for our Hereafter. That's our test, and that's what we are accountable for, playing our role, instead of questioning God and His reasons and methods.  

The Trial of Power 
Dhu-al-Qarnayn had enormous power and access to everywhere on Earth. He travelled to and conquered various lands, and had full authority over the people. He used his power to contain evil and encourage good. A key lesson from Dhu-al-Qarnayn’s handling of the ‘yajuj majuj’ problem is that he used his power to contain corruption of the land, and thereby bring peace to a people suffering lawlessness. 

Elsewhere in the Quran, oppression has been identified as worse than slaughter, and therefore the importance of being prepared in military might and warfare to be able to deter, contain and neutralise corruption and oppression. The purpose of power is  to bring peace to the world, and that is what we should strive for at all levels!  

Caution  
[Al-Quran 18:103-106, translator: Yusuf Ali]: Say: "Shall we tell you of those who lose most in respect of their deeds? "Those whose efforts have been wasted in this life, while they thought that they were acquiring good by their works?” They are those who deny the Signs of their Lord and the fact of their having to meet Him (in the Hereafter): vain will be their works, nor shall We, on the Day of Judgment, give them any weight. That is their reward, Hell, because they rejected Faith, and took My Signs and My Messengers by way of jest. 

Conclusion 
Surah Al-Kahf, which contains references to wondrous phenomenon, sums up the chapter in the  last two verses with the following words: 
[Al-Quran 18:109-110, translator: Pickthall]: Say: Though the sea became ink for the Words of my Lord, verily the sea would be used up before the words of my Lord were exhausted, even though We brought the like thereof to help. Say: I am only a mortal like you. My Lord inspireth in me that your Allah is only One Allah. And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord. 


Last updated on: October 10, 2014