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Quranic Terminology: Makr in the Root M/K/R

Quranic Terminology: Makr in the Root M/K/R

Published in March 24, 2017

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy


Firstly: the meaning of Makr of human beings

 In both the Quranic and the Arabic tongues, the term (Makr), and the derivations of its Arabic root M/K/R, denotes scheming, plotting, and conspiring. We inferred this from the verses of the Quranic stories of Joseph and Moses.

In the Quranic story of Joseph:

1- At the beginning of this great story, the Makr of the brothers of Joseph is mentioned in Jacob's warning addressed to Joseph: "He said, "O my son, do not relate your vision to your brothers, lest they plot and scheme against you. Satan is man's sworn enemy." (12:5). 

2- Toward the end of this Quranic Chapter 12, God has addressed Muhammad this way about the secret Makr (or scheming) of Joseph's brothers: "This is news from the past that We reveal to you. You were not present with them when they plotted and agreed on a plan." (12:102).

3- The Makr of the Potiphar's wife was that she accused Joseph of trying to sexually assault her, though she was the one to attempt to seduce him, but when investigations were done by an unnamed man, Joseph was declared innocent of any evil schemes: "As they raced towards the door, she tore his shirt from behind. At the door, they ran into her husband. She said, "What is the penalty for him who desired to dishonor your wife, except imprisonment or a painful punishment?" He said, "It was she who tried to seduce me." A witness from her household suggested: "If his shirt is torn from the front: then she has told the truth, and he is the liar. But if his shirt is torn from the back: then she has lied, and he is the truthful." And when he saw that his shirt was torn from the back, he said, "This is a woman's scheme. Your scheming is serious indeed."" (12:25-28).

4- The affluent women in that story in the Quranic Chapter 12 conspired against the Potiphar's wife by spreading news of her infatuation with Joseph, and she retorted to their Makr by another plot against these women when she invited them to a party in her palace and ordered Joseph to appear before them, and they were all infatuated by him and desired to rape him or throw him to prison in case he refused; and Joseph implored the Almighty to turn their scheming away from him: "Some ladies in the city said, "The governor's wife is trying to seduce her servant. She is deeply in love with him. We see she has gone astray." And when she heard of their gossip, she invited them, and prepared for them a banquet, and she gave each one of them a knife. She said, "Come out before them." And when they saw him, they marveled at him, and cut their hands. They said, "Good God, this is not a human, this must be a precious angel." She said, "Here he is, the one you blamed me for. I did try to seduce him, but he resisted. But if he does not do what I tell him to do, he will be imprisoned, and will be one of the despised." He said, "My Lord, prison is more desirable to me than what they call me to. Unless You turn their scheming away from me, I may yield to them, and become one of the ignorant." Thereupon his Lord answered him, and diverted their scheming away from him. He is the Hearer, the Knower." (12:30-34).  

5- When the Hyksos king undertook another investigation, after Joseph spent years in prison, the Potiphar's wife admitted her guilt and that she plotted against Joseph: "He said, "What was the matter with you, women, when you tried to seduce Joseph?" They said, "God forbid! We knew of no evil committed by him." The governor's wife then said, "Now the truth is out. It was I who tried to seduce him, and he is telling the truth." "This is that he may know that I did not betray him in secret, and that God does not guide the scheming of the betrayers."" (12:51-52).


In the Quranic story of Moses and Pharaoh:

1- Pharaoh went to unprecedented levels of tyranny by his schemes or Makr of dividing Egyptians into groups and oppressing the minority of the Israelites, and God made the Makr of Moses' Pharaoh turn against himself in many ways that include the fact that he himself raised Moses in his palace to be a source of sorrow to him: "Pharaoh exalted himself in the land, and divided its people into factions. He persecuted a group of them, slaughtering their sons, while sparing their daughters. He was truly a corrupter.  But We desired to favor those who were oppressed in the land, and to make them leaders, and to make them the inheritors. And to establish them in the land; and to show Pharaoh, Haman, and their troops, the very thing they feared. We inspired the mother of Moses: "Nurse him; then, when you fear for him, cast him into the river, and do not fear, nor grieve; We will return him to you, and make him one of the messengers." Pharaoh's household picked him up, to be an opponent and a sorrow for them..." (28:4-8)

2- When Moses returned from Madian to Egypt as a prophet who wanted to get his people out of Egypt, the Makr or scheming of Pharaoh and his people went on: "Then, when he came to them with the truth from Us, they said, "Kill the sons of those who have believed with him, and spare their daughters." But the scheming of the unbelievers can only go astray." (40:25). Moses' Pharaoh prepared his plots as we infer from this verse: "Pharaoh turned away, put together his plan, and then came back." (20:60); God protected the believing man among Pharaoh's retinue members: "So God protected him from the evils of their scheming, while a terrible torment besieged Pharaoh's family." (40:45). 


Secondly: Makr of people

1- Satan and the devils whisper to people to commit the sins of evil scheming (Makr) and to repel others away from God's Path, and this is made to appear as if it were a good scheming: "...In fact, the scheming of those who disbelieve is made to appear good to them, and they are averted from the path...." (13:33).

2- The people of Noah was the most ancient people that schemed against believers; Noah said the following about them and their Makr: "And they schemed outrageous schemes." (71:22).

3- The evil schemes of the Qorayish tribe against Muhammad reached a very dangerous level, and God describes that Makr in this verse: "They planned their plans, but their plans are known to God, even if their plans can eliminate mountains." (14:46). God has addressed Muhammad directly that he must have patience and not to feel saddened about them or sorry for them because of their Makr: "But do not grieve over them, and do not be troubled by what they plot." (27:70); "So be patient. Your patience is solely from God. And do not grieve over them, and do not be stressed by their schemes." (16:127).


Thirdly: Makr of God or His divine revenge and its rules:

  The divine retribution is for those schemers and plotters who deserve it, and this Makr of God has some rules as follows.

1- Those who commit evil deeds are punished because of them: "... Whoever works evil will pay for it..." (4:123). Hence, evil plots or (Makr) harm the plotters and conspirers. 

2- God in the Quran has reminded Arabs of the 7th century, as a warning, about smiting past peoples and nations because of their grave sins: "Have they not considered how many generations We destroyed before them? We had established them on earth more firmly than We established you, and We sent the clouds pouring down abundant rain on them, and We made rivers flow beneath them. But We destroyed them for their sins, and established other civilizations after them." (6:6). We read the following about the people of Thamood who denied God's message and signs and slaughtered the miraculous camel given them as sign from God: "But they called him a liar, and slaughtered it. So their Lord crushed them for their sin, and leveled it." (91:14); and the following about Moses' Pharaoh and his people: "Like the behavior of Pharaoh's people and those before them. They rejected Our signs, so God seized them for their sins. God is Strict in retribution." (3:11). 

3- God says the following about the divine retribution against the sinful ones: "Each We seized by his sin. Against some We sent a sandstorm. Some were struck by the Blast. Some We caused the ground to cave in beneath them. And some We drowned. It was not God who wronged them, but it was they who wronged their own selves." (29:40).

4- God says the following about their sins, crimes, and scheming or Makr: "Those before them also schemed, but God took their structures from the foundations, and the roof caved in on them. The punishment came at them from where they did not perceive." (16:26).

5- The superior, haughty, arrogant, affluent ones or leaders in a given nation or country are typically the biggest criminals who plot and scheme evil and then taste the resulting punishment for their Makr: "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." (6:123) 

6- This is the Sunna of God (or God's way) in all locations and eras in dealing with polytheistic plotters and schemers of evil: "Priding themselves on earth, and scheming evil. But evil scheming overwhelms none but its authors. Do they expect anything but the precedent of the ancients? You will not find any change in God's practice, and you will not find any substitute to God's practice." (35:43).


Fourthly: applying the rules of divine retribution (or Makr) after the revelation of the Quran:

1- After God talks in the Quran about rules of smiting past sinful nations/peoples, God calls upon Arabs (and all Quran-believing people) to roam the earth to see monuments of ancient people smitten because of their sins and Makr: "Have they not travelled through the earth, and seen the consequences for those before them? They were stronger than them, and they left more impact on earth. But God seized them for their sins, and they had no defender against God. That is because their messengers used to come to them with clear proofs, but they disbelieved, so God seized them. He is Strong, Severe in retribution." (40:21-22).

2- God warns the schemers of evil beforehand: "Do those who scheme evils feel secure that God will not cause the earth to cave in with them, or that the punishment will not come upon them from where they do not perceive?" (16:45).

3- After stories of smitten sinful ones, God preaches the following to all people to warn them against scheming and plotting by reminding them that the Makr of God (i.e., His divine retribution) is near in this world: "Had the people of the towns believed and turned righteous, We would have opened for them the blessings of the heaven and the earth; but they rejected the truth, so We seized them by what they were doing. Do the people of the towns feel secure that Our might will not come upon them by night, while they sleep? Do the people of the towns feel secure that Our might will not come upon them by day, while they play? Do they feel safe from God's plan? None feel safe from God's plan except the losing people." (7:96-99).


Fifthly: punishment of schemers on the Last Day:

1- Those condemned to Hell for eternity cannot evade such fate brought about by their sins and disbelief and torment in Hell will never cease or abate, and Hell dwellers will blame one another, especially because of Makr or evil scheming of the arrogant ones to misguide the oppressed ones: "Those who disbelieve say, "We will never believe in this Quran, nor in what came before it." If you could only see the wrongdoers, captive before their Lord, throwing back allegations at one another. Those who were oppressed will say to those who were arrogant, "Were it not for you, we would have been believers." Those who were arrogant will say to those who were oppressed, "Was it us who turned you away from guidance when it came to you? No indeed, you yourselves were sinful." And those who were oppressed will say to those who were arrogant, "It was your scheming by night and day; as you instructed us to reject God, and to set up rivals to Him." They will hide their remorse when they see the retribution. We will put yokes around the necks of those who disbelieved. Will they be repaid for anything other than what they used to do?" (34:31-33) 

2- This means that evil scheming or Makr incurs retribution against the evildoers in their lifetimes and bring their doom in Hell for eternity; their Makr will be of no avail to them: "... As for those who plot evil, a terrible punishment awaits them, and the planning of these will fail." (35:10).  


Sixthly: figurative sense of (Makr) in relation to God:

1- The human minds and tongues/languages cannot possible imagine fully the epithets and descriptions of Almighty God; thus, figures of speech and figurative language is used in the Quranic text.

2- Using the words in a figurative sense means that human descriptions of certain deeds and qualities are used to describe deeds and qualities of God, to make people understand the gap between the limitations of mortals and the greatness of Our Creator, while asserting that there is nothing or nobody like the Almighty Lord. 

3- In that context, the word "Makr" is used in the Quran also to describe God's divine retribution as opposed to Makr of evil ones. We provide examples below.

3/1: Nine evil men conspired in their Makr to murder a prophet named Saleh, by night, and to prove their being innocent of the guilt before his family or clan, but God had His revenge against them, and this divine revenge is described as Makr (i.e., retribution of God) resulted from their Makr (i.e. evil scheming); God says the following about this event: "In the city was a gang of nine who made mischief in the land and did no good. They said, "Swear by God to one another that we will attack him and his family by night, and then tell his guardian, 'We did not witness the murder of his family, and we are being truthful.'" They planned a plan, and We planned a plan, but they did not notice. Here are their homes, in ruins, on account of their iniquities. Surely in this is a sign for people who know." (27:48-52)

3/2: God says the following about some disciples of Jesus: "When Jesus sensed disbelief on their part, he said, "Who are my allies towards God?" The disciples said, "We are God's allies; we have believed in God, and bear witness that we submit." "Our Lord, we have believed in what You have revealed, and we have followed the Messenger, so count us among the witnesses." They planned, and God planned; but God is the Best of planners." (3:52-54).

3/3: god says the following about Makr of Qorayish that denied the Seal of Prophets, Muhammad, and his message and attempted to assassinate or to imprison him or to expel him out of Mecca: "When the disbelievers plotted against you, to imprison you, or kill you, or expel you. They planned, and God planned, but God is the Best of planners." (8:30).

3/4: God says the following in general about misguided ones and how angels write deeds of mortals and thus, evil schemes inevitably harm their originators: "When We make the people taste mercy after some adversity has touched them, they begin to scheme against Our revelations. Say, "God is swifter in scheming." Our envoys are writing down what you scheme." (10:21).  



1- Of course, Makr of evil people nowadays sometimes has other names: politics, policies, media, plans, central intelligence, security, spying, etc. within many military, religious, scientific, security, and media institutions on the local, regional, and international levels that compete with one another and raise grand words in their banners and mottoes to deceive the gullible masses who are oppressed and weak; this is made clear when one reads headlines in media of today's world and know about the famous ones who scheme evil on earth, but their evil scheming or Makr will inevitable harm them in this world and the next.     

2- We never cease to feel the awe of God Who says the following about them: "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." (6:123)

3- As always, God says nothing but the Truth.

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