2:124 – 2:141

Study Notes: 2:124 – 2:141

What was the commands that God tested Abraham with?

Abraham
[2:124] Recall that Abraham was put to the test by his Lord, through certain commands, and he fulfilled them. (God) said, “I am appointing you an imam for the people.” He said, “And also my descendants?” He said, “My covenant does not include the transgressors.”

Some people believe that this test was the dream that Abraham had from Satan that he should sacrifice Ismail.

Another belief is that this is referring to the command that God gave Abraham in the Bible in Genesis Chapter 17 to perform circumcision as part of the covenant. The reason for this is that God tests us with His commands to follow His laws. For instance God tells the believers to do their Salat, give their Zakat, give to charity and we can choose to abide by these laws or not.

[33:36] No believing man or believing woman, if GOD and His messenger issue any command, has any choice regarding that command. Anyone who disobeys GOD and His messenger has gone far astray.

This is different than the admission tests as the admission test is when Satan makes a claim against an individual and the Satan is allowed by God to administer the test under the guidelines that God sets. An example of this can be seen with the tests that Adam, Job, Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11) had to endure. In these examples it was Satan who was testing them.

Genesis Chapter 17:

  1. Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.
  2. “I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.”
  3. Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying,
  4. “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations.
  5. “No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.
  6. I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you.
  7. I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you.
  8. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
  9. God said further to Abraham, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations.
  10. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.
  11. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.
  12. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.
  13. A servant who is born in your house or who is bought with your money shall surely be circumcised; thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
  14. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”

Another belief is that this command was to be devoted to God alone.

Also, worth pointing out that the word in the verse “commands” is plural.

Another belief is that when Abraham encountered his father and father threatened to stone him that this could be part of the test.

Abraham
[19:41] Mention in the scripture Abraham; he was a saint, a prophet.
[19:42] He said to his father, “O my father, why do you worship what can neither hear, nor see, nor help you in any way?
[19:43] “O my father, I have received certain knowledge that you did not receive. Follow me, and I will guide you in a straight path.
[19:44] “O my father, do not worship the devil. The devil has rebelled against the Most Gracious.
[19:45] “O my father, I fear lest you incur retribution from the Most Gracious, then become an ally of the devil.”
[19:46] He said, “Have you forsaken my gods, O Abraham? Unless you stop, I will stone you. Leave me alone.”
[19:47] He said, “Peace be upon you. I will implore my Lord to forgive you; He has been Most Kind to me.
[19:48] “I will abandon you and the gods you worship beside GOD. I will worship only my Lord. By imploring my Lord alone, I cannot go wrong.”
[19:49] Because he abandoned them and the gods they worshiped beside GOD, we granted him Isaac and Jacob, and we made each of them a prophet.
[19:50] We showered them with our mercy, and we granted them an honorable position in history.

Abraham Delivered All the Practices of Submission (Islam)

Abraham Delivered All the Practices of Submission (Islam)

[2:127] As Abraham raised the foundations of the shrine, together with Ismail (they prayed): “Our Lord, accept this from us. You are the Hearer, the Omniscient.

Submission (Islam): Abraham’s Religion*

[2:135] They said, “You have to be Jewish or Christian, to be guided.” Say, “We follow the religion of Abraham – monotheism – he never was an idol worshiper.” 

Footnote: *2:135 The Quran repeatedly informs us that Submission is the religion of Abraham (3:95, 4:125, 6:161, 22:78). Abraham received a practical “scripture,” namely, all the duties and practices of Submission [the Contact Prayers (Salat), the obligatory charity (Zakat), the fasting of Ramadan, and the Hajj pilgrimage]. Muhammad was a follower of Abraham’s religion, as we see in 16:123; he delivered this Final Testament, the Quran. The third messenger of Submission delivered the religion’s proof of authenticity (see 3:81 and Appendices 1, 2, 24, & 26).

[2:130] Who would forsake the religion of Abraham, except one who fools his own soul? We have chosen him in this world, and in the Hereafter he will be with the righteous.
[2:131] When his Lord said to him, “Submit,” he said, “I submit to the Lord of the universe.”
[2:132] Moreover, Abraham exhorted his children to do the same, and so did Jacob: “O my children, GOD has pointed out the religion for you; do not die except as submitters.”

We follow the religion of Abraham the one who named us Submitters

[2:134] Such is a community from the past. They are responsible for what they earned, and you are responsible for what you earned. You are not answerable for anything they have done.

[2:139] Say, “Do you argue with us about GOD, when He is our Lord and your Lord? We are responsible for our deeds, and you are responsible for your deeds. To Him alone we are devoted.”

2:134 shows that the religion of Submission is between us and God and not the past communities, and from 2:139 we see that we are each responsible for our own deeds. Each community is responsible for their own works and we are not responsible for the works of other’s.

How do we know that it was Satan that made Abraham have the dream to sacrifice Ismail?

Abraham was going through an admission test. The admission test is carried out by Satan as seen with the examples of Adam and the tree, Job with his wealth and family, and Jesus (Matthew 4:1 -11)

Satanic Dream*
[37:102] When he grew enough to work with him, he said, “My son, I see in a dream that I am sacrificing you. What do you think?” He said, “O my father, do what you are commanded to do. You will find me, GOD willing, patient.” 

Footnote: *37:102 The Most Merciful never advocates evil (7:28). As with Job, Satan claimed that Abraham loved his son too much, and was permitted to put Abraham to that severe test.

[37:103] They both submitted, and he put his forehead down (to sacrifice him).

God Intervenes to Save Abraham and Ismail
[37:104] We called him: “O Abraham.
[37:105] “You have believed the dream.” We thus reward the righteous.
[37:106] That was an exacting test indeed.

God never advocates sin, therefore God would never inspire or command a believer to commit murder.

Examine All Inherited Information
[7:28] They commit a gross sin, then say, “We found our parents doing this, and GOD has commanded us to do it.” Say, “GOD never advocates sin. Are you saying about GOD what you do not know?”

Abraham was a righteous individual and wouldn’t be inspired on his own to murder his own son Ismail who was also a righteous individual. Therefore the inspiration was from Satan and not from God or from himself?

Who tests us?

God tests us through His commands, while Satan carries out the admission test when he makes a claim on the human being.

In 2:125 who does the “You” refer to in the “You shall purify My house”?

[2:125] We have rendered the shrine (the Ka`aba) a focal point for the people, and a safe sanctuary. You may use Abraham’s shrine as a prayer house. We commissioned Abraham and Ismail: “You shall purify My house for those who visit, those who live there, and those who bow and prostrate.”

If it refers to Abraham and Ismail why would they purify it if they established it?

[22:26]: We appointed Abraham to establish the Shrine: “You shall not idolize any other god beside Me, and purify My shrine for those who visit it, those who live near it, and those who bow and prostrate.

Perhaps this is because purification is a continuous process. Muhammad received the Quran over 23 years and used to worship idols prior to coming to Submission. The example of the Messenger of the Covenant as depicted in Malaci is that he will be refining and we know from history that Rashad spent his whole life purifying the message. Similarly Abraham and Ismail still had more purification after establishing the Ka’aba.

Malachi Chapter 3

  1. “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.
  2. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.
  3. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness…

Could the spot that Abraham placed the Ka’aba been a sacred spot prior to Abraham and Abraham established it as a focal point?

Were idols worshiped prior to the establishment of the Kaaba, if so were these idols worshiped where the Ka’aba was established?

Here is a link to Abraham’s family tree. Worth noting that there weren’t too many generations between Noah and Abraham.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham%27s_family_tree

[71:21] Noah said, “My Lord, they disobeyed me, and followed those who were even more corrupted when blessed with money and children.
[71:22] “They schemed terrible schemes.
[71:23] “They said, `Do not abandon your gods. Do not abandon Wadd, Suwaa`, Yaghouth, Ya`ooq, and Nasr.’

The Flimsy Idols
[53:19] Compare this with the female idols Allaat and Al-`Uzzah.
[53:20] And Manaat, the third one.

From the bible we see how Abraham ends up in Mecca. Lot is Abraham’s nephew and when they both lived in the same land their shepherds had quarrels and disputes with one another and to resolve this matter Abraham offered the choice to Lot as to which land he wanted and Abraham said he will take the opposite. Lot selected the land of Sodom while Abraham went to Cannan.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

The dispute ends in peaceful way, in which Abraham concedes a handful piece of the Promised Land, which belongs to him, in order to resolve the conflict peacefully. According to the Bible in Genesis 13:5-13, at the beginning of the story, Lot is described as a very wealthy man, like Abraham is after his return from Egypt. The biblical text does not elaborate on the exact reason for the dispute, however, as a result of this, Abraham offers Lot to separate, in order to prevent the fight, and he grants Lot with the right to be the first among the two to pick the territory he desires:

  1. And also Lot, who went with Abram, had flocks and cattle and tents.”
  2. And the land did not bear them to dwell together, for their possessions were many, and they could not dwell together.”
  3. And there was a quarrel between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and between the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle, and the Canaanites and the Perizzites were then dwelling in the land.”
  4. And Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no quarrel between me and between you and between my herdsmen and between your herdsmen, for we are brethren.”
  5. Is not all the land before you? Please part from me; if [you go] left, I will go right, and if [you go] right, I will go left. “

The text suggests that Abraham’s language is “clear, firm and polite.”Lot accepts the peace deal, for the Partition of the Land, and chooses the area of the plain of the Jordan – in Sodom area, and the story ends with Abraham and Lot separately settling in different areas of the Land:

  1. And Lot raised his eyes, and he saw the entire plain of the Jordan, that it was entirely watered; before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as you come to Zoar.”
  2. And Lot chose for himself the entire plain of the Jordan, and Lot traveled from the east, and they parted from one another”
  3. Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and he pitched his tents toward Sodom.”

The reference to Sodom in verse 13 suggests that Lot made a bad choice. Peter Leithart notes the reference to the “garden of the Lord” in verse 10, and equates this with Eden. In this way, “Sodom proved to be a very fallen Eden.”Lot pitches his tents near Sodom according to Genesis 13:12. By 14:12, Lot is living in the city itself. The destruction of Sodom is related in chapter 19. The outcome is an example of how Abraham resolved a conflict by trusting the Lord to take care of him, while Lot’s decision was based upon what appeared to him to be an attractive, logical choice without considering God’s will beforehand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_and_Lot%27s_conflict

Was Mecca established as a traders spot prior to the time of Abraham?

According to Wikipedia and scripture Mecca was a plantless valley and later became the center of commerce:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaaba#History

[14:37] “Our Lord, I have settled part of my family in this plantless valley, at Your Sacred House. Our Lord, they are to observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), so let throngs of people converge upon them, and provide for them all kinds of fruits, that they may be appreciative.

Does not look like there was much activity in Mecca prior to Abraham and Ismail building the Ka’aba. I think this is one of the miracles that God bestowed upon Abraham that his wife was sterile and despite that he still became the father of nations, and even though he resided in a plantless valley today millions of people all over the world travel to the Shrine that he established. That God can take what appears to be a dire situation and allow it to flourish despite any circumstances.

Interesting fact that in 1979 a group of people seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks.

The Grand Mosque seizure occurred during November and December 1979 when extremist insurgents calling for the overthrow of the House of Saud took over Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. The insurgents declared that the Mahdi (the “redeemer of Islam”) had arrived in the form of one of their leaders – Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani – and called on Muslims to obey him. The seizure of Islam’s holiest site, the taking hostage of hundreds of Hajj pilgrims, and the deaths of hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in crossfire in the ensuing battles for control of the site, all shocked the Islamic world. The siege ended two weeks after the takeover began with militants and the mosque was cleared. Following the attack, the Saudi state implemented a stricter enforcement of Islamic code.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Mosque_Seizure 

What does it mean to conceal a testimony from God?

[2:140] Do you say that Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs were Jewish or Christian? Say, “Do you know better than GOD? Who is more evil than one who conceals a testimony he has learned from GOD? GOD is never unaware of anything you do.”

Concealing the Word of God
[2:76] And when they meet the believers, they say, “We believe,” but when they get together with each other, they say, “Do not inform (the believers) of the information given to you by GOD, lest you provide them with support for their argument concerning your Lord. Do you not understand?”

Chapter 12 Joseph’s Dad told Joseph not to divulge his dream to his brothers…was this concealing the word of God?

Concealing the word of God is in regards to scripture. For instance in the Old Testament some individuals attempted to change Ismail to Isaac in regards to Abraham sacrificing his son. Or in the New Testament many Gospels were omitted as it conflicted with their narrative of Christianity when it depicted Jesus as a prophet with a wife and kids. It is also interesting that in 2:140 it uses the word “testimony” as during the time of the past scriptures most of the scripture was passed down orally.

Not all inspiration is meant to be communicated to everyone. What God told Joseph was not meant for everyone. Scripture is different than inspiration

One form of testimony can be seen in 6:19

Quran, the Whole Quran, and Nothing But the Quran
[6:19] Say, “Whose testimony is the greatest?” Say, “GOD’s. He is the witness between me and you that this Quran* has been inspired to me, to preach it to you and whomever it reaches. Indeed, you bear witness that there are other gods* beside GOD.” Say, “I do not testify as you do; there is only one god, and I disown your idolatry.”

What can we learn from the devotion that we see from Abraham

Hajj today has added a lot of steps that have not been authorized by God for instance an additional two unit Contact Prayer at the station of Abraham. 

What does it mean when it says “station of Abraham” in 3:97

[3:97] In it are clear signs: the station of Abraham. Anyone who enters it shall be granted safe passage. The people owe it to GOD that they shall observe Hajj to this shrine, when they can afford it. As for those who disbelieve, GOD does not need anyone.

According to Wikipedia:

“The Station of Abraham, a glass and metal enclosure with what is said to be an imprint of Abraham’s foot. Abraham is said to have stood on this stone during the construction of the upper parts of the Kaaba, raising Ismail on his shoulders for the uppermost parts”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaaba

Why is the word “Shrine” in the Quran when it refers to the Ka’aba only capitalized on the following verses? 5:2, 22:26, 33:33, 52:4

What does it mean to use Abraham’s shrine?

[2:125] We have rendered the shrine (the Ka`aba) a focal point for the people, and a safe sanctuary. You may use Abraham’s shrine as a prayer house. We commissioned Abraham and Ismail: “You shall purify My house for those who visit, those who live there, and those who bow and prostrate.”

Do we need to pass all our admission test to be in God’s kingdom?

As long as we submit to God and don’t break God’s law we remain in God’s kingdom once we break God’s law we step out of God’s kingdom. This can be seen in the example of Adam in Paradise.

Humans Fail to Make a Firm Stand
[20:115] We tested Adam in the past, but he forgot, and we found him indecisive.
[20:116] Recall that we said to the angels, “Fall prostrate before Adam.” They fell prostrate, except Satan; he refused.
[20:117] We then said, “O Adam, this is an enemy of you and your wife. Do not let him evict you from Paradise, lest you become miserable.
[20:118] “You are guaranteed never to hunger therein, nor go unsheltered.
[20:119] “Nor will you thirst therein, nor suffer from any heat.”
[20:120] But the devil whispered to him, saying, “O Adam, let me show you the tree of eternity and unending kingship.”
[20:121] They ate from it, whereupon their bodies became visible to them, and they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Adam thus disobeyed his Lord, and fell.
[20:122] Subsequently, his Lord chose him, redeemed him, and guided him.
[20:123] He said, “Go down therefrom, all of you. You are enemies of one another. When guidance comes to you from Me, anyone who follows My guidance will not go astray, nor suffer any misery.

 As long as we observe God’s laws we are in God’s protection

Perfect Happiness: Now and Forever (Introduction)
One of the most elusive objectives of every human being is “Happiness.” The Quran reveals the secret of attaining perfect happiness in this life and forever. We learn from the Quran that happiness is an exclusive quality of the soul. Thus, a body that attains all the material successes it longs for – money, power, fame, etc. – often belongs to an unhappy person. Happiness depends totally on the degree of growth and development attained by the soul, the real person. The Quran provides a detailed map towards perfect happiness for both body and soul, both in this world and in the eternal Hereafter (Appendix 15).

In the numerous verses throughout this proven Testament, God personally guarantees the believers’ happiness, now and forever:

Absolutely, God’s allies will have nothing to fear,
nor will they grieve.
They are those who believe
and lead a righteous life.
For them happiness in this life, and in the Hereafter.
Such is God’s inviolable law.
This is the true triumph [10:62-64]

God already grants us so many blessings in advance i.e. our eyes, our legs our lives.

Interesting to compare Jacob losing Joseph vs. Abraham wiling to sacrafice Ismail. Jacob grieved due to his attachment to Joseph.

The tests are designed to commensurate with our degree of faith. So that we are not tested beyond our limits.

God’s Tests Are Never Unreasonable
[4:66] Had we decreed for them: “You must offer your lives,” or “Give up your homes,” they would not have done it, except for a few of them. (Even if such a command was issued,) had they done what they were commanded to do, it would have been better for them, and would prove the strength of their faith.

Having a visa in God’s kingdom vs. having citizenship in God’s kingdom. When we are citizens in God’s kingdom God will keep us in His kingdom and protect us from falling in sin.

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