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The Focus of Events in the Quranic Surahs (3) – Al-Imran

My hear has always beaten whenever I heared the word of monotheism.

There is no god but one God (Allah), the Creator of the universe and what it contains.

I used to repeat it often, especially after I learned that it is one of the most powerful reliefs of distress in this world and the hereafter.

I remember having an argument with a Muslim who claims that all the religions that exist on earth are true.

His evidence was this Quranic verse from Surah Al-Baqarah:

Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans [before Prophet Muhammad] – those [among them] who believed in Allah (God) and the Last Day and did righteousness – will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve 62

I said:

We must understand that the true religion is only one religion.

The Creator is One. He sent one message through many prophets to all nations.

For example, at the time of Prophet Abraham, what was the correct faith? What did followers of Abraham have to do?

The followers of Abraham had to testify that:

I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except the Creator, Allah, and I bear witness that Abraham is His messenger.

In no way was Ibrahim a Jew, neither a Christian; (i.e. a follower of “Jesus”, Nasraniyyan) but he was an unswervingly (upright) (i.e. veering away from idolatry) Muslim; and in no way was he one of the associators (Those who associate others with God) 67

Prophet Abraham is the ancestor of Judah, so no way for Prophet Abraham to be a Jew. He did not embrace the doctrine of the Trinity in order to be ascribed to Christianity today, or even to be a loyal follower of Christ.

Judah, whom the Jews came from, is a descendent of Prophet Abraham, and the Jews firmly believed that there is only one God. 

Judah taught his people the religion of Prophet Abraham, and the religion of all the Prophets who came before him, which is Pure Monotheism (believing in One God and unifying Him in worship).

This is the exact definition of the religion Islam, the religion which started from Prophet Adam, and ended with the coming of Prophet Muhammad.

The Prophet Moses came to confirm the message of Abraham. What did the followers of Abraham have to do?

They had to accept Prophet Moses and to testify: that no god is worthy of worship except the Creator (Allah), and Moses and Abraham are messengers of God.

When Prophet Jesus came to confirm the message of Moses, the followers of Moses had to accept Jesus, and to testify that there is no god worthy of worship except the Creator, and Jesus, Moses, Abraham are His messengers.

Prophet Muhammad came to confirm the message of Jesus. The followers of Jesus had to accept Prophet Muhammad and testify that: ‘I bear witness that no god is worthy of worship except the Creator, Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad, Jesus, Moses are messengers of God.

Each heavenly message confirms what was brought by the previous one, as the messengers, peace and blessings be upon them, graduated in delivering the message of God. They were united in receiving the message of monotheism from God, but they had different laws according to the human need.  

This is the correct religion intended by the above verse.

God does not accept that anyone else is worshiped on the face of the earth.

The Muslim asked: Why does God not accept the worship of anyone else?

I answered him: In human law, as it’s well known, violating the king’s right is not equal to other crimes. How about the king of kings?

The right of God Almighty over Humans is to be worshiped alone, and the right of Humans is to have a direct relationship with Him without an intermediary, and thus obtain safety in this world and the hereafter.

It is enough to imagine that we give someone a gift, and he thanks another and praises him. God has the highest example; this is the state of the servants with their Creator. God has given them countless blessings, and they, in return, are thanking others. But the Creator, in any case, does not need them

Some of them worship God by taking an intermediary, and imagine that God comes in the form of a human being or a stone. God wants to protect us from ourselves when we worship what neither benefits nor harms us, and even causes us to perish in the Hereafter.

Worshiping someone other than God is considered the major sin, and its punishment is eternity in Hellfire.

Worshiping God alone is the true religion that Surah Al Imran came to train us to be steadfast on.

I mentioned in the previous article that:

  • Each Surah has a special focus and main objective that it talks about.
  • God Almighty mentions the appropriate historical story for the objective that He chose for the Surah.
  • The stories mentioned come to serve this purpose.

For example, if we talk in detail about Surat Al Imran, we will find:

The number of verses is 200

It was revealed in the city of Medina

It is ranked third in the Qur’an after Al-Baqarah

The Purpose of the Surah:

Constancy.

I explained in detail in my previous article how Surah Al-Baqarah showed Muslims the method that they should follow. However in this article, we will see how Surah Al- Imran came to train them to continue in this method.

All believers need to be steadfast on the curriculum so that they do not fail or go astray.

First Side:

Preparing the surrounding environment through training on intellectual stability in the face of external influences.

The Second Side:

Training on the inner intellectual stability of a Muslim.

The Content of the Surah Revolves Around Two Incidents:

  • The incident of a Christian delegation from Najran, which is considered the first dialogue of religions in history. It shows how a Muslim can stand in the face of external ideas through a discussion with Christian delegations. It teaches us as well the idea of ​​discussing non-Muslims in general.
  • The second incident is the Battle of Uhud, which shows us how practical stability is. Although the Battle of Uhud took place before the Najran delegation’s incident, it was mentioned in the Surah after Najran delegation’s incident in order to emphasize the importance of achieving external stability before internal stability.

The beginning and end of the Surah indicate that the truth is with the monotheists, and they should adhere to it.

The Truth is:

  • There is no god except the One and the Only God, the Creator and Sustainer of the whole universe and its contents.
  • Pray only to Him, and not to others.
  • Believe and follow the messengers (of that period). (The messengers prophesied the coming of last Prophet- Muhammad, and urged their followers to believe in him and follow him if they reach his time).
  • Do good deeds and avoid evil.

Believing in God, that He has no partner or son. He does not incarnate in any of His creations or any idol. Also, humans need to have direct connection with Him, not through any priest or saint.

God Almighty said regarding the necessity of adhering to this right:

At the beginning of the Surah.

He has revealed to you ˹O Prophet˺ the Book in truth, confirming what came before it, as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel 3

Also, God said at the end of the Surah.

O believers! Patiently endure, persevere, stand on guard, and be mindful of God, so you may be successful 200

Hold on to the Right:

O you who have faith! Be wary of Allah with the wariness due to Him and do not die except as Muslims 102

There have been many prophets with whom many men of God have fought; they did not lose heart for what they suffered in the way of God, nor did they become weak, nor did they yield. God loves the steadfast 146

Those to whom hypocrites said, “Indeed, the people have gathered against you, so fear them.” But it [merely] increased them in faith, and they said, “Sufficient for us is God , and [He is] the best Disposer of affairs.” 173

So they turned over (Or: turned around) with favor from God and (His) Grace; no odious (disadvantage) did touch them; and they followed closely the all-blessed Satisfaction of God; and God is The of Owner of magnificent Grace 174

The beginning of the journey in the verses of the Surah:

Warning of Stability Obstacles.

Stability Hurdles:

It has been made attractive for people to love the desired things; that is, women, children, hoarded heaps of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle and tillage. That is an enjoyment of the worldly life; but with God lies the beauty of the final resort 14

(As for) those of you who turned back on the day when the two armies met, only the Satan sought to cause them to make a slip on account of some deeds they had done, and certainly God has pardoned them; surely God is Forgiving, Forbearing 155

It indicates that those who took part in the Battle of Uhud from among the Muslims were deceived by Satan as a result of some of their previous sins.

How is it that, when you suffered a hardship the twice of which you had inflicted upon them, you say, “Where did this come from?” Say, “This is from your own selves. God is surely Powerful over everything.”165

That is, the victory of Muslims in the beginning was achieved over the infidels, then as a result of their desires they disobeyed the Messenger, so what happened to them is from themselves and their disobedience.

Stability Factors:

Recourse to God Almighty:

Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate from the right path after You have given us guidance, and bestow upon us mercy from Your own. Surely, You, and You alone, are the One who bestows in abundance 8

Our Lord! Surely whomsoever You make enter the Fire, You have brought him to disgrace and for the wrong-doers there are any no helpers. Our Lord! Indeed we heard a crier calling to the faith saying: “Believe in your Lord”; so we did believe. Our Lord, forgive us our sins, and wipe out our evil deeds and make us die with the truly pious.’Many eras have passed before you. Go about, then, in the land and behold the end of those who gave the lie to (the directives and ordinances of God). Our Lord! Grant us what You did promise to us through Your Messengers, and do not abase us on the Day of Resurrection. You never break Your Promise 192-194

The Supplication of Imran’s Wife:

He also heard) when the woman of ‘Imran said: ‘O Lord! Behold, unto You do I vow that the child in my womb is to be devoted to Your exclusive service. Accept it, then, from me. Surely You alone are All-Hearing, All-knowing 35

The Sublicatiom of Prophet Zakarias:

Thereupon, Zakarias prayed to his Lord. He said: “O my Lord, grant me from Your own (power) a goodly progeny. Verily, You are the One who listens to the prayer.” 38

Whoever wants to be steadfast on the truth, he must turn to God to help him to be steadfast.

Worship:

Worship of Mary (the mother of Prophet Jesus):

So, her Lord accepted her, a good acceptance, and made her grow, a good growth, and made Zakariyya her guardian. Whenever Zakariyya visited her at the place of worship, he found food with her. He said: “Mary, from where did you have this?” She said: “It is from God. Surely, God gives whom He wills without measure.” 37

Worship of Prophet Zacharias:

So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, “Indeed, God gives you good tidings of John, confirming a word from God and [who will be] honorable, abstaining [from women], and a prophet from among the righteous.”39

Inviting People to Worship God:

Inviting people to worship God alone helps Muslims to be steadfast.

Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity 104

You are now the best people brought forth for (the guidance and reform of) mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. Had the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) believed it were better for them. Some of them are believers but most of them are transgressors 110

Clarity of Purpose:

who remember God standing and sitting, and (lying) on their sides, and ponder on the creation of the heavens and the earth (and say) “Our Lord, You have not created all this in vain. We proclaim Your purity. So, save us from the punishment of Fire 191

Fraternity:

One of the main reasons for stability.

Hold fast together to the rope of God and be not divided. Remember the blessing that God bestowed upon you: you were once enemies then He brought your hearts together, so that through His blessing you became brothers. You stood on the brink of a pit of fire and He delivered you from it. Thus Allah makes His signs clear to you that you may be guided to the right way 103

Do not be like those who became divided and fell into disputes after the clear signs had come to them. Those are the ones for whom there is a grave punishment 105

The first half of Surah Al Imran calls for intellectual stability which is represented in a civilized dialogue of the Messenger with the Christians to show them the truth.

The Najran’s delegation resided in the Prophet’s Mosque, where the dialogue was held.

We have to take these teachings to debate those who disagree with us in belief and imitate the Messenger, may God grant him peace.

How to be Mentally Stable:

We have to understand that the true religion is only one religion. It is the worship of God alone, as we mentioned in the introduction.

Islam believes in the origins of heavenly religions that preceded it and extended to its time, and which the messengers brought appropriate for their time.

With the change of need comes a new phase of the religion that agrees in its origin and differs in the law gradually with the needs with the later ratification of the previous in the origin of monotheism.

By taking the path of dialogue, the believer will have grasped the reality of the unity of the source of the Creator’s message.

The dialogue of religions must proceed from this basic concept to emphasize the concept of the One True Religion and the invalidity of anything else.

Strengthening the Creed of Muslims Before Beginning the Dialogue:

Allah (God) Himself bears witness that there is no God but He; and likewise do the angels and the men possessed of knowledge bear witness in truth and justice that there is no God but He, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. The true religion with God is Islam. The People of the Book adopted many different ways rather than follow the true way of Islam even after the knowledge of truth had reached them, and this merely to commit excesses against one another. Let him who refuses to follow the ordinances and directives of God know that God is swift in His reckoning.  And if they remonstrate with you, tell them: ‘I have submitted my whole being to God, and so have those who follow me.’ And ask the People of the Book as well as those who follow no heavenly Scripture: ‘Have you also submitted (to Allah)?’ If they have submitted to Him, they are indeed on the right way but if they deviate from submitting to Allah, then your duty is merely to deliver the message. Allah observes the affairs of His servants 18-20

Are they, then, seeking a religion other than that of Allah (God the Almighty), while to Him alone submit all those in the heavens and the earth, willingly or unwilling, and to Him they shall be returned? 83

Whoever seeks a faith other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the loses 85

Focusing on Common Points Between Muslims and People of the Book:

Say, “O population of the Book, (Or: Family of the Book, i.e., the Jews and christians) come to a common word between us and you, that we worship none except God, and that we do not associate anything with Him, and that some of us do not take to themselves others (Literally: some “others”) as lords, apart from God.” So, in case they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we are Muslims.” (Literally: we have surrendered “to Allah”) 64

Say: “We believe in Allah (God) and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the sons of Jacob, and what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord; We do not make any distinction between any of them, and to Him (Allah) we have surrendered” 84

Arguments and Proofs:

One of the foundations of dialogue is also the establishment of rational and logical evidence.

The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: “Be”. And he was 59

O followers of the Book! why do you dispute about Ibrahim, when the Taurat and the Gospel were not revealed till after him; do you not then understand? 65

Look, this is what you are – you have already argued about matters concerning which you have knowledge; why then do you argue about matters of which you have no knowledge? God knows and you do not know 66

It is not (possible) for a man that God gives him the Book, the wisdom and the prophethood, then he starts saying to the people “Become my worshippers, aside from God” rather, (he would say), “Be men of the Lord; as you have been teaching the Book, and as you have been learning it.” 79

Warning of the People of the Book:

O people of the Book, why do you disbelieve in the verses of Allah (revealed in the former Scriptures to foretell about the advent of the Holy Prophet ?) while you are yourselves witnesses (to those verses)? 70

The People of the Book are the followers of the Prophet of God, Moses, and the followers of Prophet of God, Christ who believed in the Torah and the Gospel, which are the books of their prophets.

However, some of them have distorted these books, and have ended up in our day adopting the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament and taking them as a substitute for the original books whose originals have been corrupted and lost.

God Almighty praised the monotheistic People of the Book who believed that He is the One and Only and believed that Christ was God’s Prophet and not the son of God, and they rejected the Trinity completely. He also warned those who believed in the Trinity from the torment of the Fire.

The Qur’an condemned the Jews for not believing in Jesus Christ as a Prophet sent by God, just as it condemned the Christians for their belief in the Trinity and their claim to the divinity of Christ. This is considered a sin, as Christ never claimed to be God or the son of God.

When Christ referred to himself in the Bible as the Son of God, he made it clear that he is not the begotten son, but we are all sons of God metaphorically, meaning the servants of God.

This is the secret of the existence of many Quranic verses that praise the People of the Book and others that criticize them.

This is not a contradiction, but praise for the monotheists. It is also vilification for those who replaced monotheism with the Trinity among the followers of Christ, and for the Jews who disobeyed God.

Also, the reprimand came to them because they refused to believe in Muhammad, the seal of the messengers.

Extreme Challenge:

Then whoever disputes with you after what has come to you of the knowledge, then say: “Come, let us call our sons and your sons and our women and your women (gather altogether), then let us be earnest in prayer and invoke the Curse of Allah on the liars” 61

God’s Justice to the People of the Book:

And among the followers of the Book there are some such that if you entrust one (of them) with a heap of wealth, he shall pay it back to you; and among them there are some such that if you entrust one (of them) with a dinar he shall not pay it back to you except so long as you remain firm in demanding it; this is because they say: There is not upon us in the matter of the unlearned people any way (to reproach); and they tell a lie against God while they know 75

They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of God during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer] 113

Praise the Prophets Who Were Sent to the Jews and Christians:

Surely God chose Adam and Nuh and the descendants of Ibrahim and the descendants of Imran above the nation’s 33

And when the angels said: O Mary! surely God has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of of the world 42

All these proofs serve to stabilize the believer intellectually.

We note that the first section of the Surah was concluded with a verse that talks about constancy.

If good befalls you, it grieves them, and if an evil afflicts you, they rejoice at it; and if you are patient and guard yourselves, their scheme will not injure you in any way; surely God comprehends what they do 120

The verses of the second section concluded with a verse that also talks about constancy.

O believers! Patiently endure, persevere, stand on guard, and be mindful of God, so you may be successful 200

The Second Half of the Surah:

One’s Invasion.

God’s grace over Muslims:

And [remember] when you, [O Muhammad], left your family in the morning to post the believers at their stations for the battle [of Uhud] – and Cod is Hearing and Knowing. When two parties among you were about to lose courage, but God was their ally; and upon God the believers should rely. And already had God given you victory at [the battle of] Badr while you were few in number. Then fear God; perhaps you will be grateful [Remember] when you said to the believers, “Is it not sufficient for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down? 121-124

Raising Morale and Blaming the Sinners:

God has surely fulfilled His promise to you when you, with His will, were killing them off, until you showed weakness and disputed in the matter and disobeyed after He had shown you what you liked. Among you there were some who were seeking the mundane, and among you there were others who were seeking the Hereafter. After that, He reversed your position against them, so that He may test you. Of course, He has forgiven you. God is All-Gracious to the believers 152

Boost Morale:

Then, after the grief, He poured tranquility upon you – a drowsiness overtaking a group of you. Another group was worrying about their own selves, harboring thoughts about God that were untrue – thoughts of ignorance. They were saying, “Is there anything in our hands?” Say, “The whole thing belongs to God.” They conceal in their hearts what they do not disclose to you.They say, “If we had any say in the matter, we would not have been killed here.”Say, “If you were in your homes, those destined to be killed would have come out all the way to their (final) resting -places.” (All this was done) so that God may test your inner qualities and may purify what is in your hearts. God is All-Aware of what lies in the hearts 154

Disobedience is One of the Causes of Defeat:

This point is closely related to previously mentioned verse.

It has been made attractive for people to love the desired things; that is, women, children, hoarded heaps of gold and silver, branded horses, cattle and tillage. That is an enjoyment of the worldly life; but with God lies the beauty of the final resort 14

It is these desires that lead to disobedience, and likewise usury leads to disagreements.

That is why the verse of usury was mentioned in Surah Al Imran after it was mentioned in Surat Al-Baqarah.

O you who believe, do not eat up the amounts acquired through usury (interest), doubled and multiplied. Fear God, so that you may be successful 130

Naming the surah “Al Imran” is an honor for Imran’s wife and an honor for her daughter, Mary.

Mary, peace be upon her, was a symbol of steadfastness in worship and chastity, and the wife of Imran was a symbol of steadfastness with the victory of Islam.

 (He also heard) when the woman of ‘Imran said: ‘O Lord! Behold, unto You do I vow that the child in my womb is to be devoted to Your exclusive service. Accept it, then, from me. Surely You alone are All-Hearing, All-Knowing ’35

At that time, Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem was stripped from the monotheistic believers, so Imran’s wife vowed what was in her womb to serve this Mosque.

So when she brought forth, she said: My Lord! Surely I have brought it forth a female– and God knew best what she brought forth– and the male is not like the female, and I have named it Marium, and I commend her and her offspring into Thy protection from the accursed Satan 36

It is worth noting that in Surah Al Imran a reference to honoring women and raising their status.

We also find in the story of Imran’s wife, who, with her supplications and recourse to her Creator, alerted God’s Prophet Zakarias to this great good, which is to resort to God in adversity.

Where the Prophet of God, Zakarias, called on his Lord to grant him righteous offspring.

This is an indication that women are a symbol of constancy.

We understand from all of the above that the focus of Surah Al Imran is steadfastness on the religion of truth, and that the true religion is the religion of pure monotheism.

Stability on the Religion of Truth is Achieved by:

  • Avoiding sins.
  • Recoursing to God.
  • Clarity of Purpose.
  • Strengthening brotherhood bonds.
  • The call to worship God.

Monotheism is the way of salvation:

It is very wrong to introduce Islam by saying: Islam means to believe in one God, and just stop there. We have to explain in more depth.

Islam means to believe in One God and to have a direct connection with God who is the Creator. Nothing is like Him. He does not come to earth in any animal form or human form, He has no image known to humans. Our minds can only imagine objects, people and situations based on past experiences and memories. God is beyond our perception and cannot be comprehended.

Whenever we sin, we repent to Him directly. When we have a problem, we ask Him to solve the problem directly. When we feel blessed, we have to thank Him directly, because the faith in One God already exists in many religions.

In fact, it was even the faith of the disbelievers of Quraish (the tribe of Prophet Muhammad). The disbelievers of Quraish believed in One God, because when they were asked about worshiping the idols, they said they worship idols to make them closer to God. So, their problem was not with Tawheed Al Rububeyya, which is to believe in One God. Their problem was with Tawheed Al Ebada, which is to have a direct connection with the Creator.

The differences between religions are represented in the means used to communicate with the Creator, directly or through the taking of mediators (saints, priests, idols or prophets).

If all religions left calling to mediators and went directly to the Creator, humanity would be united, and their hearts would be upright, and be guided to the truth.

Just as everyone agrees in praying towards the Creator directly without a partner or mediator when calamities or adversities occur, it was necessary to invite everyone in good and bad times to worship the Lord of the Worlds.


Note:

The reference of God to Himself as WE or US in many verses of the Qur’an denotes Grandeur and Power in Arabic. In the English language this is known as the royal WE, where a plural pronoun is used to refer to a single person holding a high office, such as a monarch. For the avoidance of doubt, the Qur’an has consistently reminded us of the SINGULAR pronoun in reference to God, when called upon by His servants.

The Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Middle East use the word “Allah” to refer to God, which refers to The Only True God ( the Creator). The word “Allah” was mentioned in the earlier version of the Old Testament 89 times. (Refer to Genesis 2:4, Book of Daniel 6:20 Hebrew and Arabic Bible).

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