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In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 109

In the Shade of the Qur'an - Surah # 109
Syed Qutb
Surah # 109
                               The Disbelievers
                                  al Kafiroon
           In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful!

    Say: "Disbelievers! I do not worship what you worship nor do you
    worship what I worship. I shall  never  worship what you worship
    You have your own religion and I have mine."

                        In the Shade of the Qur'an

  Although the Arabs before Islam were not disavowing Allah, they did not
  know Him by the true identity He accorded Himself as the One and the
  Eternal. They did not only depreciate Him and ineptly worship Him but
  they also ascribed to Him, as partners, idols that were supposed to
  represent their great and pious ancestors or, in some cases, the angels
  whom they claimed to be the daughters of Allah. Moreover, they alleged a
  kinship between Him and the jinn. They often ignored all these
  qualifications, however, and worshipped those idols themselves. But in
  all cases, as the Qur'an quotes them as saying, they only "worship them
  (the various gods) so that they may bring us near to  Allah." (39:3)

  The Qur'an also states:
    If you ask them who it is that has created the heavens and the earth,
    and subjected the sun and the moon (to fixed laws) they will say:
    Allah (29:61) And again: If you ask them who it is that sends down
    water from the sky, and thereby revives the earth after it has died,
    they will say: ' Allah. (29:63) 
  Moreover, Allah superseded their gods in their oaths and supplications.                                         
  But in spite of their belief in Allah, the polytheism they entertained
  fouled their conceptions as well as their traditions and rites to the
  extent that they assigned to their alleged gods a portion of their
  earnings and possessions, and even their offspring; in fact, they had
  often been obliged to sacrifice their children. Concerning this, the
  Qur'an has the following to say:

    They set aside for  Allah a share of what He has produced in abundance
    of crops and cattle, saying: This is for Allah, so they pretend, and
    this for the partner-gods we associate with Him. But nothing of the
    share of their partner-gods may ever go to  Allah while the share of 
    Allah may go to their partner-gods. How ill they judge! Thus those
    partner-gods of theirs have induced many polytheists to kill their
    children so that they may ruin them and confuse them in their faith.
    Had Allah willed, they would not have done so; so leave them to their
    false inventions. They say: "Such cattle and crops are forbidden; no
    one may eat of them save those whom we permit", so they assert. Further,
    there are cattle which they prohibit men from riding, and others over
    which they do not pronounce the name of Allah.  All these are lies
    they assert against  Allah. He will surely punish them for their
    invented lies. They also say: "What is in the wombs of these animals
    is reserved to our males, forbidden to our females." But if it is still
    born, then they all partake of it. Allah will surely punish them for
    what they impute to Him. He is surely wise and He knows all." Lost are
    they who, in their ignorance, wantonly slay their children, and make
    unlawful what Allah has provided for them, inventing lies against Allah.
    They have indeed gone astray and heeded no guidance. (6:137-41)

  The Arabs were also convinced that they were the followers of the religion
  of Abraham and that they were better guided than the People of the
  Scriptures (i.e. Jews and Christians) inhabiting the Arabian peninsula at
  the time: the Jews and the Christians preached respectively that Ezra and
  Jesus were the sons of Allah whereas they, the Arabs, worshipped angels
  and jinn - the true offspring of Allah according to them. Their belief,
  they maintained, was more logical and more conceivable than that of the
  Christians and the Jews. Nonetheless, all was polytheism.
  When Muhammad (peace be on him) declared his religion to be that of
  Abraham, they argued that there was no reason for them to forsake their
  beliefs and follow Muhammad's instead, since they too were of the same
  religion. In the meantime, they sought a sort of compromise with him
  proposing that he should prostrate himself before their gods in return
  for their prostration to his God, and that he should cease denouncing
  their gods and their manner of worship in reciprocation for whatever he
  demanded of them! This confusion in their concepts, vividly illustrated
  by their worship of various gods while acknowledging Allah, was perhaps
  what led them to believe that the gulf between them and Muhammad was
  not unbridgeable. They thought an agreement was somehow possible by
  allowing the two camps to co-exist in the region and by granting him some
  personal concessions!
  To clear up this muddle, to cut all arguments short and firmly distinguish
  between one form of worship and the other, between one doctrine and concept
  and the other this surah was revealed in such a decisive, assertive tone.
  It was revealed in this manner to demarcate monotheism (tawheed) from
  polytheism (shirk), and to establish a true criterion, allowing no further
  wrangling or vain arguments.

  Using all the mentioned means, the surah goes on to emphasize a negation
  in one sentence and an affirmation in another. "Say", this denotes a
  clear-cut Divine order which conveys the fact that the whole affair of
  the religion belongs exclusively to Allah, nothing of it belongs to
  Muhammad himself, and that Allah is the only One to order and decide.
  Address them, Muhammad, by their actual and true identity: "Say:
  'Disbelievers!' They follow no prescribed religion, nor do they believe
  in you. No meeting-point exists between you and them anywhere. Thus the
  beginning of the surah brings to mind the reality of a difference which
  cannot be ignored or settled.

  "I do nor worship what you worship" is a statement affirmed by shall
  never worship what you worship". "Nor do you worship what I worship" is
  also repeated for more emphasis and in order to eliminate all chances of
  doubt or misinterpretation. Finally, the whole argument is summed up in
  the last verse, "You have your own religion, and I have mine", meaning
  that you (disbelievers) and I (Muhammad) are very far apart, without any
  bridge to connect us - a complete distinction and a precise, intelligible
  demarcation. Such an attitude was essential then in order to expose the
  fundamental discrepancies in the essence of the two beliefs and doctrines,
  in the source of the two concepts and in the nature of the two paths of
  monotheism and polytheism, faith and disbelief. Faith on the one hand, is
  the way of life which directs man and the whole world towards Allah alone
  and determines for him the source of his religious concept, laws, values,
  criteria, ethics and morals. That source is Allah and nobody else. Thus
  life proceeds for him accordingly, devoid of any form of polytheism which,
  on the other hand, represents another way of life entirely dissimilar to
  that of faith. The two never meet.

  On the whole, the distinction we are dealing with here is indispensable
  both for those who invite people to Islam and the people themselves,
  because Ignorant concepts are likely to be mixed with those of Islam
  especially in those societies which previously followed the Islamic method,
  but have later deviated from it. They are, to be sure, the most rigid and
  the most hostile to the idea of regaining faith in its healthy, clear and
  straight forward form, certainly more so than those who have not known
  Islam originally. They take it for granted that they are righteous while
  they grow more and more complicatedly perverse!

  The existence of noble and base beliefs and thoughts in those societies
  may tempt the advocate of the Islamic system to-hope for their quick
  return, thinking he may be able to strengthen the good aspects of their
  life and rightly correct undesirable features! This temptation is
  dangerously misleading. For Ignorance is nothing but Ignorance and Islam
  is altogether different from it. The only way to bridge the gulf between
  the two is for Ignorance to liquidate itself completely and substitute for
  all its laws, values, standards and concepts their Islamic counterparts.

  The first step that should be taken in this field by the person calling
  on people to embrace Islam is to segregate himself from Ignorance. He must
  be separated to the extent that any agreement or intercourse between him
  and Ignorance is absolutely impossible unless and until the people of
  Ignorance em brace Islam completely: no intermingling, no half measures or
  conciliation is permissible, however clever Ignorance may be in usurping
  the role of Islam or reflecting it. The chief basis of the personality of
  the person inviting others to Islam is the clear manifestation of this
  fact within himself and his solemn conviction of being radically different
  from them. They have their own religion, and he has his. His task is to
  orientate them so that they may follow his path without any fraud or
  pretence. Failing this, he must withdraw completely, detach himself from
  their life and openly declare to them: "You have your own religion, and I
  have mine."
  This is a sine qua non for the contemporary advocates of Islam. They badly
  need to realize that they are calling for Islam today in entirely Ignorant
  surroundings amongst ex-Muslim peoples whose hearts have grown harder and
  whose beliefs have now deteriorated considerably. They need to understand
  that there is no room for short-term or half solutions, compromises, or
  partial redemption or adjustment, and that their call is for uniquely
  distinguished Islam, in contrast to what these people conceive of as
  Islam. They must face these people bravely and explicitly put it to
  them: "You have your own religion, and I have mine." Our religion is based
  on absolute monotheism whose concepts, values, beliefs and laws cover all
  aspects of human life and are all received from Allah and none else. With
  out this basic separation confusion, double-dealing, doubt and distortion
  will certainly persist. And let it be clear in our minds here that the
  movement advocating Islam can never be constructed on any ambiguous or
  feeble foundations, but has to be built upon firmness, explicitness,
  frankness and fortitude as embodied in Allah's instruction to us to
  declare: "You have your own religion, and I have mine". Such was the way
  adopted by the Islamic call in its early days.





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