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Quranic Terminology: Above

Quranic Terminology: Above

 

 

Published in November 18, 2019

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy

 

 

 

Firstly: the term (above) when employed literally in the Quranic text:

Within creation:

"God does not shy away from making an example of a mosquito, or something above it..." (2:26); mosquitos suck human blood and they have features which baffle scientists; for more details, see our article in English found on the following link:

http://www.ahl-alquran.com/English/show_article.php?main_id=17381

Within locations:

 The Sinai Mount Al-Tur was raised suspended above Moses and the Israelites during the covenant:

1- "And recall when We received a pledge from you, and raised the Mount above you: “Take what We have given you earnestly, and remember what is in it, that you may attain righteousness.”" (2:63).

2- "And We made a covenant with you, and raised the Mount above you: “Take what We have given you firmly, and listen.” They said, “We hear and disobey.” And their hearts became filled with the love of the calf because of their disbelief. Say, “Wretched is what your faith commands you to do, if you are believers.”" (2:93).

3- "And We raised the Mount above them in accordance with their covenant, and We said to them, “Enter the gate humbly”, and We said to them, “Do not violate the Sabbath”, and We received from them a solemn pledge." (4:154).

4- "And when We suspended the Mount above them, as if it was an umbrella, and they thought it would fall on them: “Hold fast to what We have given you, and remember what it contains, so that you may be saved.”" (7:171).

Within provisions granted by the Lord God:

1- The amounts of provisions differ from one person to the other: "God has made some of you above others in livelihood. Those who are favored would not give their properties to their servants, to the extent of making them partners in it. Will they then renounce God’s blessings?" (16:71).

2- Hence, we find the word (above) employed here within this topic.

2/1: "It is He who made you successors on the earth, and raised some of you in ranks above others, in order to test you through what He has given you..." (6:165).

2/2: "Is it they who allocate the mercy of your Lord? It is We who have allocated their livelihood in this life, and We elevated some of them in rank above others, that some of them would take others in service. But your Lord’s mercy is better than what they amass." (43:32).

2/3: This is about the People of the Book: "Had they observed the Torah, and the Gospel, and what was revealed to them from their Lord, they would have consumed amply from above them, and from beneath their feet..." (5:66); provisions here include rain-water descending from clouds and plants growing out of the earth.

Torment coming from above:

 The Lord God says the following in the Quran: "Say, “He is Able to send upon you an affliction, from above you, or from under your feet. Or He can divide you into factions, and make you taste the violence of one another. Note how We explain the Verses, so that they may understand.”" (6:65). The Lord God has inflicted torment on sinners in the ancient times; it came from the sky or from the earth's crust; this is exemplified in the deluge of Noah as torrential rain-water came from above and water came from under the crust of the earth.

Within numbers:

 This comes in the context of inheritance laws: "... If they are daughters, above the number two, they get two-thirds of what he leaves..." (4:11).

Within raised voices:

 Some companions of Muhammad raised their voices very loudly when they addressed him; the Lord God has told them the following: "O you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the prophet, and do not speak loudly to him, as you speak loudly to one another, lest your works be in vain without you realizing." (49:2).

Within talking about the physical human body:

1- Within the Quranic story of Joseph and his two prison-cell inmates: "Two youth entered the prison with him. One of them said, “I see myself pressing wine.” The other said, “I see myself carrying bread above my head, from which the birds are eating. Tell us their interpretation - we see that you are one of the righteous.”" (12:36).

2- Within self-defense fighting: "Your Lord inspired the angels: “I am with you, so support those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. So strike above the necks, and strike off every fingertip of theirs.”" (8:12).

Within knowledge:

 Some people have move knowledge than others; this is mentioned in the context of the Quranic story of Joseph: "So he began with their bags, before his brother's bag. Then he pulled it out of his brother’s bag. Thus We devised a plan for Joseph; he could not have detained his brother under the king’s law, unless God so willed. We elevate by degrees whomever We will; and above every person of knowledge, there is one more learned." (12:76).

Within fear of being sieged from every side and corner:

 This is when the troops of the confederates (of disbelievers) sieged Yathreb and fear seized the hearts of the believers inside the city: "When they came upon you, from above you, and from beneath you; and the eyes became dazed, and the hearts reached the throats, and you harbored doubts about God." (33:10).

Within the topic of the role of mountains:

Their role is to stabilize the earth's crust: "Say, “Do you reject the One who created the earth in two days?...He placed stabilizers above it; and blessed it; and planned its provisions in four days, equally to the seekers." (41:9-10).  

Within metaphysical Barsakh levels of the heavens:

1- We can sense/see, to a certain extent, what are above our heads in this physical world; e.g., birds: "Have they not seen the birds above them, spreading their wings, and folding them? None holds them except the Dominant Lord. He is Perceiver of everything." (67:19).

2- Apart from seeing planets, stars,...etc. in the universe using special telescopes, we cannot see the metaphysical Barsakh levels overlapping with the physical universe (for more details, see our book, in English, titled "The Book of Barsakh", found on this link:    http://www.ahl-alquran.com/arabic/book_main.php?main_id=138). These Quranic verses about the heavens are to be taken literally and not on the metaphorical or figurative sense: "We created above you seven pathways, and We are never heedless of the creation." (23:17); "And built above you seven strong ones?" (78:12); "Have they not observed the sky above them, how We constructed it, and decorated it, and it has no cracks?" (50:6); "The heavens above them almost burst apart, while the angels glorify the praises of their Lord, and ask forgiveness for those on earth. God is indeed the Forgiver, the Merciful." (42:5).

Within the Hereafter:

The righteous ones will be nearer to the Lord God's mercy: "...God’s mercy is near to the doers of good." (7:56), but the degree of nearness as per the amounts of good deeds will divide the Paradise dwellers into two levels: the Forerunners and those on the Right (as per the Quranic Chapter 56); as for the Hell-dwellers, they will be screened from the Lord God: "Not at all. On that Day, they will be screened from their Lord. Then they will roast in Hell." (83:15-16). Hence, Paradise dwellers will be in a higher place above everything else: "In a lofty Garden." (69:22 + 88:10). They are very near to their Lord unlike the Hell-dwellers: "No indeed; the record of the righteous is in Elliyyeen (the most high place above everything else). But how can you know what Elliyyoon is? A numerical book." (83:18-21). This is the context of understanding the term (above) here within the topic of the Hereafter: "Beautified is the life of this world for those who disbelieve, and they ridicule those who believe. But the righteous will be above them on the Day of Resurrection..." (2:212); "God said, “O Jesus, I am terminating your life, and raising you to Me, and clearing you of those who disbelieve. And I will make those who follow you above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection...." (3:55).

Within details of Hell-torment and Paradise bliss:

1- This is about the mansions of the Paradise dweller: "But those who fear their Lord will have mansions above mansions, built high, with streams flowing beneath them..." (39:20).

2- Hell has its ranks/levels as well: "The hypocrites will be in the lowest level of the Fire..." (4:145).

3- "They will have layers of Fire above them, and layers beneath them..." (39:16).

4- "On the Day when the torment will envelop them, from above them, and from beneath their feet, He will say, “Taste what you used to do!”" (29:55); "For them is a couch of hell, and above them are sheets of fire. Thus We repay the unjust ones." (7:41).

5- "Here are two adversaries feuding regarding their Lord. As for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be tailored for them, and scalding water will be poured above their heads" (22:19); "Then pour above his head the torment of Hell!" (44:48).

6- The human devils or clergymen who misguide others will suffer the worst type of Hell-torment more than the one preserved for their followers: "Those who disbelieve and obstruct from God’s Path - We will add torment above their torment, on account of the corruption they used to commit." (16:88).

 

Secondly: the term (above) when employed figuratively or metaphorically in the Quranic text:

1- This is about smiting or destroying the ancient nations of disbelievers/sinners: "Those before them also schemed, but God took their structures from the foundations, and the roof above them fell on them. The torment came at them from where they did not perceive." (16:26).

2- This is within the parable of the bad word: "And the parable of a bad word is that of a bad tree - it is uprooted from above the ground; it has no stability." (14:26).

3- This is within the parable about the fact that the Lord God will nullify the good deeds of disbelievers/polytheists: "Or like utter darkness in a vast ocean, covered by waves, above which are waves, above which is fog. Darkness upon darkness. If he brings out his hand, he will hardly see it. He to whom God has not granted a light has no light." (24:40).

 

Lastly: the term (above) when referring to a higher stature:

1- This is about the Dominant Lord God the Creator: "He is the Dominant Lord above and over His servants. He is the Wise, the Expert." (6:18); "He is the Dominant Lord above and over His servants, and He sends guardians over you, until, when death overtakes one of you, Our envoys take him away, and they never fail." (6:61).

2- The self-deified Moses' Pharaoh assumed he dominated over the Israelites but he was punished severely and died in ignominy and disgrace; this is the fate of all tyrannical pharaohs or enthroned tyrants who die without repentance: "...He said, “We will kill their sons, and spare their women. We have absolute power above and over them.”" (7:127).

3- The Lord God is superior above His servants and creatures; monotheists glorify His Holy Name by saying: (Exalted be He above everything else!).

3/1: Prostrating to the Lord God means to admit his being the Most High above everything and everyone else: "They fear their Lord above them, and they do what they are commanded." (16:50).

3/2: This fact is realized by allies of the Lord God during Muhammad's lifetime: "Those who pledge allegiance to you are pledging allegiance to God. The hand of God is above 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).

3/3: The Dominant Lord God will control fully the Last Day and all human beings will lose their freedom; He will dominate over them and over the whole universe: "Then, when the Trumpet is sounded a single time. And the earth and the mountains are lifted up, and crushed, with a single crush. On that Day, the Event will come to pass. And the heaven will crack; so on that Day it will be frail. And the angels will be ranged around its borders, while eight will be carrying the Throne of your Lord above them that Day. On that Day you will be exposed, and no secret of yours will remain hidden." (69:13-18).

3/4: The idea of the Throne stands for the Dominant Lord God's full control and sovereignty and He will be above all human beings on the Day of the Resurrection: "The Day when they will emerge, nothing about them will be concealed from God. “To whom does the sovereignty belong today?” “To God, the One, the Dominant.” On that Day, every soul will be recompensed for what it had earned. There will be no injustice on that Day. God is quick to judge. And warn them of the Day of Imminence, when the hearts are at the throats, choking them. The unjust ones will have no intimate friend, and no intercessor to be obeyed. He knows the deceptions of the eyes, and what the hearts conceal. God judges with justice, while those whom they invoke besides Him cannot judge with anything. It is God who is the Hearing, the Seeing." (40:16-20). 


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