God’s Response Regarding Noah’s Son (11:46)

Prior to the flood, Noah was informed by God that anyone who didn’t believe up until that point was not going to believe and therefore should be considered as part of the ones who were destined to be drowned.

[11:36] Noah was inspired: “No more of your people are going to believe, beyond those who already believe. Do not be saddened by their actions.

Despite this Noah still attempted to convince his son to join him on the watercraft, even though his son’s destiny was already determined by God.

[11:42] As it sailed with them in waves like hills, Noah called his son, who was isolated: “O my son, come ride with us; do not be with the disbelievers.” [11:43] He said, “I will take refuge on top of a hill, to protect me from the water.” He said, “Nothing can protect anyone today from GOD’s judgment; only those worthy of His mercy (will be saved).” The waves separated them, and he was among those who drowned.

Even though there was nothing Noah could do to alter the situation as the outcome was already determined by God, Noah still implored God for forgiveness for his son after he perished with the disbelievers.

[11:45] Noah implored his Lord: “My Lord, my son is a member of my family, and Your promise is the truth. You are the wisest of the wise.”

Then in return God gave Noah the following response in 11:46:

قَالَ يَانُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَنْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

The response that God gave Noah in 11:46, showed that God identified someone was at fault from this request, but when we read most translations, it appears the translators believe that this fault rested with Noah’s son as opposed to Noah who made the request.

Yusuf Ali: [11:46] He said: “O Noah! He is not of thy family: For his conduct is unrighteous. So ask not of Me that of which thou hast no knowledge! I give thee counsel, lest thou act like the ignorant!”

Pickthal: [11:46] He said: O Noah! Lo! he is not of thy household; lo! he is of evil conduct, so ask not of Me that whereof thou hast no knowledge. I admonish thee lest thou be among the ignorant.

Shakir: [11:46] He said: O Nuh! surely he is not of your family; surely he is (the doer of) other than good deeds, therefore ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge; surely I admonish you lest you may be of the ignorant

Sher Ali: [11:46] Allah said, `O Noah, he is surely not of thy family; he is indeed a man of unrighteous conduct. So do not ask of ME that, of which thou hast no knowledge, I admonish thee lest thou be one of the ignorant.’

The way the translators above according 11:46 believe that God reprimanded Noah because his son was not righteous, but let’s look at the Arabic to see if this is correct.

The expression that is in question is the following:

إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ

This can be understood one of two ways. The first way is “Indeed his work/deed is other than righteous” where إِنَّهُ can be in reference to Noah’s son as the translators above have described. But the challenge with this understanding is that the word for deed/work “عَمَلٌ” is singular and not plural.

Therefore, God is reprimanding a single deed in this verse, which would better correspond with the original supplication of Noah when he asked God to forgive his son.

Additionally, this understanding makes more sense as the following sentence God tells Noah:

فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَنْ تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ

Which translates to:

Therefore a better translation for 11:46 would be:

[11:46] He said, “O Noah, he is not of your family. It is unrighteous to ask Me for something you do not know. I enlighten you, lest you be like the ignorant.”

Hearing, Eyesight and Brains

Four times in the Quran, God informs us that He has provided us the hearing, the eye sight, and the brains. 

[16:78] GOD brought you out of your mothers’ bellies knowing nothing, and He gave you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brains, that you may be appreciative.

[17:36] You shall not accept any information, unless you verify it for yourself. I have given you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brain, and you are responsible for using them.

[23:78] He is the One who granted you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brains. Rarely are you appreciative.

[32:9] He shaped him and blew into him from His spirit. And He gave you the hearing, the eyesight, and the brains; rarely are you thankful.

These three steps also corresponds with actual human development. By about week 16 of pregnancy a fetus’s inner ear structures form, and by 24 weeks, the cochlea, eardrum, ossicles, and other crucial ear structures are fully formed. Eyesight on the other hand isn’t fully formed until week 26. 

By the time a baby is born both their hearing and their eyesight is just about fully developed, but what about the brain? 

Humans have the largest brains in proportion to their bodies compared to any other animal. For instance, while the brain to body weight is 1-to-220 for birds, most other mammals have a ratio of 1-to-180, but the human has a ratio of 1-to-50. So the human brain proportionally takes up more weight in human beings than it does in other animals. But in addition, humans also have the largest cerebral cortex of all mammals, relative to the size of their brains.

Now back to babies, when babies are born their brains are still developing, this is in contrast to the hearing and eyesight which is just about fully developed upon birth. In addition, a human babies development is even severely underdeveloped compared to other primates. By one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months instead of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage to match that of a newborn chimpanzee. Not only that, but for a human to get to full brain development it takes about 25 years, longer than any other animal.  

So from this analysis we see that the Quran order of human development corresponds with what we observe in science, that first a human develops the ability to hear, then see, then to discern. 

Interesting enough the Quran also talks about the process of death and our senses as well. Twice in the Quran God references the hearing in context to death. 

[2:19] Another example: a rainstorm from the sky in which there is darkness, thunder, and lightning. They put their fingers in their ears, to evade death. GOD is fully aware of the disbelievers.

In the above verse, God is informing us that in an attempt to evade death the people would put their fingers in their ears. One could read this as figuratively, such that they avoiding hearing the reality that they are going to die they think they can evade death. The other way this could be understood is there is a correlation with hearing and death. 

The second occurrence is in Sura 18 and the history of the Sleepers of the Cave. When God put the youths to death for 300 years, it states:

[18:11] We then sealed their ears in the cave for a predetermined number of years. [18:12] Then we resurrected them to see which of the two parties could count the duration of their stay therein.

Again we see the reference of sealing ears in conjunction with death. What makes this particularly interesting is that the last of the five senses that a human loses when approaching death is the ability to hear. 

Prophets (Nabi) vs. Messenger (Rasool) and 4:136 and 57:25

Two verses that individuals try to use to claim that messengers receive scripture to distort the difference in function between a messenger (rasool) and a prophet (nabi) are the following:

[57:25] We sent our messengers supported by clear proofs, and we sent down to them the scripture and the law, that the people may uphold justice. And we sent down the iron, wherein there is strength, and many benefits for the people. All this in order for GOD to distinguish those who would support Him and His messengers, on faith. GOD is Powerful, Almighty.

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ وَأَنْزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَنْ يَنْصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ

[4:136] O you who believe, you shall believe in GOD and His messenger, and the scripture He has revealed through His messenger, and the scripture He has revealed before that. Anyone who refuses to believe in GOD, and His angels, and His scriptures, and His messengers, and the Last Day, has indeed strayed far astray.

يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا آمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ الَّذِي أَنْزَلَ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَمَنْ يَكْفُرْ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا

But upon further analysis do these verses disprove that only prophets receive scripture while messengers confirm scripture? Let’s compare these verses against 3:81 and see how we can reconcile these facts:

[3:81] GOD took a covenant from the prophets (l-nabiyīna), saying, “I will GIVE YOU (ātaytukum) the SCRIPTURE (kitābin) and wisdom. afterwards, a MESSENGER (warasūlihi) will come to CONFIRM (مُصَدِّقٌ) all existing scriptures. You shall believe in him and support him.” He said, “Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?” They said, “We agree.” He said, “You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you.”

3:81 informs us of the difference in function between a prophet and a messenger, that a prophet is “given” scripture, while a messenger “confirms” scripture.

The Quran uses three different words to give, reveal, and send down in the context of the revelation, and are often times in English used interchangeably, but in Arabic signify very different things.

آتَيْنَا = we gave
أَرْسَلْنَا = we sent down
وَأَنْزَلْنَا = we revealed

3:81 uses the expression “آتَيْتُكُمْ مِنْ كِتَابٍ” which translates to “I have given you [all] the scripture.” You will never see this kind of phrase in reference to a messengers (rasool) in the Quran, only prophets (nabi). Consistently in the Quran we see that it is only the prophets that are “given” scripture (كِتَابٍ).

[3:79] Never would a human being whom GOD has given with the scripture and prophethood say to the people, “Idolize me beside GOD.” Instead, (he would say), “Devote yourselves absolutely to your Lord alone,” according to the scripture you preach and the teachings you learn.

مَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَنْ يُؤْتِيَهُ اللَّهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ثُمَّ يَقُولَ لِلنَّاسِ كُونُوا عِبَادًا لِي مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلَٰكِنْ كُونُوا رَبَّانِيِّينَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تُعَلِّمُونَ الْكِتَابَ وَبِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَدْرُسُونَ

[6:89] Those were the ones to whom we have given the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood. If these people disbelieve, we will substitute others in their place, and the new people will not be disbelievers.

أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ فَإِنْ يَكْفُرْ بِهَا هَٰؤُلَاءِ فَقَدْ وَكَّلْنَا بِهَا قَوْمًا لَيْسُوا بِهَا بِكَافِرِينَ

[45:16] We have given the Children of Israel the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood, and provided them with good provisions; we bestowed upon them more blessings than any other people.

وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

If we look at 57:25 and 4:136 we see that these verses use the terms وَأَنْزَلْنَا and نَزَّلَ which respectively translates to “and we sent down” and “He sent down”. While نَزَّلَ, or even أَرْسَلْنَا, can apply to prophets and messengers as shown in 4:136 and 57:25, أُوتِيَ in the context of كِتَابٍ only applies to prophets throughout the Quran.

40:70
أَرْسَلْنَا بِهِ رُسُلَنَا
we SENT therein to our MESSENGERS

57:25
أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا
we SENT to our MESSENGERS

5:32
جَاءَتْهُمْ رُسُلُنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ
and it CAME to our MESSENGERS with the clear proof

4:136
الَّذِي نَزَّلَ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِ وَالْكِتَابِ
that which He REVEALED to His MESSENGER

As shown above, none of these verses state that the messengers (rasool) were “given” scripture. But when we look at prophethood we see the following:

3:79
يُؤْتِيَهُ اللَّهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ
God GAVE him SCRIPTURE, wisdom, PROPHETHOOD

3:81
النَّبِيِّينَ لَمَا آتَيْتُكُمْ مِنْ كِتَابٍ
the PROPHETS that which I will GIVEN you from the SCRIPTURES

6:89
آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ
they were GIVEN the scripture and wisdom and PROPHETHOOD

45:16
آتَيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ
We have GIVEN the Children of Israel scripture, wisdom, and PROPHETHOOD

Additionally, it is worth noting that the Quran uses three different words in the context of revelation.

كِتَابٍ – scripture
آيَاتٍ – signs
وَحْيٌ – inspiration

In the Quran, while آيَاتٍ and وَحْيٌ apply to both prophets and messengers, كِتَابٍ (scripture) is consistently is only “given” to prophets. Also consistently, in the Quran we see that God uses the term “to confirm” along with messenger, as is shown in 3:81, but we will never see prophets in conjunction with confirmation in the Quran.

[2:101] Now that a messenger from GOD has come to them, and even though he proves and confirms their own scripture, some followers of the scripture (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) disregard GOD’s scripture behind their backs, as if they never had any scripture.

وَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَهُمْ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٌ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

[61:6] Recall that Jesus, son of Mary, said, “O Children of Israel, I am GOD’s messenger to you, confirming the Torah and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me whose name will be even more praised (Ahmad).” Then, when he showed them the clear proofs, they said, “This is profound magic.”

وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَابَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِنْ بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُبِينٌ

Additionally, we see in the Quran that messengers are also used to recite and teach the revelations, but we will not see this in conjunction with prophets in the Quran.

[2:129] “Our Lord, and raise among them a messenger to recite to them Your revelations, teach them the scripture and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, Most Wise.”

رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

[2:151] (Blessings) such as the sending of a messenger from among you to recite our revelations to you, purify you, teach you the scripture and wisdom, and to teach you what you never knew.

كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِيكُمْ رَسُولًا مِنْكُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمْ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ

To put it another way prophets are given scripture, while messengers confirm (recite/teach) scripture. Therefore, when someone is given a scripture they are serving as a function of a prophet, when they are confirming, reciting, teaching they are serving as a function of a messenger. This is the difference between receiving and delivering.

Further confirmation of this, is that the Arabic for prophet is nabi which means “news”, while the Arabic for messenger is rasool which means “to send.” Therefore, the receiving is a function of a prophet and the disseminating is a function of a messenger.

So when an individual receives news they are operating in the capacity of a nabi (prophet), but when they pass on the information they are operating in the form of a rasool (messenger).

This makes every prophet by default a messenger, but not every messenger a prophet. The reason for this is because we do not have a prophet who was given scripture who did not also disseminate that scripture to his people.

This is why you see the expression رَسُولًا نَبِيًّا (messenger prophet), but you will not see نَبِيًّا رَسُولًا (prophet messenger). This is because prophet supersedes messenger as not all messengers are prophets, but all prophets are messengers.

[19:51] Mention in the scripture Moses. He was devoted, and he was a messenger prophet.

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ مُوسَىٰ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلَصًا وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَبِيًّا

[19:54] And mention in the scripture Ismail. He was truthful when he made a promise, and he was a messenger prophet.

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صَادِقَ الْوَعْدِ وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَبِيًّ

In verses 19:51 and 19:54 God calls Moses and Ismail “Wa kana Rasoula Nabiyan” or messenger prophet. In plain English, “Moses/Ismail was a messenger who was also a prophet”.

This expression is chosen by God to emphasize that every prophet is a messenger, but every messenger may not be a prophet. Nowhere, in the Quran the opposite expression “prophet messenger” or “Nabiyan Rasoula” has been used.

Some will make the claim that “Messenger Prophet” means that all messengers are prophets; God has the answer in the following verses that the messenger is a subset of prophet. This is further reinforced in 19:56 where the expression “Wakana Siddiqan Nabiya” which translates to “he was a saint, prophet. While all prophets (nabi) are “Saddiq”, however all “Saddiq” are not prophets.

Similarly in verses 17:93,94, we find the expression “Bashara (human) Rasula”, a human who is also a messenger, but not every human is a messenger.

[17:93] “Or unless you own a luxurious mansion, or unless you climb into the sky. Even if you do climb, we will not believe unless you bring a book that we can read.” Say, “Glory be to my Lord. Am I any more than a human messenger?”

أَوْ يَكُونَ لَكَ بَيْتٌ مِنْ زُخْرُفٍ أَوْ تَرْقَىٰ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَلَنْ نُؤْمِنَ لِرُقِيِّكَ حَتَّىٰ تُنَزِّلَ عَلَيْنَا كِتَابًا نَقْرَؤُهُ قُلْ سُبْحَانَ رَبِّي هَلْ كُنْتُ إِلَّا بَشَرًا رَسُولًا

[17:94] What prevented the people from believing when the guidance came to them, is their saying, “Did GOD send a human being as a messenger?”

وَمَا مَنَعَ النَّاسَ أَنْ يُؤْمِنُوا إِذْ جَاءَهُمُ الْهُدَىٰ إِلَّا أَنْ قَالُوا أَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ بَشَرًا رَسُولًا

And in verse 17:95, we find, “Malaka (angel) Rasula”, an angel who is also a messenger, but not every angel is a messenger.

[17:95] Say, “If the earth were inhabited by angels, we would have sent down to them from the sky an angel messenger.”

قُلْ لَوْ كَانَ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَلَائِكَةٌ يَمْشُونَ مُطْمَئِنِّينَ لَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَلَكًا رَسُولًا

Even in English it wouldn’t make sense to use the term messenger angel or messenger human, but instead we would use the term angle messenger or human messenger. This is because while both humans or angles can be messengers not all humans or angles are messengers. Similarly, we use the term messenger prophet because while all prophets are messengers, not all messengers are prophets.

Prophet (Nabi) vs. Messenger (Rasul)

There is much debate regarding what is the difference between a prophet and a messenger. The best verse that clarifies this difference can be found in the following verse.

[3:81] GOD took a covenant from the prophets (l-nabiyīna), saying, “I will GIVE YOU (ātaytukum) the SCRIPTURE (kitābin) and wisdom. afterwards, a MESSENGER (warasūlihi) will come to CONFIRM (مُصَدِّقٌ) all existing scriptures. You shall believe in him and support him.” He said, “Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?” They said, “We agree.” He said, “You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you.”

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ اللَّهُ مِيثَاقَ النَّبِيِّينَ لَمَا آتَيْتُكُمْ مِنْ كِتَابٍ وَحِكْمَةٍ ثُمَّ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَكُمْ لَتُؤْمِنُنَّ بِهِ وَلَتَنْصُرُنَّهُ قَالَ أَأَقْرَرْتُمْ وَأَخَذْتُمْ عَلَىٰ ذَٰلِكُمْ إِصْرِي قَالُوا أَقْرَرْنَا قَالَ فَاشْهَدُوا وَأَنَا مَعَكُمْ مِنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ

3:81 informs us of the difference in function between a prophet and a messenger, that a prophet is “given” scripture, while a messenger “confirms” scripture.

3:81 uses the expression “آتَيْتُكُمْ مِنْ كِتَابٍ” which translates to “I have given you [all] the scripture.” You will never see this kind of phrase in reference to a messengers (rasool) in the Quran, only prophets (nabi).

Consistently in the Quran we see that it is only the prophets that are “given” scripture (كِتَابٍ).

[3:79] Never would a human being whom GOD blessed with the scripture and prophethood say to the people, “Idolize me beside GOD.” Instead, (he would say), “Devote yourselves absolutely to your Lord alone,” according to the scripture you preach and the teachings you learn.

مَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَنْ يُؤْتِيَهُ اللَّهُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ ثُمَّ يَقُولَ لِلنَّاسِ كُونُوا عِبَادًا لِي مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَلَٰكِنْ كُونُوا رَبَّانِيِّينَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تُعَلِّمُونَ الْكِتَابَ وَبِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَدْرُسُونَ

[6:89] Those were the ones to whom we have given the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood. If these people disbelieve, we will substitute others in their place, and the new people will not be disbelievers.

 أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ آتَيْنَاهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ فَإِنْ يَكْفُرْ بِهَا هَٰؤُلَاءِ فَقَدْ وَكَّلْنَا بِهَا قَوْمًا لَيْسُوا بِهَا بِكَافِرِينَ

[45:16] We have given the Children of Israel the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood, and provided them with good provisions; we bestowed upon them more blessings than any other people.

 وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحُكْمَ وَالنُّبُوَّةَ وَرَزَقْنَاهُمْ مِنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ عَلَى الْعَالَمِينَ

The Quran uses three different words in the context of revelation.

كِتَابٍ – scripture
آيَاتٍ – signs
وَحْيٌ – inspiration

While آيَاتٍ and وَحْيٌ apply to both prophets and messengers, كِتَابٍ (scripture) in the Quran is consistently “given” to only prophets.

Also, it is worth pointing out the difference between نَزَّلَ (revealed or sent down) and أُوتِيَ (to be given). While نَزَّلَ can apply to prophets and messengers, أُوتِيَ in the context of كِتَابٍ only applies to prophets.

Consistently in the Quran we see that God uses the term “to confirm” along with messenger, as is shown in 3:81, but we will never see prophets in conjunction with confirmation in the Quran.

[2:101] Now that a messenger from GOD has come to them, and even though he proves and confirms their own scripture, some followers of the scripture (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) disregard GOD’s scripture behind their backs, as if they never had any scripture.

 وَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ عِنْدِ اللَّهِ مُصَدِّقٌ لِمَا مَعَهُمْ نَبَذَ فَرِيقٌ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ كِتَابَ اللَّهِ وَرَاءَ ظُهُورِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

[61:6] Recall that Jesus, son of Mary, said, “O Children of Israel, I am GOD’s messenger to you, confirming the Torah and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me whose name will be even more praised (Ahmad).” Then, when he showed them the clear proofs, they said, “This is profound magic.”

وَإِذْ قَالَ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ يَابَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ اللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ التَّوْرَاةِ وَمُبَشِّرًا بِرَسُولٍ يَأْتِي مِنْ بَعْدِي اسْمُهُ أَحْمَدُ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ قَالُوا هَٰذَا سِحْرٌ مُبِينٌ

Additionally, we see in the Quran that messengers are also used to recite and teach the revelations, but we will not see this in conjunction with prophets in the Quran.

[2:129] “Our Lord, and raise among them a messenger to recite to them Your revelations, teach them the scripture and wisdom, and purify them. You are the Almighty, Most Wise.”

رَبَّنَا وَابْعَثْ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِكَ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

[2:151] (Blessings) such as the sending of a messenger from among you to recite our revelations to you, purify you, teach you the scripture and wisdom, and to teach you what you never knew.

كَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِيكُمْ رَسُولًا مِنْكُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتِنَا وَيُزَكِّيكُمْ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمْ مَا لَمْ تَكُونُوا تَعْلَمُونَ

To put it another way, prophets are given scripture, while messengers confirm (recite/teach) scripture. Therefore, when someone is given a scripture they are serving as a function of a prophet, when they are confirming, reciting, teaching they are serving as a function of a messenger. This is the difference between receiving and delivering.

Further confirmation of this, is that the Arabic for prophet is nabi which means “news”, while the Arabic for messenger is rasool which means “to send.” Therefore, the receiving is a function of a prophet and the disseminating is a function of a messenger.

This makes every prophet by default a messenger, but not every messenger a prophet. The reason for this is because we do not have a prophet who was given scripture who did not also disseminate that scripture to his people. This is why you see the expression رَسُولًا نَبِيًّا (messenger prophet) used twice in the Quran, but you will not see نَبِيًّا رَسُولًا (prophet messenger). This is because prophet supersedes messenger as not all messengers are prophets, but all prophets are messengers.

[19:51] Mention in the scripture Moses. He was devoted, and he was a messenger prophet.

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ مُوسَىٰ إِنَّهُ كَانَ مُخْلَصًا وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَبِيًّا

[19:54] And mention in the scripture Ismail. He was truthful when he made a promise, and he was a messenger prophet.

وَاذْكُرْ فِي الْكِتَابِ إِسْمَاعِيلَ إِنَّهُ كَانَ صَادِقَ الْوَعْدِ وَكَانَ رَسُولًا نَبِيًّا

In verses 19:51 and 19:54 God calls Moses and Ismail “Wa kana Rasoula Nabiyan” or messenger prophet. In plain English, “Moses/Ismail was a messenger who was also a prophet”.

This expression is chosen by God to emphasize that every prophet is a messenger, but every messenger may not be a prophet. Nowhere, in the Quran the opposite expression “prophet messenger” or “Nabiyan Rasoula” has been used.

Some will make the claim that “Messenger Prophet” means that all messengers are prophets; God has the answer in the following verses that the messenger is a subset of prophet. This is further reinforced in 19:56 where the expression “Wakana Siddiqan Nabiya” which translates to “he was a saint, prophet. While all prophets (nabi) are “Saddiq”, however all “Saddiq” are not prophets.

Similarly in verses 17:93,94, we find the expression “Bashara (human) Rasula”, a human who is also a messenger, but not every human is a messenger. And in verse 17:95, we find, “Malaka (angel) Rasula”, an angel who is also a messenger, but not every angel is a messenger.

What kind of keys did Qaroon have?

In the following verse we read about Qaroon’s keys.

[28:76] Qãroon (the slave driver) was one of Moses’ people who betrayed them and oppressed them. We gave him so many treasures that the keys thereof were almost too heavy for the strongest band. His people said to him, “Do not be so arrogant; GOD does not love those who are arrogant.

إِنَّ قَارُونَ كَانَ مِنْ قَوْمِ مُوسَىٰ فَبَغَىٰ عَلَيْهِمْ وَآتَيْنَاهُ مِنَ الْكُنُوزِ مَا إِنَّ مَفَاتِحَهُ لَتَنُوءُ بِالْعُصْبَةِ أُولِي الْقُوَّةِ إِذْ قَالَ لَهُ قَوْمُهُ لَا تَفْرَحْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْفَرِحِينَ

The verse informs us that the keys were so heavy that it was almost too heavy for even the strongest band. But is this a band of men or a physical band? Let’s take a look at the Arabic to figure it out:

From the Arabic we see that the word for “band” is “بِالْعُصْبَةِ” which comes from the word “عُصْبَةِ” which means: a band; troop; gang; party; group. We see the same word used in the following verses: 12:8, 12:14, and 24:11.

[24:11] A gang (عُصْبَةٌ) among you produced a big lie. Do not think that it was bad for you; instead, it was good for you. Meanwhile, each one of them has earned his share of the guilt. As for the one who initiated the whole incident, he has incurred a terrible retribution.

So how are we to understand why it would be a struggle for a group of men possessing strength to lift the keys to Qaroon’s treasures? Today when we think of keys we think of something small that can fit into our pockets, but this was not the kind of keys that existed in Ancient Egypt at the time of Qaroon.

Back then there were predominately two styles of keys that were in circulation. The first form of keys were large beams that consisted of a wooden crossbar on two wooden brackets mounted on the door and the door frame. Clearly this is not something someone could easily put in their pocket.

Bolted and barred.

The second form of lock that originated in Ancient Egypt was the Egyptian pin tumbler locks made of wood with wooden keys. In these contraptions a wooden beam was locked in place with a lock that could be as big as almost a meter in length. They keys themselves were also well sized. The key’s job was to lift the tumblers that held the beam or bolt in place. The bolt was opened or closed when its free end was pushed by the key into or out of a wooden guide in the door frame.

“It consisted of the wooden post that was affixed to the door, and a horizontal bolt that slid into the post. This bolt had set of openings which were filled with pins. Specially designed large and heavy wooden key was shaped like modern toothbrush with pegs that corresponded to the holes and pins in the lock. This key could be inserted into opening and lifted, which would move the pins and allow security bolt to be moved.”

So from looking at the Arabic and researching the history of locks that were available in Egypt at the time of Qaroon, we come to realize what it means when the verse tells us:

“…We gave him so many treasures that the keys thereof were almost too heavy for the strongest band.”

The history of door lock – from ancient Egypt to the present day
Scottish traditional wooden lock, 1740-1760. at Science and ...
The history of locks | Who invented locks?

Resources:

http://www.historyofkeys.com/locks-history/history-of-locks/

https://www.historicallocks.com/en/site/h/articles/locks-of-wood-and-iron/pin-tumbler-locks/

https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/inventions/5-amazing-ancient-egyptian-inventions9.htm

When should someone no longer be allowed to frequent a masjid?

When is it justified to let someone know that they are no longer welcome at our masjids?

Are we to tolerate someone whose beliefs are 100% aligned with the Quran, yet their behavioral conduct is that of an aggressor or tyrant?

For such people God tells the believers that it is their duty to fight the aggressing group.

[49:9] If two groups of believers fought with each other, you shall reconcile them. If one group aggresses against the other, you shall fight the aggressing group until they submit to GOD’s command. Once they submit, you shall reconcile the two groups equitably. You shall maintain justice; GOD loves those who are just.

Or should we welcome someone whose behavior is 100% aligned with the Quran, yet their beliefs are openly in defiance to the teachings of the Quran?

For such people, God informs us that as long as they don’t fight us and they mobilize in the cause of God along with us we can still even consider them friends.

[4:88] Why should you divide yourselves into two groups regarding hypocrites (among you)? GOD is the one who condemned them because of their own behavior. Do you want to guide those who are sent astray by GOD? Whomever GOD sends astray, you can never find a way to guide them. [4:89] They wish that you disbelieve as they have disbelieved, then you become equal. DO NOT CONSIDER THEM FRIENDS, UNLESS THEY MOBILIZE ALONG WITH YOU IN THE CAUSE OF GOD. If they turn against you, you shall fight them, and you may kill them when you encounter them in war. You shall not accept them as friends, or allies.

But the verse that some abuse to justify the extreme of banishing someone strictly for their belief is the following:

[9:17] The idol worshipers are not to frequent the masjids of GOD, while confessing their disbelief. These have nullified their works, and they will abide forever in Hell.

By simply labeling whoever they want as an idol worshipper it is as if some have found a loophole in God’s system, but is this how the verse should be interpreted?

If we read these verses in context, the group of idol worshippers that are consistently in reference in this entire sura are those that are of a separate idol-worshipping community that are at potential war/opposition with the believers. (9:1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 17, 28, 31, 33 36, 113).

Additionally, these are not members of an existing community who simply have a difference of understanding on some Quranic topic, but individuals whose Shahadah is different than that of God’s, the angels, and the knowledgable.

I come to this understanding because the Arabic that is used for “confessing” is شَاهِدِينَ (shāhidīna) which is the same root as Shahada (3:18). Therefore, 9:17 is in reference to known idol worshippers of opposing communities whose intent for attending the masjid of God is to openly declare their false shahadha.

Understanding the Meaning of Sura 7: The Purgatory (Al-A‘arãf)

Sura 7 of the Quran is entitled الأعراف (Al-A‘arãf) and is translated as The Purgatory. When we look up the meaning of Purgatory in the dictionary, we get the following definitions:

  1. (in Roman Catholic doctrine) a place or state of suffering inhabited by the souls of sinners who are expiating their sins before going to heaven.
  2. having the quality of cleansing or purifying.

The word purgatory comes from the  late Latin purgatorius meaning  ‘purifying’, from the verb purgare for the meaning ‘purge’.

Upon further analysis from the Quran we see that Purgatory is a state some people will fall on the Day of Judgment that is neither Heaven or Hell. The Quran informs us that these individuals in Purgatory on the Day of Judgement will recognize each group by their looks.

[7:44] The dwellers of Paradise will call the dwellers of Hell: “We have found our Lord’s promise to be the truth, have you found your Lord’s promise to be the truth?” They will say, “Yes.” An announcer between them will announce: “GOD’s condemnation has befallen the transgressors;

[7:45] “who repel from the path of GOD, and strive to make it crooked, and, with regard to the Hereafter, they are disbelievers.”

[7:46] A barrier separates them, while the Purgatory is occupied by people who recognize each side by their looks. They will call the dwellers of Paradise: “Peace be upon you.” They did not enter (Paradise) through wishful thinking.

[7:47] When they turn their eyes towards the dwellers of Hell, they will say, “Our Lord, do not put us with these wicked people.”

[7:48] The dwellers of the Purgatory will call on people they recognize by their looks, saying, “Your great numbers did not avail you in any way, nor did your arrogance.

[7:49] “Are those the people you swore that GOD will never touch them with mercy?” (The people in the Purgatory will then be told,) “Enter Paradise; you have nothing to fear, nor will you grieve.”

From the footnote by Dr. Rashad Khalifa for this verse states:

“*7:46-49 Initially, there will be 4 places: (1) the High Heaven, (2) the Lower Heaven, (3) the Purgatory, and (4) Hell. The Purgatory will be annexed into the Lower Heaven.

When we look at the Arabic of the word for Purgatory we see that the word is الأعراف (Al-A‘arãf) comes from the root ع ر ف which in the Quran generally is used to derive one of two meanings:

  1. To be equitable, kind, or righteous in a universally understood manner (2:178,180; 3:104,110; 4:5,6,8…)
  2. To be recognized

Actually the root ع ر ف is used twice in the verse about Purgatory as listed above in both 7:46 and 7:48.

[7:46] A barrier separates them, while the Purgatory (الْأَعْرَافِ) is occupied by people who recognize (يَعْرِفُونَ) each side by their looks. They will call the dwellers of Paradise: “Peace be upon you.” They did not enter (Paradise) through wishful thinking.

[7:48] The dwellers of the Purgatory (الْأَعْرَافِ) will call on people they recognize (يَعْرِفُونَ) by their looks, saying, “Your great numbers did not avail you in any way, nor did your arrogance.

This tells us that every human instinctively understands the difference between good and evil and each of us on the Day of Judgement will be able to recognize the righteous from the unrighteous, as this is part of God’s universal design for every human.

One verse that further clarifies this point is 60:12.

[60:12] O you prophet, when the believing women (who abandoned the disbelievers) to seek asylum with you pledge to you that they will not set up any idols besides GOD, nor steal, nor commit adultery, nor kill their children, nor fabricate any falsehood, nor disobey your righteous orders, you shall accept their pledge, and pray to GOD to forgive them. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

The Arabic expression for “righteous orders” in this verse is مَعْرُوفٍ which means: something that is universally recognized as good and righteous. My understanding from this is that if the prophet gave an order to someone and that individual did not recognize the order as righteous then they were not to follow it, not because they are to disobey the prophet’s orders, but because they must have misunderstood the order.

We see this further explained in the publication of “Quran, Hadith and Islam” written by Rashad Khalifa

http://www.masjidtucson.org/publications/books/qhi/qhi.html

Another interesting location we see the root ع ر ف used is in 2:198 for the name of Mount Arafat (عَرَفَاتٍ), where during Hajj we implore God for guiding us and for forgiveness.

[2:198] You commit no error by seeking provisions from your Lord (through commerce). When you file from ‘Arafaat (عَرَفَاتٍ), you shall commemorate GOD at the Sacred Location (of Muzdalifah). You shall commemorate Him for guiding you; before this, you had gone astray. [2:199] You shall file together, with the rest of the people who file, and ask GOD for forgiveness. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.

God willing, by seeking God’s forgiveness and guidance in this world it will spare us the agony of Hell in the Hereafter.