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We Command its Affluent Ones, They Transgress in it! ( The Holy Quran : 17:16)

 

We Command its Affluent Ones, They Transgress in it! ( The Holy Quran : 17:16)

Was published in Arabic in September9, 2015

Translated by Ahmed Fathy

 

He said to me: I know quite well that the holy Quran is a source of mercy and guidance for us all, but I do not understand how the Quran can be a source of misleading some people. Remember the Quranic verse: "We send down in the Quran healing and mercy for the believers, but it increases the wrongdoers only in loss."(17:82), so, the question is: how the Quran increases the loss of wrongdoers?

I said to him: Do you agree that any traditional old book on morals and ethics can be distorted, manipulated, and falsified?

He said: Yes, but what do you mean by this?

I said: Let us suppose that there is a traditional old book on morals and ethics read by all. Any readers with certain whims and prejudices could distort the intentions and meanings of this book and magnify what one supposes to be faults in it. Chances of distorting the meanings contained in this book are greater when this book is written in certain special terminology prevalent during the time in which it was written. Meanings if certain terms differ from one age to another. Chances of distortion of meanings are still greater when the author of the book repeats the morals and ethics and supporting stories in detail. In such a condition, a reader might seize the chance to practice what might be seen as fault-finding. Hence, the book instead of being understood as a call to adhere to a certain code of ethics, the reader might show it to be a contradictory book, and all morals cast away from it.

He said: Do you mean to tell me that this happened with the Quran as well?

I said: Yes. It is easy for those who seek guidance in it to obtain it. It is easy for those who seek to mislead themselves and others using it to reach that goal as well. The human-made earthly creeds of Muhammadans have been established based on the deliberate misreading and misinterpreting the Quran to mislead others. The imams of the Muhammadans wrote their tomes and volumes, made holy with the passage of time, like books of interpretation of the Quran, Fiqh (jurisprudence), legislature supposedly based on sharia law, the so-called Quranic branches of knowledge, etc. wrote all these falsehoods through intentional misreading of the Quran. We have written before a research on the so-called Quranic branches of knowledge that undermine, distort, and cast doubt on the Quran. Such books have introduced the idea of disregarding Quranic rules in favor of human legislations of Fiqh. We have written a research in this website titled "No Annulled Verses in the Quran: Confirmation and No Annulling".

He said: Please give me an example.

I said: In the same chapter ''Al-Israa", we find the following verse: "We send down in the Quran healing and mercy for the believers, but it increases the wrongdoers only in loss."(17:82).

He said: What is the meaning of this verse, in your opinion?

I said: This means that if you really believe in the Quran sincerely in your heart, the Quran becomes a source of mercy and healing for you. If you are an unbeliever, the Quran leads you to more intellectual loss and doubts.

He said: So, I have the choice: the Quran might be a source of mercy and guidance for me, or misguidance if I decided not to believe in it.

I said: Yes. You have the free choice; guidance is a personal responsibility: "Whoever is guided-is guided for his own good. And whoever goes astray-goes astray to his detriment. No burdened soul carries the burdens of another, nor do We ever punish until We have sent a messenger. "(17:15).

He said: What is the relation of this verse with our topic of discussion?

I said: A close relation. The following verse is concerned with our topic: "When We decide to destroy a town, We command its affluent ones, they transgress in it, so the word becomes justified against it, and We destroy it completely."(17:16). You have the full freedom in guiding yourself or misguiding yourself even in your understanding of this verse.

He said: How this verse might misguide me based on my own choice?

I said: If you are an unbeliever, this verse might lead you to think falsely that God orders the affluent ones to do mischief and wrong deeds in order that God destroys them. This is injustice. Gad is never unjust. God is seen unjust if you interpret the verse in that wrong way. This contradicts the Quranic verses calling for justice. Unbelievers seize such misinterpretations to claim that God is unjust and that the Quran contains contradictions. You will find those who applaud this. Here, your misguidance is increased by the misreading of the Quran. Your free will and choice is given to you by God. God warns beforehand those who despise and look down upon the Quranic verses, and tells them they are free to choose their course of actions: "Those who despise Our revelations are not hidden from Us. Is he who is hurled into the Fire better? Or he who arrives safely on the Day of Resurrection? Do as you please; He is Seeing of everything you do. Those who reject the Reminder when it has come to them-it is an invincible Book. Falsehood cannot approach it, from before it or behind it. It is a revelation from One Wise and Praiseworthy." (41:40-42).

He said: How one can be guided wisely by these verses?

I said: One should juxtapose verses with one another for further understanding of details.

He said: How is that?

I said:  God says about details in the Quran: "We have given them a Scripture, which We detailed with knowledge-guidance and mercy for people who believe."(7:52). 'Detailed knowledge' here means not redundancies, but details for our guidance as a mercy to believers and not to unbelievers; the latter seek to follow the similar details to mislead and misguide people and to cast doubt on the veracity of the Quran. God warns us beforehand about those hypocrites: "It is He who revealed to you the Book. Some of its verses are definitive; they are the foundation of the Book, and others are unspecific. As for those in whose hearts is deviation, they follow the unspecific part, seeking dissent, and seeking to derive an interpretation. But none knows its interpretation except God and those firmly rooted in knowledge say, "We believe in it; all is from our Lord." But none recollects except those with understanding."(3:7).

He said: Of course, I believe all that. But how should I understand (17:16)?

I said: If you believe in the Quran and follow its verses to seek guidance by examining the verses in their contexts and topics, you will ask yourself the following question: Does God order people to do evil deeds or sins? Does He order people to do justice or injustice?

He said: You know the answer to that.

I said: The answer lies in the following verse: "God commands justice, and goodness, and generosity towards relatives. And He forbids immorality, and injustice, and oppression. He advises you, so that you may take heed "(16:90).

He said: This is true theoretically, but in action, people who claim to be pious and religious are the most immoral, hypocritical, and unbelieving types of human beings: such as ISIS terrorist group members and all Wahabis on the planet.

I said: Human beings in their earthly, man-made creeds fashioned in falsehoods lie to God. They wrongly attribute their creeds to God. They commit terrible crimes and sins and claim that God orders them to do that. God says about them in the Quran: "And when they commit an indecency, they say, "We found our parents doing this, and God has commanded us to do it." Say, "God does not command indecencies. Are you attributing to God what you do not know?" (7:28). God orders those people to apply justice and devote their worship to God alone: "Say, "My Lord commands justice, and to stand devoted at every place of worship. So call upon Him, and dedicate your faith to Him alone. Just as He originated you, so you will return.""(7:29). God says in the Quran that doing justice among people is the main goal for sending messengers and scriptures by God to people: "We sent Our messengers with the clear proofs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that humanity may uphold justice …" (57:25).                    

He said: I understand now that (17:16) means that God orders the affluent ones to do justice, but they did wrong deeds instead.

I said: True.

He said: Then why God did not add to this verse the word ''justice''?

I said: In Arabic stylistics, omitting for the sake of brevity is well known. One can omit what is understood and known in contexts.

He said: Please give me more examples to illustrate this.

I said: God says in the Quran to describe the bliss of Paradise dwellers: "Reclining on furnishings lined with brocade, and the two gardens are near at hand." (55:54). The adjective ''near'' comes here instead of the thing described (might be the fruits or servants in Paradise); thus, the epithet is used instead of the described thing. Another example is in the following verse: "Ask the town where we were, and the caravan in which we came. We are being truthful." (12:24). Here, the omitted word is 'people'; people of the town and people of the caravan. In the following verse: "She desired him, and he desired her, had he not seen the proof of his Lord…"(12:24) the omitted word is 'really': he 'really' desire her and she 'really' desired him. Another example of omission in the same chapter: "Joseph, O man of truth, inform us concerning seven fat cows being eaten by seven lean ones, and seven green spikes, and others dried up, so that I may return to the people, so that they may know."(12:46) the underlined words have omitted the understood notion from previous verses that the seven dried up spikes ate the seven green ones.

He said: You mean to tell me that omission is preserved for the item understood in context of previous verses in the same chapter in the Quran, but please tell me more about that concerning (17:16).

I said: As I have explained, a verse should be understood in the context of the following and previous verses in the given chapter as a whole, as well as in the context of the entire Quranic text. That is why we linked (17:16) with (17:15) concerning personal responsibility of guiding oneself, then with (17:17) concerning destroying towns by God due to their grave sins: "How many generations have We destroyed after Noah? Your Lord is sufficient as Knower and Beholder of the sins of his servants" (17:17). Hence, the Quranic context here is destruction of towns by God because of sins.

He said: Please continue.

I said: In the general Quranic context, God orders mankind to be just: "Never did We destroy a town, but it had warners. As a reminder, We are never unjust."(26:208-209). In this style of writing, we see that God never destroys a town of wrongdoers unless He sends first His messengers to warn them to believe and repent, but they refuse to heed the warning. God never does injustice to mankind: "…God desires no injustice for mankind."(3:108). Hence, the reason for destruction of towns is the wrongdoers' refusal to obey God's orders to apply justice.

He said: I understand.

I said: Other verses link the destruction of towns with the affluent ones whose ill-gotten money was gained unjustly and by their refusal to obey the truth.

He said: What is meant by affluence exactly?

I said: The minority of wealthy people who control all power and authority to monopolize everything using oppression- and injustice-based institutions. Thus, a given society is divided into three groups: a vast majority of the poor, the destitute, the weak, and the hungry, and a minority of affluent ones. The third group is the middle class of no so many individuals who are parasitical beneficiaries that try hard not to fall into poverty. So, 95% is the percentage of the poor and weak, 4% middle class, and 1% the affluent few who control and own all things unjustly. They own 99% of all wealth in a given nation that they bequeath to their offspring. They multiply their wealth by injustice and crimes. The poor get poorer and the wealth get richer every year. Hence, such a society is being destroyed from the inside due to this grave injustice.

He said: This happens in the Middle East now.

I said: That is why it is being destroyed now, in my opinion.

He said: Tell me all the verses concerning destruction of towns due to unjust affluent ones who refuse justice and truth.

I said: About the refusal of the affluent to obey God and perform justice, we find the following verses: "We sent no warner to any town, without its affluent saying, "We reject what you are sent with."And they say, "We have more wealth and more children, and we will not be punished.""(34:34-35), "Likewise, We sent no warner before you to any town, but the wealthy among them said, "We found our parents on a course, and we are following in their footsteps.""(43:23), and "And thus We set up in every city its leading wicked sinners, to conspire in it, but they conspire only against themselves, and they do not realize it.When a sign comes to them, they say, "We will not believe unless we are given the like of what was given to God's messengers." God knows best where to place His message. Humiliation from God and severe torment will afflict the criminals for their scheming."(6:123-124).

He said: What about destruction of those unjust wrongdoers?

I said: We find the following verses: "And these towns-We destroyed them when they committed injustices..."(18:59), "Are they better, or the people of Tubba and those before them? We annihilated them. They were evildoers."(44:37),"…And We never destroy the cities, unless their people are wrongdoers"(28:59).

He said: What is left after the destruction of the unjust towns?

I said: God shows us in the Quran the society or town controlled by the affluent wrongdoers after the destruction: nothing left but lofty mansions and stilled wells: "How many a town have We destroyed while it was doing wrong? They lie in ruins; with stilled wells, and lofty mansions." (22:45). Stilled wells stand for vital facilities to the vast majority of poor, destitute, hungry people in a given society. Whereas lofty mansions stand for the affluent unjust few in a given society that caused stilled wells. Lofty wells become deserted after the destruction of the town. Examine the case in the Middle East: the poor live in the tombs, on pavements, and without facilities, while the affluent has so many palaces-like houses inside and outside their countries.

He said: Why God would not send a warning message to the affluent in our age?

I said: All Quranic stories are for warning to all people in all times and climes: "We made the Quran easy to memorize. Is there anyone who would remember?"(54:40), "In their stories is a lesson for those who possess intelligence. This is not a fabricated tale, but a confirmation of what came before it and a detailed explanation of all things, and guidance, and mercy for people who believe."(12:111).

He said: I mean a direct warning to today's people.

I said: All warning to previous people mentioned in the Quran is directed to us all in all eras. The Quran says to us about previous nations: "We destroyed generations before you when they did wrong. Their messengers came to them with clear signs, but they would not believe. Thus We requite the sinful people."(10:13), and then tells us directly: "Then We made you successors on earth after them, to see how you would behave."(10:14). This is a direct warning to all of mankind everywhere.

He said: God says nothing but the truth!


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