Saturday, January 4, 2020

'Surah Al-Kafirun': A Commentary

Chapter 109 of the Holy Quran

"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship. Nor are you worshippers of what I worship. Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”

Despite the fact that before Islam the Arabs did not deny God, but they did not know Him by His true identity of One and Eternal. They did not devalue Him either, but associated Him with other partners, idols who were supposed to represent godly ancestors or angels who they believed were the daughters of God. In addition, they implied that there was a relationship between Him and the jinns. They forgot His attributes and worshiped other idols. But in any case, as the Quran says, they said:

We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.” (Az-Zumar, 39: 4).

Moreover, the Quran says: “If you were to ask them: “Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon?” They will surely reply: ‘Allah.’” (Al-Ankabut, 29 : 62).

If you were to ask them: ‘Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and gives life therewith to the earth after its death?’ They will surely reply: ‘Allah.’” » (Al-Ankabut 29: 64).

Despite their belief in God, polytheism distorted their concept as well as their traditions and rites to such an extent that they allotted part of their property to these gods, and even their children.

In fact, they were often forced to sacrifice their children. On this subject, the Quran says:

And the polytheists assign to Allah from that which He created of crops and livestock a share and say, “This is for Allah,” by their claim, “and this is for our partners [associated with Him].” But what is for their “partners” does not reach Allah, while what is for Allah - this reaches their “partners.” Evil is that which they rule.

And likewise, to many of the polytheists their partners have made [to seem] pleasing the killing of their children in order to bring about their destruction and to cover them with confusion in their religion. And if Allah had willed, they would not have done so. So leave them and that which they invent. (Al-Anam, 6: 137-138)

And they say, “What is in the bellies of these animals is exclusively for our males and forbidden to our females. But if it is [born] dead, then all of them have shares therein.” He will punish them for their description. Indeed, He is Wise and Knowing.

Those will have lost who killed their children in foolishness without knowledge and prohibited what Allah had provided for them, inventing untruth about Allah. They have gone astray and were not [rightly] guided. (Al-Anam 6: 140-141)

The Arabs were also convinced that they followed the religion of Abraham and that they were better guided than the people of the book (i.e., Jews and Christians) who inhabited the Arabian Peninsula at that time; the Jews and the Christians preached the doctrine of the father and the son insofar as Ezra and Jesus were the sons of God whereas the Arabs worshiped the Angels and the Djinns – whom they considered [according to them] as the true descendants of God. Their belief, they maintained, was more, logical, and more conceivable than that of Christians and Jews. The fact remains that they were all polytheists.

When Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) made Islam public as being the religion of Abraham, they argued that there was no reason for them to give up their beliefs and follow the prophet (pbuh) because they were of same faith. In the meantime, they sought a compromise with him that he should bow down to the idols in exchange for their prostration before [the True] God [i.e. Allah]. He also had to stop denouncing their idols and their way of praying. Then, and only then, would they be willing to accept what he asked them to do. This confusion in their concepts, illustrated by the worship of several gods while accepting Allah, was what led them to believe that the gap between them and Muhammad (pbuh) could not be bridged. They believed that an agreement was still possible by allowing the two groups to coexist in the region and by granting them certain concessions.

To clear up this all-confusing situation and to distinguish between the two forms of worship, between one doctrine and the other - between the worship of Allah and the worship of idols, this Surah was revealed in an assertive tone. It was revealed in such a way in order to draw a line between monotheism (Tawheed) and polytheism.

Using all of the means mentioned, this chapter focuses on negation in one sentence, and how! - “Say”; this demonstrates a divine order which conveys the fact that religion belongs only to God; nothing belongs to Muhammad (pbuh) and that God is the One Who commands and decides.

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) is commanded to address the polytheists in these terms: “Say: ‘O disbelievers!’ - Allah makes us understand, especially the prophet (pbuh): They do not follow the prescribed religion, nor do they believe in you! This Surah highlights the reality of this difference which cannot be ignored.

Allah commands the prophet (pbuh) and the believers to proclaim: “I am not a worshiper of what you worship” and then Allah seeks to make it clear that this statement, this reply is supported by Him. – “I do not worship what you worship”; “And you are not worshipers of what I worship” is also repeated for more emphasis in order to eliminate any attempt of doubt and misinterpretation of this Surah.

Such an attitude was essential in order to expose the fundamental disagreements in the essence of the two beliefs and doctrines, in the source of the two concepts and in the nature of the two paths, i.e., of monotheism and polytheism, of faith and unbelief.

In short, this distinction is essential for those who invite others to Islam [Dawat-i-Allah] and for the people [in general] themselves because ignorant concepts can be mixed with those of Islam, especially in societies that had adopted the Islamic way of life and then turned away from it. Ignorance being what it is, there is only one solution: it must disappear on its own to make way for Islamic principles.

The first step in this work/ field is to get the preacher to isolate himself from ignorance. He must separate so that there is no agreement between him and ignorance until the ignorant fully embrace Islam. The very basis of the preacher's personality must be the obvious fact that he is radically different from these ignorant people. They have their religion, and he has his religion. His task is to guide them on the right path. In the event of failure, he must detach himself completely from their circle and openly declare: “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”

The preacher must not lose sight of the fact that he is calling to Islam people whose belief has deviated and that he operates in an ignorant society hostile to Islam. He must realize that there is no room for compromise. And he has also to present Islam in all its clarity in contrast to the ignorant conception of people. He must face them with courage and say to them frankly: “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”

Our religion is based on pure and absolute monotheism whose concepts, values, beliefs and laws cover all aspects of human life and come from God and no one else.

Without this distinction, confusion and doubt will persist. Thus, we need to say: Islam cannot be built on weak and ambiguous foundations, but on firmness, clarity, frankness and fortitude as Allah has commanded us to declare: “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”

This was the method used in the early days of Islam for calling to the divine way. And this must be the method used in our time too so that the truth will regain its splendour and unbelief will disappear from world society. This is a zealous, hard work, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all mankind, because belief in one God must straightaway make our hearts beat in unison. Insha-Allah.

---Friday Sermon of 03 January 2020 ~07 Jamadi’ul Awwal 1441 AH delivered by Hadhrat Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim (atba) of Mauritius.