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Quranic Terminology: Covenant and Pledge

Quranic Terminology: Covenant and Pledge

Published in June 14, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy


Firstly: God's covenant with all humanity: the Divine Covenant means commands and prohibitions:

1- In the beginning, God has made a covenant with all human souls by inscribing or encoding monotheism inside them; they are to worship Him only without other partners/deities; sinners inside Hell will be reminded by God of this covenant. God says in the Quran: "And when Your Lord summoned the descendants of Adam, and made them testify about themselves. "Am I not your Lord?" They said, "Yes, we testify." Thus you cannot say on the Day of Resurrection, "We were unaware of this." Nor can you Say, "Our ancestors practiced polytheism before; and we are their descendants who came after them; will you destroy us for what the falsifiers did?"" (7:172-173); "Did I not covenant with you, O children of Adam, that you shall not serve the devil? That he is your sworn enemy? And that you shall worship Me? This is a Straight Path." (36:60-61). 

2- Accordingly, this Divine Covenant means God's commands and prohibitions addressed to human beings within His Religion/Scripture.

2/1: God's covenant (or command) to Adam and his wife was never to consume the fruits of the Forbidden Tree but they disobeyed this command and violated this covenant when they were both deceived by Satan. God says in the Quran: "And We covenanted with Adam before, but he forgot, and We found in him no resolve." (20:115); "We said, "O Adam, inhabit the Garden, you and your spouse, and eat from it freely as you please, but do not approach this tree, lest you become among the unjust ones."" (2:35).

2/2: God commanded Abraham and his first-born son, Ishmael to purify the Sacred Mosque in Mecca; God says in the Quran: "...And We covenanted Abraham and Ishmael, "Sanctify My House for those who circle around it, and those who seclude themselves in it, and those who kneel and prostrate."" (2:125).

2/3: Some of the People of the Book in Arabia assumed that God has commanded them, within a covenant, to never believe with any prophet unless he would bring them an offering consumed miraculously by fire: "Those who said, "God has made a covenant with us, that we shall not believe in any messenger unless he brings us an offering to be consumed by fire." Say, "Messengers have come to you before me with proofs, and with what you asked for; so why did you assassinate them, if you are truthful?"" (3:183).

3- Some people break/violate the covenant with God.

3/1: The Lord God describes such violators as sinners.

3/1/1: God says the following about those who reject and disbelieve in the Quranic message: "God does not shy away from making an example of a gnat, or something above it. As for those who believe, they know that it is the Truth from their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, they say, "What did God intend by this example?" He leads astray many thereby, and He guides many thereby; but He misleads thereby only the sinners. Those who violate God's covenant after its confirmation, and sever what God has commanded to be joined, and commit evil on earth. These are the losers." (2:26-27).

3/1/2: God says the following about those disbelievers among the ancient nations who violated God's covenant: "We found most of them untrue to their covenants; We found most of them sinners." (7:102).

3/2: God curses them; i.e., they are expelled an distanced away from His mercy as they will enter into Hell: "As for those who violate God's covenant, after pledging to keep it, and sever what God has commanded to be joined, and spread corruption on earth - these, the curse will be upon them, and they will have the Worst Home." (13:25).

3/3: When Abraham implored and supplicated to the Lord God for the sake of his descendants, God told him that the unjust ones among them will never be included in the Divine Covenant: "And when his Lord tested Abraham with certain words, and he fulfilled them. He said, "I am making you a leader of humanity." He said, "And my descendants?" He said, "My covenant does not include the unjust ones."" (2:124).

4- There are those among human beings who observe and adhere to God's covenant by adhering to the monotheistic faith and good deeds: "Those who fulfill God's covenant and do not violate it. And those who join what God has commanded to be joined, and fear their Lord, and dread the dire judgment." (13:20-21).

4/1: Those who fulfill God's covenant will be rewarded by the Lord God Who will make them enter into Paradise: "On the Day when We will gather the pious ones to the  Dominant Lord in groups. And herd the sinners into Hell in groups. They will have no power of intercession except for someone who has fulfilled the covenant of the Dominant Lord." (19:85-87). This means that only the pious ones who obeyed God's commands and performed good deed will be saved and made to enter into Paradise as the angels that carry their books of good deeds will act as their intercessors; good deeds an monotheism will make them fit to enter into Paradise as good, righteous people who deserve this reward by their Dominant Lord God.   

4/2: This is repeated many times in the Quran: those who keep God's covenant are rewarded by Him in Paradise, as per this covenant.

4/2/1: God said the following to the Israelites: "O Israelites! Remember My blessings which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill your covenant to Me, and I will fulfill My covenant to you, and fear Me." (2:40).

4/2/2: God says the following to the Quran-believing people in all eras: "God has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties in exchange for Paradise. They fight in God's way, and they kill and get killed. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Quran. And who is more true to his covenant than God? So rejoice in making such an exchange - that is the supreme triumph." (9:111). This covenant is God's promise to make pious monotheists who performed many good deeds enter into Paradise as their reward. No one keeps a promise more than the Lord God, of course.

4/3: Those who violate God's covenant are those who disobey Him and reject/scorn His commands and prohibitions; those sinners include those who ascribe lies to the Lord God; such sinners include the following categories.

4/3/1: There are those sinners who assumed that even if they are made to enter into Hell, they will get out of it later on; God refutes their falsehood here: "And they say, "The Fire will not touch us except for a number of days." Say, "Have you received a covenant from God - God never breaks His covenant - or are you saying about God what you do not know?" Indeed, whoever commits misdeeds, and becomes besieged by his iniquities - these are the inmates of the Fire, wherein they will dwell forever. As for those who believe and do righteous deeds - these are the inhabitants of Paradise, wherein they will dwell forever." (2:80-82); the phrase of rebuke here (Have you received a covenant from God) means that those who keep God's covenant are those who adhere to piety and monotheism and performed many good deeds.

4/3/2: During Muhammad's era, a man claimed that he will enter into Paradise after his death and God will grant him wealth and progeny; God refutes such a false claim here: "Have you seen him who denied Our Verses, and said, "I will be given wealth and children"? Did he look into the future, or did he receive a covenant from the Dominant Lord? No indeed! We will write what he says, and will keep extending the torment for him. Then We will inherit from him what he speaks of, and he will come to Us alone." (19:77-80); the phrase of rebuke here (did he receive a covenant from the Dominant Lord) means that this man has been a disbeliever and never a pious person who adhered to God's Covenant; i.e., the Quran.


Secondly: human beings' pledges means to swear by God's Holy Name within solemn oaths, featly, and vows:

 In the cases of pledges, oaths, featly, and vows made by human beings to other human beings using God's Holy Name or made by believers to God Himself, one must fulfill this pledge/vow as per this verse which is part of what we call as the Quranic Ten Commandments: "...And fulfill your pledge with God. All this He has enjoined upon you, so that you may take heed." (6:152). 

1- This pledge exemplified in the promise/vow to fight for God's sake in cases of self-defense to stop religious persecution.

1/1: This is type of pledges made with God has occurred during the battle of the confederates (see the Quranic Chapter 33); the dwellers of Yathreb vowed/pledged to God to defend their city; yet, when their city was besieged by the troops of polytheists, the dwellers of the city felt so much frightened and the hypocrites reneged on their promise/pledge and  decided not to participate in self-defense military endeavors; in contrast, real believers adhered to their pledge made with God. God says the following in the Quran: "Although they had made a pledged to God, in the past, that they will not turn their backs. A pledge to God is a responsibility." (33:15); "Of the believers are men who are true to what they pledged to God. Some of them have fulfilled their vows; and some are still waiting, and never wavering." (33:23). 

1/2: Before agreements of peace were made with the Meccans, believers in Yathreb pledged using God's Holy Name and promised Muhammad to fight in self-defense. God says the following in the Quran: "Those who pledge allegiance to you are pledging allegiance to God. The hand of God is over their hands. Whoever breaks his pledge breaks it to his own loss. And whoever fulfills his covenant with God, He will grant him a great reward." (48:10); "God was pleased with the believers, when they pledged allegiance to you under the tree. He knew what was in their hearts, and sent down serenity upon them, and rewarded them with an imminent conquest." (48:18). 

1/3: Moses' Pharaoh and his people pledged to Moses that they will believe with him and let the Israelites go if the torment inflicted on them (i.e., their skins were struck with a pus-filled wounds within the worst plague), but once this torment was removed by God, they broke their pledge and recanted; God punished them by drowning them in the Red Sea: "Whenever a plague befell them, they would pledge, "O Moses, pray to your Lord for us, according to the covenant He made with you. If you lift the plague from us, we will believe in you, and let the Israelites go with you." But when We lifted the plague from them, for a term they were to fulfill, they broke their pledge. So We took vengeance on them, and drowned them in the sea - because they rejected Our Signs, and paid no heed to them." (7:134-136).

2- If one makes a pledge/vow with God to do something if one receives God's bounties, one must fulfill this pledge; some men did the exact opposite during Muhammad's lifetime as they reneged on their promise/pledge/vow; God punished them by making their hearts be filled with hypocrisy; they died as disbelieving hypocrites: "Among them are those who pledged to God: "If He gives us of His bounty, we will donate and be among the upright." But when He has given them of His bounty, they became stingy with it, and turned away in aversion. So He penalized them with hypocrisy in their hearts, until the Day they face Him - because they broke their promise to God, and because they used to lie. Do they not know that God knows their secrets and their conspiracies? And that God is the Knower of the unseen?" (9:75-78).

3- Some of such sinners swear by God's Holy Name and taking it in vain to deceive others

3/1: Some merchants/salespersons do this to deceive the gullible consumers; this is a grave sin to use the Lord God's Holy Name in vain in order to cover up lies/falsehoods.

3/2: What is worse than the above are those theocrats (e.g., the Wahabi MB terrorist group members) who deceive the naïve, gullible masses by swearing by God's Holy Name and by abusing the name of Islam so that they convince the nations that they (i.e., the theocrats) are deputized by God to rule over them; we have detailed this in our book titled "Warning Muslims against Mixing Politics and Religion".

3/3: God says the following in the Quran: "Fulfill God's covenant when you make a pledge, and do not break your oaths after ratifying them. You have made God your Guarantor, and God knows what you do." (16:91); "And do not use your oaths to deceive one another, so that a foot may not slip after being firm, and you taste misery because you hindered from God's Path, and incur a terrible torment.And do not exchange God's covenant for a small price. What is with God is better for you, if you only knew." (16:94-95).

4- Those who insulted God in this manner will be His foes/enemies on the Last Day: "Those who exchange the covenant of God, and their vows, for a small price, will have no share in the Hereafter, and God will not speak to them, nor will He look at them on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them. They will have a painful torment." (3:77).


Thirdly: when human beings pledges to one another without mentioning God's Holy Name:

1- In this case, real believers must also fulfill their pledges with others, as per the Quranic commands.

1/1: This is mentioned in this verse: "...And honor your pledge, because the pledge involves responsibility." (17:34).

1/2: This honoring of one's pledges is among the features/descriptions of the pious monotheists: "...and they fulfill their pledges when they make them..." (2:177); "And those who honor their trusts and their pledges." (23:8 + 70:32).

2- Some of the People of the Book in Arabia honored their pledges and some did not, as we know from these verses: "Among the People of the Book is he, who, if you entrust him with a heap of gold, he will give it back to you. And among them is he, who, if you entrust him with a single coin, he will not give it back to you, unless you keep after him. That is because they say, "We are under no obligation towards the gentiles." They tell lies about God, and they know it. Indeed, whoever fulfills his pledges and maintains piety - God loves the pious." (3:75-76).

3- Because Islam is the religion of peace, Muhammad made peace agreements/treaties/pledges with the Arabian tribes.

3/1: Some of these Arabian tribes broke their pledges unjustly and committed aggression against the believers in Yathreb; God says the following about those disbelievers who broke the pledges of peace: "The worst of creatures in God's view are those who disbelieve. They have no faith. Those of them with whom you made pledges, but they violate their pledges every time. They are not righteous." (8:55-56).

3/2: Some of these Arabian tribes habitually broke their pledges several times: "Is it not that whenever they make a pledge, some of them toss it aside? In fact, most of them do not believe." (2:100).

3/3: The Quranic Chapter Nine disowns and warns those who have broken the pledges of peace and gives them four months as a chance to repent; see 9:1-8.


Lastly: (covenant) also means (era):

 The term covenant means a certain era, epoch, time, or lifetime, as per what we infer from this verse: "So Moses returned to his people, angry and disappointed. He said, "O my people, did your Lord not promise you a good promise? Was the covenant too long for you? Or did you want wrath from your Lord to descend upon you, so you broke your promise to me?"" (20:86); the phrase (Was the covenant too long for you?) refers to the sense of time or the era in which the Israelites lived during Moses' lifetime.

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