Saturday, September 1, 2012

Surah al Baqarah : The Opening Gambit....

Surah Al-Baqara
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Alif. Lam. Mim. (1) This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil). (2)
Who believe in the Unseen, and establish worship, and spend of that We have bestowed upon them; (3)
And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammad) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter. (4)
These depend on guidance from their Lord. These are the successful. (5) As for the Disbelievers, Whether thou warn
them or thou warn them not it is all one for them; they believe not. (6) Allah hath sealed their hearing and their hearts,
and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom. (7) And of mankind are some who say: We believe in Allah
and the Last Day, when they believe not. (8) They think to beguile Allah and those who believe, and they beguile none save themselves; but they perceive not. (9)
In their hearts is a disease, and Allah increaseth their disease. A painful doom is theirs because they lie. (10)
And when it is said unto them: Make not mischief in the earth, they say: We are peacemakers only. (11)
Are not they indeed the mischief-makers ? But they perceive not. (12)
And when it is said unto them: believe as the people believe, they say: Shall we believe as the foolish believe?
Beware! They indeed are the foolish? But they know not. (13)
And when they fall in with those who believe, they say: We believe; but when they go apart to their devils
they declare: Lo! we are with you; verily we did but mock. (14)
Allah (Himself) doth mock them, leaving them to wander blindly on in their contumacy. (15)
These are they who purchase error at the price of guidance, so their commerce doth not prosper, neither are they guided. (16)
Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindleth fire, and when it sheddeth its light around
him Allah taketh away their light and leaveth them in darkness, where they cannot see, (17)
Deaf, dumb and blind; and they return not. (18)

Pickthal's tranlation of Surah al Baqarah, 2 : 1- 18

I love Surah al Baqarah
One of the many reasons is that :
 its opening gambit in its 1st 18 ayat always frightened the hell out of me,
the ayatul kursi [ 254] come very useful when I am alone in the forest , before I sleep, or when I feel I need the 'al Ghaiba' protection.
The last three ayat of the surah , [ 284-286 ] ,I read it most times in my solat, my favourite in fact,  because it always reminded me  and sums up  my unequal relationship
with HIM, a fairly balanced combination of fear, awe and everlasting hope...

It is however the 1st 18 ayat that make me lose a lot of sleep.
2 ayat on believers, 2 on the outright kuffar and omg !, something like 12 on people like most of us... Many will take exception of the word 'most of us' that I used here.
'The neither here nor there' people, of what George W Bush [ he is probably drunk most time on his Texas farm now ] put famously as, 'ARE YOU WITH ME OR ARE YOU AGAINST ME.
Yes, are you with HIM, or are you not with HIM ?....God may ask

The top guns amongst us wheel and deal 100 % of the time on riba.
The rest of us mere mortals have our car, housing and whatever loans on interest.
we think  full time material and secular thought.
Our visions and aspirations are mostly secular.
When we have disputes we have them settled by man-made laws.
We cannot think beyond Reid, at least in Malaysia.
It has even become ' pariah 'and uncivilised to even wonder about hudud or the sharia.
This political correctness has even crept in the local Muslim minds.
In some places in the world, one may even get 'droned', nuked or a UN resolution passed for outright  invasion, if one think sharia !
Just yesterday someone brought up a case in our courts that cross dressing is indeed a human right
Homosexuality and lesbianism are ok !
To not want to accept now is no longer tenable in the public sphere

Zikr, fikr, solat, alms and doa are now dinausaurs in our day to day lives
And if we do, there are obvious lack of presence
Our children, blinded by 24 hours of astro and video games, we do not know what go on in their tiny weeny brains.

Right now seem to be inordinately wrong, and wrong become obviously right.

Deaf, dumb and blind; and they return not.........
remember that in a time before time, this conversation took place :
'alastu biRabbikum?' I not your lord ?
'balaa shahidna'....yes! of course You are....!
and now sadly, Deaf, dumb and blind; and we return not.........

Nik Howk


 Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2012 12:23:01 +0800
Subject: Re: al baqarah...opening gambit.
a friend made a comment why the word gambit was used for  surah al-baqarah..he associated the word to a chess game...

But why not ?

I was  a chess player in my younger Malay College days and I liked to start most games defensively by adopting moves known in the business as 'Sicilian Defence'.
Not an aggressive way to start a game certainly, defence moves made all  around the 'King' in place right from the beginning.
Allah chose to start al baqarah right away touching the jugular: the al munafikuns !!!!  

Allah could open up His Divine Letters to us in any way He likes...He could discuss apples and orange, night and day,seasons of the year etc and etc
But He chose to address the issue of believers, unbelievers and al munafukuns rightaway at the opening surah 2 !
foretelling us that at the end of time almunafikuns will form the great majority of us, Muslims......
of course  the great majority of us are believers !........but 'separuh, separuh'.
One prof even sees it fit to want to reinterpret the quran so that it can brought in line with the  current western philosophical thots and practice.
[ Tariq Ramadan, ]

Nik Howk


Subject: Re: al baqarah...opening gambit.
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2012 19:41:18 +0800

Who believe in the Unseen---Muhammad Asad's tafsir has it as---Who believe in the realm of that which is beyond human comprehension---so much wider in meaning and necessarilly refers to the limitations of the human intellect---something that Prof. and others like him should take heed of in wanting to re-interprete the Holy Qur'an---according to their desires. Has not Allah swt told us that of knowledge He has given us just a little bit?




What kept me awake and frighten the hell out of me all day whenever i approach surah al baqarah is the fact that in nabi's time the issue of al munafikun only arose at the time of the occasional ' roll-call ' to the war-front, defending against the invading kuffar army of Makkah. Then the likes of Abdullah bin Ubays et al came to the  fore,with their excuse, their misgivings, and  notably,their MC's !!

Otherwise things are pretty cool in downtown Medina : the Jews keeping to themselves on the fringe, the Ansars and the Muhajirins going about their daily 'cari makan' business peacefully, and the souks, I would imagine , as busy as could  be, like Chow Kit Road  in  KL in 2012. Al Munafikun remained inside the 'hearts' not something that could be seen. All joined nabi in prayers......

Now, in our time  jihad is no longer fashionable. In fact I would not be surprised that in a few years time UN would even  literally ban the word from our daily active vocab.
Rohinghas can die by thousands in Burma,
Chechens could still continue to be slaughtered by Putin for decades,
Palestinians can continue to be treated worse than dogs,
and NATO and America can go in and out of any 'Muslim' country at every opportunity for a variety of rhyme and reasons,
and we the ummah unwittingly enjoy the show on Aljazera, CNN, CNBC and BBC and continue to think it is OK. ' We are the problem that need to be solved' !

From another perspective, I just wonder in my heart of heart whether our flip flopping and dragging the legs on hudud and sharia in our muslim majority country;
our inability to rid from our lives the complete stranglehold of riba, capitalism and secularism;
our utter lack of presence in our daily prayers, solat, fikr and zikr;
our scholars and ulama's insipid and inconsequencial presence on the scene;
whether all of the above constitute 'treasonable' acts big enough to constitute the title of 'al munafikun'.....or worse ?

All these kept me awake all night, thinking......
I am scared.
I am scared that  I will not be counted as one of those who will  be allowed to go back to our original paradisal state.
Even the late dr israr, the great Pakistani thinker of our time, after Iqbal,[ utube below] was avoiding this rather sensitive issues I brought up above in his short  3-hour discourse on the opening gambit on al Baqarah.

nik howk

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