Again Reproach For Concealment
 

This is an emphasis laid on the verse NO 159 of the same chapter saying: ``Those who conceal Allah's revelation of the BOOK, and purchase for them a miserable profit; they eat in their stomach naught but FIRE!'' That is to say; the presents, and the wealth which they obtain as a reward for concealing the truth are none but burning fire which is kindled in their very self, burning them in the stomach and bellies.

Then our HOLY BOOK points at another spiritual chastisement which is more painful than the said burning fire; and that is God's being cross with them in the Dooms Day! They shall be deprived even of the words which the just and Merciful judge speaks to a reasonable culprit, who shall certainly not win HIS Grace and Mercy; hence the verse: ``Allah will not speak to them on the day of Resurrection, nor will HE purify them; and their shall be a grievous penalty.''

One of the excellent favour of our Merciful God in the Hereafter is that God on the basis of HIS INFINITE MERCY may address the faithful and speak to the believers so that he can apprehend, or grasp it with understanding. Whether the dialogue and communication is through inspiration or creation of words; it depends on that existing physical and spiritual condition, about which we know not too much.

VERSE NO. 175

This verse makes the situation of this group of people more clear, and shows the consequence of their losing bargain, thus: ``They are the ones who buy error at the price of guidance, and torment in place of forgiveness. O, What a boldness they show for the FIRE!?''

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VERSE NO. 176 This verse implies that their dreadful doom is because Allah has sent down His Message to HIS servant truthfully in the BOOK; but those who are at variance, and seek causes of dispute in the BOOK, are far from the purpose, and are in a wide schism.

(( 177 ))

177- RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT ONLY TO TURN YOUR FACES TOWARDS THE EAST AND THE WEST. (TRUE) RIGHTEOUSNESS IS RATHER: TO BELIEVE IN ALLAH - AND THE LAST DAY - AND THE ANGELS - AND THE BOOK - AND THE PROPHETS - AND WHO GIVES HIS WEALTH FOR THE LOVE OF ALLAH, TO: HIS KINSFOLK - AND ORPHAN - AND TO THE NEEDIES - AND TO THE WAYFARER - AND TO THOSE WHO ASK - AND TO RANSOM THE SLAVE - AND TO PERFORM THE PRAYER - AND PAYING THE ALMS-TAX - AND THOSE WHO FULFIL THEIR COVENANT WHICH THEY HAVE MADE - AND THE PATIENT IN DISTRESS AND ADVERSARY, AND IN TIME OF WAR - SUCH ARE THE TRUTHFUL, AND SUCH ARE THOSE WHO AVOID EVIL.

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THE COMMENTARY
OCCASION OF REVEALTION


The change of QIBLA caused a lot of fuss, and much dispute among the parties, particularly among the Jews and Christians. Some who thought to have lost respects in that sudden change of QIBLA, began to object and criticise which was described in S 2: 172. So this verse came down to show that QIBLA is not that sort of a matter to worth so much ado and controversies, comparing to so many matters of more importance, which are signified by the verse.

THE ROOT AND FOUNDATION OF GOODNESSES

Here we are given a beautiful description of the righteous and God-fearing man who first has to fix his gaze on the love of God, and not to the deadening formalism; like directing the face towards the East and the West, or with closed eyes pretending to recite some incantations to God! The verse then implies most important principles and the virtues that a righteous God-fearing man should have. These are mentioned in six groups of deeds and actions as follows:

1- Righteousness is not only to direct your faces towards the East and West. It is right to have faith in Allah - the Last Day - the Angels - the BOOK - and the prophets. This indicates that faith is not merely a matter of words. We must do our best to realize the presence and goodness of God, and to see the Last Day in the First Day of our faith and work. We should also see God's hand of power working in ourself and in all, and also God's Message and Messenger should come within our experience.

2- After the FAITH, comes charity and helping the poor and supportless people; but such a charity will be of value only, if it proceeds from the love of God. This is to grant for the sake and love of God a portion of our income to our kith and kin, to the orphans, to the people who are in real needs, but who never ask. It is our duty to find them out. And also to those who ask for help; and to ransom a slave. Slavery has many forms, and all forms are included in this charity.

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3- The third characteristic of the righteous man is that he performs the prayers - all sorts of prayers incumbent upon him.

4- The fourth virtue of the God-fearing man is that he pays the due alms-tax which is declared incumbent upon him. There are many a one, who eagerly pay in charity, but they are indifferent and careless in paying the alms, tax that is incumbent upon them. On the contrary, there are some who pay their due religious taxes, but give no alms or charity to the needy and poor who are without support or help. Both of these two groups of people have their own weak points.

5- The fifth specification of the righteous man is that as the verse says: ``They fulfil their covenants which they have made.'', and observe faithfully their promises.

A capital of the social life is what we may call it the Mutual Confidence and trusting one another. In a tradition, we read that a Muslim will have to observe three conditions whether his opposite party be a believer or an infidel, and these are:

1) Being faithful to covenants and contracts.

2) Passing over any deposite or trust to its owner, and the third is respecting father and mother.

6- The sixth important virtue of the righteous and God-fearing man, is being patient and standing firm in pains and panics and all kinds of adversities, as the verse wants them to; saying: ``And the patient in distress, and adversity, and in time of war. Such are the truthful, and such are those who avoid evil deeds.''

(( 178 ))

178- O, YOU WHO BELIEVE! RETALIATION IS PRESCRIBED FOR YOU IN CASES OF MURDER, FREE MAN FOR FREEMAN, SLAVE FOR SLAVE, FEMALE FOR FEMALE, BUT IF ANY REMISSION IS

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MADE TO ANY ONE BY HIS (AGGREIVED) BROTHER (THE RETALIATION BEING REDUCED TO BLOOD MONEY) LET THE PURSUING BE HONOURABLE, AND LET THE PAYMENT BE IN KINDLINESS. THIS IS AN ALLEVIATION FROM YOUR LORD AND A MERCY. THEN WHOEVER EXCEEDS THE LIMITS AFTER THAT, FOR HIM IS A PAINFUL CHASTISEMENT.

(( 179 )) 179- AND IN RETALIATION THERE IS LIFE FOR YOU, O, YOU MEN OF UNDERSTANDING, THAT YOU MIGHT AVOID EVIL

THE COMMENTARY
OCCASION OF REVELATION (VERSE NO. 178)


In pre-Islamic era, the Pagan Arabs, for the blood-feud of one individual, who was killed from their tribes, would kill as many men and women as they could! They were even willing to massacre a whole tribe to retaliate a single murder of their own clan. This verse and the next make it clear that Islam has mollified the horrors of the pre-Islamic custom of retaliation. Here in the verse, equality and justice, is prescribed with a strong recommendation for mercy and forgiveness; saying if you must take a life for life at least there should be some measure of equality in it.

IN RETALIATION THERE IS LIFE FOR YOU!

From this verse on, a series of Islamic commandments are discussed, the first of which is the guard and respect for blood of people. With a red line it crosses off and cancels all the customs of the blood feuds of the Days of Ignorance, saying: ``Retaliation is prescribed for you in cases of murder, free man for free man and slave for slave, and female for female.''

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The word `RETALIATION here signifies that the guardians of the murdered and the aggrieved party have a right to do the same with the murderers. It also lays the stress upon the justice and equality, saying that if you must take a life, take a free man for a free man, and a slave for a slave, and a woman for a woman. i.e. killing of the slave of a tribe should not involve a blood-feud where many free men would be killed. the doors of Mercy should always be kept open, because brotherly love and forgiveness is far better than taking vengeance. The Holy Book in this relation has:

``If any remission is made to anyone by his aggrieved brother; (GENERALLY ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS IN ISLAM) then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him in kindliness and gratitude.'' Finally the verse threatens those who try to misuse the concession, and alleviation of the Merciful Lord, by exceeding the limits, thus: ``Then whoever exceeds the limits after that, for him is a painful penalty.''
VERSE NO. 179

This short but meaningful verse is the answer to several questions that might be raised; saying: ``And in retaliation there is life for you! O, you men of understanding, so that you might avoid evil.'' This verse has now turned to an Islamic slogan commonly issued; signifying that Islamic retaliation has no ground for vengeance, Had the law of retaliation not been recommended, the cruel merciless, inhuman, would feel being safe and secure, and through their evil deeds would make a Hell of the social life; so much so that some countries wherein retaliation is abolished, the number of murders and crimes has abruptly increased.

IS MAN'S BLOOD MORE COLORFUL THAN THAT OF WOMAN?

Some may criticise Islamic law of retaliation and say: ``According to the above, man should not be retaliated for killing a woman and vice versa. Of course not so! The meaning of the verse is not that a man shouldn't be retaliated for murdering a woman; or that a man's blood is more colourful than that of a woman. The law involves that the guardians of the murdered woman have to pay

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half of the blood money, and then they can have the killer killed. The philosophy of this payment for retaliation lays in that men are very effective and influential in economics of their family. For example, when a woman loses her husband, she and her children may lose their livelihood and have their economics entirely ruined. In order to observe the rights of all; Islam has made it lawful for the heir or the heiress to demand half the bloodmoney before killing the man who has killed a woman.''

(( 180 ))

180- IT IS PRESCRIBED FOR YOU, WHEN DEATH APPROACHES ONE OF YOU, IF HE LEAVES BEHIND SOME GOOD, (WEALTH) THAT HE MAKES A BEQUEST, IN FAVOUR OF HIS PARENTS AND KINSFOLK, (PERSONS CLOSELY RELATED) HONOURABLY. THIS IS A DUTY INCUMBENT ON THE RIGHTEOUS

(( 181 )) 181- WHOEVER CHANGES IT AFTER HEARING IT, THE SIN SHALL REST UPON THOSE WHO CHANGE. SURELY ALLAH IS ALL-FORGIVING, ALL-KNOWING

(( 182 )) 182- HE THAT FEARS AN ERROR OR AN INJUSTICE ON THE PART OF A TESTATOR, AND BRINGS ABOUT A SETTELMENT AMONG THE PARTIES, INCURS NO GUILT. ALLAH IS FORGIVING AND COMPASSIONATE.

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THE COMMENTARY
APPROPRIATE BEQUEST (VERSE NO. 180)


In the preceding verse the argument was on the matter of life and retaliation, and now this verse proceeds to the financials, that implies the relation of money matters, and in a general sense of meaning to wealth and goods: ``It is prescribed for you, when death approaches one of you, if he leaves behind some good (WEALTH); that he makes a bequest in favour of his parents and kinsfolk, in a spirit of love and reverence. This is a duty incumbent on the righteous.''

It is worthy of note that instead of `WEALTH' or `PROPERTY' the verse has used the word `GOOD' which implies that Islam looks in the matter of wealth and capital assets with a good and favourable eye supposing it is obtained through a proper way and by rightful means that are lawful. This is contrary to the idea of some sects who think of wealth as means of corruption of morals and spiritualites. The word `good' for wealth also implies the lawfulness of it. Had it not been lawful to be wealthy, our Lord would not call it good.
VERSE NO. 181

When a WILL or bequest has observed all the rules and rights, it is held honourable and valid, and it is unlawful for a Muslim to make any change in it: ``Whoever changes the bequest after hearing it, the guilt shall be on those who make the change.'' Here it signifies that if the executor of the will does something wrong or changes any part of the bequest, it has nothing to do with the testator, as far as his will be just to his heirs, and has not departed from what is considered equitable; and the sin rests upon those who have changed it.

VERSE NO. 182

Up to here the Islamic decree is clear enough that any change in the bequest is a guilt, and it is unlawful. But there are also exceptions in any LAW or RULES. Let us refer to the verse: ``If the executor of the will fears an error, or an injustice on the part of the testator, he can make amendments, and bring about a settlement among the parties,

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and by doing that, he incurs no sin upon himself. He may either persuade the testator to change his bequest before he dies, or after the testator's death, he may get the interested parties together, and ask them to agree to a more equitable arrangement.

1- THE PHILOSOPHY OF BEQUEST

By the LAW OF INHERITANCE only a few of the kinsfolk may profit on a certain account and amount. It may be so that, some of the close friends and relatives of the testator are in strong need. Therefore the LAW OF INHERITANCE is accompanied with the LAW OF BEQUEST, in order to fill the shortcomings and to cover the weak points. Jurists have held that the testator has power of disposition up to one-third of his property. Yet he must not be partial to one heir at the expense of another, or attempt to defeat lawful creditors. In islam stress is laid on making a bequest, and our Holy Prophet (AS) said: ``He who does not make a bequest, dies the death of ignorance.''

2- JUSTICE AND EQUITY IN BEQUEST

In the Islamic traditions, much stress is laid on justice and equity to be observed on account of the bequests. In fact making a will is a very critical matter, and it is as good a work, as it might be bad! HAZRAT IMAM BAGHIR (AS) has said: ``He who observes equity and justice in his bequest is like unto him who spends his wealth in the way of God, in his life time; and he who departs from what is considered equitable; in the Resurrection Day will be deprived of God's Mercy.''

(( 183 )) 183- O, BELIEVERS! PRESCRIBED TO YOU IS THE FAST, AS IT WAS PRESCRIBED TO THOSE BEFORE YOU, THAT YOU MAY GUARD AGAINST EVIL.

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(( 184 ))

184- FOR A CERTAIN NUMBER OF DAYS (YOU HAVE TO FAST) BUT IF ANY ONE OF YOU BE SICK, OR ON A JOURNEY, THEN (HE SHALL FAST A LIKE) NUMBER OF OTHER DAYS, AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT ABLE TO DO IT, (FOR BEING TOO OLD, OR PERMANENTLY SICK) CAN BE REDEEMED BY FEEDING A POOR. HE THAT DOES GOOD OF HIS OWN ACCORD, IT IS BETTER FOR HIM. AND IT IS BETTER FOR YOU TO FAST, IF YOU COULD KNEW IT.

(( 185 ))

185- (FASTING PERIOD IS) THE MONTH OF RAMAZAN, IN WHICH QUR?N WAS SENT DOWN, AS A GUIDANCE TO PEOPLE, AND EVIDENCES OF GUIDANCE AND DISTINCTION. (BETWEEN TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD) THEREFORE WHOEVER OF YOU IS PRESENT IN THAT MONTH LET HIM FAST; BUT IF ANY ONE IS ILL OR ON A JOURNEY, SHALL FAST A SIMILAR NUMBER OF DAYS LATER ON. ALLAH WANTS EASE FOR YOU AND DOES NOT WANT HARDSHIP FOR YOU, AND (HE WANTS YOU) TO COMPLETE THE PERIOD, AND TO GLORIFY ALLAH FOR HIS GUIDING YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY GIVE THANKS.

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THE COMMENTARY
FAST, A SOURCE OF PIETY (VERSE NO. 183)


Fast, is another Islamic commandment which is among the most important religious services and worships. Qur?n with stress and emphasis says: ``O, YOU WHO BELIEVE! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those who were before you.'' And immediately it adds the aim and purpose of fasting: ``Fasting is prescribed that you may become God-fearing, and learn self-restraint.

VERSE NO. 184 In order that the incident of the physical fast may be fully understood, more details are given here: ``You have to fast for a certain number of days, but if any one of you is sick or on a journey, has to fast a like number of days in other time.''

As for those who can do the fasting but have to do it with difficulty and hardship, such as the aged or permanently ill people; should know that Allah wants ease for them, and does not want hardship for HIS servants. So they can be redeemed by feeding a poor. OR if he wants to do more of his own accord, instead of feeding a poor much the better. But to take it in a general sense, it is far better for us to do the fasting.

THE HYGIENIC, SOCIAL, AND EDUCATIONAL EFFECTS OF FAST

By fasting, a Muslim may learn self-restraint and cherish his power of decision and determination, and he may also moderate his passions and caprices.

The instinct for food, drink, and sex, are strong in the animal nature, and temporary restraints from all these enables him who fasts to direct his attention to higher things and spiritual affairs. As a matter of fact, the greatest advantage of fasting lays in its spiritual and moral effects. It serves to promote man from the level of humanity up to the rank of angels. As our prophet (AS) has said: ``Fasting is a shield against the blazing fire of Hell.'' The prophet has also said that there is a

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certain gate in the Paradise, named the door of RAYAN, and it will only opened to those who perform the fast commandment.

ITS SOCIAL EFFECT

It is evident that FAST can teach the lesson of equity in our social affairs. According to a tradition; HESHAM-IBN-HAKAM asked HAZRAT IMAM SADIQ (AS): ``Why was the FAST prescribed to us?'' and Imam answered: ``It was commanded in order to settle equity and fairness in dealing between the poor and the wealthy; so that the rich may also taste the bitterness of poverty, and pass over the rights of the poor and have mercy on them.''

ITS EFFECT ON THE HEALTH

In the old and new medicine, the temporary abstention from food, drink, and sex, is proved to be salutary, and useful in health of almost all. Most of the diseases are due to habitual eating and drinking to excess. All the foods eaten, are not attracted to the body. They may leave some extra fat and glucosides, and other unnecessary compounds in different organism of the body, particularly in the blood; making suitable marshy points for cultivation and development of microbes and other germs of illnesses. The FAST burns out all the rubbish, and unessential extrinsics of the body. According to a tradition; the prophet has said: ``Fast and live healthy.'' He also has said: ``The stomach is the house of all kinds of disease, and the FAST is the head of all the medicines.''

THE FAST AMONG THE PREVIOUS NATION

From the present scriptures, we can understand that the Jews as well as the Christians were also commanded to fast. Of course this does not mean that Muslim FAST is exactly like the other fasts previously observed, in the number of days, time or manner of fasting. But the scriptures signify that the previous nations when encountered with a sorrow and or a misfortune, they vowed a fasting. It is written in the scriptures that Moses and Jesus (AS), both of them fasted for a periods of forty days.

* * * *

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FAST IN TESTAMENTS

``There by the AHAVA CANAL, I gave orders for us all to FAST, and humble ourselves before our Lord, and to ask HIM to lead us on our journey. So we fasted and prayed for God to protect us and God answered our prayer.'' On the twenty-fourth day of the same month the Israelites assembled to FAST to show sorrow for their sins. NEHEMIAH 9: 1-2 `` But even now'', says the Lord, ``Repent sincerely and return to ME with FASTING and weeping and mournings.'' JOEL 2: 12 The people ask: ``Why should we FAST, if the Lord does not take notice? Why should we go without food if God pays no attention to it?'' In answer to this God says: ``As a matter of fact, when you are FASTING, you pursue your own interest, and you still oppress your workers. The kind of FASTING I want is to remove the chain of oppression, and yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry, and open your house to the homeless poor.''

ISAIH 58: 3-10

And when you fast do not put on a sad face that everyone may know you are FASTING. When you FAST wash your faces and comb your hairs so that others cannot know your FASTING.'' MATTHEW 6: 16

``Barnabas and Sual preached the GOSPEL and in each church they appointed elders and with prayer and FASITING they commanded them to the Lord in whom they had put their trusts. ACTS 14: 23

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE)

ADVANTAGES OF RAM?ZAN

The month RAMAZAN is chosen for the FAST, in which the Holy QUR?N was sent down as a guidance to the people. According to Islamic tradition, all the scriptures have been sent down in the month of RAMAZAN: HAZRAT IMAM SADIQ (AS), has said: ``TOWRAT (PENTATEUCH) was revealed to Moses in the 6th of RAMAZAN, ENGILE (THE GOSPEL) sent to Jesus in the twelfth, and QUR?N revealed in the eighteenth of the same month.'' Thus RAMAZAN has always been the month of great revelations

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and in this month through practicing FAST, we may purify our souls, and have our connections with the HOLY BOOKS fixed.

(( 186 )) 186- AND WHEN MY SERVANTS ASK YOU OF ME. I AM NEAR, I ANSWER THE PRAYER OF THE SUPPLIANT WHEN HE CALLS ME. SO LET THEM (TOO) ANSWER MY CALL, AND BELIEVE IN ME; PERHAPS THEY FIND THE WAY (OF REACHING THE DESTINATION).

THE COMMENTARY
OCCASION OF REVELATION


A man asked the prophet; whether God is near enough to us so that we may not call HIM loudly? This verse was revealed to the prophet in answer to this question.

A WEAPON NAMED SUPPLICATION AND PRAYER

One of the means of connection to God is the prayer and supplication, and therefore the prophet has been addressed here that: ``When My servants ask you concerning Me, tell them that I am indeed close to them. I answer the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me. So let them too, answer my call, and believe in ME, in order to find the way to their destination which should be the paradise as well as my consent and pleasure. To us; God is closer than whatever we may think of. HE is even closer to us than our JUGULAR-VEIN, as it is mentioned in S 50:16

manifests HIS ardent love for HIS servants.

Asking God, through prayer and supplication, is a sort of self awareness, and close communication to God who is the source of all goodnesses. It is also a kind of effective worship and humbling of one's self and soul to the Almighty God. Some say that it is meddling to God's affairs, to ask him to do something for us, because he knows better, what is to be done, and what is not to be done. Such critics do not know that God's bounties and favour are divided in accordance to the abilites, and he who is abler, his share is greater. we therefore hear that HAZRAT IMAM SADIQ (AS), has said: ``there are many ranks in the hands of God, that one cannot attain except through praying for it.''

(( 187 ))

187- IT IS MADE LAWFUL TO YOU, ON THE NIGHT OF THE FAST, SEXUAL INTERCOURSE WITH YOUR WIVES. THEY ARE A VESTMENT FOR YOU, AND YOU ARE A VESTMENT FOR THEM. (GUARDING EACH OTHER) ALLAH KNEW THAT YOU WERE BETRAYING YOURSELVES, (IN DOING THAT WHICH WAS UNLAWFUL) SO HE TURNED TO YOU AND PARDONED YOU. SO NOW, YOU MAY ASSOCIATE WITH THEM, AND SEEK WHAT ALLAH HAS ORDAINED FOR YOU; AND EAT AND DRINK UNTIL THE WHITE THREAD OF DAWN APPEARS TO YOU DISTINCT FROM ITS

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BLACK THREAD. THEN COMPLETE THE FAST TILL NIGHT. AND DO NOT APPROACH THEM WHILE YOU ARE IN RETREAT IN THE MOSQUES. THESE ARE THE BOUNDS (LIMITS) OF ALLAH; DO NOT COME NEAR THEM. THUS ALLAH MAKES CLEAR HIS SIGNS FOR PEOPLE THAT THEY MAY GUARD AGAINST EVIL.

THE COMMENTARY

OCCASION OF REVELATION (VERSE NO. 187)


According to Islamic traditions, the first Muslims, at the commencement of the FASTING, were permitted to eat and drink only a little while before going to their night sleep. If someone who had fasted the whole day slept during the sunset and then woke up, he was not permitted to eat and drink any thing, and had to continue his fast. Also, sexual intercourse was declared unlawful during the whole month. (RAMAZAN) Such rules and regulations were hard to endure with, and some failed to observe them, and in particular the young Muslims were not able of self-control in sexual relations. Allah pardoned them and alleviated their boredom by revealing the verse No. 187.