Monday 18 April 2022

Forbidden and Preferred Acts - Part II (selected verses from Qur'an)

Qur'an is full of Divine cautions and warnings to provide guidance to the believers and keep them on the straight path of ultimate salvation. The forbidden and preferred acts are repeated at many a places in the Qur'an to keep reminding the believers not to deviate from the straight path by being lured in by the Satan and his associates and also spell out the preferred accts for them so that they are counted among the blessed and not among the oppressors and evil doers.

In one of earlier posts on the same subject, we shared the 151st verse from Surah 6. Al-An'am, we mentioned six preferred and forbidden acts as spelt out for the believers by Allah. Thes are summed up as under just to recapitulate:
Say to them (O Muhammad!): 'Come, let me recite what your Lord has laid down to you: (i) that you associate nothing with Allah; (ii) and do good to your parents; (iii) and do not slay your children out of fear of poverty. We provide you and will likewise provide them with sustenance; (iv) and do not even draw to things shameful - be they open or secret; (v) and do not slay the soul santified by Allah except in just cause; this He has enjoined upon you so that you may understand;
We now take the next verse that is 152nd verse in continuation of the 151st verse from Surah 6. Al-An'am in which four more preferred and forbidden acts have been commanded.

وَلَا تَقۡرَبُوۡا مَالَ الۡيَتِيۡمِ اِلَّا بِالَّتِىۡ هِىَ اَحۡسَنُ حَتّٰى يَبۡلُغَ اَشُدَّهٗ​ ۚ وَاَوۡفُوۡا الۡكَيۡلَ وَالۡمِيۡزَانَ بِالۡقِسۡطِ​ ۚ لَا نُـكَلِّفُ نَفۡسًا اِلَّا وُسۡعَهَا​ ۚ وَاِذَا قُلۡتُمۡ فَاعۡدِلُوۡا وَلَوۡ كَانَ ذَا قُرۡبٰى​​ ۚ وَبِعَهۡدِ اللّٰهِ اَوۡفُوۡا​ ؕ ذٰ لِكُمۡ وَصّٰٮكُمۡ بِهٖ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَذَكَّرُوۡنَ ۙ‏ 
(6:152) and do not even draw near to the property of the orphan in his minority except in the best manner; and give full measures and weight with justice; We do not burden anyone beyond his capacity; When you speak, be just, even though it concern a near of kin; and fulfil the covenant of Allah. That is what He has enjoined upon you so that you may take heed.

The best way" will be the one which is based on selflessness, good intentions and the welfare of the concerned orphan, and which is not objectionable in the sight of God or man.  

( Give full measures and weight with justice ) "You shall use full measure and a just balance,'' is a fundamental principle of the Divine Law: Allah has added, "We charge one.....one can bear," to assure people that whoever tries his very best to be just and right in measuring, weighing and carrying out other trade transactions, will be absolved from his responsibility and will not be taken to account, if in spite of his best efforts, there happens to be an unintentional error. 

"Covenant with Allah" is: (i) The solemn agreement which man makes with Allah, (i!) the solemn pledge which he makes with another man in the name of Allah, and (iii) the natural compact that comes into force as soon as one is born in the human society on Allah's earth.

The first two kinds of covenants are intentional and optional, but the third one is a moral and natural obligation. Though man has no option in the choice of the third compact, yet it is as binding as the first two and should be honored as 'much. This is because Allah has given him life with extraordinary physical and mental faculties and furnished the earth for his habitation and provided nourishment, and limitless resources etc., for him. Naturally all this entails some rights of Allah on him. Likewise it entails some, rights of the mother who gives birth to and nourishes him and of the father who brings him up and of the society that affords him many kinds of facilities and opportunities. All these rights become, by their very nature, obligatory on him in varying degrees. It is true that this "Covenant" of man with God and society has not been written in any statute book, nevertheless it has been ingrained by Nature in each and every particle of his body, which itself owes its very existence to this Covenant. A reference to this has been made in Al-Baqarah, ti: 27: "....who break Allah's Covenant after ratifying it: who cut asunder what Allah has ordered to be joined and who produce chaos on the earth." It has again been mentioned in Al-A'raf, VII: 172 to this effect: At the time of the creation of Adam, Allah brought forth all his would-be descendants up to the Last Day, from the loins of mankind, and trade them stand witnesses to the Covenant that He is their Lord.  

Asad Ali  Explanation:
( and do not touch the substance of an orphan - save to improve it - before he comes of age." ) I.e., after the orphan in one's charge has come of age, the former guardian may "touch" his property, legally, by borrowing from it or otherwise utilizing it with the owner's consent. The phrase rendered by me as "save to improve it" reads, literally, "in a manner that is best", which implies the intent of bettering it.

( And [in all your dealings] give full measure and weight, ) This refers metonymically to all dealings between men and not only to commercial transactions: hence my interpolation of "in all your dealings".

( We do not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear; ) The meaning is that God does not expect man to behave with "mathematical" equity - which, in view of the many intangible factors involved, is rarely attainable in human dealings - but expects him to do his best towards achieving this ideal.

( be just, even though it be [against] one near of kin. ) According to Razi, the phrase "when you voice an opinion" (lit., "when you speak") applies to expressing an opinion on any subject, whether it concerns one personally or not; but the subsequent reference to one's "near of kin" makes it probable that the above injunction relates, in particular, to the giving of evidence in cases under dispute.

( And [always] observe your bond with God: ) The "bond with God" (conventionally translated as "God's covenant") apparently refers here to man's moral obligation to use his inborn gifts - intellectual as well as physical - in the way intended for them by God. The "establishment" of this bond arises from the faculty of reason which, if properly used, must lead man to a realization of his own weakness and dependence on a causative power and, thus, to a gradual cognition of God's will with reference to his own behaviour. This interpretation of the "bond with God" seems to be indicated by the fact that there is no mention of any specific "covenant" in either the preceding or the subsequent verses of the passage under consideration. The deliberate omission of any explanatory reference in this connection suggests that the expression "bond with God" stands for something that is rooted in the human situation as such, and can, therefore, be perceived instinctively as well as through conscious experience: namely, that innate relationship with God which makes Him "closer to man than his neck-vein" ( 50:16 ). For an explanation of the subsequent reference to "what God has bidden to be joined", 

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
( And that do not go near the wealth of an orphan except in the way that is better [for him] until he reaches maturity) The words in which this directive is given are the same as the one above in which people were forbidden from vulgarities. It is said that they should not even go near the wealth of orphans except for their welfare and betterment; they should bear in mind that only that spending from their wealth is lawful which is meant for their protection and development. And this spending too should be done until the time they reach maturity when they themselves are in a position to become responsible for their wealth. 

(And weigh with honesty and full measure.) This is a great commandment and in its essence a corrollary of the scale of justice on which this world exists. Thus if anyone deviates from this, it means that his concept of justice and fairness has become contaminated and the fact that God is just has been forgotten. Obviously, after this, the whole socio-economic system is uprooted and the fabric of the society is totally decimated. The blessings of weighing with full measure are referred to in verse 35 of Sūrah Banī Isrā’īl. It is said that this is the right attitude with regard to its consequences and carries great blessings for the people as well. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
... The blessings of this conduct in the Hereafter are evident. In this world also, with regard to the consequences ... this attitude will reap benefit for people for the prosperity of their livelihood, economic activity, business, trade and a just society. Nations who are dishonest have neither prospered in this world nor will they ever do so. This evil is not a singular evil. It is actually a sign of the existence of many other evils. A nation fraught with this evil is devoid of the concept of justice and fairness. For this reason, it is not only devoid of the ability to create a healthy society, it also sows seeds of disorder in God’s earth. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 3, 202) 
(We do not burden a soul with more than it can bear.) This is an on the spot warning. The implication is that whatever directives have been given by God are not beyond the capacity of people. He has given them while fully regarding their abilities and natures. Hence, nothing should be subtracted from them by determining one’s own capacity nor should these be crossed in the name of precaution.

( And when you speak, speak the truth, even if the matter is about your relatives.) This is precisely the same directive that is called qiyām bi al-qisṭ (adherence to justice) in verse 135 of Sūrah al-Nisā’ and verse 8 of Sūrah al-Mā’idah. The implication is that believers should not only adhere to truth and justice, but also whenever they are required to bear witness to these, they must necessarily do so. Relations, emotions and desires should never be a hindrance to this. 

(And fulfil God’s promise.) This is a comprehensive statement. Whether a promise is made to God or to people or is understood, it is in fact a promise to God. This is because people will be held accountable for their promises to Him.

( These are the things God directs you to so that you receive a reminder. ) The actual words are: لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُوْنَ. Earlier the word تَعْقِلُوْنَ and later the word تَتَّقُوۡنَ occurs in the same context. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:
… There is a very deep meaningful relationship between تَعَقُّل , تَذَكُّر and تَقْوى. When a person frees himself from blind following and resolves to seriously reflect on something, then this is تَعَقُّل. Through this تَعَقُّل facts found in human nature are revealed to him but are veiled because of a person’s indifference. Revealing of these facts is تَذَكُّر. This تَذَكُّر guides a person to the destination of تَقْوى which epitomizes education and self-purification as well as religion and sharī‘ah … For this reason, as far as the basics and fundamentals of religion are concerned, they do not come from an external source; they are divulged from human nature on the condition that a person after being reminded by God does تَذَكُّر. The sharī‘ah is a treasury that has been extracted from our nature and has been consigned to us, on the condition that we give due regard to it. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 3, 204)
Qur'an Wiki Explanation:
“Do not touch the property of an orphan before he comes of age, except to improve it.” Every orphan feels weak within the community because he has lost his father who is supposed to bring him up well and protect him. His weakness, then, imposes a duty on the Muslim community, on the basis of the principle of mutual social solidarity which is central to the Islamic social system. An orphan used to find himself in total loss in pre-Islamic Arabian society. The frequent and varied Qur’anic directives concerning the care that should be taken of orphans, and the stern warning occasionally added to these directives give us an impression of how orphans used to be badly treated in society. This continued to be the case until God selected an honoured orphan from that community to entrust him with the most noble task of all. He made that orphan, Muhammad (peace be upon him), the bearer of His final message to mankind. He also made taking proper care of orphans one of the practices encouraged by Islam which gives its followers this kind of directive. Therefore, anyone who is looking after an orphan must not touch that orphan’s property except in a way which is certain to bring a good return to the orphan. He must protect that property and try to improve it until the orphan comes of age and becomes physically and mentally able to receive his property and make good use of it. Thus, the community adds to its ranks a useful member who obtains his full rights.

“Give just weight and full measure. We do not charge a soul with more than it can bear.” (Verse 152) This clearly applies to commercial transactions and requires people to do their best to ensure that everyone gets what is due to them. The surah provides a direct link between these transactions and faith, because this is the Islamic attitude. It is God who gives this directive and who urges people to give just weight and full measure.

“When you speak, be just, even though it be against one of your close relatives.” Here the Qur’an elevates the human conscience, already refined through a sense of watching God, to the even higher level of being guided by belief in God and the need to fulfil His commandments. Within the context of blood relations there lies a human weakness. People tend to think that family relations dictate mutual support in all situations. A human being knows that he himself is weak and lives only a limited period of time. With his relatives he finds strength. The wider his relations extend, the more firmly established is his existence. It is through his relations that his presence in this world is extended to future generations. For all this, a man is weak when it comes to testifying for or against his relatives or to making a judgement between them and other people. Hence, the Qur’an provides the necessary support so that a Muslim’s conscience prompts him to say words of truth and justice, thinking only of his relationship with God and watching Him alone. This gives him the strength which outweighs by far any support he may have from his relatives, as he places his obligation towards God above his duties to his relatives.

Again this particular instruction seeks to remind people of their covenant with God: “Be true to your covenant with God.” It is part of that covenant that people should speak the truth, even when it affects their relatives. This covenant also requires people to give just weight and full measure and that they do not come near the property of an orphan except to improve it, and to treat human life as sacred, killing no one except in the course of justice. But before all this, the covenant which exists between human beings and God dictates that they must associate no partners with Him. This is a pledge made by them and is strongly impressed on their nature by its very constitution. It is God who has made human nature firmly related to its Creator, feeling His presence through the laws that cover its own existence and the existence of the universe.

The Qur’anic comment on all these directives is a most appropriate one: “This He has enjoined upon you so that you may bear it in mind.” They must always remember this covenant with God in all its details and its binding duties.

These basic rules are made crystal clear. They also provide a summary of the Islamic faith and its social legislation. They start with God’s oneness and they conclude with the mention of man’s covenant with God. They were preceded by a long discourse on sovereignty and the fact that it belongs to God alone.

May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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