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Fatwas: Part Forty
Published in February 2, 2019 Translated by: Ahmed Fathy
The Best of Hosts

 

The Best of Hosts

 

Published in February 2, 2019

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

 

 

Introduction:

 The Quranist researcher Mr. Osama Qafeesha has posed this question: (... What is the difference between the term (hosts) in these two verses: when Noah said the following to the Lord God: "..."My Lord, land me with a blessed landing, as you are the best of hosts."" (23:29), and when Joseph said the following to his brothers: "...Do you not see that I fill up the measure, and I am the best of hosts?"" (12:59)? How come that the term (hosts) is used regarding God in 23:29 and regarding human beings in 12:59? Any ideas? Thank you ...).

 

OUR REPLY:

 

Firstly: the difference between the cases of Noah in 23:29 and Joseph in 12:59:

1- That Noah and the believers with him inside the Ark descended on land, after the end of the deluge/flood, is an exceptional case and a miracle done only by the Dominant Lord God.

2- Noah said the following to the believers with him while they embarked in the Ark: "He said, "Embark in it. In the name of God shall be its sailing and its anchorage. My Lord is indeed Forgiving and Merciful."" (11:41). This means that while the entered into the Ark, it was on the land before the deluge took place. Noah here has mentioned and glorified the Holy Name of God for saving them within this miracle. This is why God has commanded him to say the following after the Ark landed after the deluge ended: "Then, when you and those with you are settled in the Ark, say, "Praise be to God, who has saved us from the unjust people." And say, "My Lord, land me with a blessed landing, as you are the best of hosts."" (23:28-29). The Dominant Lord God was their Host and Protector who made the Ark land in safety; this is an exceptional, unrepeated miracle: "And it was said, "O earth, swallow your waters," and "O heaven, clear up." And the waters receded, and the event was concluded, and it settled..." (11:44).

3- This miracle is exceptional and blessed by the Lord God Who is the best of hosts: "And say, "My Lord, land me with a blessed landing, as you are the best of hosts."" (23:29).

4- Hence, the Quranic expression (the best of hosts) does not indicate comparing the Lord God with any mortals within the superlative mode of comparison; rather, it means complete, whole, and comprehensive blessedness and protection from Him.

5- In contrast, within the story of Joseph, he hosted his brothers within generosity unexpected by them, and they did not recognize him, as he was to them only the Potiphar of Egypt: "And Joseph's brothers came, and entered into his presence. He recognized them, but they did not recognize him. When he provided them with their provisions, he said, "Bring me a brother of yours from your father. Do you not see that I fill up the measure, and I am the best of hosts?" "But if you do not bring him to me, you will have no measure from me, and you will not come near me."" (12:58-60).

6- In the context of 12:58-60, the best of hosts here is the Potiphar of Egypt, Joseph, who compared between himself and other mortals, within the superlative mode of comparison without the comprehensiveness intended in 23:29.

 

Secondly::

 There are comparatives and superlatives in the English tongue (good, better, best) and (beautiful, more beautiful than, and the most beautiful), but this linguistic feature is not found in the Arabic tongue, for more details, we refer readers to this article of ours, in English, on this link:      http://www.ahl-alquran.com/English/show_article.php?main_id=14102

 In the Arabic/Quranic tongue, the words "good", "better", and "best" have one term, (kheir), used without comparisons and also within comparatives and superlatives, and the difference in meanings is understood only from the context.

Thirdly: the term (good) without comparisons is mentioned a lot in the Quranic verses and we quote few examples:

1- The terms (good) refers to good deeds in general without comparisons as exemplified in the following verses.

1/1: "O you who believe! Kneel, and prostrate, and worship your Lord, and do good deeds, so that you may succeed." (22:77).

1/2: "And perform the prayer, and give alms. Whatever good you forward for yourselves, you will find it with God. God is Seeing of everything you do." (2:110).

1/3: "Safa and Marwa are among the rites of God. Whoever makes the Pilgrimage to the House, or performs the Umrah, commits no error by circulating between them. Whoever volunteers good-God is Appreciative and Cognizant." (2:158).

1/4: "...But whoever volunteers what is good, it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew." (2:184).

1/5: "...Any good you give shall be for the sake of God. Any charity you give will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be wronged." (2:272).

1/6: "...And whatever good you do, God knows it. And take provisions, but the best provision is righteousness. And be mindful of Me, O people of understanding." (2:197).

1/7: "...Whatever good you do, God is aware of it." (2:215).

2- The term (good) in the following verses has other meanings without comparisons.

2/1: It refers here to the Lord God's grace and bounty: "It is never the wish of the disbelievers from among the People of the Book, nor of the polytheists, that any good should be sent down to you from your Lord. But God chooses for His mercy whomever He wills. God is Possessor of Sublime Grace." (2:105).

2/2: It refers here to the Lord God's grace and bounty: "If God afflicts you with harm, none can remove it except He. And if He wants good for you, none can repel His grace. He makes it reach whomever He wills of His servants. He is the Forgiver, the Merciful." (10:107).

2/3: It refers here to the opposite of evil deeds: "Whoever has done an atom's weight of good will see it. And whoever has done an atom's weight of evil will see it." (99:7-9).

 

Fourthly: (kheir) meaning "better" within comparing two items:

 This is within comparatives between degrees of two things of the same category; i.e., they are not opposite or antonyms to one another. This is mentioned many times in the Quranic text; we exemplify this in the following verses.

1- "And recall when you said, "O Moses, we cannot endure one kind of food...He said, "Would you substitute worse for better?..." (2:61). The shared element of comparison is food. 

2- "We never nullify a miracle/sign, nor cause it to be forgotten, unless We bring one better than it, or similar to it. Do you not know that God is capable of all things?" (2:106). The shared element of comparison is signs/miracles.

3- "...But to fast is best for you, if you only knew." (2:184). Fasting here is preferred to offering money/food instead of days of .

4- "...And take provisions, but the better provision is piety...." (2:197). The shared element of comparison is provisions; i.e., the provisions for Hell is evil deeds of the impious ones, whereas the provisions for Paradise are good deeds of the pious monotheists.

5- "...And they ask you about orphans. Say, "Improvement for them is better. And if you intermix with them, then they are your brethren." God knows the dishonest from the honest. Had God willed, He could have overburdened you. God is Mighty and Wise. " (2:220). The shared element of comparison is orphans.

6- "Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by insults..." (2:263).

7- "But if he is in hardship, then deferment until a time of ease. But to remit it as charity is better for you, if you only knew." (2:280).

8- "...the Hereafter is better, and more lasting." (87:17); "The Hereafter is better for you than the First." (93:4).

9- "Yet whenever they come across some business, or some entertainment, they scramble towards it, and leave you standing. Say, "What is with God is better than entertainment and business; and God is the best of providers."" (62:11); "O you who believe! Shall I inform you of a trade that will save you from a painful torment? That you believe in God and His Messenger, and strive in the cause of God with your possessions and yourselves. That is better for you, if you only knew." (61:10-11).

10- "Perhaps, if he divorces you, his Lord will give him in exchange wives better than you..." (66:5). The shared element is wives.

11- "The Night of Decree is better than a thousand months." (97:3). The shared element is time.

12- "...But it may be that you dislike something while it is better for you, and it may be that you like something while it is evil for you. God knows, and you do not know." (2:216).

 

Fifthly: (kheir) or better/best in relation to the Dominant Lord God:

  The traits/descriptions of the Lord God are never shared with anyone or compared with human beings, and this fact is exemplified in the following verses.

1- "...Are diverse gods better, or Allah, the Dominant One?"" (12:39).

2- "That is because authority belongs to God, the True. He is Best in rewarding, and Best in requiting." (18:44); "...Allah is Better, and more Lasting."" (20:73).

3- "Allah is your Ally, and He is the Best of Helpers." (3:150).

4- "...be patient until God judges between us; for He is the Best of Judges." (7:87); "And follow what is revealed to you, and be patient until God issues His judgment, for He is the Best of judges." (10:109); "...or God decides for me; for He is the Best of Deciders." (12:80).

5- "...the decision belongs solely to God. He states the truth, and He is the Best of Judges." (6:57).

6- "...Our Lord, decide between us and our people in truth, for You are the Best of Deciders." (7:89).

7- "...and provide for us; You are the Best of providers." (5:114); "...God will provide them with fine provisions. God is the Best of Providers." (22:58); "...Anything you spend, He will replace it. He is the Best of providers." (34:39); "Or are you asking them for a payment? The revenue from your Lord is better, and He is the Best of providers." (23:72).

8- "...so forgive us, and have mercy on us. You are the Best of Forgivers." (7:155).

9- "He said, "Shall I trust you with him, as I trusted you with his brother before? God is the Best Guardian, and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful."" (12:64).

10- "And say, "My Lord, forgive and have mercy, for You are the Best of the merciful."" (23:118); "...Our Lord, we have believed, so forgive us, and have mercy on us; You are the Best of the merciful." (23:109).

11- "And Zachariah, when he called out to his Lord, "My Lord, do not leave me alone, even though you are the Best of heirs."" (21:89).

 

Lastly:

  This is how the Lord God only is the Best of hosts: "..."My Lord, land me with a blessed landing, as you are the best of hosts."" (23:29). As always, the Lord God says nothing but the Absolute Truth.  


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